“To celebrate the return of our hit show Empire, we wanted to create a big, splashy piece for our outdoor media venue,” said Ian MacRitchie, Fox’s vice president of broadcast design, in a statement. “We found a creative partner in Ntropic to create a piece of marketing that breaks through – in this case, in a very noisy environment like Times Square.”
Led by Ntropic’s Creative Director Simon Mowbray and Art Director James McCarthy, the team found inspiration in the show’s focus on fashion. Describing the challenge of transitioning from still art to live-action footage, Executive Producer Michelle Hammond said, “We needed a breakaway moment, but we didn’t want it to feel violent, or to look like the paint was washing away their faces. The idea of using fabric to model the motion of the particles and the infusion of these gold elements and lots of dust particulates allowed us to emphasize the fashion elements of the show and drive home the characters’ rags-to-riches story.”
Bringing their collective expertise in particle effects, the team tested and iterated on the simulation until the movement flowed naturally and the vision was brought to life. “Particles are hard to art direct; they’re based on physics and involve a lot of unseen geometry to achieve the desired effect,” said Ron Moon, head of production and senior producer. “With particle simulation, we do a lot of work to handcraft something aesthetically beautiful.”
The billboard will remain in place in Times Square until the show premieres on Fox on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9 p.m., and it will also appear over the Godzilla Theater later this month.
Creative Director: Simon Mowbray
Art Director: James McCarthy
CG Modeler: Dustin Zachary
CG Artist: Mark Wurts
Head of Production/Senior Producer: Ron Moon
Executive Producer: Michelle Hammond
See the work here.