specialist’s virtual production modes aids in visual effects design, production
design, production planning, and more for Emmy-nominated National Geographic
Calif.—In a project spanning 9 months, BARABOOM! Studios
served as previsualization supplier for Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey,
assisting in the design and execution of numerous complex visuals for the
groundbreaking National Geographic Channel series, which recently won 4 Emmy
Awards. The Los Angeles-based studio
contributed to all 13 episodes of the series’ first season, as the hub of a
virtual production model, creating previsualizations used in planning visual
effects, set design, stage and locations shoots, and post production processes.
BARABOOM! Studios is one of the industry’s leading specialists in previsualization,
a service that is gaining increasing use throughout the production cycle to
save time and money, and improve creative options.
BARABOOM! Studios’ previsualizations were used in
planning more than two dozen shots for the show’s final episode where host Neil
deGrasse Tyson pays a virtual visit to the ancient city of Alexandria, Egypt.
preliminary Sketch-up files provided by production designer Seth Reed and art
director John B. Josselyn to produce 3D models of the city’s legendary library.
These models meshed with the live action set and served as a planning tool for
visual effects; a process known as post-vis.  

“The models
allowed the production designer and visual effects supervisor Rainer Gambos to
experiment with their designs and make changes on the fly,” explains BARABOOM!
Studios creative director Pepe Valencia. “They could add more columns, enlarge
the library and otherwise modify the space.” 
In addition, Baraboom! built models of the city itself and mapped out
complex camera movements with Gambos, to be utilized by the visual effects
vendor for final renders.
previsualized more than a dozen shots for the show’s fourth episode A Sky
Full of Ghosts.
The shots were part of a segment about gravity and showed
what would happen to a New York City street if gravity were reduced to zero or
raised to 8 or 9g, or 100,000g. At zero g, for example, people and objects
would fly off into space; at 100,000g, a fire hydrant would be crushed by its
own weight.
For that
sequence, BARABOOM! was given a Sketch-Up file of the sound stages at Paramount
Studios in Hollywood, where live action elements were to be shot.  Previs was used to plot camera and crane
positions, camera movement and lighting (position of the sun and shadows), and
also to determine which elements could be shot practically and which should be produced
as CG.
BARABOOM! produced a virtual replica of a New York street where backgrounds
were shot. “We were able to illuminate many aspects of the production before
crews arrived on the set,” observes Valencia. “We were able to indicate
sunlight, and show what the lighting conditions 
would be depending on if they were shooing in the morning or in the
afternoon. If it was going to be shady, they knew they’d have to shoot from a
different direction.” 
“To move a crew
around takes a lot of time, so if you can figure things like that out ahead of
time, it saves crew hours,” adds executive producer Mike Pryor.
knows how many extras they are going to need, and how many cars,” Valencia
says. “We give them a lot of information.”
In a task
involving Tech-viz, the BARABOOM! team produced high resolution (42K)
3-dimensional star maps, representing the night sky from both the northern and
southern hemispheres. The maps were based on data supplied by National Center for
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)
detailing the positions and movements of more than
300,000 stars, and were verified for accuracy by Cosmos’s scientific
advisors. BARABOOM! provided the maps to the show’s production team and to
visual effects vendors to ensure that representations of stars were accurate
and consistent throughout the show.
Valencia notes
that applications for previsualization have grown markedly in recent years as
film and television production has migrated to fully digital means. For Cosmos,
previsualization was used as a planning tool to aid the director, the
production designer, the art director, the cinematographer, visual effects
vendors and others.
everything is digital, we speak the same language as every department of
production,” Valencia explains, referring to a recent presentation he gave on
Virtual Production at the film conference FMX in Stuttgart Germany. “Film and
television production used to be a linear process, but today it’s more
circular. As the production designer is building the set, the visual effects
team is already adding to it. Previsualization is a tool that can help
different departments communicate better and work together more effectively. Cosmos
is a perfect example of this tool in action.” 

Based in Los
Angeles,  BARABOOM! Studios works
locally, on location or virtually, depending on the needs of the individual
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