Supporting groundbreaking VFX on Disaster Autopsy

Generated with advanced 3D computer modelling and virtual animated studios, the eight-part Disaster Autopsy series demanded new ways of doing things and a custom workflow.

Disaster autospsy

Production company Blink Films is a pioneer in the use of 3D computer modelling and virtual animated studios, and with Disaster Autopsy for National Geographic they took their technical innovation and creativity to the next level.

Viewers see experts seamlessly interacting with “live” 3D animations of infamous disasters of the modern era. The reality of how these were constructed is far more complicated than it seems, with the animations filmed in an entirely blacked-out set. It’s not until post production, that the shows contributors finally get to examine the virtual evidence and reconstruct each disaster.

Disaster Autopsy relies on highly creative VFX and animations composited seamlessly via a process known as blending modes, coupled with sophisticated motion tracking. This required meticulous planning from pre-production and studio shoot onwards, through to offline rough-cut and final post.

Offline used the Boris Continuum Suite in Avid Media Composer. This enabled editors to achieve a close approximation of the final composite, while remaining in their preferred multi-cam cutting environment.

In-house we developed a custom workflow to accommodate the offline, through to native conform at UHD, with final grade and online in Davinci Resolve, ensuring that all attributes flawlessly carried from one system to another, whilst leveraging Resolve’s native compositing and blend modes.

This approach allowed for a full UHD grade and online to enable rescaling and compositing for HD delivery. Whilst filmed using static isolated cameras, the final affect effortlessly places the contributor into the environment of the animated studio, matching scale and position and giving the illusion of a fully immersive environment.