Entertainment | Post Production


Dynamo is Dead

Dynamo is Dead is a jaw-dropping, two-hour special which sees world-renowned magician Dynamo defy the odds and go beyond the realms of normal magic – by burying himself alive. As he grapples with his own inner struggles, Dynamo seeks answers from inspirational figures around the world so that he can bury his past and find a new beginning. Dynamo is Dead was post produced at Sky Post Production, and consisted of the main feature programme, plus 12 extended interviews and 10 additional content reels. Here’s how our technical and creative teams worked their magic over 9 months, from March 2023:

Vickie Mansell, Post Production Supervisor:

It was a joy to be the Post Producer across Dynamo is Dead; it’s been such an enormous project, with multiple stakeholders and moving parts as well as being top secret for months! From the very beginning we had to come up with some creative solutions and new workflows to accommodate the Red cameras, red raw footage as well as edit locations and softwares. Personally, I loved working with the team at Expectation, who were always keen to push the envelope and were collaborative and open-minded to all of our ideas for the post.

Liam Stiles – Workflow Supervisor

What started off as a seemingly innocent 90-minute show turned into a full-scale, high-end documentary shot on RED cameras in full 4K, 6K and 8K. The show would be transmitted with live segments from Newcastle including a live grand finale, all of which would then need to be returned to Sky Post for an overnight repackage for repeats and VOD. This meant that there was a great deal of innovation happening in Edit Operations from the way the ingest was handled, right through to the conform for the final timelines and the way we needed to prepare them for the roundtrip to grade.

The raw material amounted to 122 terabytes so, as the Editors cracked on with the offline edit, the next big job was to work out the best way to conform the show. Edit Ops resident Baselight expert, Jason Gallacher, got to work on taking a sequence from Avid, loading it into Baselight, pointing it at the raw material and then working out the best settings to render the media back out in a flavour both Baselight and Avid would be happy to work with during Online.

On top of this, Sky’s Promos Department required around 100 mini conforms to be done so they could cut their Campaigns. For the final show’s conform we decided to split the final show into two sequences; one for the RED media (about 80% of the programme, which Zak Jaques took care of), and the other for non-RED media, including archive & stills (which I took) which meant that we could work through the sequence more quickly.

It was a mountain, several mountains in fact, to climb but we got there in the end, and it was a lot of fun working through all the logistics involved. Every project is a learning curve and only adds to our storehouse of knowledge and we have come through this one armed with new information that will no doubt feed into future workflows.

Mick Logue – Post Production Senior Manager

My role on Dynamo is Dead, along with our Post Technical Lead, was to spearhead a successful remote Post Production setup for this confidential project. We took charge of the remote suite setup to ensure a minimal on-site presence, utilising our remote edit kit.  This kit is known for its versatility and proved invaluable. The location chosen by the production company, a house in North London, already had all the necessary infrastructure and with reliable internet and power supply, and the entire installation process took just 30 minutes so the team on site could get up and running pretty much straight away, reflecting the careful planning and preparation invested in the technical aspects of the production.

Dynamo is Dead showcases Sky's dedication to delivering high-quality Post Production solutions, even under challenging circumstances. I’m delighted that the success of the project shows the adaptability, efficiency, and professionalism of our technical team.

Lee Mynett – Offline Editor

As part of Sky's Post Production Editing team, my colleague Jen Ford and I were asked to provide additional material for Dynamo is Dead owing to the sheer volume and quality of content created over the course of filming. There was some really lovely footage available which, due to time constraints, couldn’t fit into the main show and that gave us an exciting opportunity to lead the extra editing efforts. My primary task was to cut eye-catching pieces showcasing Dynamo’s street magic with members of the public, along with some magic-based celebrity interactions in a studio-based environment. The loose brief provided a creative canvas allowing us to create some really great pieces. Working with sync pulls of varying lengths, our goal was to create 5-minute sequences that gave a real ‘Wow’ factor. All of this had to be done whilst maintaining a sense of mystery and adhering to the "Magic Circle" secrets which added an extra layer of challenge and was great fun.

Mark Mulcaster – Colourist

Ahead of the grade I was given access to some of the footage to explore the look of the film, and this was followed by a startup call with Director, Ty Evans, as we went over his thoughts for the overall look. Ty lives in LA so, due to the time difference, wouldn't be present during the sessions. However, our Edit Operations department were kept busy sending over both stills and viewing links during the grade. We discussed the general look of the film which needed to feel glossy yet authentic. We also wanted to ensure we weren't compromising the resolution and so every step was made to ensure that, as the production was shot on 4K, 6K and 8K, we could let that level of detail shine through in the final image.

