Next Dimension: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

Having been in discussion with an old friend possibly even more enamoured with the game show than myself, I’d a feeling – as indeed I do on every conversation – that his unabashed delight in cheesy presenters, sparkly sets and strobe lights would rub off on me. And I was right. He’s a terrible influence.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire launched on ITV in September 1998, coming after years of developing and tweaking the format of both the quiz and the show itself. Stripped in half-hour bursts across two weeks, the show was an instant success – in subsequent series, it would boast audiences of almost twenty million, even with the rapid increase of satellite alternatives, and soon it’d have travelled the world. The computer game was the best-selling of the year 2000. It left its rivals, offering cars and a couple of grand, in the dark. Millionaire was perhaps the last ‘event’ game show, and in its favour was its universal accessibility. People used to be talking about it in the playground at first school – we simply couldn’t fathom such monstrous sums of money. I expect we weren’t alone in that view.

It was the cleverness of its construction that allowed even we, aged only six and seven when it started, to engage in the programme. Pitching the questions as multiple-choice and presenting them for the duration not only cajoled bullish contenders into chancing their arm, but it also meant that everyone at home could have a go, with a decent chance of indeed being correct whether you had the foggiest idea what the question was asking or not. Instantly, there was a connection – you were active viewers, and your thought process informed the narrative between yourself and the contestant, which might have already been dictated by their outwardly laddish tendencies or crippling nerves. Superiority or regret was amply topped up. Only fuelling this – one way or another! – was the stewardship of Chris Tarrant; invariably incensing in his lengthy pauses and stalls, he was also very good at making you care about what was going on. You couldn’t imagine anyone else doing the job.

I was most powerfully fascinated, though, by the show’s set as a child (weird kid). Designed with the show’s capacity for theatre very much in mind, the round, stepped-up nature exacerbated the isolation aspect, while also offering potential to be unitive in atmosphere. True to the game show, it had its share of shine and strobe, but they were used in a very different way, again only adding to the tension of the thing. I was fascinated by the way the lights would go up and down, the house lights dropping darker the further the player ventured, until it was just them and Chris visible.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was not only a historic game show, but really is the reason for much of the television that has followed. The dark, spotlit sets. The dramatic music scores. The focus on emotion. Big viewing figures. Indeed, the bar was only going to go up (or down, depending on what you might think!) and it wasn’t long before Millionaire‘s playbook was stolen. Once the jackpot had been bagged, though, the moment had passed rather, and interest began to wane, big wins became less of a story, certainly compared to cheating ehe-NO!-m Majors trying to con their way to the cash.

In the subsequent years, the show slipped steadily into irrelevance – shifting from stripped five days a week to early Tuesday night, and subject to several last-ditch format reversions, none of which worked. Tarrant quit in 2013, with the final show going out quietly the next year. Something of a shame really, though I won’t pretend it shouldn’t have gone many years earlier. Much better off remembered as the unstoppable force it was in its pomp.

wwbam12

But we don’t want to give you that! Into the next dimension – 27 June 2012

The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire set was, I believe, the very first thing I tried to build in 3D nearly half a decade ago now – mainly because I thought it looked simple. I soon realised it was far from such, but nevertheless, the way that shapes actually seemed to be, and the ease in which colours and textures were falling into the view-port, made me want to explore the subject in greater depth.

With my confidence increasing recently, and with this quizzy shot in the arm, I thought I’d give Millionaire another go, to see if I could master the whole lighting business, a practice in which I’m lagging slightly. The floor would also be a challenge.

millionaire03aThe build was refreshingly simple, if laborious at times. Lots and lots of radial cloning. As I thought, replicating the glass-and-dish construct of the floor was tough; all about achieving the right texture – namely, that crooked, shard motif. It didn’t turn out quite as I hoped, but I think it’s at least on the right lines.

