Inhance Digital has created VFX for several of this year’s TV series Inhance-Grimm-Fusion-Capture
using Fusion Studio as its main compositing software, including four
seasons of CG creature effects for ‘Grimm’.
Inhance & Fusion Studio Reveal Creatures under the Skin on ‘Grimm’
Inhance Digital in Hollywood has been working on several of this year’s TV series, including ‘Jane the Virgin’, ‘Nashville’ and ‘Grimm’, one of NBC’s best-known and longer running shows. Inhance Digital is an interactive marketing agency with digital arts specialties ranging from video production and programming to motion graphics, visual effects and animation. Inhance’s VFX department carries out services for major studios on effects-heavy productions like ‘Grimm’, using Blackmagic Design Fusion Studio as its main compositing software.
‘Grimm’ is a drama series inspired by the classic Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and follows a homicide detective called Nick Burkhardt. Nick is descended from a long line of Grimms who have the ability to see and hunt down supernatural creatures, concealing themselves in the everyday world by transforming into humans. Since its start 2011, the show has earned a large fan following around the world. Each week’s episode requires substantial CG and VFX work as Nick battles humans turning back into different creatures. Inhance has been producing VFX work on the show for the past four seasons.
Inhance VFX Supervisor Eddie Robison manages and helps the team create the VFX shots for ‘Grimm’. Eddie began using Fusion in 1996 while working on ‘Star Trek Voyager’, and has continued to work with the software on shows such as ‘CSI Miami’.
“'Grimm' is our largest client in terms of complicated CG as well as volume of work, and involves a lot of shots that require turning the actors into creatures,” Eddie said. “To do this in Fusion, we first track the plates from set, and then take the 3D tracked information into our 3D elements of the creatures, in several layers. Then we bring all of these into Fusion for compositing.
“Fusion handles the preliminary work, such as removing tracking dots from the actors’ faces and rotoscoping their clothing from plates, through to the complicated layering and blending of CG elements to make a very convincing and photo realistic creature. We can import not only the various passes rendered from 3D as imagery with alphas, but also the elements from .exr file formats that allow us to access information like metadata, UV data, Z-depth and World Position data to use in compositing. Having access to all of this is invaluable.”
“Fusion’s node set up is very well suited to a project like ‘Grimm’. Node compositing can be understood visually. With the main ‘flow’ window, you can see a start and a finish to the composite, with everything in between clearly set out, and you can arrange the nodes and their connections any way you want, so it’s very easy to design it your own way,” he explained. “Timeline-based software, I find, can be more restrictive and show only one way to do a job.”
Also supporting Inhance’s work on ‘Grimm’ are Fusion Studio’s scripting features. “The scripting native to Fusion is super helpful. We have a script that we run after a composite is complete. It takes the final render, resizes it, adds a slate at the beginning that auto fills all of the fields required. It also preserves the metadata and adds it to the slate so that the slate carries the data as well as the image sequence. This creates a QuickTime file to the client’s specifications and moves it to a review folder to be delivered for dailies. This script has been a huge time saver for artists’ time,” Eddie said.
Eddie has been working in visual effects for some time and is now focusing more on running the team smoothly and servicing customers than on the conquest of big shots. He finds that the level of finish clients expect on a TV timeline and budget has made every aspect of many projects a bigger challenge. “Fusion helps us with memorable shots on a daily basis. I was nominated for an Emmy award and feel that Fusion was a big part of that,” he said. www.blackmagicdesign.com