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VM inspiration: Artem explodes into stores

Artem, which specialises in special effects and innovative solutions for commercial and movie use, also looks after tricky parts of VM.

Based in West London and Glasgow, the company supplies a wide range of animatronics, mechanical rigs, special costumes, high-end model making, puppetry and technical solutions for VM.

Brian the robot stars in Confused.com’s television commercials, Artem’s studios contain two animatronic versions of Brian, each able to fulfill different on-screen requirements. They are carefully packed in transporting cabinets.

A Dalek, arch enemy of BBC TV’s Dr. Who, and the Churchill Insurance Bulldog are perhaps among the cuter mechanical and animatronic models with which Artem works, many of which are arrayed above desks and on shelves.

For Artem, realistic blood and gore is a specialty. The forthcoming Macbeth movie, due for release in September 2015, features Artem’s skillful viscera. And, as for movies, as for VM installations: the atmospheric smoke of the movie really creates its mood. The company also offers wind, rain, and snow - in fact several kinds of snow, with which many VM professionals will be familiar.

Here is the original mock-up for the current Selfridges’ window, Strength, being photographed.

Artem creates 3D images for all of the work it completes. Equipment even allows the 3-D design team to ‘feel’ the surface of the substrate that they are designing, making resulting marks more compelling. For example: clay feels like clay and wood like wood. A complex example is a tandem bicycle and side-car made for the current tour of band Take That.

Here is the final, painted, lacquered, and polished final Selfridges piece, one of a number of black and white variations in the store windows.

In an extendion of the theme Artem produced an exploding window. It contains three discs, against which smoke or powder is fired. In a store, there is a real risk of tripping fire alarms, and condensation from steam would prevent customers from seeing through the window. So, after testing in the studio, Artem proposed industrial talc for best effect, creating an air-powered ‘gun’ which fires on the hour, every hour, 24/7, for the lifespan of the window. This allows the ash to build up over time, as requested by Selfridge’s team. Artem offers risk assessments for its projects.

Artem even has a rotating movie set, like the one used in Fred Astaire’s 1951 movie, ‘Royal Wedding,’ in which Astaire appears to defy gravity by dancing on the walls and the ceiling of a room.

And lastly, one of several BBC 2 icons, this carefully rusted, post-industrial ‘2’ quietly stands a metre high on the studio staircase.