Post Magazine

March 2014

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38 Post • March 2014 high-end scanning services and innova- tive workflows for handling DI work on such shows in order to maintain high resolution celluloid quality in the imagery. "We have new file-based workflows for film to decrease costs with no sacrifice in image quality," Kor- ver explains. "Those filmmakers can achieve a more filmic image by shooting film, capturing all the image on the negative with HDR scanning, and putting that pure, high resolution celluloid image straight up on-screen minus all the artifacts and resolution loss introduced in the old photo chemical film duplication process. "Low Down is a perfect case study of this idea. The producers had budgeted about 60 content hours, and we proposed a scan-once workflow to scan every- thing that they shot — pin-registered, high dynamic range imagery using our [DFT] Scanity 4K film scanner so that all frames would be usable at DI quality. It would normally be expensive to store approximately 50 terabytes of uncompressed DPX frames during their editorial process that way, so we proposed a 2K, ProRes 4:4:4 Log master, similar in quality to an Alexa ProRes Log master, but with the organic qualities of film. That saved them a lot of money in data storage, and it obviously looked great, as the Cinematography Award at Sundance illustrates." Korver therefore insists his company's capital invest- ment dollars to purchase its Scanity scanner, which includes both 16mm and 35mm gates, plus the cost of building the 4K DI theater in recent years, are paying off between the steady film restoration work coming to Cinelicious, and a growing business offering DI ser- vices for broadcast projects and modestly budgeted theatrical projects like Low Down. Two staff colorists perform all grading and conforming work using Black- magic Design's DaVinci Resolve. "Now, we are also mastering and making digital cinema packages [DCPs] using a DCI spec 4K author- ing and 4K playback system," he explains. "A little known fact about 4K DCPs is that the DCI specifies that they have to be authored at a maximum bit rate of 200mbps, so that they will play back in all legacy 2K servers installed around the world. Hopefully, this low- est common denominator spec will change soon, because 200mbps was intended for 2K resolution and 4K really should be authored at 500mbps-plus. Until the DCI spec changes, we create two versions for our clients — a 200mbps DCI spec 'wide-release' master that is guaranteed to meet the studio deliverable spec, as well as a 4K, high-bit rate 500mbps version that we have dubbed the '4K digital showprint.' A digital show- print is for producers to keep in their back pocket for special screenings where they know the D-Cinema equipment is certified 4K, and they want their 4K con- tent to really shine. "These kinds of offerings from the mastering side are pretty unique for companies our size, so you can see the opportunities that are out there. It's a pretty exciting time." STUCK ON ON Parke Gregg refers to Austin, TX-based boutique Stuck On On as an "audio and visual finishing house" that largely focuses on long-form indie films and docu- mentaries in a market that is more known for its com- mercial work. In the six years since the company started, he has not only seen an evolution in the role that digital intermediate services are playing in the industry, but also an evolution in the role some within the industry can potentially play within the digital inter- mediate paradigm. In other words, now that smaller facilities like Stuck On On are able to offer 4K delivery and 4K workflows for independent films, and play more widely in the DI arena in areas that used to be out of their technological or financial wheelhouse, art- ists at such facilities are able to have a greater influence on the creative side of the work, a development that excites Gregg greatly. "Advances in the tool set have significantly increased the role of the DI ar tist in controlling and perfecting the flow of perception in a movie," he sug- gests. "The job is now a great mix of technical engi- neering and ar tistic or creative work, and that enables a guy like me to be a key member of the storytelling team. I can really have an impact on the way that the story is delivered to audiences. I call that 'the flow of perception' because we can address the end-to-end experience from a holistic perspective. How will the audience perceive a par ticular perfor- mance or location? How is the flow going? Is it being interrupted in any way, and if so, is that a good or a bad thing? And how are such things impacting the audience's perception of what they are seeing from a storytelling aspect? "A few years ago, maybe I could only influence these things with color. Today, that is still the most sig- nificant