Two men pose on a green screen set at Brillian Screen Studios

Brilliant Screen Studios Deploys DaVinci Resolve Studio Post Pipeline

Blackmagic Design today announced that full service production facility Brilliant Screen Studios has deployed a post production workflow that utilizes DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software at all levels of the process, on both internal as well as client based work.

Established in 2005 by Ace Underhill, the facility was initially based in San Diego. In 2011, Underhill met Zack Ward and the two began collaborating on projects. Ward is best known for having played the bully Scut Farkus in the 1983 Christmas classic “A Christmas Story” and had since moved into producing and directing, in addition to continued acting on various projects. The company moved to Los Angeles to expand operations, offering both production and post services, and now also offers a production rental division and most recently, a virtual production arm.

Underhill and Ward began building a one stop production facility using cutting edge technology to service an independent market, while also working on their own productions. “This way we streamlined our workflow for our own projects while using this knowledge to help our clients save money and time,” said Ward.

While they found ways to achieve this in production, post production continued to elude them. “The garble of post production drove me crazy,” he added. “Constant upgrades, mismatched software, conform issues, communication errors, VFX shot logging, deliverables, and more. Just a royal pain in the butt. Yet, it has been the accepted process for anyone who isn’t a big studio with a huge budget.”

“One of the biggest challenges of post production was all of the round tripping to and from different applications throughout the process,” noted Underhill. “If any changes were made to editorial, then VFX, sound and color all had to be updated and re conformed.”

Underhill began to seek an answer to this age old dilemma. The facility was already using DaVinci Resolve Studio for color grading, and Underhill was aware of the advancements Blackmagic Design had been making in other aspects of post, all built within the software.

“The inciting incident was when I had to spend a week manually realigning the aspect ratio and all the post transforms of our entire film from another editing package to DaVinci Resolve for color grading,” explained Ward. “I’m not proud when I say I got madly frustrated at a process that seemed like it should be automated and instinctive. And that’s when Ace said, ‘I think I’ve found a solution.’”

For the company, it was a natural transition to editing in DaVinci Resolve Studio, and quickly, the facility’s in house music composers and VFX artists began embracing Fairlight and Fusion, respectively. “Everyone fell in love,” said Ward.

“DaVinci Resolve eliminates all of that complication and time wasted by providing an all in one post solution that everyone can access,” added Underhill. “The Resolve collaborative workflow also allows members of our team and clients to work remotely when necessary and saves us time and money as an all encompassing solution. This, in turn, allows us to provide the greatest value to our clients and to our own films that Zack and I produce.”

Beyond DaVinci Resolve Studio, the facility has embraced a wider range of Blackmagic Design products, particularly for its virtual production work. “We currently shoot with the URSA Broadcast G2 cameras and use racks of Smart Videohub CleanSwitches, HyperDeck Studio 4K Pros, SmartView 4K monitors, UltraStudio 4K and Ultimatte 12 4K units, as well as various Blackmagic converters, all wired with 12G and genlocked, which is crucial for virtual production,” said Underhill. “Integrating Unreal Engine into our LED volume and green screen stages puts us on the leading edge of film and TV technology, and Blackmagic products are integral to that workflow.”

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Brilliant Screen Studios continues to expand, and with that comes more offerings for both clients and its own in house projects. “Our brand new finishing theater has both DaVinci Resolve and Fairlight control surfaces to maximize efficiency and quality,” added Underhill. “Our new virtual production stage is integrated into this workflow as well, giving us at the ability to stream out cameras live from set or post to clients anywhere in the world.”

For Ward, a long history in the film industry, from actor to producer and director, has shown him the pitfalls every filmmaker faces. “I’ve spent 43 years in the entertainment industry, and I feel like I’m just getting started,” said Ward. “And now I can see DaVinci Resolve is creating a paradigm shift in production. The law has always been, ‘Good, fast or cheap. You only get two.’ But now we’re getting closer to almost getting all three. As the workflow gets smarter and smoother, it allows us to really flow from prep all the way through post. That is an exciting new world we intend to be leading.”


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