Dead Pixels is unique mix of live-action combined with an animated game-world; switching between characters' real lives and their online avatars, through the fictional game Kingdom Scrolls.
In real life Meg (played by Alexa Davies - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) and Nicky (played by Will Merrick - Poldark and Brief Encounters) work in an offce, they are not sure what Usman (played by David Mumeni – Freshmeat, Whitechapel and Phoneshop) does for a living, although apparently it’s something responsible and it probably involves spreadsheets. BUT they all have their priorities straight… If Castle Blackfinger needs defending from a bunch of marauding orks then grabbing a decent night’s sleep would not only be selfish, it would be downright irresponsible.
Keyframe Studios was tasked with the production of all the 'in-game' content, creating the fictional game Kingdom Scrolls from scratch, where mates Meg, Nicky and Usman socialise whilst indulging their obsession.
Keyframe had a team of 17 artists working on Dead Pixels, for series 1 creating over 70 minutes of animation across 350+ shots; 70 characters, animals and monsters; and around 30 rich environments all in a slick eight month production schedule.
Asa Movshovitz, comments: ‘This commission allows the studio to fully display its strengths as a frontrunner in concept, design, creation and delivery of 3D content as well as displaying our teams love and passion for online games and interactive platforms.’
Thursdays at 9:30pm from the 28th of March 2019
The entire series will be available online after the first episode is broadcast
Once the concept artwork is ready there's still a long way to go before the characters come to life.
First our 3D modellers will take the 2D drawings and sculpt a high-poly model of the character; in most cases this would be too 'heavy' to work with effectively so is then simplified to a low-poly model ready for rigging and skinning. The shading information can still be taken from the high-poly model to give the illusion of detail where there may be none.
Just like you or me, most animated characters need bones; rigging is where these bones are added and skinning is where the points of the 3D model are told which bone or bones to follow. Controllers and handles are also added for the animators to more easily move the bones around without having to manipulate the bones themselves.
At Keyframe Studios we have been developing a Unity workflow to create linear animation products for a number of years - and while using a game engine in an animation studio is not the norm and has it's own set of challenges - for Dead Pixels, using a game engine to create the fictional game world of Kingdom Scrolls could only add to the feeling of authenticity.
While characters were being rigged, skinned and animated, environment assets were also being modelled. They were then transferred into Unity and, along with Unity's own terrain tools and quite an array of plugins, used to build the varied and expansive environments for the series.
Completed animations were transferred to Unity and placed in the environments to create shots. Then background NPCs, particle effects and lighting were all added in Unity to create the world of Kingdom Scrolls.
Another benefit to using a modern game engine is the speed at which they render frames. This is where our development team stepped in to create a system within Unity capable of saving the rendered frames at real-time speeds; something Unity does not do 'out of the box'. This meant that rather than waiting hours to see a rendered scene we could render, amend and re-render shots in seconds; allowing directors and artists to make changes as they see them.