Design & Craft Innovation
Pets – Wild At Heart Production Team, John Downer Productions for BBC One
“This year the judges have awarded the RTS Design & Craft Innovation Award to a series on pets that was anything but domestic in terms of its visual flair and technical wizardry.
We witnessed how our favourite pets stay in touch with their wild side – from talkative budgies and marathon-running hamsters to wall-climbing cats and an island where rabbits rule – this was an eye-popping series filled with innovative photography and scientific revelation.
The animals were shot on a huge variety of different camera systems – including high speed, infrared, ultraviolet, fluoroscopy, remote and on board cameras, periscope and underwater filming and even Schlieren photography. For the Schlieren sequences the camera systems were built from scratch using an astronomical optical mirror and precision interrupted light sources . Although this technique dates back 150 years it is rarely used today because of its complexity – and as well as being able to show the air currents around a budgie's wings it also uniquely demonstrated the complex counter flow of air as it enters a dogs nose. And for the hamster xray sequence – fluoroscopy had to be combined with conventional photography of the same scene to allow fascinating access to a hamster as it filled its cheeks with nuts.
Despite such varied ways of gathering images, each one had to complement the other to retain consistency across the series and all the astonishing images were captured in-camera rather than created by CG.
The exhilarating photography was complemented with editing that seamlessly integrated each engaging animal narrative with revelatory science – and the music avoided suggesting the standard cute and cuddly to both promote comedy and celebrate the geographical location of the animals involved.
The breadth of different production techniques lent an epic lens to the ordinary and the familiar and the production team pushed boundaries to create revelatory images that have never been seen before.”
Wolf Hall Production Team, Company Pictures/Playground Entertainment for BBC Two
This year's winner of the Judges Award has mesmerised viewers with a potent combination of powerful onscreen performances, masterful direction, finely rendered photography, music, digital effects, and exquisite sound, make-up, costume and production design.
Chronicling the life of Thomas Cromwell and based on the books by Hilary Mantel, the winning drama adopted a bold production stance by filming solely in authentic period locations, using a largely handheld camera, often capturing performance in one long continuous take and famously creating shimmering and atmospheric night scenes by using natural light from beeswax candles. As the narrative tension took hold we witnessed a progression of contrast and more powerful camera angles as Cromwell himself becomes increasingly dangerous to those around him.
The sophisticated soundscape moved seamlessly between objective and subjective states to enhance the sense of Cromwell's very personal response to well documented historical events. Skilled editing supported the highly complex narrative timelines and the raw vibrant musical score underlined the moral ambiguity that is at the heart of the original novel. Subtle use of digital effects was employed in every location to seamlessly remove every vestige of modern life and finely researched make-up and costume design added authentic period detail to every frame of the series.
Director Peter Kosminsky and DOP Gavin Finny embraced the darkness of the times and with unerring confidence slowly unfurled this captivating political intrigue in a series of beautiful and bejewelled scenes reminiscent of Vermeer and Rembrandt.
In the true spirit of the Craft & Design Awards the attention to detail in every aspect of production was immaculate and the jury felt this drama was highly creative, distinctive and a demonstration of expert craft skills across all production disciplines.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Dennis De Groot
“It is always a pleasure to present an award to an industry practitioner who has excelled in a particular field and this years’ winner is no exception.
His production credits stretch back over 36 years when he started work in the model and optical effects departments on classic comedy films The Life of Brian and Time Bandits. He was evidently badly bitten by the comedy bug as he then proceeded to quickly establish himself as the go to Production Designer on many of TV's most successful and revered sitcoms, entertainment shows and comedy dramas .
From Alan Partridge, through French and Saunders, Black Books, Jam, Little Britain, That Mitchell and Webb Look, A Young Doctors Notebook, The IT crowd and Bad Education – to name just a few titles in his extraordinary canon of work – our winner has demonstrated his knack of complementing demanding and complex sitcoms and sketch shows with inspired and inventive sets and witty design solutions – and it is no surprise that he is sought after time and time again by the best writers, producers and performers in the comedy fraternity.
Nira Park worked with him on Black Books and says: ‘he has a profound understanding of comedy. He is able to get inside the heads of the writers and directors he works with and help them pull off set pieces that many others might say are not possible. HIs imagination and creativity are inspiring.’
Gareth Edwards – Producer of Mitchell and Webb agrees: ‘he is meticulous in his planning, reliable and calm under pressure and is always a pleasure to work with. I deeply admire his mastery of and love for his craft.’ Graham Linehan says: ‘he does wonders with sometimes very little, infinitely flexible even when I'm being completely unreasonable, meets every idea with a new one. And of course, a gentleman and a pleasure to work with.’
He constantly dreams original and fresh ideas for the most demanding of genres. His creative flair and unerring eye for detail have offered up the most fabulous and evocative habitats for our most talented comedy performers to shine on for over three decades.”