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Framestore Freezes Time for new Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Trailer

October 22, 2013 | By
"The Day of The Doctor" premieres Nov. 23.

“The Day of The Doctor” premieres Nov. 23.

Director Matt Lossoso and Framestore VFX supervisor Oliver Bersey recently created an electrifying 60-second trailer for Doctor Who’s 50 year anniversary episode, scheduled to broadcast worldwide on Nov. 23. The spot is littered with references from the show’s 798 episodes, with 11 regenerations of The Doctor all frozen in time.

The spot begins with the original Doctor, William Hartnell, recreated from a blend of original footage and a double, in Totter’s Yard – the setting of the show’s first scene.

From there the camera twists past a host of Doctor Who characters and objects, some shot practically, some added in Flame by Bersey. The Doctor’s regenerations, friends and possessions are scattered through time so fans can discover new references with each viewing.

For the recreation of Hartnell, the director sourced a “hero still” from the original black-and-white series, and then spent many hours placing elements from a double over top of the original still in Photoshop to recreate him as a very high-resolution, color still.

William Hartnell, the original Doctor.

William Hartnell, the original Doctor.

From there Bersey took over. “First off I did the general compositing, the look, the color and the tracking, then I gave it some subtle 2D manipulations to make it look 3D as we go past him,” explained Bersey.

Many of the camera moves were recreated in Flame, a very difficult task, but one that smoothed out the shots and allowed Lossoso and Bersey to throw in even more references from the show. “We had to pretty much take it apart and rebuild it,” said Bersey. “I tracked the cameras, stabilized them then recomposited all the bits into the stable camera move, but I worked hard to create that same 3D depth using isolated 2D elements. Using this method gave us the opportunity to load it with all the Doctor Who items.”

As the camera zooms past Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara and David Tennant’s Doctor a vast landscape comes into view, equally full of motifs from the Doctor Who universe – a matte painting created by Ollie. Then the 11th Doctor reaches for the sonic screwdriver and time unfreezes.

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