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Milk's 3D vfx for Doctor Who 50th gives it the feel of a movie

Vfx house Milk was behind the visual effects for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary episode, The Day Of The Doctor, which was shot in stereoscopic 3D.

Milk created a series of  large-scale CG environments, action and CG spacecraft in stereoscopic 3D to support the epic storyline in which the Doctors embark on their 75-minute adventure.

 The vfx company created 129 visual effects shots including the dramatic sequences featuring the Gallifreyan city of Arcadia under siege at the hands of the Daleks.

Milk constructed a large scale 3D environment of the falling city, buildings, debris and explosions; and fly-through shots that immerse the audience, taking advantage of the depth that stereoscopic 3D allows, making the sequences more visceral. 

Milk created the dramatic 3D Time Lord paintings at the National Gallery through which the Doctor and Clara witness the  battle and fall of Arcadia and which form the entry point for the viewer to fly into the city.

One of the biggest challenges was creating a framed painting that appears to be a two dimensional object but which, when the camera moves around it, is revealed to be a full 3D environment with depth, whilst still remaining within the picture frame. 

Milk also worked with the BBC’s art department to design the Dalek fighter pods - a new feature of the Dalek fleet - created specially for the 50th anniversary episode to maximize the speed and agility of the Daleks in the attack sequences during the fall of Arcadia.

The team at Milk (previously as The Mill’s TV department prior to Milk’s launch in June 2013) has been creating the visual effects for Doctor Who since its regeneration in 2005. During this time, the team has won awards including a BAFTA, a VES (Visual Effects Society) Award and an RTS Award for their vfx work.

"Having worked on a number of stereoscopic 3D feature films we relished the challenge of working in stereo for television," says Will Cohen, Milk’s ceo. "It was a pleasure to continue our working relationship with Steven Moffat and the BBC team to bring their creative visions to life, creating striking visual images to support the heart-stopping narrative and making the Doctor Who look more like a movie than ever before.” 

Milk is currently working on the BBC’s Doctor Who 60-minute special Christmas episode featuring Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. The episode will be broadcast on BBC One on Christmas Day.

Milk’s current TV projects also include Sherlock: Series Three (Hartswood Films/BBC); new pirate drama series Black Sails for Starz; Sky’s New Year’s Day TV special - David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive (Sky Atlantic); and the new TV drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a seven part mini-series (7 x 60’) due to be broadcast on BBC One in the UK in 2015.

On the feature film side, Milk is working on MGM’s upcoming Hercules and has recently completed work on 47 Ronin for Universal.

Posted 26 November 2013 by Pippa Considine

Bake Off inspires BBC me-too formats

The success of BBC Documentary's Great British Bake Off, followed by the Great British Sewing Bee, both from Love Productions, have set the BBC's commissioning green lights flashing across a raft of subjects.

There are three more competition formats announced so far: The Great Allotment Challenge from Silver River and Studio Lambert's The Great Interior Design Challenge for BBC Two, plus Hair, an in-house production for BBC Three.
The Great British Bake Off - where The Apprentice meets the Women's Institute - has undoubtedly ticked many boxes for the viewing public and for the BBC.

The highest rated show on BBC Two since the current ratings system began in 2002, Bake Off is a heart warming, relatively inexpensive production, which has inspired people across the UK to don their aprons and get baking Bath buns and Bakewell puddings.

It's also been remade in several territories, (although the US version didn't take off), and has spawned Junior Bake Off, a hit for the younger generation. And it's led to BBC Two's Great British Sewing Bee, another success story, seeing 2.7 million viewers tune in to watch 81 year-old Ann crowned Britain's best amateur sewing queen.

"It has proved that an ill-fitting zip or badly placed dart can make for compelling television in much the same way as a soggy bottom on Great British Bake Off," said BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow, as she announced a second, six part series of Sewing Bee for 2014.

The final of the last Great British Bake Off series clocked up nine million ratings, with bigger audiences than most dramas and shiny floor shows.

What's not to like?

With The Bake Off heading to BBC One to give the channel's documentary store cupboard a special ingredient, BBC Two will still have the eight part Sewing Bee, to be joined by six, hour-long episodes of Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge in the new year and The Great Interior Design Challenge, a 12-parter commissioned through the factual features team.

