Germinal - Blackmagic Design - URSA Mini Pro 12K

The film crew of Germinal, a co-production of Banijay Studios (France) and Pictanovo, has decided to shoot the special effects of the fiction with the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 12K.

Germinal is a six-episode fiction adapts the homonymous novel written by Émile Zola. This Banijay and Pictanovo production was shot with the support of the Région Hauts de France for France Télévisions in collaboration with Rai Fiction and Salto. It was also supported by Procirep Société des Producteurs and Angoa, with the participation of the CNC, and distribution by Banijay Rights.

Arnaud Leviez (Digital District) did the visual effects, while colorist Karim El Katari (Deflight) completed the color grading. Together with colorimetry specialist Florine Bel, and under the coordination of director David Hourrègue and cinematographer Xavier Dolléans, Leviez and El Catari created a conversion table with the contrast of Kodak TRI X 320 film in ACES color space and converted it to Rec. 709 to supervise the images on the film set. All of this in preparation for the aesthetics of a shoot that would require a significant number of special effects.

Germinal - Blackmagic Design - URSA Mini Pro 12K

A VFX-packed production

Dolléans needed to be able to shoot in high resolution to handle the production’s visual effects. So, he opted for the URSA Mini Pro 12K model. “Where I was pleasantly surprised was that the higher resolution didn’t result in an outrageously sharp image. On the contrary, this resolution, by rendering lines and curves precisely, results in an even finer and softer looking image”, notes the cinematographer about the project.

The first episode alone had more than 200 visual effects shots. To deal with the post-production phase that these scenes would require, Dolléans decided to shoot in 12K a wide selection of images and objects, including buildings, landscapes and skies. These resources would later be used in composites. At the same time, the Germinal team shot different flares against a black background for later use in an explosion sequence.

Arnaud Leviez, special effects supervisor, says that shooting at 12K allowed them to enlarge the image considerably without losing detail or quality. Leviez gives an example of this workflow: “The opening of the series features an explosion that claims the lives of two miners. We shot this sequence in several passes: the actors in the mine corridors were wired to be able to eject them and simulate the explosion’s blast. Then a horse carrying coal inside the mine, and finally explosion effects shot on a black background in 12K. In compositing, we then put these three elements together. We then zoom in and magnify the explosion, putting audiences at the heart of the flames.”

Finally, Guillaume Bauer, Deflight’s technical director, assembled all the parts of the composition using DaVinci Resolve. “It’s an incredibly flexible tool, VFX integrations were easy, and the ability to move between grade and delivery made it an essential component in completing the project on time and to spec,” concludes Bauer.

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By • 28 Oct, 2021
• Section: Catchment, Postpro