component, but not the only trick in our bag. Now we can manipulate the color more surgically, and we can also manipulate many other elements, like the ability to reframe shots, animate grades, composite elements, re-light scenes, paint out mistakes, and address any elements that might disrupt the flow. So our tool belt is now a little bigger." Gregg and his team rely heavily on Assimilate's DI workflow software Scratch for color grading, conform- ing, painting, effects, and mastering work. As men- tioned, Stuck On On recently worked on Linklater's Boyhood project, handling final color correction, and also performed DI services for several independent films, such as Before Midnight, Lumberjack Man, Red on Yella, Kill a Fella, and Believe Me, among others. Gregg likes to call such work "Photoshop for mov- ies" in the sense of being able to re-frame images, paint realistically, change content, or otherwise completely manipulate all aspects of an image, if necessary — a major change from just a few years ago. "One of the great things about the industry right now is there are fewer limitations," he adds. "Solutions are readily available. But, of course, as the tool sets grow and mature, and we get used to them, the expectations of the filmmakers grow, as well. Directors and producers are now expecting these things, and in realtime. If we are in a session, and the director says, 'I wish that thing on the floor wasn't there,' I can often instantly act on that request without having to go outside to a visual effects house. It's all part of the DI." D I G I T A L I N T E R M E D I A T E S [ Cont.from 25 ] threats. "It was a very tricky balance finding that point where you are immersed in battle, surrounded by fighting, but the focus is on the fighting you are doing. That was the thing that we pulled off quite well," says Pressey. He adds that being selective about what the player hears is key to the success of the sound design. In Ryse: Son of Rome, barbarians hurl flaming boul- ders at the Roman soldiers. The sound of the boulder flying through the air is a combination of rocket whooshes mixed with the sound of charging elephants. The impact sound uses explosions that Crytek record- ed for their Crysis franchise, sweetened with close-up details of debris. "We spent a lot of time breaking things and record- ing them to get the close details of things like splintering wood," says Pressey, noting that the dynamic range of the game's mix is a critical factor in selling the magnitude of the boulder impact. "We have plenty of headroom to make the boulder explosions be very big, and as we like to call it, 'the best boulder ever,'" he says. The dialog in-game was recorded on-set at the motion capture studio. All of the dialog recorded on-set has facial capture. There are 245 bones in each charac- ter's face. The high resolution facial motion capture in combination with the actors' on-set performances, make the dialog and exertion sounds feel very realistic. "The fact that we are marrying the image and the sound all the time, for all of the in-game dialog, makes for a visually powerful thing," says Pressey. "You feel the pain. That is the idea. You see it on their face, and you hear it, and you feel it." For vocalizations, there is a distinct difference between the Roman soldiers and the barbarians. Pressey notes they went even further by creating a language subset for the Celts. "When the Celts scream or shout, they have their own inflection that is unique to them," he explains. Other elements include detailed Foley for the Roman soldiers (down to a pair of hobnailed sandals with thick leather soles and iron studs sticking out of them that were built as a replica of real Roman troop sandals) and a cinematic score that was a creative col- laboration between Crytek's composers Borislav Slavov and Peter Antovski and Dynamedion's creative director and composer Tilman Sillescu. Pressey notes that Ryse: Son of Rome is mixed in 7.1. He feels the bigger sound field allows him to be more precise. A lot of time was spent defining how loud the sounds around the player should be. Pressey's particu- lar attention to the dynamic range of the mix is one reason why the sound is so compelling. "It's very easy for sword fighting to fall into the clang-clang-clang-boom-clang-clang kind of thing. To get out of that canned sound, we use dynamic range so we're not always loud all the time, every single time you clang swords. We have very dynamically-changing sound. You can hear the dialog nicely, but then you have moments of intense sound, followed by more easy-to-manage bits of sound." Pressey recommends using a 7.1 system while playing Ryse: Son of Rome. "The more speakers the better," he says. "It adds quite a new dimension to the game." A U D I O F O R G A M E S [ Cont.from 30 ]

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