Post-production houses regularly turn to digital entertainment creation software from Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), to help bring movie-like visual effects into millions of homes in this season’s most-watched television programs. Highlights include a 3D video game universe in “House,” the evocative color finishing of “Mad Men” and the UEFA Europa League rebrand.
Ascent Media, which provides creative and technical services through its worldwide network of media facilities, including Encore Hollywood, RIOT and Level 3, uses a combination of Autodesk Flame and Autodesk Inferno visual effects software, Autodesk Lustre color grading software, Autodesk Smoke editorial finishing software and Autodesk 3ds Max 3D animation, modeling and rendering software on more than 25 shows this season, including “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “House” (comprehensive list below). “The Autodesk family of software helps facilitate interoperability between our companies to maximize workflow efficiency and put our best work forward for our clients. The tools are efficient, and the cross-platform compatibility allows our talented artists to focus on creativity,” said Bill Romeo, Ascent senior vice president, Entertainment Television.
Los Angeles and Vancouver-based Zoic Studios contributed to a variety of shows kicking off the fall season, including “Flash Forward” and “Fringe.” For the sci-fi drama “Flash Forward,” Zoic created urban destruction with Autodesk Maya software for modeling, texturing, fluid dynamics, solid body and particle effects, as well as Flame for timing, retiming, rotoscoping and element placement. Zoic also used its Maya and Flame pipeline on “True Blood” and “V” as well as for digital prosthetics, character creation and animation on “Fringe.” In addition, Zoic used Maya on “Mad Men,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Californication,” “Human Target” and “Ben 10-Alien Swarm.”
Entity FX, with a toolset that includes Maya, Flame and Inferno, worked on three visual effects-intensive shows this season: “The Vampire Diaries,” “Smallville” and “Eastwick” (along with two feature films, “This is It” and “Law Abiding Citizen”). “Eastwick” features photorealistic effects infused with magical flourishes, and in the premiere episode, an animated army of hostile digital ants was created using a custom script in Maya and composited in Flame. Dan Rucinski, executive producer, Entity FX, said, “This year alone, our artists used our Autodesk bag of tricks on four feature films and eight television projects, most recently to create — in a very short time frame — 2D and stereo 3D effects for the Michael Jackson movie.”
The effects work created by CBS Digital (CBSD) this season spans the gamut from straightforward green screen on the new hit show “Modern Family” — where artists used Flame to help composite exterior views — to the complex opening shot for the acclaimed bio-pic “Georgia O’Keeffe,” where artists re-created 1920s New York. CBSD transformed footage of a city block in New Mexico using Maya to authentically model the buildings and Inferno to combine multiple 3D layers, green screen extras and period cars.
Six-time Emmy-winning post house LaserPacific looked to the Lustre digital color grading system to shape shows such as “Mad Men,” “The Good Wife” and “Eastbound & Down” as well as two made-for-television movies, “Wizards of Waverly Place ⎯ The Movie” and “Georgia O’Keeffe,” for which Maya was also used.
The London-branch of Prime Focus was commissioned by design agency Ingredient to create opening and closing credits and bumpers for the rebrand of Europe’s soccer championship, the new UEFA Europa League (previously UEFA Cup). The sequences feature a dusk-lit sky as the camera moves through rural locations while giant projected images of Europe’s top players serve as the backdrop. With RED camera-captured football source footage, Prime Focus modeled 3D architecture in Maya and used Flame to help map the 3D camera moves. Flame was also used for compositing, color correction, sky replacements and realistic finishing touches of moving clouds and city traffic. Derek Moore, Prime Focus creative director, said, “Maya and Flame allowed us to overcome many complex challenges and create the exact look we wanted.”
Studios that worked with Autodesk software to help create content for this TV season are:
o NY and LA-based LOOK Effects used Maya and Flame for its work on “Bones.”
o The Toronto location of Spin VFX used Flame and Maya to create the eclectic combination of live-action and animation for the Canadian tween hit “Majority Rules.”
o Ascent’s Encore and RIOT used Lustre to help create the look of “Lost,” “90210,” “Medium,” “CSI: NY,” “Hung,” “Big Love,” “Heroes,” “How to Make It in America,” “Fire in the Hole,” “Lie to Me,” “Terriers” and “In Treatment.”
o Ascent’s Encore and Level 3 Post used Smoke, Inferno and 3ds Max on “House,” “NCIS,” “NCIS LA,” “90210,” “CSI: NY,” “Medium,” “Monk,” “Weeds,” “United States of Tara,” “Hung,” “Entourage,” “Big Love,” “Past Life,” “The Closer,” “Castle,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Melrose Place,” “Flash Forward,” “Bones” and “24.”
Autodesk, Inc., is a world leader in 2D and 3D design, engineering and entertainment software for the manufacturing, building and construction, and media and entertainment markets. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk continues to develop the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art software to help customers experience their ideas digitally before they are built. Fortune 100 companies ⎯ as well as the last 14 Academy Award winners for Best Visual Effects ⎯ use Autodesk software tools to design, visualize and simulate their ideas to save time and money, enhance quality, and foster innovation for competitive advantage. For additional information about Autodesk, visit www.autodesk.com.
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