Nashville’s Magnetic Dreams, a multiple Emmy award-winning studio, recently had the opportunity to work with writer and executive producer Jeff Galle on the independent feature film Yellow Day, a stunning combination live-action and CG animation film about a young man’s spiritual journey as he relentlessly searches for his lost love.
“Working with Magnetic Dreams on Yellow Day was awesome, and we were thrilled to achieve such high quality effects on a reasonably sized independent film. We have been greeted with numerous compliments by industry professionals, who have been taken aback by the complex blend of live action and 3D animation, particularly on a film of our size. It’s been super exciting for us,” said Galle.
Once the film was shot, Magnetic Dreams was brought on board to discuss the animated portions of the film and VFX touch-ups. The studio generated approximately 140 shots of fully animated content and visual effects. From the onset, Don Culwell, EVP at Magnetic Dreams, requested that Blackmagic Design’s visual effects and motion graphics solution, Fusion, be used for all compositing. “Many of the shots took place in a dark foggy world and the ability to create and fine tune the fog in Fusion was a huge time saver,” explained Culwell.
Joël Gibbs, compositing supervisor at Magnetic Dreams, was asked to do some tests with the volume tools in Fusion, “Everyone was blown away by the results. It became apparent that many steps traditionally handled by our main DCC app could be handled by Fusion, freeing up artists and making director tweaks more accessible. The look of the fog was easy to manipulate and tweak and the speed was amazing. A mid-range NvidiaGTX 770 was getting updated fog (between 4-6 Volume fog nodes with various noise settings per scene) in 2 to 4 seconds working at 2K.”
Magnetic Dreams relied heavily on Fusion’s volume mask tools primarily for color correction. “When combined with a world position pass, I could pinpoint a single area on the set that I wanted to darken or highlight and the mask would stick to that point throughout the shot,” elaborated Gibbs, “and since it was based on a world position pass, the settings worked from one shot to the next as long as I was in the same environment. That made setting up similar shots super fast!
“Another more specific use of the volume mask was to transition from the dark night world to the daytime world. In a majestic camera pull out, the world changes from dark and foggy to sunny and colorful. We could have used a regular mask, but having access to the volume mask made it so that the mask was actually pushing through the trees. The fog really felt like it was being pushed away.”
Taking advantage of Fusion’s scripting capabilities, Magnetic Dreams built in-house tools to speed up the comp setup time. “Echo, written by Tim Crowson, is like a shot duplicator tool. You set a shot up and then you can select which other shots in your sequence have the same set up. Then it goes in and creates a new comp, changes loaders, changes savers, and saves the comp in the right location.” explained Gibbs. “We have a few other pipeline scripts that also help us manage 3D render passes. They worked wonders on Yellow Day and we plan to expand them for projects in the future.”
Gibbs explained that it took a few projects before they fully understood how invaluable Fusion would become to their workflow, “We had an opportunity to work on a music video ‘We Both Know,’ directed by Roman White for Relativity’s feature film Safe Haven … It required environment creation with some water and pier extension for footage all shot on green screen. Inspired by Uncharted Territory’s work on [Roland Emmerich’s] Anonymous,” continued Gibbs, “I jumped in and was able to knock out 40 – 50 shots in under two weeks!”
Specializing in motion graphics, 3D animation, compositing, and visual effects, Magnetic Dreams has a popular roster of clients and productions for the commercial, film and video, and broadcast markets, including Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” music video, several projects for the classic children’s series “Sesame Street,” and Marvel’s “Iron Man Extremis” and “Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers.”
[This story was prepared by Blackmagic Design and edited for this post by Animation Magazine.]