18 August 2016

BrainDead

Production Company: CBS Television Studios, King Size Productions, Scott Free Productions
Creators: Robert and Michelle King
Starring: Beth Malone, Happy Anderson and Stephen Kunken

DNegTV are delighted to be the primary VFX vendor on Robert and Michelle King’s (Creators of The Good Wife) CBS’s new “dramedy” BRAINDEAD which premiered on CBS last night. Missed the show?  Don’t live in the US? Don’t worry, the series is available to watch right now on Amazon Prime!

braindead-portraitThe 13 part series contains a large number of complex VFX shots, many of which involved the visualisation of an alien race of brain eating “bugs”.

DNegTV designed and created the CG alien characters, focusing primarily on an ant like design that can be mistaken for the everyday; but upon closer inspection reveals it’s true extra terrestrial form. Complex rigs and animation cycles were created for speedy turnaround, with hero “bugs” hand animated to give a flourish of individuality to their performance.

A number of shots also involved huge quantities of the bugs being on screen simultaneously, necessitating a Houdini FX simulation for the 1.8 million separate alien creatures, to bring these spectacular moments to fruition.

Jake Braver, who was the show side VFX Supervisor on the Pilot said, “DNegTV was a really natural fit for Braindead. They walked into the show with robust creature pipeline, amazing ideas, a great team, and they were game for anything, not sure what else I could have asked for!”

“DNeg TV brought so much to the table, and they did some tremendously complex work on what pretty much amounted to a pilot schedule. The complex nature of the bug attacks, both Brianna and Wheatus, involved complex 3D facial and body tracks and complex animation”

“In post, we had a Polycom in our review room, and DNeg had one as well— so between that and Cinesync, our communication was easy. We had daily morning Cinesync reviews, and I would pull Robert in to look at things as they were ready for review, by the time we got back into the office the next morning, most notes had been hit. It was a really fun way to work.”

In a key sequence at the opening of the series a meteorite crashes into a frozen lake resulting in a tsunami like ice wave hitting watching bystanders. This had to be fully realised in CG alongside the subsequent creation of fully CG underwater environments, digital double scuba divers, CG schools of fish and CG articulated cranes.

Says, Jake Braver of the sequence, “I decided very early on in prep that the wide shot of the underwater sequence would be best served by being fully CG, which is never a decision I make lightly. We had the advantage that DNeg could start building the diver assets concurrent to casting of the roles and the design of the costumes. The closeups were shot at the last second in a swimming pool. The whole thing is pretty seamless. They did an amazing job with that sequence”

Other work for the pilot episode included detailed CG corridor extensions, populated with specifically shot greenscreen elements of crowd, digital matte paintings of the Capitol building with CG crowds, various greenscreen effects shots, screen inserts and blood additions.

DNegTV’s Executive VFX Producer Stefan Drury says, “We really couldn’t be having more fun than we are on BrainDead. Not only is the show incredibly funny it also has a host of complex visual effects shots, which you may not expect from the genre. It’s wonderful and refreshing to be able to contribute to the humour of a show with our visual effects work. Robert and Michelle King are dream clients as they are fantastically collaborative and encourage us to make creative animation decisions giving life and character to key sequences within the series.”

The series is also available on Amazon Prime.