Director, Editor, Colorist and Post Supervisor Alex Ferrari used Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro digital film cameras and DaVinci Resolve Studio to shoot, edit, grade and finish the streaming series “The S.P.A.A.C.E. Program.”
“The Scientific Pop and Also Cultural Explorations Program” aka “The S.P.A.A.C.E. Program” is a new streaming series from Nerdist and Legendary Digital Networks available on the Alpha streaming platform. The eight-episode series blends together science and pop culture by visiting different fictional planets and realms, such as Tatooine, Krypton, Arrakis and Westeros, and examining them through a scientific lens. Host Kyle Hill and his robot assistant AI visit a different place from pop culture each episode and break down the big scientific questions, such as what is it really like to live on a planet with two suns or what makes a White Walker a White Walker.
Led by Ferrari, the series was shot using two URSA Mini Pros. “We only had four days to shoot all eight episodes, so it was a very fast-paced shoot,” Ferrari explained. “We decided to shoot with the URSA Mini Pros because we knew they’d be reliable and fast, and they’d get us the cinematic look we were going for. You can take them straight out of the box and they’re ready to go with no fuss. The menu and operating system is intuitive and easy to use, so you don’t waste any time while shooting, and having the timecode on the side was helpful. Reliability can be a rarity, so the fact that we could count on them when we were in the heat of battle really made a difference.”
“We shot everything in a practical spaceship set that showed the cockpit, hallway and war room,” Ferrari continued. “All the windows were green screen, and we created outer space and the surrounding worlds in post. Being able to cleanly pull keys was crucial, and the camera’s sensors made it easy. We shot the whole series in 4.6K ProRes, which gave us a lot of latitude in post.”
DaVinci Resolve Studio was used on set by the DIT and then in post by Ferrari for the series’ full editing, grading and finishing.
“Using DaVinci Resolve Studio on set allowed us to organize and synch everything in real-time. At the end of the shoot, we easily exported everything and went right into editing,” said Ferrari. “By keeping everything in the ecosystem, I was able to directly edit the entire series in native 4.6K ProRes without having to transcode to a smaller proxy file. Doing everything soup to nuts in DaVinci Resolve Studio saved us a lot of time that would have been spent roundtripping.
“Moreover, it’s allowed me to evolve my editing process so color is intertwined rather than a separate function. As I edit and select shots, I can easily jump from the Edit Page to the Color Page to see if I can save a shot that might be too blown out or too dark. I can work on the lighting in real-time to see if I can make the shot work, which is invaluable in the creative process. Using DaVinci Resolve Studio, I can make editorial decisions based on what I know I can make work in color, rather than just hoping something will work down the line or scrapping what might be the best take because it initially seems unusable.”
When grading the series, Ferrari was inspired by the planets and realms Hill and AI visited. “We wanted the series to look cohesive from episode to episode, but we also wanted each to have its own look that mirrors the land we’re visiting. For example, the episode on LV-426 is more cold and desaturated. I used a greenish overtone for the episode with the Borg, whereas I used a very warm palette for King Kai’s planet in the Dragon Ball Z episode. Since each place the series visited has such a strong look already associated with it, we wanted to play homage to that,” Ferrari concluded.