Masterpiece : Nighthawks

Masterpiece : Nighthawks

Masterpiece: Beyond the Painted Surface” places British art historian, BBC presenter and BAFTA nominated broadcaster, Dr James Fox inside the virtual 3D representation of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks – his famous 1942 oil on canvas painting that portrays four people in a downtown diner late at night as viewed through the diner’s window.

Working closely with Dr James Fox creative director Christopher Pearson from The Experience Machine (TEM) and the production team from Bild Studios have been able to re-imagine how a painting could exist as a three-dimensional world. This process has allowed the technology to reveal insights into the painting that have never been considered before.

In Masterpiece the 3D representation of Hopper’s painting was created as carefully extracted 3D geometry with detailed layers of texturing added; partly handmade, partly AI-generated, that would resemble the brush strokes and fine crafting of Edward Hopper’s unique painting style. Finally, the 3D scene was imported into the game engine Unreal Engine and rendered in real-time based on the position of the physical film camera on the MARS stage.

The integration of real-world effects such as time of day, virtual depth of field, environmental lighting and other properties were configured to be controlled via a mobile tablet – directly controlled by the director on set.

Access to high-end xR platforms such as MARS alongside advances in game engine software has opened the opportunity to craft narrative journeys from an entirely new perspective; the inside of an artwork. Considering the painted canvas as an environment that a viewer can walk into has now never been more possible.

Christopher Pearson, founder and director of The Experience Machine

Produced and Engineering: Bild Studios
Concept and Direction: The Experience Machine
Presenter: James Fox
Technical Producers: David Bajt & Rowan Pitts (Bild Studios)
DOP: James Medcraft

xR workflows powered by: disguise
Render engine: Unreal Engine
Camera-tracking: Mo-Sys Engineering
Camera supply: Focus24

Behind-The-Scenes Film by: Hotmilk Films

Executive Producer: Ben Fender
Senior Producer: Eleni Willmott
Project Coordinator: Caroline Wong
Studio Manager: Ali Owen Thomas
Technical Director: Christian Dickens
Lead Engineer: Pete Dunsby
Lighting Engineer: Rury Nelson
Unreal Engine Lead Developer: David Kanekanian
Unreal Engine Developer: Michael Adefehinti
Unreal Engine Artist: Rhodri Thomas
Environment Artist: Stefano Tsai
1st AC Focus
1st AD: Ksenia Kulakova
Editor: Matt Watt / Chris Pearson
Puller: Morgan Spencer
2nd AC Loader: Andres Claridge
DIT: Nerea Castro
Grip 1: Jib Adrian Barry
Grip 2: Jac Hopkins
Gaffer: Dom Aronin
Lighting Technician: Stefan Mitchell
Playback: Andrew Spindle
Sound Recordist: Adam Scourfield