millionaire01The lights were rather more difficult than expected. I did not know how to get the snazzy pattern to show on the floor, nor could I find anywhere that told me; this suggests that either I’m insane in wanting to do this, or it’s so blindingly simple that no advice is necessary. In the end, I put a disc with the pattern cut out of it, directly in front of the spotlight falloff, and grouped it. It worked a charm, and once I’d started setting them properly, the stage began to really look Millionaire-ish in appearance.

millionaire02aI even rendered a quick video of the lights going down – as mentioned earlier, one of the most vivid draws of the show for me when I was little. There’s something rather stilted about the animation compared to the routine on TV, and I’m not quite sure why that is, but it was nice to try and the descent into darkness is very satisfying. In that hobbled-together effort, I intertwined my 3D with some graphics I made back in 2012, which were created with a view to actually recording a couple of ‘academic’ Millionaire episodes for a sixth form. Purple was their colour, so purple was what they got! Sadly it never happened – perhaps they realised it was out of their budget? – but I still have the visuals, I suppose now merely fan art:

So that’s Millionaire. Given that I’ve only spent a couple of days on this, and it took me three years to complete the Countdown set, I think I fared rather well. I at least learnt a lot in setting up and animating spot lights. Now I just need to explore glassy stuff in more detail, and try and preferably come up with a solution that doesn’t take three-quarters of an hour to render one frame.

Constructing the set did give me greater appreciation for the efforts of the old games, which generally were well done, especially looking back after fifteen years. The PlayStation 2 version, which came complete with a CGI Chris Tarrant was, quite naturally, hilarious.

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36 comments
  1. Wow! This turned out great!! The lighting is fantastic!! I’ve actually see this show as well…😊hehe So I can speak on more authoritative terms. Awesomely rendered!! A big million dollar win! 😃

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jacob said:

      Glad you like the lights, Charlie – they were fun to play with. And what’s this? A show that we’ve both seen!? I can’t cope with this!

      It’s still going over there, isn’t it – you should go on! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh yes, I was hooked on this quiz show, I even know someone that appeared on it, sadly he did not do very well. I had never really considered how powerful those lights were, oh and the music. Thanks J

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      And thanks, R! It was really quite a superbly choreographed element, and fun to try and replicate. The music too, indeed – it was perfect across the board.

      Ooh! A shame about your friend, though, Millionaire was so big in stature that not doing particularly well could still mean a generous prize. I always felt most sorry for the ones who sat in the Fastest Finger First chairs and never got to play. That must have been a bit disappointing!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jacob, you are amazing! What awesome illustrations. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing talent with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      Sharon, you are amazing. Thanks so much for your kind and generous encouragement!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, JP. The lifelines are there if you need them!

      Like

  4. Anthony King said:

    Absolutely fantastic work Jacob! You’ve recreated millionaire in a beautiful fashion! You’re graphics are so crisp and clear – better than the actual show. Please do more Millionaire work and I bloody love the studio set!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Anthony! I’m not planning to do any more with Millionaire as yet, but I’m sure if that changes it’ll end up here.

      Like

      • Anthony King said:

        No worries! Keep up the amazing work in Cinema 4D 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, amazing work !

    I wanted to know, by which software did u build your wwtbam set ? I’ve build my own on google sketchup which this one is almost finish, inspired by the french design.

    Do u think that I can do the same thing as your model, by importing my .fbx file on C4D ?

    Maybe If u okay, you can cooperate to shown me some tips and tricks ?

    Thanks in advance for an answer.

    Regards.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      Hello Christopher. Thanks so much for your lovely comments.

      I’m not terribly familiar with SketchUp or even .fbx files, but I know that you can convert models into .dae and import into C4D perfectly well, with all textures intact. Perhaps you can do the same with a .fbx.

      I’m no natural when it comes to 3D, but I would do my best to help if you’ve any issues – I’d also love to see your work on the French set if possible!

      Like

      • Hey, thanks for this fastest answer !

        Well, I’ve just importing into .dae on C4D and it works better than .fbx, thanks for this information !

        As for my work on Unity with also some test, here they are :

        You can also PM me via Yt for more informations and exchanges, if it’s possible…?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Jacob said:

        Christopher, thanks for sharing these. Very impressive! Your spotlights are certainly looking slicker than mine, as is the lighting in general. Great work – I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on your channel!

