D-Day 75 was a commemorative event, marking the 75th-anniversary landings on the Normandy beaches. The event took place on June 5th on Southsea common in Portsmouth and told the story of the major events proceeding the largest amphibious assault in history, leading to the end of World War II and the liberation of Europe.
We were approached by the BBC Studios Events, with only 6 weeks to go. Our brief was to design, animate and deliver 44 sequences, which needed to work simultaneously across the main panoramic and arch screens. A canvas measuring 65.3m x 17.7m, 1 hour and 25 minutes of visual storytelling. Plus, an additional 12, 16:9 versions of certain sequences to be used in the live broadcast.
The event consisted of readings, live theatre, musical performance, and dance. One of our main challenges was to give each of the sequences its own visual identity, avoiding the appearance of one long edit of archive footage. Also, with very little rehearsal time, it was essential that each sequence ran over-length, but could transition seamlessly into the next sequence on cue.
One of the most complex, powerful and important sequences that needed approaching with care and authenticity, was the epic creation of advancing ships and planes to accompany Eisenhower’s famous speech. Needing accurate models to tell this story, we ended up with only a handful that was signed off by military experts. So, we built the whole epic sequence in 2d, using just these limited assets.
For the other sequences we had a wealth of historic archive imagery, and graphic assets such as French Resistance posters, newspaper headlines, letters, telegrams, bespoke maps and both period and modern flags of the allies, to help tell these incredibly emotional stories in an impactful, aesthetically beautiful way.
As well as being broadcast live on BBC One, watched by an audience of 2 million, the main success came from the unprecedented global reach and impact in the print-media, on-line and news outlets. It was a total honour to play a small part in paying tribute to these humble and courageous people who made our world a safer and better place, this was truly their event.