Wild Babies follows the lives of 17 wild baby animals in 16 countries. Narrated and directed by Helena Bonham Carter, the series takes its viewers from South Africa to South Carolina. Humble Bee Films produced the series with the online and compliant version completed by Picture Shop, the picture division of Streamland Media.
Imran Ramzan, technical manager at Picture Shop, said: “Even before the pandemic, filming 17 different types of baby animals would have required several different cameras. However, the shootings during the pandemic have aggravated this situation. Dealing with changing travel regulations and flight delays meant that production often had to rely on the people and technology available in the region. As a result, nearly 20 different camera formats, including GoPros and drones, were used. »
There was a huge amount of data to process at the end of the shoot. The 8 x 30 minute run saw half a petabyte of data stored in total, a ratio of around 400:1 in terms of actual media used.
“It’s very common in wildlife cinema to have large amounts of data,” says Ramzan. “We advised the Humble Bee team to rent a large network storage box which we could then simply transport to our offices and plug in directly, which worked extremely well.
“We used an ACES pipeline for compliance, online pre-qualification, scoring and online, which works extremely well for a natural history program like this, and has absolutely helped give us the best color accuracy possible throughout the process, not to mention Resolve’s ability to easily create custom LUTs. We used Avid for offline and DaVinci Resolve for compliance, and the integration between the two was brilliant, especially since every camera under the sun had been used to shoot the film. For example, the ease and flexibility of frame rate conversion in Resolve saved a lot of time, including how effects like 3D warps and ramp rates are preserved between the two packages.
After conforming each episode, the team transferred it to solid-state storage to support the online pre-grading process. Line editor James Beynon made the line using the originals of the camera rather than creating a mix, which allowed him to ensure a high quality build for the stabilizations, noise reductions and quality control. Before the rating, he applied IDTs and LUTs to the footage where applicable.
After grading, it worked to apply noise reduction and sharpening. Using an ACES color profile in Resolve allowed him to easily transfer content to and from Nucoda. At this point, he also added title graphics and delivery standards.
The online and compliant team at Picture Shop in the UK used Fusion for finishing and adding graphics, along with several third-party plugins for Fusion such as Mocha and Sapphire, which added the finishing touches to the series.
Throughout this process, access to the original native files greatly accelerated the workflow; the team could simply remove them from their storage rather than requesting files from another organization.
“I actually got into this industry to work on natural history productions,” says Ramzan. “Wild Babies really captures the roller coaster of emotions of family life in nature, and it’s been fantastic to see Netflix pushing different formats. I ended up watching three episodes in a row with my family. You can really see the love and attention that has been given to the show by our team, the Humble Bee team and Bonham Carter herself; she has made everything run so smoothly, and her direction and storytelling have produces something quite special.