Post Magazine

May 2011

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workflow Cinema workflow: pipelines and tools B y now digital workflows have pene- trated the cinema production and post production cycle so deeply that not much remains of analog but its last and greatest holdover: film. For cinema, the trend has accelerated the By ED HEEDE Director Cinema Projects FilmworksFX Los Angeles pace of change with the most profound im- pact across the last five years. Alas, some tools meant for the production/post pro- duction arena are bits of a greater whole not necessarily designed to work well with existing pieces of current film pipelines. Here we come to the “weakest link” axiom.The issue is that the weakest link often changes over technological time and is by na- ture the chokepoint in any given pipeline. Of course, there has been a multiplier ef- Borrowing from the past to advance the future. fect with bigger, better faster tech for shoot- ing, previs and visual effects to editorial that drives production to stepped-up client deadlines.There are, of course, clear and on- going examples of greater cinema efficiency at every film or broadcast show made for the public. However, the very technology that ignited those speed gains has bred fat- ter and often more wasteful workflow methods from the studio tent pole business down to indie micro-budget projects. (With the advent of Thunderbolt and SSD technol- ogy this kind of “mission creep” is only likely to swell over time). Positive examples of high-end workflows : A miniature building and the final graded composite. can be found on many studio movie sets that have begun to take on the look of mobile spi- der-like networks merging preproduction and compositing straight onto shooting stages for sometimes daunting scenarios. On the minus side, digital has — on the whole — made dis- ciplines like post editorial a mixed proposi- tion, and often a more difficult one. Where traditional shooting ratios were closer to 10:1 (10 feet of film shot for every one selected for use) back in the day, digital shooting ratios are commonly 30:1 and 40:1, and in many cases far more, making cinema projects much more difficult to manage and complete. So the very ease of new tools has made many producers more complacent and some might even say lax at putting together what should be better-designed projects. TOURIST: A 4K WORKFLOW The Tourist was shot on 35mm film — as anamorphic, scanned in at 4K.The traditional routes of processing, telecine, editorial and VFX post occurred. In this case the process was very linear and it was easy to maintain a 40 Post • May 2011 consistent workflow and pipeline. In other words, The Tourist pipeline was closer to a traditional film workflow. According to Ken Locsmandi of Film- worksFX, this kind of workflow made for a cleaner more responsive production arc. “Personally I think this process creates a psy- chological pipeline of care.When the film is rolling you are thinking, making sure things are working properly. The dailies process gives you time to digest what you have done, hours where it was scanned at the studio on an Imagica XE scanner at 4K by COSFX films. The footage was brought to the DI theater and played from Assimilate Scratch, to check for focus, dir t, etc. The telecine process was unnecessary so little film actu- ally needed to be viewed. Footage was copied to the network and brought into Adobe After Effects. After Ef- fects CS5 is extremely fast relative to its pre- cursors. Even from the network, pulling 4K This shot from was shot, processed, scanned and composited in just one day. and then allows you to refresh your thoughts. The process doesn’t have to be slow but it does give you enough time to think.We were able to have a VFX shot that was done on film, shot, processed, scanned and composited all in the same day.” An example shot involved a stuntman (Johnny Depp’s double) jumping from a bal- cony onto a tent. An actor was added for continuity purposes to grab the jumping stunt double.The shot was a moving camera with original footage shot in Venice, Italy (see the photos above). Ted Rea was the visual effects supervisor on the film.“Ted is known for exceptional at- tention to detail and sound preparation,” shares Locsmandi. “Thus, his shows are ex- tremely well organized with nothing falling through the cracks.” For the Johnny Depp shot, a greenscreen was set up high on the roof of the stage at New Deal Studios, a key partner at the Red- wood campus that includes Filmworks/FX, Stranger Comics, COSFX films and Riptide Music. Rae found the proper angles, re- hearsed the actor trying to catch the stunt man, then shot the scene. Rae completed photography on a Mitchell Fries (reportedly built in the 1950s) that took flawless images. Four takes were performed.We then sent the film to lab, got it back in a few short anamorphic files were manageable, but for speed purposes proxies of the footage were copied locally to gain speed, retaining every- thing at 4K. Rae’s photography was spot on and straightforward to post. Greenscreen footage was scaled four percent for preci- sion line up. Because the camera was mov- ing on the original footage, it had to be tracked, and the result composited to the locked greenscreen footage. Imagineer’s Mocha Pro was used for tracking, and ac- cording to Locsmandi, “Mocha Pro is the most amazing planer tracker on the market. Each track was dead on, sub-pixel perfect.” After Effects allowed for footage pre- views at 2:1 with the anaphoric stretch, but every shot was quality controlled and checked in the DI theater. Once it was ren- dered, the shot was copied back over to Scratch. Shots were viewed with the proper color correction as frames were received with a look up table (LUT) built to match the final color pass chosen for the DI stage. Another improvement in After Effects is the capability of using LUTs directly from Scratch. 3DL LUTs were saved to the net- work and then sourced as an adjustment layer in After Effects, ensuring accurate color match.This was critical in composting for The T ourist continued on page 47 The T ourist

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