We graded in a nice tone curve which gave good density without feeling overly dark and a nice level of saturation with healthy skin tones. From experience I felt that a heavy or overly stylistic grade would detract from the magic as it could break the audience's suspension of disbelief. With that in mind we embraced the environments as they were, so overcast days were left with overcast skies and sunny days were left to feel sunny, to really accentuate a sense of naturalism. 

Some of the scenes had more of a ‘reality’ feel to them so we graded them accordingly. With other scenes, such as the conversion in the prison, we pushed the grade a little bit further whilst still maintaining a grounded feel. We did some light beauty work on some of the contributors, as per their agent's requests, but again, the aim was to keep the authenticity of the conversations and the contributors’ experiences.

The production predominantly employed Red cameras which made the colour workflow slightly more challenging, but the intent was to maintain access to both the Red Raw in the grade as well as the camera resolution in both grade and online. The Red cameras also gave me a lot of latitude and consistency from camera to camera. We adapted our current entertainment workflow to accommodate this, and to maintain editorial flexibility in the online, by using an AAF round trip via the Baselight plugin back into Avid. Using this process meant that online finishing could take place concurrently with the grade which was vital due to the tight turnaround.

We didn’t experience any major difficulties in the grade, and it was Sky Post's Editorial and Colour Assistants who took on the challenge of several lengthy conforms. These related to twelve extended interviews with the contributors, in addition to the main feature, which we also delivered. These were graded by me using the look created for the main feature, and separate street magic cuts which were graded by my Sky colleague, Ben Whitney.

Dynamo is Dead was a joy to work on. The production team were fantastic; they were driven and focused yet open and collaborative which gave me the time and space to explore the look of the film and, hopefully, create a bit of magic myself.

Jon Slade – Online Editor

The offline had punched in on a lot of shots of the proxy media, to make use of the fact that the source material had been shot in a variety of resolutions all of which were higher than the delivery specification. I needed to remake all these resized shots in an alternative way, once conformed, to utilise this extra resolution. Our Baselight workflow allows me to easily re-apply the colourist’s grade even after I have altered a shot which is a clever way of working. Given the fast turnaround and scale of the production, this was vital and afforded me the flexibility to work on the Online and slot graded pictures in later.

There were a few instances of disguising or blurring areas of the screen, purely for legal or compliance reasons, which relied on some swiftly created rotoscoping. I delivered this in parts so the OB could play them in, and, once broadcast, I’ll repackage everything into a repeat version. 

Finn Curry – Re-Recording Mixer

As the project was kept heavily under wraps, I didn't hear about what it was until quite close to the mix starting. When I found out who it was, and what it was about, I knew that it would be a really interesting show to work on.  I had a meeting with the Director, Producer and Music Supervisor where they laid out their ideas for the mix which was extremely helpful. Tatjana Radivoj, the Mix Technician, and I also discussed how we would work together on some of the content.

We were aiming for the highest quality mix possible, making it sound good, clean and punchy. Dialogue has to be clear, but music has to be loud in the right places, as does the sound design. When I mix, I always want the sound to help the story and not hinder it. So, despite there being some quite loud, abrasive music, I wanted the mix to work in such a way that when there was dialogue over those tracks, it was still super clear. Listening critically to one’s mix of a scene is very important. You have to imagine you're hearing it for the first time and not for the 100th.

One of the main challenges was ensuring that the dialogue was nice and evenly matched. There were many people interviewed in lots of different locations, and often on different mics as not every interviewee wanted to wear a radio mic. Matching up radios and booms with all the different perspectives involved as well as making each room sound convincing was a decent challenge. Making the sound design and creatively mixing the music for the magic tricks and emotional chats was lots of fun. For this I worked alongside the Music Supervisor and together we moulded the music using filters, reverbs and delays to help the dynamic of the scenes with Dynamo's magic.

The team:

Additional Content Offline Editors: Lee Mynett / Jen Ford 

Additional Content Sound Editor: Tatjana Radivoj 

Additional Content Colourist: Ben Whitney

Main Show Colourist: Mark Mulcaster  

Online Editor: Jon Slade  

Main Show Dubbing Mixer: Finn Curry  

Workflow Supervisor: Naman Davda / Liam Stiles  

Edit Assistants: Zak Jacques / Jason Gallacher 

Post-Production Co-ordinator: Mike Town  

Post Production Supervisor: Vickie Mansell  

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