Educating with Robots


Sian Roberts TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Sian Roberts, Online Editor
Issue 110 - February 2016

Educating with Robots

Timeline North's post production director, colorist and VFX artist reveal how they used DaVinci Resolve and Fusion to complete 140 sketches for upcoming CBeebies children's series, Spot Bots

Made up of a series of funny live action sketches, new CBeebies - a popular BBC children's channel - animation show Spot Bots aims to both entertain and educate children through games and puzzles that encourage children to join in at home.

Using Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve Studio and VFX sister software Fusion, MediaCity based Timeline North needed to complete the conform, grade, and effects for more than 100 sketches on Spot Bots at an incredible rate of 10 to 12 sketches per week.

Responsive Grading

My main objective for the series was to make sure that every picture matched and had a colorful, cartoony feel to it. For example, though the majority of the sketches were shot in a controlled, well lit studio environment, a few were filmed outdoors. That meant we had to undertake some work to make those scenes seem a little less gloomy, adds colorist, Stacey Cain.

For shots where the sky was over exposed, I made use of Resolve's luminance component in the Qualifier tool to isolate and key the sky. I would then slightly drop the gain to bring back some detail in the shapes of the clouds, and push some blue back into the sky with Resolve's color tools.

Offline locked sketches were isolated into Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) and imported back into Resolve, conformed to camera RAW, and finally graded, explains online editor at Timeline North, Sin Roberts. Aside from being so intuitive as a piece of software, Resolve's color correction tools were the perfect choice for the project because of how responsive Resolve is - those couple of seconds saved finding the sweet spot on every shot really added up.

Realistic Particles

As well as DaVinci Resolve Studio, the team also made use of Fusion to to create the VFX needed for the sketches, which involved everything from traditional compositing work such as keying and painting to producing full 3D assets, including particle systems.

I found Fusion's node based interface especially useful, as it allowed us to process graphical items efficiently. By simply swapping out the source material and rendering you could instantly have several different iterations to start working with, says Roberts, who took over development of the program's VFX.

I also used a particle generator to create a pixie glow trail that would follow the flying fairy characters on the show, he explains. The flight paths for the effect were created within Fusion's 3D environment, which meant the directional forces on the particles are far more realistic. Also, by tracking a moving shot, I could simulate the original shot's camera positioning and effectively film the glow I'd created with the same perspective - which added a lot of realism to the final comp.


Tags: iss110 | blackmagic | resolve | davinci | aaf | vfx | fusion | mediacity | timeline | spot bots | Sian Roberts
Contributing Author Sian Roberts

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