Dezeen Magazine

Factory Fifteen brings city to ruin in "CGI extravaganza" for Spitfire Audio

British film and animation studio Factory Fifteen has produced a CGI video exploring a freeze-frame moment of a city on the brink of apocalypse.

Factory Fifteen created the one-minute sequence to showcase a new sample library from Spitfire Audio, a sound-effects company whose clients include composer Hans Zimmer.

Fire-breathing monsters attack city in Colossus video by Factory Fifteen for Spitfire Audio
Factory Fifteen's video for Spitfire Audio explores a city facing destruction

The studio's background in architecture is evident in the one-shot sequence, which creates a cinematic impression of a city facing destruction.

Combining references from across film, television and video games, the fast-paced video sees the city under siege through bank robbery, biological destruction and fire-breathing monsters.

Plants take over city
The Last of Us was one of the references for the visualisations

Factory Fifteen co-founder Paul Nicholls describes it as "a CGI extravaganza".

"We proposed an idea where the world unexpectedly freezes, and the camera goes on a journey where around every corner there is a different moment in epic cinema," he said.

The video is a showcase of Spitfire Audio's Albion Colossus library, a collection of orchestral sounds created with action movies in mind.

Skyscraper that looks like Empire State Building in Colossus video by Factory Fifteen for Spitfire Audio
It begins with a shot of a skyscraper resembling the Empire State Building

The drama begins with a view of a man falling from a skyscraper resembling New York's Empire State Building.

Time freezes just before he hits the ground. It is at this point that the camera begins to move and new scenes unfold, each revealing a different dimension to the action.

One scene shows buildings and streetscapes overtaken by nature in homage to the post-apocalyptic TV series The Last of Us, while the final scene references movies like Godzilla, where monsters wreak havoc across the city.

As time is frozen, the soundtrack was vital in bringing the scenes to life. "The music brings drama and tension," said Nicholls.

Bank robbery scene in Colossus video by Factory Fifteen for Spitfire Audio
The action freezes but the camera moves to explore different scenes

Factory Fifteen's work often features striking visions of buildings and cityscapes.

The studio directed the BBC's BAFTA-winning Tokyo 2020 promotion video, which wove a story of British athletes in the streetscapes of Japan's capital.

Ambulance scene in Colossus video by Factory Fifteen for Spitfire Audio
An ambulance scene features in one of the camera transitions

The Colossus video was produced in a similar way.

"It's to do with the clever camera transitions," revealed Nicholls. "It feels like it's one really big space but it's actually one very strange assembly of lots of different spaces."

"Over the course of the animation, they get smaller and smaller. You're not creating miniature sets, but you're putting things abnormally close together to produce the conceptual effects."

Fire-breathing monsters attack city in Colossus video by Factory Fifteen for Spitfire Audio
The end scene sees the city overrun by monsters

Nicholls and former classmates Jonathan Gales and Kibwe Tavares co-founded Factory Fifteen in 2011 after studying architecture together at The Bartlett School of Architecture in London.

They first earned renown for a series of dystopian films including Robots of Brixton and Megalomania.

Nicholls described Colossus as "a homage to our past with a more lighthearted tone".

Dystopian city
The visuals reflect Factory Fifteen's background in architecture

The video release follows the tragic death of Gales, who was hit by a suspected drunk driver in downtown Los Angeles in late 2022.

Since then, Factory Fifteen has rebranded itself with a new logo, website and showreel, and relocated to a self-designed studio in southeast London.

"I'm hoping Jono would be proud of the new direction," said Nicholls.