The animated web series, the Portalcreated for Bleacher Report by animation studio InfiniteWorld, was produced using DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX), and audio post-production software and Fusion Studio software VFX and motion graphics.
InfiniteWorld is an all-remote company that offers direct brand support and asset building for marketing, e-commerce and metaverse. He was commissioned by sports culture website Bleacher Report and its parent company, Turner Sports/Warner Media, to create a limited animated series that brings today’s biggest NBA stars and legends to life. from the past for head-to-head competition. Current NBA stars featured in the series, which airs on the Bleacher Report website, include Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kyrie Irving.
Longtime fan of DaVinci Resolve Studio since working as a stereoscopic supervisor on feature films, Jared Sandrew Executive Producer knew that the software would become a key element in the production of the Portal From the beginning. “I love this tool so much that I insisted we use it for this project,” Sandrew said.
bringing Principal Composer J. Bills to the team, Sandrew immediately asked Bills to learn Fusion Studio as well, realizing that other high-end compositing packages would be prohibitively expensive for the show. With Bills’ extensive experience not only as a composer but also as an editor and colorist, Sandrew quickly brought him in to lead the entire publishing workflow.
Creating a workflow became the key ingredient to producing the level of quality expected by Bleacher Report within tight deadlines. “Even though budget is a common excuse, I don’t think it had a huge influence on the tools we chose,” Bills said. “Everything must be battle tested and rock solid with our setup, above all else. Failures and downtime are not an option. Beyond that, everything must have the ability to create the level of art that we are capable of, while allowing us to build a pipeline that saves as many clicks as possible along the way.In short, Fusion and Resolve tick all the boxes.
At the start of each episode, Director Will Groebe provided basic storyboards and a working track was created. Bills integrated the assets into DaVinci Resolve Studio and quickly created an edit timeline for review. “To really give an idea of what the finale might look like, often times this ‘boardomatic’ edit can get quite complex and messy,” Bills added. “I remember scenes in early drafts of the pilot episode where we were doing full-fledged comic-style split-screen panels and animated graphic mockups, Saul Bass-style.”
“One of the things I love most about Resolve is that the combination of tools has opened up new ways of working,” Bills continued. “It’s great to be able to create the soundtrack in the edit page or to be able to instantly switch to Fairlight for more audio intensive work. Whatever mode I’m in with a particular scene, I can work quickly and do things like open the Fusion tab to do a little paint patch on a storyboard, maybe flop a character to face another direction, or cut and paste the ball in the other character’s hands to get a board working without having to go back to Will for a new drawing. That’s where this “one app to rule them all” model really comes into its own. We’re moving really fast, and if I have to stop to open another app just to find an audio track and mix it, or make a little composition tweak, this would seem like such a buzzkill after working with Resolve.
Once the storyboard is approved, the 3D team begins their work, generating full 3D assets and character animation. Temporary animations are sent back to Sandrew and Bills, and additional reviews in DaVinci Resolve Studio help them find issues that might not have been visible in a 2D format. As the edit begins to solidify and Bills waits for more complete 3D assets, he takes advantage of DaVinci Resolve Studio’s multiple tools to push the process forward. “As we tighten everything up, I’m also using some of the downtime while the preview artist is working to catch up on some of the editing backlog, like bringing in more layers of sound effects and music raw, and further develop the audio track,” Bills said. “Sometimes I add effects to the edit or a speed dial gag as a replacement.”
While the majority of animation is generated in a traditional 3D package, Bills quickly discovered that the powerful 3D workspace built into Fusion Studio could help speed up the process while removing extra work for the 3D team. “We used Fusion’s excellent 3D space, for example, in the Jumbotron element that appears in many shots,” Bills said. “We knew it couldn’t be done in 2D or 2.5D because the 3D camera work was so dynamic. Instead, we created it in Fusion. I was delighted that the software was up to the challenge and that we were able to completely eliminate this plate element from our CG department.
For Bills, integration with 3D was key, and Fusion Studio’s ability to use assets to create unique effects became an important part of the workflow, as did Fusion Studio’s ability to handle datasets. bulky. “The arena environment consisted of nearly 4,000 spheres to create crowd density that would hold up in 3D and look beautiful from any angle,” Bills said. “The orbs were procedurally animated in a 3D package and then transferred to Fusion as raw geo with looping animations through a still. Many of our base Fusion comps for these setups hit the 300-400 range megabytes, before being precompiled.The mob solution was certainly a testament to the amount of data Fusion can handle in the heat of battle and the robustness of the 3D system.
With four episodes of the Portal series under his belt, and more to come, Bills believes the DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio workflow is the best choice for the project. “Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Resolve and Fusion,” Bills said. “For me, it all comes down to the software that excites me the most, allows me to produce at a high level, gives me the speed and stability to meet deadlines and clock in at a reasonable time, and has the features to match the tasks at hand. Our mantra on the project is ‘make it work and make it cool’, and that’s what we are capable of doing with this workflow.
Ultimately, Sandrew felt the choice to rely on DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio at InfiniteWorld was the right one, for many reasons. “It’s definitely the killer combo for animation studios today, not just in terms of feature set and stability, but especially when you factor in the cost of licensing,” Sandrew added. “Resolve and Fusion punch well above their weight, and they continue to impress me on a daily basis with how well they hold up to the high octane stress we put on them.”