The visual effects and post-production teams behind top-rated television programs such as “Glee,” “NCIS,” “Bones,” “Fringe,” “The Good Wife,” “No Ordinary Family” and “Dexter” and new midseason additions “The Cape,” “Chicago Code” and “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” regularly turn to Digital Entertainment Creation software from Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK), to help raise the bar in episodic television.
“It has been exciting to see the integration of Autodesk’s products into our pipeline. Our artists can create work that just would not have been possible with other packages, and still deliver on our traditionally ‘snug’ television schedules”
“Digital workflows have become more prevalent in episodic television, and as a result, we’re seeing our visual effects and compositing tools used heavily on a variety of programs for compositing, cleanup and beauty work on more dramatic programs to heavy visual effects sequences for more action-laden shows,” said Marc Petit, Autodesk Media & Entertainment senior vice president. “It’s great to see so much creative innovation from the television production community, and we continue to develop our tools to deliver the speed and efficiency that our customers require.”
Eden FX, which provides visual effects for the new series “The Cape,” as well as “Fringe,” “Undercovers,” “Community,” “Teen Wolf” and “NCIS,” has tightly integrated Autodesk Maya, Autodesk Softimage, Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Mudbox 3D animation software tools into its workflow. “It has been exciting to see the integration of Autodesk’s products into our pipeline. Our artists can create work that just would not have been possible with other packages, and still deliver on our traditionally ‘snug’ television schedules,” said Steve Pugh, VFX producer, Eden FX.
Los Angeles-based LOOK FX is working on the sixth season of “Bones” and also contributes visual effects to “Harry’s Law” and “No Ordinary Family” using a range of tools that includes Maya, Mudbox, Autodesk Flame and Autodesk Flare. They were also the lead visual effects house on the final season of “Lost.” LOOK 3D Supervisor Michael Capton explained, "With the short turnaround for TV production, the flexibility of Maya gives us the ability to work quickly and make changes on the fly, enabling us to handle almost any effect thrown at us."
FuseFX creates visual effects for several new and popular shows, including “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “Chicago Code,” “Glee,” “No Ordinary Family,” “Lie to Me,” “Criminal Minds,” “United States of Tara,” “The Good Wife,” “The Unit” and “Mercy.” FuseFX Founder and Visual Effects Supervisor David Altenau said, “3ds Max, our primary tool for computer generated animation and effects work for both television and film, has been critical to our success as a visual effects facility. We use it in combination with V-Ray to create a multitude of CG elements, digital environments, fire, smoke, airplanes, helicopters, digital doubles and more.”
In a standout promo for Season 5 of “Dexter,” the show’s hero stands still in a living room as the world around him turns upside down. Everything from a couch to picture frames to vials of blood, microscope slides and a bowl of cereal crashes to the floor as the room spins in slow motion while Dexter stands unscathed in the center of the frame. For this promo, SWAY Studio used 3ds Max and Flame to build computer generated (CG) elements and complete heavy compositing work in each of the spot’s 30 shots. “This project was challenging because it was a mix of many complex elements integrated seamlessly into an entirely CG environment. Some of the elements were shot practically and had to be carefully keyed, and others reproduced in photoreal CG. I love the internal paint system in Flame — it allows us to have better control over the CG performance of elements,” said Aaron Powell, SWAY Studio VFX supervisor. “I am a big fan of Flame. You can experiment with layers and see them more rapidly. It is a huge savior — especially on a project like this one that involved keying and compositing of highly metallic and reflective elements.”
Keyframe Digital Productions made extensive use of 3ds Max to create visual effects for “Warehouse 13” airing on Syfy and “Lost Girl,” in Canada on Showcase. The facility does a lot of scripting, taking advantage of the open source code in 3ds Max to customize its pipelines. “Our technical director writes scripts in 3ds Max to help mold our production pipeline and continually make our workflow more efficient,” said Darren Cranford, principal at Keyframe Digital Productions.