LA Productions Builds Up ‘Broken’ on Resolve/Fusion Pipeline

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Post production for BBC One drama ‘Broken’ has been completed at LA Productions in Liverpool, including the conform, grade, looks development and visual effects. Post supervisor Patrick Hall led the project, a six-part prime time series following Catholic priest Father Michael and his work in a parish in the North of England. He serves as confidante, counsellor and confessor to a congregation struggling to reconcile its beliefs with the challenges of modern day life.

Patrick’s team uses an editorial pipeline that employs Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio. "After completing the offline, we moved the project across to DaVinci Resolve. Relinking the ProRes 4444 media, we were able to work natively in 4K during the conform and grade," he said.

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He indicated that the references for looks in ‘Broken’ were distinct and uncompromising, even at the start. "The director and DoP drew inspiration from American reportage photography in the 1960s and ‘70s, photographers like William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, both known for the everyday nature of the scenes and subjects in their work and for their pioneering use of colour in art photography," Patrick said. "These photographers also spent time exploring communities in the American Deep South, communities that had very little money, but who had very strong beliefs. It was a fascinating mirror of the characters in Broken, and the story we wanted to tell."

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The starting point for the entire grade was a series of five LUTs that Patrick and his team used to emulate the different styles reflected in the various photographic references.
"Similar to any drama series, one of our greatest challenges was consistency,” he said. “The emulation LUTs alongside Resolve's ColorTrace proved particularly useful when it came to delivering multiple versions for international distribution, which can be a complicated, time-consuming process. Copying grades from one timeline across to another took only a few seconds, and was relatively straight forward."

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The visual effects for the series were composited and rendered using Fusion Studio. "We had around 90 VFX shots across the series and then many more flares and OFX plugins that we introduced directly through Resolve," said Patrick. "In fact, we could use Fusion Connect during the offline assembly edit, which gave us a chance to send VFX shots into Fusion during the offline process as a rough cut. That was actually very useful because once we came to the conform, we only had to adjust the looks of the early Fusion files, based on the online material."
The range of invisible effects tasks LA Productions carried out on the show included the generation of 3D rain particles and sky replacements. "Our production crew had shot all of the train footage used on the series in one go, presenting continuity issues when trying to use it later at various points across the series. It became our job to make it fit. In several instances we needed to add rain to the train window. We did that using Fusion's particle generator and then applied motion blur to soften those effects and match with the original footage,” Patrick said.

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"DaVinci Resolve and Fusion used together make up an effective node-based workflow that becomes quick and simple to use, once you know how. Especially on a prime time television drama, I don't know of any workflow that would be quicker or more efficient for the conform, grade and VFX."

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