The Great Interior Design Challenge marks a departure, as the other four commissions have been developed by the BBC documentary team, now led by Emma Willis, who is not alone in thinking that the the documentary maker's approach to film-making is one of the secrets of these format successes. “It’s riddled with actuality,” she says about Bake Off. “Instead of pointing a camera at the anatomy of a crime it’s the anatomy of a sponge cake, it’s a level of forensic done with a real seriousness of intent, but about cakes.”

The less than showy presenters and judges on Bake Off are surely also something to do with the ratings. Presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins with judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry eschew the heels and four-hours-spent-in-make-up of The X Factor in favour of tidy M&S outfits or ill-fitting jeans. There's acres of modesty, underpinned by genuine talent and quiet, homely humour. All very much in tune with the times.

Claudia Winkleman's easy, intelligent wit has also clearly hit a spot on the Sewing Bee, together with judges May Martin from the Women's Institute and Savile Row's Patrick Grant.

It remains to be seen if Fern Britton and her pair of judges, Royal Horticultural Society judge Jim Buttress and floral designer Jonathan Moseley will woo the nation with their Allotment Challenge.

Next up will be Tom Dyckhoff, architecture and design critic for The Times and judges Daniel Hopwood, architect and interior designer, and Sophie Robinson, ex-editor of BBC Good Homes.

Followed by Steve Jones mediating on the talents of crimpers and cutters, with judges Denise McAdam, session stylist and royal hairdresser, and Alain Pichon, international session stylist, who has styled Madonna, Scarlett Johansson and Claudia Schiffer.

It will be interesting to see if these (and any other similar formats waiting in the wings) will cut it with their ultimate judges, the viewing public.

Posted 22 November 2013 by Pippa Considine

World's smallest 4K OB van

This three wheeler moped van is a natty ob unit from Danish production services company Nimb TV.

Nimb has joined forces with producer/director Troels Lund to create the world's smallest 4K OB-van.

Built with the help of AV specialist Stjernholm & Co, the OB van will be used for high quality, multi camera Ultra HD 4K production in the Danish broadcast industry, big screen events and live concerts. It has already been booked for the ‘boot camp’ section of the next season of Denmark’s version of The X Factor, which will use various locations across Copenhagen.

Nimb TV’s live production workflow includes Blackmagic's ATEM Production Studio 4K, which can handle SD, HD or Ultra HD 4K video sources from up to eight of the team’s own cameras, or their broadcast clients. The ATEM Production Studio 4K will be used with an ATEM 1 M/E Production Panel for hardware control.

The ATEM Production Studio 4K’s 6G-SDI and HDMI 4K video connections mean Nimb TV can handle Ultra HD 4K video sources via a single cable and each input includes a frame synchronizer allowing the use of non genlocked sources. There is also an HD down converted HD-SDI program output for when the switcher is operating in Ultra HD formats, but a regular HD program feed is required.

The workflow also features a HyperDeck Studio Pro SSD recorder, while capture and playback is handled by Blackmagic’s UltraStudio 4K. The team has also installed a Blackmagic Audio Monitor, a rack mount monitoring solution with advanced 6G-SDI video for Ultra HD video sources.

The  power supply is a single 230V connector, which allows it to power a production from a standard household power plug.

Niels Borup, co founder, Nimb TV, says, “We now have the ability to work with a huge range of customers, from independent filmmakers to national broadcasters, and can offer flexible, reliable Ultra HD 4K production, wherever they want to film.”

“Niels and Toke are a hugely proactive, passionate production team that has spotted a fantastic opportunity in the market,” says Morten Stjernholm, ceo, Stjernholm & Co. “Blackmagic’s ATEM Production Studio 4K enables the team to produce content to the same high standard as you find in huge OB trucks, but the size and agility of the moped van gives Nimb a huge competitive edge. The Ultra HD 4K workflow enables the team to offer the highest quality streaming for major live events, as well as a flexible system that broadcasters can quickly plug into with their own camera choices.”

Posted 13 November 2013 by Pippa Considine
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