Tonight With Vladimir Putin is a semi-scripted comedy chat-show format commissioned for two pilot episodes on BBC Two in which a 3D digital cartoon of Putin interviews guests in front of a live studio audience. A television first, it was done with ground-breaking live VFX created using a performance capture technique developed by Framestore.
The show was produced using Framestore's real-time character puppeteering system, technology which was trialled with a 2D version of the character in an online-only test before the BBC commissioned two broadcast pilots.
Framestore’s Simon Whalley said about the show:
‘The system we’ve developed allows for real-time interactions with a completely CG character hosting a chat show in front of a live audience. The development of a real-time animation system has been an incredibly interesting project for Framestore’s team and one that was done in a relatively short time frame, something that we think represents a lot of opportunity for content producers going forward.
‘Our teams work hard to push the boundaries of innovation, taking the lead in many projects that are a first of their kind - something that’s certainly the case here. And this is just the beginning; there’s still so much more that we can do with our real-time character puppeteering technology. Even now we’re continuing to work on honing the system’s capabilities to open a lot of opportunities for innovative programming in live broadcast and entertainment.’
The real-time puppeteering technology is comprised of two tools - a performance capture and a facial capture system. Nat Tapley plays Putin, giving a performance as if he’s sitting next to the guests which is captured by the system and live rendered as the 3D Putin. The character is rendered into the show’s broadcast camera feeds, as well as a virtual camera, giving virtual Putin a physical presence in realtime to both guests and the audience.
Tonight With Vladimir Putin was a co-production between Phil McIntyre Television and Framestore. It was created by Simon Whalley, Executive Producer at Framestore, award-winning director, writer and performer Joel Veitch and Jasper Gibson, the co-founder of the UK’s celebrated satirical site The Poke. Gaby Darbyshire of Framestore Ventures and Lucy Ansbro of Phil MacIntyre Television are Executive Producers.