Out with the old and in with the new?

With the ever-constant need to innovate and create great new original ideas, it can sometimes be hard to keep up in today’s creative world.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but some of the most original ideas coming out of the creative industries at the moment have one foot set firmly in the past. So why not take an old concept, combine it with new technology and create something that wasn’t previously possible?

It’s worth noting that it can’t be applied to EVERYTHING, but in some cases simply integrating tried and tested methods with modern technologies can produce unique and original work – here are a few examples of modernising existing concepts to create something new.


‘Peppers ghost’ mixed with high definition and high frame rate video projection to create a hologram illusion …


Pepper’s ghost is a technique used in theatre and concerts, popularised by John Henry Pepper in 1862 (its use dates back to the 16th century), and is achieved using a clever two-way mirror trick. Back then it captivated audiences with ghostly apparitions and spooky transformations (all played live, by actors in a hidden stage area).

The key to modernising this is the ability to project at high frame rates and definition to replace the need for live actors. As it is pre-recorded the host can appear with themselves or any array of special effects and motion graphics can be added.

This technique has now become very popular, and was used widely in the latest Eurovision song contest, with this particular act from Belarus making an interesting use of it!



3D printing & Zoetrope

zoetrope                                                                   Early Zoetrope

3D printing is a technique that has been around for a while, but is now becoming much more affordable and accessible. The zoetrope (a technique that portrays the illusions of motion using a sequence of drawings spun in a cylinder and viewed through slots) evolved from the phenakistoscope throughout the 19th century.  Combining these two techniques can provide a unique effect.

The first examples of this technique use a synchronised strobe light to the animation giving the zoetrope effect. Some of these have become quite complex and ambitious – here’s Pixar’s take on the Zoetrope;


Another recent development of this is a continuous movement print using a narrow light source – check out this 3D printed light based Zoetrope;


Combining old and new on a creative brief


We are probably all familiar with The Bear & the Hare, Elliot Dear and Yves Geleyn’s heart-warming animated Christmas film for John Lewis;


This example takes this principle, combining traditional and modern, and is essentially a mash up of lots of old and new techniques. So much so that on first watch I found it hard to work out how this animation was realised – as the lighting looked too real for 3D animation, but it seemed too clean for traditional animation.

It is subtle, but what it achieves is very high quality animation with an authentic nostalgic feel.

The making of video shows the many modern and traditional techniques used to create this unique looking piece.


It just goes to show that when coming up with ‘the next big thing’ or a ‘truly original idea’, whichever creative industry we work in, we shouldn’t be too hasty in opting exclusively for the most innovative or modern techniques without first having a firm understanding of what has gone before.

Pete Richards – Senior Motion Graphics Designer

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