Spitting Image Live – Idiots Assemble

© Mark Senior

The evening triumphs through technical slickness, loving attention to detail, a high gag-rate and character-count and a trenchant storyline.”

★★★★★ The Telegraph

The staging is striking too, taking us from Buckingham Palace to Ukraine, via the sky and sea.

★★★ The Guardian


MARCH 2023

PixelLux’s Creative Director, Nina Dunn, was approached by Emma Brunjes Productions and the Birmingham Rep to join the team for Spitting Image Live. The show brings to the stage the legendary satirical puppet TV show which ran from 1984 to 1996 for over 18 series in Birmingham, hwre very first series was filmed.

“At the time when the show was first announced, Boris Johnson was still the UK Prime Minister so as you can imagine between June and the following January when the show would first find its audience, there were many and dramatics script changes. This was the first of our challenges: to know what we were designing for.” explains Nina.

Nina, Alice Power (set and costume designer and on this occasion also penis costume designer) and Sean Foley (Artistic Director of the Birmingham Rep and director and co-writer of Spitting Image)  worked together from the early stages to create a design that would accomodate the environments which the 106 puppets and 12 puppeteers would inhabit during the show as well as instertsitial pre-filmed content.

The wider PixelLux team contributed to the scenic settings for the show and beyond that, Nina’s original training in broadcast design came in very handy. The design called for a complex but hilarious shoot to pre-record some of the puppets using green morph suits and then post-produced the footage that was inserted in some of the scenes as narrative vignettes.

These included news bulletins read by Huw Edwards, a hysterically funny version of Bohemian Rhapsody featuring the Royal Family and some rather unmentionable footage of Nigel Farage. 

There had to be very close dialogue between lighting, sound and video because the voices in the show were pre-recorded and it was important to ensure that lip sync was maintained between shoot and final recording incoprorating scriot changes that kept the show current right up until press night.

The video rig comprised of five projectors and five TV screens inserted into the proscenium arches. The latter were skilfully dressed with what looked like a scenic painting of cherubs but came to life in specific moments of the show. PixelLux also provided discreet lighting effects: proscenium surfaces were mapped and re-projected so that the embedded screens looked better when lit and to allow for icredible world warping effects.

The ground plan was fairly tight with a large quantity of flown items and giant scenic props so the projectors had to be rigged at very acute angles, which Harrison Cooke calculated in advance using Mapping Matter.

The hysterical, episodic narrative of the show takes the audience to an eclectic array of settings for which PixelLux created a pick and mix of visual settings, constisting of music video backdrops, virtual 3D environments, photographic scenic set-ups and envirnmental effects

The creative team had an extremely tight, very productive dialogue whilst making the show where ideas would be put forward and then expanded upon based on how funny they could become. Constant changes were the order of the day and content had to be adjusted as news evolved almost daily.

It was a very enjoyable process and the team at Birmingham Rep were extremely accommodating.

Creative Team

Director – Sean Foley 

Writers – Al Murray, Matt Forde, Sean Foley 

Caricaturist Supremo – Roger Law 

Set Designer – Alice Power 

Video Designer – Nina Dunn for Pixellux

Sound Designer – Paul Groothuis 

Lighting Designer – Tim Mitchell 

Puppet Master – Scott Brooker 

Costume Designer – Lotte Collett 

Choreographer – Lizzi Gee 

Puppetry Consultant – Laura Bacon 

Song Arrangements & Producer – Felix Hagan 

Incidental Music Composer & Musical Director – Alexander S. Bermange 

Incidental Music Arranger & Producer – Jerome Van Den Berghe 

Penis Costume Design – Alice Power 

Associate Director – Nyasha Gudo 

Associate Sound Designer – Simon King 

Puppetry Casting Director – Mikey Brett 

Production Manager – John Rowland 

Creators of Spitting Image – Peter Fluck, Roger Law 

Producer for Birmingham – Rep Chloe Naldrett 

Producer and General Manager – Emma Brunjes productions 

Producers for Avalon – Richard Allen-Turner, Jon Thoday 

The PixelLux Team:

Creative Director and Video Designer – Nina Dunn

Technical Director – Harrison Cooke

Associate Video Designer – Libby Ward

3D Animator – Will Jarman

2D Animators – Nina Dunn, Hannah Schlenker, Libby Ward

Video Programmer – Arthur Skinner

Production Video Engineer – Nick Ward

Video Engineer – Ed Aspinall

Producer – Helen Slevin

Studio Manager and Creative Associate – Laura Salmi

Video Equipment Supplier – Universal Pixels

for more information visit https://www.spittingimagelive.com

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