Picturehouse celebrated their 30th anniversary with a new logo and wanted to update their ident accordingly. The ident should represent Picturehouse culture, the experience their venues provide and the films they love.

The previous project we worked on with Picturehouse has influenced much of their visual identity and so it was important that this ident adopt a similar approach.

The animation needed to stand up to repeat viewing because it would be played before every film and so would be seen multiple times by their audience.

We tested a few ideas and the preferred story centred around two friends enjoying a night at the cinema. To help the film stand up to multiple viewings we scattered hidden film references throughout. These are iconic movie moments that give audiences something new to discover each time they go to the cinema.

the main characters Picturehouse

To get so much content in such a small timeframe we used split-screens. This is a dynamic storytelling technique used in cinema to help with complex narratives. The whole film is made with 17 split screens.

Split #10

Here we see an extreme close-up with a glass of beer being poured. A tribute to Edgar Wright and his famous close-ups.

This scene was first animated in After Effects and the shot consisted of 63 frames. We then cut each of these out of paper before gluing and numbering them. One of the challenges with animating in this style is making sure everything is accounted for and organised. This seems like a deceptively simple shot but it took three false starts before the movement was close to the look achieved in After Effects.

The texture of the paper here mimics the bubbles of a freshly poured beer. This wasn’t by design but a happy accident.

With the story planned we got to work with Sam Bevington to create the 2D animation. The animation technique we used is called replacement animation. This is where props that change shape need a new version for each movement. We had thousands of assets to design, cut and glue before we could get animating.

Having two stages in our studio is helpful as it means we can be fluid with our shooting schedule. Most scenes were shot on a glass multi-plane and this allowed us to achieve cinematic depth.

With all the scenes animated in-camera, we assembled the split-screen edit and graded the film in Davinci Resolve.


We worked with a brilliant composer – Richard De Rosa – who worked wonders with a difficult brief: “Make something like Take Five by Dave Brubeck…”.

To finish the audio we worked with Fonic. They crafted a soundscape that complimented the visuals and built the atmosphere of going to the cinema.

Picturehouse ident bar scene bts Picturehouse ident bar scene final

All of this hard work resulted in a 60-second cinema ident for Picturehouse Cinemas. This ident will be aired across their network of 26 UK cinemas and played around 350 times a day before each film. This is around 10,000 plays every month.

Exterior Scene

The exterior scene was a very complex one to shoot as there were so many intricate moving parts. One of the main challenges was to keep the glass clean, all pieces in place and organising the assets.

Bar Scene

This time-lapse shows how narrow the shot was, keeping us on our toes. There are also a number of lights and rigs visible in the un-cropped shot.

Screen Scene

This scene took two days to set up and light and is used across all four panels of glass and the backlit background.

“We loved working with Picturesmith, from the very first meeting about the project they took our brief and ran with it. They perfectly captured everything we wanted the ident to do, in a really fresh, striking and engaging way.

Since going on screen with this ident in 2019, we've had hugely positive feedback from our customers, it's great when you hear things like "make sure you get there in time to see the pre-film ident" from a real life, paying customer!”

Sam ClementsHead of Marketing at Picturehouse


Client: Picturehouse Cinemas
Directed, Produced & Animated: Picturesmith
Director of Photography : Peter Ellmore
Gaffer: Jonathan Yates
2D Animation: Sam Bevington
Art department assistant: Magda Madra
Composer: Richard De Rosa
Sound Design: Fonic

Enough Talk, Let's Make Something Together