Technicolor VFX was the sole VFX vendor for the Netflix original series while Technicolor provided dailies and full picture and sound post-production services.
Spinning Out, a Netflix Original streaming now, is set in the world of competitive figure skating. The show was created by Samantha Stratton (Mr. Mercedes), a former competitive figure skater herself. It centers on Kat Baker (Kaya Scodelario), a high-level figure skater whose path changes to pairs skating after a disastrous fall. She faces challenges on and off the ice, managing her own internal demons and less than perfect home life with her mother Carol (January Jones) and younger sister Serena (Willow Shields).
Principal photography for the series took place over five months in Ontario, Canada, and Technicolor VFX was brought on board early in the process to establish the VFX methodology, receiving the first set of scripts in late 2018.
“There are a lot of moving parts in Spinning Out,” said Technicolor VFX Creative Director Kevin Chandoo. “The storyline is focused on skating at world-class competitive level, a skill level we would have to match for our lead actors.”
To align the professional skating skills needed for the actors, extensive planning and second unit shooting took place to enable seamless face replacements. “We needed to work out early in the production schedule how we were going to deliver the numerous face replacements while fitting into the shows timeline and budget without compromising on quality,” continued Chandoo.
Working together on early development ideas and a proof of concept, the team gained confidence that their methodology and technique were going to be successful for the show. “Working with Kevin and his team was an absolute dream,” said Creator/Showrunner Samantha Stratton. “We were amazed by the attention to detail and care that he and his team brought to every single shot. I felt like our relationship was a true collaboration, and while I honestly wasn't expecting that visual effects was going to be one of my favorite parts of the process, it turned out to be because of the wonderful people at Technicolor.”
A total of 670 shots was delivered for the series, with over 100 in the first and last episodes, ranging from 2D face replacements and “world building” elements, such as set extensions and crowd duplication.
Keeping the color uniform through the skating scenes was imperative. “There are a lot of color correction tools that can be used to blend the VFX shots with the live action shots,” said Colorist Mark Kueper. “Keying the skin tones of the skaters and paying attention to hairlines and the general contrast of the eyes in particular was important to make everything believable.”
Re-recording Mixers Paul Williamson and Alfie DiPucchio took a stylistic “real world” approach to the sound mix of Spinning Out. Mixing in the Dolby Atmos format allows the viewer to be placed into that world, for example in the many arena competition and practice scenes. “With the added height dimension in the Atmos format, I positioned the program music playing from above and the reverb bouncing all around the room as it would in an arena,” said Re-recording Mixer Paul Williamson. “You feel part of the crowd watching the skating performances with the music and sound effects enveloping you.”
With all the ‘skates carving through ice’ sound effects meticulously edited by Gray Aletter and mixed by Technicolor re-recording engineer Alfie DiPucchio, the viewer is placed right at ice level watching the action.
“One of the biggest challenges on Spinning Out was the creation of the skating sequences,” said Executive Producer Armand Leo. “We had to communicate the light, sound and emotions that go into the drama of figure skating. All the technicians and artists at Technicolor understood our ambition to make these sequences as dramatic and realistic as possible. With the help of the colorist, sound mixers and the impeccable visual effects team, we were able to execute these sequences at the highest level.”
You can see Spinning Out streaming now on Netflix.