Inspired by true events and the relationship between Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephen Mangan), Houdini & Doyle draws heavily on the rich history of the period, offering a mix of the real world, crime, and the supernatural. A vast array of Technicolor services was relied upon to bring the series to life.
The first eight episodes of the series were shot in the UK around Manchester. Technicolor London set up the 4K/UHD workflow utilizing the security of Technicolor’s Global Dailies solution and ensuring the color continuity on-set. Post-production for the project took place in Toronto with Technicolor housing the complete pipeline, including offline editorial, color finishing, sound, and packaging. “My experience with Technicolor was fantastic”, said Executive Producer David Hoselton, “Having so many superb resources under one roof makes it incredibly convenient; the fact that everyone is so damn nice makes it a no-brainer. ” Technicolor Toronto has a number of 4K/UHD suites covering all creative areas and Houdini & Doyle was able to make use of these. Colorist Brett Trider worked closely with cinematographers Phillipp Blaubach and Stephen Reizes to set the look for Houdini & Doyle. “Television is becoming increasingly cinematic. What I think really sets this show apart is that it’s a period piece with a modern cinematic look,” said Trider. “Due to the increased resolution provided by 4K/UHD, I was able to maintain details in both the high and low lights and take advantage of the increased dynamic range of the raw camera footage.”
Mr. X provided all of the VFX for Houdini & Doyle, including On-Set Supervision for the episodes shot in the UK as well as VFX Supervision in Toronto. Lead by visual effects supervisor, Ed Taylor, the team developed simple, creative solutions that were inspired by their experience on “period” projects such as Penny Dreadful and The Three Musketeers. Working with producers Adrian Sturges, David Hoselton, and Maggie Murphy, Mr. X delivered approximately thirty-six shots per episode with the most challenging being a CG Scotland Yard and Houdini Hotel. Technicolor’s design and VFX team worked together with Mr. X, to de-modernize some exterior shots, create crowd duplication, and various composites.
Re-recording mixers Al Degraaf and Mike Woroniuk worked with the client to create a period mix with a modern supernatural interpretation. The multiple deliveries of the series required subtle differences in the mix- ITV required a more traditional feel, and Fox was looking for a more contemporary sound. “We were lucky to have a unique score provided by composer James Jandrisch for each episode of Houdini & Doyle”, said re-recording mixer, Al Degraaf. “The unconventional style of the music was a real creative driver for the show and Mike and I used it as inspiration to create supernatural elements that enhanced the story.”
Technicolor also provided real-time mix review supervision in three locations simultaneously (connecting Technicolor mix stages in Toronto with London and Los Angeles). This gave the executive producers based in London and LA the ability to listen to the mix in Toronto at full 5.1 theatre quality, highlighting Technicolor Sound’s ability to be flexible, adaptive, and to work to the highest standards internationally. Technicolor’s end-to-end approach continued through the delivery process, managing Houdini & Doyle’s extensive delivery schedule and providing different HD versions for the North American and UK markets as well as the 4K version for Sony.
Houdini & Doyle is a 4K/UHD Canada/UK co-production from Big Talk Productions (UK), Shaftesbury (Canada) in association with Shore Z Productions. Houdini & Doyle premieres May 2 in Canada and in the US, and has already premiered in the UK during mid-March.