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April 2013

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What's Up Doc Can you code? L By RANDI ALTMAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Lesley Chilcott directs a Web doc demystifying the art of coding. Animation was provided by Click 3X's Juan Delcan. 14 OS ANGELES — Lesley Chilcott, the producer of such lauded feature documentaries as An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting For Superman and It Might Get Loud, has produced and directed a short doc about coding called CodeStars. The piece starts with many familiar faces and names talking about when they first started coding and what the process means to them; those faces include Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Facebook's first female engineer and current VP of Dropbox, Ruchi Sanghvi. The project came to be when twin brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi, who founded the Website, approached Chilcott about making a documentary on the dearth of computer scientists in this country. "I had met Ali, a couple of years ago in San Francisco while promoting Waiting for Superman. He and his brother ran several successful tech startups and now serve on various advisory boards and are active consultants. They kept hearing from the heads of most tech companies, 'We can't find enough qualified and amazing coders.' So they thought about making a documentary and asked if I would be interested." Chilcott (@lesleychilcott) was interested, but wasn't sure a full-length documentary on coding was they way to go, and instead suggested something short form for the Web. They all agreed, but what was the perfect length? "Hadi and I went back and forth," she says. "Being a computer science engineer, he did a ton of research. They ultimately decided on a oneminute trailer, a five-minute promo and a nineminute film that teachers could download directly from the Website. Chilcott wrote up a treatment and pitched Hadi on her vision. Then the two used their connections in the high-tech world, of which there were many, and requested interviews. Not all, but most, said yes. "Some had no openings in their schedule, but we found that people were really interested and committed, especially if they run a technology company and are having problems finding qualified coders." Sometimes she'd only get a 20-minute meeting with someone, but they would end up staying longer. They started shooting in October, with Chilcott and team zigzagging the country collecting interviews. They edited in January, and went online at the end of February." POST: I have to ask, can you code? LESLEY CHILCOTT: "I am taking lessons at Codecademy! I was so pleasantly relieved when I finished the first lesson because all of the people I interviewed insisted that coding Post • April 2013 Post0413_014-15-WHAT'S UPMLV3FINALREAD.indd 14 isn't as hard as you think — it's more about problem solving than math. The whole purpose of me directing this was to break down the myths that you have to be a genius or a male or a geek who sits alone coding until all hours of the morning. So I needed to prove to myself this wasn't true. If I can get through a lesson, anybody can. None of what I've learned so far involves math, other than knowing how to add and subtract." POST: What did you shoot on? CHILCOTT: "We shot the entire thing on Alexa ProRes 4:2:2." POST: What about the edit, were you cutting while you went? CHILCOTT: "We edited on the Avid Media Composer. I worked with Chris Catanach at Stitch Editing in Santa Monica. He's a super timeline across platforms rather than rebuilding the entire piece with an EDL conform… extremely handy when conforming and finishing longer pieces like this." POST: What were some notes you would give? CHILCOTT: "I had certain things that I wanted to say with the piece, and I wanted to make sure we didn't end up with just a bunch of talking heads, even though everyone was saying very interesting things. I still needed to tell a story, so it was about combining storytelling with an interesting issue in the right way. It was also about breaking down these myths about coding and getting people to look at it from a new perspective." POST: What about the audio post? CHILCOTT: "I asked Steven Dewey at Machine Head if he would do this, and I was Lesley Chilcott, with the Arri Alexa, directing one of the interviews for CodeStars. young, talented editor who was perfect for this project. I also asked Dan Swietlik, who owns Stitch, to chime in from time to time. We had 11 shoot days, and after each day I would bring the footage with me, and Chris would load it in, and we would pick selects." Chris transcoded the Alexa footage into Avid Media Composer at a low resolution (DNx 36) so that we could work quickly with the material and our system wouldn't get bogged down by the large amount of footage that tends to accompany long-form and documentary pieces. "For the Web finish, we went back to the original Alexa ProRes files so our final picture would have as much detail and latitude as possible when being colored. Conform, color, cleanup and finishing was done down the hall in an Avid DS system. Using Avid Media Composer for the offline edit and Avid DS for the finishing allowed us to seamlessly transfer our delighted when he said yes.They did the sound design and mix for me. There is some sound design in the animations as well as the live action because we were shooting in all these different environments — we needed cleaning up and EQ-ing and all of that. Then my friend Greg Kuehn, who owns Peligro Music, did all of the music. We were able to get a trailer slot at AMC and Regal Theatres, so POP Sound mixed the trailer and Jonsi was kind enough to let us license once of his songs." POST: Considering you only had one shot with these guys, capturing clean sound on location must have been incredibly important? CHILCOTT: "Exactly, so I made sure to have really excellent sound people, because in some cases you had 20 minutes and you're done. For me, sound is every bit as important as visuals when making a documentary." POST: Can you talk about your set-up? 3/26/13 2:26 PM

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