We created PLAYGROUNDS out of the desire to connect with memories from the ’80s & ’90s. While nostalgia is generally associated with positivity, we wanted to bring something with a dark undercurrent of the real world, and reflect that in this kid’s bedroom and the toys they play with. We wanted this to serve as a homage to anyone out there who has felt isolated and from a dysfunctional home environment.
We wanted this to be seen through the lens of a child and the toys they play with while they immerse themselves in these fictional worlds. We’ve all experienced going back to the road we grew up on, everything always feels so much smaller than we remember – our reminiscing, nostalgic brains always deceive with memories of scale. So it felt natural that the room should feel expansive, with the plastic toy soldiers serving as our reference point of view, with the whole room feeling more like a funfair at night than a traditional bedroom, while also trying to keep this dark undercurrent of the real world, and reflect that in the toys scenes.
Working on this film allowed us to develop new workflows while also applying what we’ve learned from working in Interactive, Commercial and Hollywood Movie VFX Production, fusing them into a kind of Guerrilla CGI production. The Process video below takes a look behind the scenes, where we documented some of the workflows and process behind the creation of PLAYGROUNDS.
We had many conversations about how to approach the room design, this needed to the underdog’s bedroom, choosing Sega rather than Nintendo, and anime rather than Disney, for example. The setting would be the late summer of 1994, west coast America. We felt strongly that with American culture permeating British & Italian culture in such a powerful way, it was almost as if, this fictional bedroom we devised was the place we wanted to escape to as children. We brought together many references, always with the ‘Underdog’ theme in mind.
The armature for production was the Previz, which provided us with the structure and direction for the final film, from the beginning, the core concept of the parents arguing, and the younger sibling coming in to play with the older brother was there from the very first previz, which was our thematic anchor throughout. The Environment was roughly blocked out, which gave us a scene we would then use to setup all the cameras and would, in turn, be used as a guide for layout when moving to asset production. Like a virtual cameraman, we would go into the room and look for moments and shots that worked from a purely cinematic and communicative point of view, using placeholders while we developed the narrative.
Enjoy the FREE original poster and selection of social images made for PLAYGROUNDS.