Pie in the Sky (1986)

Concept and creative process

Opening titles for a See-Saw programme for under 5s about The Pieman and his Piewife who work at Universal Pies. The delicious smell of their baking pies and the sound of their singing as they worked was detected on the distant planet Pie, from which a pie-shaped spaceship was sent to be filled with songs for the children of Pie who had none of their own. The title sequence, the concept of the series director Sharon Miller, was made as a model shoot in the BBC video effects workshop by Danny Popkin. Kevin Molloy made the world model and the pie and spaceship which were shot on video against a black background. The background universe was shot by Oliver Elmes, with several different star backgrounds zooming at different speeds composited together. The pie spaceship was mounted on a pole to allow it to rotate but the flight move was done using Ampex ADO digital effects. The retro rockets as the spaceship landed were created with liquid compressed air from a can. At the time 3D computer animation was too expensive and slow and the rendering time for frames was worse than watching paint dry. This was a successful way of creating an animated sequence in a 2-day shoot which had the space age look of CGI at a fraction of the budget.

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