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NATPE: Globo Drives Into VFX, Showcased by ‘Wounded Past’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 1/17/2017 John Hopewell
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Presenting early results at NATPE – such as a motorbiker sicario attack in telenovela “Wounded Past” –  Globo, Latin America’s biggest TV network, is driving into VFX to give larger action heft to its scripted fiction – and build its brand as a high-tech pacemaker in Latin America.

Variety has had access to the a video featuring the attack and Globo techies explanation of how it was staged. The push comes as Raphael Correa Netto, Globo’s international business director will now assume oversight off the whole division, taking over from Ricardo Scalamandre.

Starring Tarcisio Meira (“Gabriela”) and Regina Duarte (“Pages of Life”), “Wounded Past” is is fact not an action series but long-running, 130-episode second-chance-at-love telenovela, featuring two lovers, Pedro and Helo, treacherously separated in youth, who reunite 20 years later.

Aired in 9 pm primetime from last October, “Wounded Love” is in many ways a classic novela featuring “Love in its most varied forms, villainy, jealousy, suspense, intrigue, and ambition,”  Globo announced just before NATPE.

Their high-tech is another matter. In a key scene in the telenovela, featured by Globo in a just-released video explaining the technology behind its VFX drive, Pedro’s father, the machiavellian Fausto, having finally confessed to Pedro how he schemed to separate the lovers 20 years earlier, takes off in a car with his mistress, Suzana.

In one early shot, as the car drives down an empty tree-lined country road, the camera surges towards a pursuing big motorbike, carrying two helmeted youths. Cut to a reverse shot to the left of Fausto’s car as the motorbike draws level and shots puncture the passenger’s window. In a third climactic shot, the car spins off the road and flips several times as it plunges down an embankment as the motorbike sicario and his driver make off down the road.

To power up its VFX, Globo has opened a dedicated VFX warehouse with motion tracking and motion capture capabilities. Globo’s video explains how two mocap performers were dressed like Faust and Suzana.

“The camera filmed inside the car, which is the “real” part of the scene,’ comments VFX artist Marcelo Nicacio. Beyond that, “the outside of the car is all 3D. The car is 3D, the street is 3D, the road is 3D, the trees are 3D, the sky is 3D, the motorcycle is 3D and the characters chasing the riders are 3D too.”

The “Wounded Past” hit scene is classic movie mocap technology. Hollywood movies have been doing this for years.

“What differentiates the adoption of these techniques in film and what we do at Globo is a set of production processes and technologies that make these effects feasible within the time limitations of post-production and the budgeting of each type of TV product,” Globo chief technology officer Raymundo Barros told Variety.

VFX is “the result of the sophistication of the story telling itself,” helping Globo to “maintain our pioneering spirit,’ “relevance,” “to surprise the public” and “ensure that our products are perceived for their quality, creativity and innovation,” he added.

Last July, Globo already released its 2016 period miniseries “Dangerous Liaisons” in 4K HDR on its VOD platform Globo Play, becoming the first broadcaster in the world to deliver content in that format, it claims. 4K HDR targets a relatively small audience, around 200,000 households with the broadband capacity to stream 4K, according to one estimate.

Globo’s VHF drive can build on its 4K HDR, said Ed Border, at London-based consultancy Ampere Analysis.

“They now have a platform that can show more resolution and HD images, there is more scope to show that off [via VFX work],” he said.

“Now that they have their own proprietary VFX technology, they can use to stand out from the crowd,” Border added, saying that “every TV tier” can benefit from a technology “that helps to target those who care more about quality and are willing to spend more or those for whom it’s a key factor in keeping them engaged.”

Salamandre started his career at Globo, returned in 1997 to launch Globo International, power up its TV and sports licensing and foreign partner co-productions. A Globo international sales exec from 2000  head of international sales from 2006 and exec director of Globo’s international business division from 2012, Correa’s challenge is to grow these lines of business. One major recent thrust has been into shorter-format series, Globo’s NATPE line-up includes, among telenovelas, time-travel romance “Time After Time,” more-than friendship romcom “Rising Sun,” ratings juggernaut “Total Dreamer,” mystery-romance drama “Burning Hearts,” “Wounded Past” and female freedom fighter centered “Lady Revolution.”

Among its series at NATPE are Daniel Burman’s milestone high security prison thriller “Supermax,” produced at Globo’s Rio studios but shot in Spanish; buzzed-up revenge drama “Above Justice” and “Nothing Remains the Same,” a love story set at the dawn of TV in 1950s Brazil.

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