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Darling is a Toronto-based post-production company that specializes in colour grade, VFX and finishing for both Canadian and International advertising.

The team at Darling recently worked on an ad for the Canadian Cancer Society, who partnered with NHL and NHLPA to unite the hockey community in support of people living with cancer and their families across Canada. Paul Binney, Flame Artist and Partner at Darling, gave us an insight into the process and how they created this important ad for a great cause.

Can you give us an overview of the project?

This was a great project with a bold and ambitious idea. We were asked to composite many different NHL legends together on the bench over multiple shots. The idea was to visually illustrate the line “When it comes to cancer, we’re all on the same team”.

What were the initial challenges that you faced?

The initial challenges were unique. We had to marry footage of different eras seamlessly together. Not only were the broadcast colours of the vintage footage different from that of contemporary footage, but they often had different frame rates, aspect ratios and scan modes. We were getting an assortment of footage and we truly were at the mercy of what was being provided. Getting a composite like this to work is a sleight of hand and this is where Autodesk Flame shined bright.

Can you tell us about the goals and timeline for this project?

The goal  was to seamlessly create the illusion of multiple players from different teams to sit, chat and interact with each other on one bench. As is often the case with this type of challenge, we had to find a bridge point. There is only so far you can improve an old interlaced shot of Guy Lafleur, so we decided early that we would elevate the compromised footage as much as possible and then distress the clean, new footage enough to make them appear in the same world. Our Flame Artist extraordinaire Lauren Rempel did most of the heavy lifting on this job and she truly brought this one to life.

Looking at the number of players involved (sometimes more than 10 in a shot) and the type of VFX involved we knew it was going to be a challenge, but we were confident we could get it done both on time and within budget.

What was the solution and how did Autodesk Flame help you get there?

We were confident in Flame’s ability to keep up with our demands and deadlines. We had multiple operators working simultaneously, all accessing one machine through Shared Libraries. We could effortlessly take shots from another suite and insert it into our connected sources sequence and populate across multiple edits in seconds. I truly don’t know how we could have pulled that off on any other platform.

The final outcome was a huge success. We were able to bring the clients and creatives’ ideas to life and more importantly, we were able to bring added attention to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Paul BinneyFlame Artist & Partner, Darling

What services did CineSys provide?

CineSys has routinely provided us with all the hardware, central storage and additional software we’ve ever needed to be a success. They have been with us through the years by offering both onsite support and remote logins to deal with any issues that come up. These Linux machines are temperamental and they need a gentle hand, which is always how it is handled when we get additional help from CineSys. As a smaller shop we do not have a full time IT department and we rely on them to help with our hardware or software concerns and they’ve always delivered.

In conclusion, what made this project unique and impactful?

The subject matter is one that we feel very strongly about. Anything that we can do to help draw attention to the Canadian Cancer Society is worthwhile. Visit their website for more information and please consider donating. When it comes to cancer… we ARE all on the same team.


Company: Darling
Location: Toronto, Canada
Name: Paul Binney, Flame Artist & Partner