How the Victorians Built Britain
Client: October Films
Brief: A fast turnaround grade and online of a 4 x 60 minute series for Channel 5. Michael Buerk travels the length and breadth of Britain to find out How the Victorians Built Britain. Along the way he uncovers the incredible and surprising stories behind iconic landmarks, discovers the hidden heroes behind epic constructions and finds out how the incredible advances made by the Victorians forged the world we live in today.
How it was done: This was a perfect example of the scalability and flexibility of The Finish Line, which saw us install three of our bespoke picture finishing suites in October’s North London offices in order to allow us to work across the episodes concurrently.
Ben Lee used a combination of Avid Symphony and DaVinci Resolve to prepare each sequence for grading. Each episode featured close to 100 high resolution stills moves, for which Ben used Boris Continuum Complete’s Pan & Zoom plugin for Avid, as well as Resolve’s Dynamic Zoom feature. For any particularly tricky moves, Dave loaded the image into Blackmagic’s Fusion compositing system, which is now seamlessly integrated into Resolve and gives extremely fine control over the acceleration and precision of the animation. It also allows the removal of any aliasing issues introduced due to the fine detail of the “pen and ink” illustrations prevalent in the Victorian era. Ben also ensured that the varying frame rates of the archive material were correctly loaded into Resolve, perfectly setting Dave, Steve and Katie up to start working their colour magic from the very beginning of each grade session.
Footage of Michael Buerk’s journey through the past was predominantly shot in SLog3 on the Sony F55, which helped preserve the wide range of detail in the external scenes. A low cut rate of around 500 shots per episode also meant that our Finishing Artists were able to spend time shaping and crafting the image, focussing the eye on Michael and his interviewees, as well as highlighting key parts of each frame. Where low light levels introduced any picture noise, this was cleaned up using Resolve’s excellent temporal noise reduction which polishes up the picture whilst retaining detail and preserving any camera motion or movement within in the image.
Final captions, titles and credits were created back in Symphony, which allowed all three suites to share templates that could be dropped in to each programme, ensuring consistency across the series. Likewise, a graded pretitles sequence was shared between episodes, which meant that, once these had been signed off by the client, each Finishing Artist had a reference for the look and feel of the show before they began.
The Series Producer was then able to move between each suite to check on progress, give feedback and sign off work throughout the process, helping to reduce their travel times and allowing them to complete the paperwork and admin that every Producer looks forward to at the end of each production!
Once signed off, final sequences were transferred to The Finish Line HQ for QC and delivery by our amazing team of Finishing Assistants.
Although we’ve worked with October on many occasions in the past, this was the first time we have worked with this Director and Series Producer, who commented on both the high quality of the work and how seamless the process was, from picture lock to delivery. We look forward to working with them again soon.
Zeb Chadfield, founder of The Finish Line, said “The whole team involved with How the Victorians Built Britain have been heroic. It’s been a perfect example of how we do things.”
Watch it: Airing from September 1st 2018 on Channel 5