        Like

      • Jacob said:

        Fantastic. I’m so impressed by your attention to detail!

        Like

      • Also, I wonder how you’ve done to descend the moving heads, I have some difficulties for this… maybe can I send you a .dae file, If you can solve this issue and tell me what’s wrong ?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Jacob said:

        Hi Christopher – sure, I’ll take a look for you. If you’d like to send by e-mail, you can reach me by:

        jl_sutton@outlook.com

        Like

  6. JulianW said:

    Great work. I worked on producing the show in 99 a highlight. You should do some more with this, accomplished motion work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Wow, what an accolade! I can imagine it was a thrill to be part of something so enormous. Thank you for your lovely comment, Julian – should I do anymore with Millionaire, you’ll be sure to find it here!

      Like

    • Nathan said:

      Sick and better than the real UK purple set! I love the gold and purple scheme, it makes me think of rich chocolate ^^

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Hello Nathan, thanks very much. You’re not the first to make the chocolate comparison, and you’re not the first to make me want a bar as a consequence!

        Like

  7. Amazing work! I hope you don’t mind me using your images in my PowerPoint game template of Millionaire. After watching your lighting test again, I was wondering if you would be able to help me finish this game with either a couple more screenshots of your work, or short clips with the lights?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Hello,

      And a very impressive PowerPoint, there! I’m quite happy for you to use my images – all I’d ask is that a credit and/or link to the original is given somewhere.

      I could probably render out a couple of extra images for you; I’d have to know more regarding video clips, as they can sometimes be troublesome (time-wise) to render.

      Thanks for your interest!

      Like

      • I will definitely credit you and link when I release it on my site. I think it’ll be easier just to do screenshots instead of video clips; I don’t want to cause you any trouble. Feel free to email me, and check out the rest of my games at rusnakcreative.com

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Great stuff. As it happens I once had a go at replicating the game show Countdown in PPT – so I can appreciate all the more the effort that has gone into these!

        Thanks again. Likewise, if you want to chat some more about this, you can reach me at:

        jl_sutton@outlook.com

        🙂

        Like

  8. These are fantastic. I’m making a comedy video spoofing Millionaire and found these via Google image search. Like the previous commenter, I was wondering if I could use your images or even your video graphic and green screen actors into them. I would credit you however you like, and I promise it’ll be funny. It’s also independent and non-commercial, by the way. I’ll check back here or you can email me.

    Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Hi Spencer,

      Sure, feel free to use anything you see here – if there are any other shots or angles you have in mind, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. As for credit, just a link to this site would be great.

      Big thanks for getting in touch. All the best with the video!

      Like

      • Thank you so much Jacob! As a matter of fact, there are alterations that could help me, and I’d Venmo you $50 if you could take the 0:15-0:20 portion of your video here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll6GbSLRKYw

        …and do the following to it:

        1. Remove the “£64,000” banner

        2. Delete the chairs, computers, and the pole that the computers branch off of (the circular segments underneath can stay). This is because I’m going to insert my own rickety table, monitors, etc. as a joke.

        1080p would be better, but if only a 720p version exists, that’s fine. Thanks for considering the job, and I apologize in advance if I’ve accidentally lowballed you or assumed the simplicity of my requests too much.

        Like

  9. Brandon said:

    Hi,

    I stumbled upon your work and it looks fantastic! Is there a way you could send me the c4d file with the textures? I’m doing a mock who wants to be a millionaire with actual people on green screen. So it would be great to have an actual set behind them. Id ask you to just send clips, but getting the right angle might be tricky for you to do without seeing the footage. Let me know if you can send me those files

    Again, awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Brandon, thanks ever so much for dropping in and for your generous comments.

      That sounds fine to me – it’d be nice to see it put to use! All I’d ask is for an acknowledgment/credit in the final production. I’ll sort the model out a bit, and then get back to you via the e-mail you’ve used for this comment. Thanks again!

      Like

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