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September 2015

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WEB-BASED SERIES BREAK OUT 30 POST SEPTEMBER 2015 unbelievable quality for an indie-filmmaker price. We achieved looks very similar to Arri Alexa." The production met the challenge of having two primary editors and an assis- tant in three different locations. "We sent drives back and forth and had to transcode for storage and playback," says Calhoun. "But everything ran seamlessly, which was a tribute to Adobe and Resolve. Still, we look forward to the day when our current computers can easily play back uncom- pressed RAW footage." Morganville featured "a lot of VFX, especially for a small series," he notes. Element X Creative in Dallas was the primary VFX vendor, using The Foundry's Nuke and Adobe After Effects for compositing. Episodes were streamed in "a qua- si-binge release," laughs Calhoun. "It was part of Geek & Sundry's 'Halloweek' pro- motion last October. Two episodes aired the first day then one a day for the next four days until Halloween. We're happy with the numbers: There was a pre-exist- ing audience who were fans of the books and over one million subscribers to Geek & Sundry. And we have a nice amount of pre-orders for the DVD and VOD." Season 2 is in talks and if the show gets the greenlight, Calhoun would "like to raise the stakes" for the production with "more money, more action, more VFX. We want to do more cool things and shoot longer episodes." SENSE8 When a group of people around the world are suddenly linked mentally, they must find a way to survive hunters who see them as a threat to the world order. Sense8, the new Netflix series from the Wachowskis, is an extremely ambitious production for any platform. With a narra- tive that intertwines the lives of eight pro- tagonists, Season 1 of Sense8 features 12 one-hour episodes shot around the world. It was conceived, produced and finished in 4K using a theatrical model that treated the production like a 36-reel movie. "It's really a hybrid of a feature and a TV series," says Tony Dustin, DI colorist at Technicolor Hollywood. "We ran the whole show like a feature and delivered all 12 episodes at the same time." Since the filmmakers opted not to lock reels, as would be more typical for a broadcast series, the color finishing for Sense8 required a dynamic yet flexible workflow. "The Wachowski's were mak- ing final edit decisions two weeks before we had to upload to Netflix. It's a pretty significant challenge when there are color changes that close to the air date," notes Dustin. Episodes were shot by DP John Toll, ASC, in San Francisco, Chicago, Mexico City, Iceland, London, Berlin, Mumbai, Seoul and Nairobi, using a Sony F55 for principal photography and recording in Sony 4K RAW. Canon, Go Pro and Blackmagic Design Cinema Cameras were also deployed. Technicolor On-location Services was charged with keeping editorial, based at the Wachowski's Chicago headquarters, up to camera. Massive dailies color grading was done on-location; shooting wrapped last November with reshoots scheduled the following month. Dustin began grading in January. He spent a little time with Toll to establish the look Toll envisioned before the cinema- tographer headed off to another picture. Dustin describes the look of the finished show as both real and surreal, with slightly elevated color saturation. "The story is all about the characters so it had to have a real-life feel to it. But the psychic nature of the story lends a surreal element to it. The Wachowskis wanted a bit of elevated saturation for a more dreamy, rich look." Since the episodes also had to look like a long, cohesive film, a certain degree of consistency was called for. "But each location had its own feel: the reds in the earth, clay and sand of Africa; the green ground and pink sky of Iceland; the cold- er, business-world feel of South Korea," says Dustin. "Scenes cut from place to place and feature the same characters, who communicate psychically. So you'd have a kick-to-the-head fight scene in Korea that cut to a kick to somebody else's head in Africa. Blending that seam- lessly was a challenge." Working on a 12-hour show entirely in 4K meant increasing storage dedicated to color correction. "One of the reasons I used [Blackmagic Design DaVinci] Resolve V.11 on Linux was that I had no trouble playing back 4K files in realtime," explains Dustin. "I had massive layers of color correction, and Resolve just worked; I didn't have to worry about background rendering things." Although Dustin was able to work side- by-side with Lana Wachowski for a week- end at the start of color grading, he did remote sessions with the Wachowskis for the bulk of the show. Technicolor installed the proprietary realtime collaboration sys- tem at the siblings' Chicago office. "If they were mixing and had an hour down time, they'd uplink and review scenes, then get on the phone with me and watch me make changes," says Dustin. "Resolve's ability to layer keys and mattes was really huge. Power Windows tracking was really good, I liked Soft Clips for highlights, and with the Color Matching feature I could dial back in a lot of the detail in blown-out skies." After about a week of grading, Dustin visited Netflix, where he was able to view his work on a 4K display, Sony PlayStation, Apple TV, iPad and laptops. "It was really interesting and surprisingly reassuring," he says. "I saw how the show looked when it hit iPad and how that tracked back to what I saw in my room. I also saw the differ- ent streaming bit rates, which helped me determine the limits of certain things. That gave me the confidence that I could watch Netflix on my iPad and the show would be Season 1 of Netflix's Sense8 was produced and finished in 4K.

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