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BSkyB fires creativity with Flame

7 December 2007

BSkyB’s in-house creative department has upgraded its Autodesk Flame visual effects systems to the latest version running on Linux-based workstations. It has also invested in the Backdraft Conform media management solution and Infiniband high-speed networking, writes Andy Stout.

BSkyB’s Flame systems are used for promo creation and channel branding across the broadcaster’s news, entertainment and sports channels. The broadcaster has a strong line up of popular shows, such as Prison Break, Lost and 24, all of which require promos. The creative department is responsible for a wide range of projects from live action to effects-heavy post-production jobs with turnaround times of between 24 hours and several months.

“Flame is key to our smooth workflow at BSkyB,” said Nassreen Akhtar, creative facilities and operations manager at BSkyB. “On our major projects, you simply couldn’t accomplish our 2D/3D work in any other environment. Since we moved to Flame, things have just become better and better, especially with Linux, which has made a huge positive difference in our production pipeline. For this particular workflow, it best fits to meet our project timelines. It’s also great when working directly with clients. The system environment is much more interactive than other offerings. Whether it’s our own in-house producers or clients from external production companies and agencies, Flame helps us accomplish collaborative, top-quality work quickly.”

For the Sky Sports channels many of the projects involve working directly with clients such as Ford, Gillette and EA Games, to create sponsorship packages. The creative department used the Flame systems to create promos and titles for coverage of the Barclays Premier League and the Rugby Guinness Premiership, handling all the compositing work on the projects.

Commenting on the Barclay’s Premiership project, senior Flame artist Matthew Butcher said: “This was a pretty complex job, especially with the sequence being just 15 seconds long and with a lot of information to get in there. We needed to rotoscope footage of four popular players celebrating, and then seamlessly composite them into an exciting 3D stadium environment, complete with a 3D crowd. The final shot is of the Premier League trophy being lifted with lots of 3D tickertape in the scene. The color warper in particular was absolutely amazing. The footage came from games played in all manner of day and night lighting, so the grading was very important to keeping things looking consistent.”

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