Tag Archives: 6K

Making 6 Below for Barco Escape

By Mike McCarthy

There is new movie coming out this week that is fairly unique. Telling the true story of Eric LeMarque surviving eight days lost in a blizzard, 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain is the first film shot and edited in its entirety for the new Barco Escape theatrical format. If you don’t know what Barco Escape is, you are about to find out.

This article is meant to answer just about every question you might have about the format and how we made the film, on which I was post supervisor, production engineer and finishing editor.

What is Barco Escape?
Barco Escape is a wraparound visual experience — it consists of three projection screens filling the width of the viewer’s vision with a total aspect ratio of 7.16:1. The exact field of view will vary depending on where you are sitting in the auditorium, but usually 120-180 degrees. Similar to IMAX, it is not about filling the entire screen with your main object but leaving that in front of the audience and letting the rest of the image surround them and fill their peripheral vision in a more immersive experience. Three separate 2K scope theatrical images play at once resulting in 6144×858 pixels of imagery to fill the room.

Is this the first Barco Escape movie?
Technically, four other films have screened in Barco Escape theaters, the most popular one being last year’s release of Star Trek Beyond. But none of these films used the entire canvas offered by Escape throughout the movie. They had up to 20 minutes of content on the side screens, but the rest of the film was limited to the center screen that viewers are used to. Every shot in 6 Below was framed with the surround format in mind, and every pixel of the incredibly wide canvas is filled with imagery.

How are movies created for viewing in Escape?
There are two approaches that can be used to fill the screen with content. One is to place different shots on each screen in the process of telling the story. The other is to shoot a wide enough field of view and high enough resolution to stretch a single image across the screens. For 6 Below, director Scott Waugh wanted to shoot everything at 6K, with the intention of filling all the screens with main image. “I wanted to immerse the viewer in Eric’s predicament, alone on the mountain.”

Cinematographer Michael Svitak shot with the Red Epic Dragon. He says, “After testing both spherical and anamorphic lens options, I chose to shoot Panavision Primo 70 prime lenses because of their pristine quality of the entire imaging frame.” He recorded in 6K-WS (2.37:1 aspect ratio at 6144×2592), framing with both 7:1 Barco Escape and a 2.76:1 4K extraction in mind. Red does have an 8:1 option and a 4:1 option that could work if Escape was your only deliverable. But since there are very few Escape theaters at the moment, you would literally be painting yourself into a corner. Having more vertical resolution available in the source footage opens up all sorts of workflow possibilities.

This still left a few challenges in post: to adjust the framing for the most comfortable viewing and to create alternate framing options for other deliverables that couldn’t use the extreme 7:1 aspect ratio. Other projects have usually treated the three screens separately throughout the conform process, but we treated the entire canvas as a single unit until the very last step, breaking out three 2K streams for the DCP encode.

What extra challenges did Barco Escape delivery pose for 6 Below’s post workflow?
Vashi Nedomansky edited the original 6K R3D files in Adobe Premiere Pro, without making proxies, on some maxed-out Dell workstations. We did the initial edit with curved ultra-wide monitors and 4K TVs. “Once Mike McCarthy optimized the Dell systems, I was free to edit the source 6K Red RAW files and not worry about transcodes or proxies,” he explains. “With such a quick turnaround everyday, and so much footage coming in, it was critical that I could jump on the footage, cut my scenes, see if they were playing well and report back to the director that same day if we needed additional shots. This would not have been possible time-wise if we were transcoding and waiting for footage to cut. I kept pushing the hardware and software, but it never broke or let me down. My first cut was 2 hours and 49 minutes long, and we played it back on one Premiere Pro timeline in realtime. It was crazy!”

All of the visual effects were done at the full shooting resolution of 6144×2592, as was the color grade. Once Vashi had the basic cut in place, there was no real online conform, just some cleanup work to do before sending it to color as an 8TB stack of 6K frames. At that point, we started examining it from the three-screen perspective with three TVs to preview it in realtime, courtesy of the Mosaic functionality built into Nvidia’s Quadro GPU cards. Shots were realigned to avoid having important imagery in the seams, and some areas were stretched to compensate for the angle of the side screens from the audiences perspective.

DP Michael Svitak and director Scott Waugh

Once we had the final color grade completed (via Mike Sowa at Technicolor using Autodesk Lustre), we spent a day in an Escape theater analyzing the effect of reflections between the screens and its effect on the contrast. We made a lot of adjustments to keep the luminance of the side screens from washing out the darks on the center screen, which you can’t simulate on TVs in the edit bay. “It was great to be able to make the final adjustments to the film in realtime in that environment. We could see the results immediately on all three screens and how they impacted the room,” says Waugh.

Once we added the 7.1 mix, we were ready to export assets for our delivery in many different formats and aspect ratios. Making the three streams for Escape playback was a simple as using the crop tool in Adobe Media Encoder to trim the sides in 2K increments.

How can you see movies in the Barco Escape format?
Barco maintains a list of theaters that have Escape screens installed, which can be found at ready2escape.com. But for readers in the LA area, the only opportunity to see a film in Barco Escape in the foreseeable future is to attend one of the Thursday night screenings of 6Below at the Regal LA Live Stadium or the Cinemark XD at Howard Hughes Center. There are other locations available to see the film in standard theatrical format, but as a new technology, Barco Escape is only available in a limited number of locations. Hopefully, we will see more Escape films and locations to watch them in the future.


Mike McCarthy is an online editor/workflow consultant with 10 years of experience on feature films and commercials. He has been involved in pioneering new solutions for tapeless workflows, DSLR filmmaking and multi-screen and surround video experiences. Check out his site.

Jeff Edson talks about Assimilate Scratch/Kinefinity camera bundle

Last week Assimilate announced a partnership with the Chinese camera company Kinefinity, which, says the company, provides a digital filmmaking path from on-set production to post to the high-growth Chinese marketplace, where Kinefinity has a large foothold.

Assimilate says this collaboration offers Chinese filmmakers an all-in-one solution for 2D/3D productions, from image capture with a high-resolution Kinefinity camera (4K, 6K) — which uses the KineRaw codec — to using Scratch tools for on-set data management and dailies and post, including conform, color grading, versioning, compositing, finishing and mastering. A key component of the partnership is the commitment to provide localized tutorials and technical support to the Chinese market.

The partnership also includes Kinefinity becoming a global reseller of the Scratch product line. Kinefinity is now offering a Kinefinity-Scratch bundle for new customers… worldwide. If someone buys a KineMini 4K or KineMax 6K camera, they receive one Scratch product license (a one-year subscription) for free. Kinefinity is also offering current Kinefinity camera owners special pricing for the purchase of Scratch.

In addition, Kinefinity is offering all of their camera customers the ability to acquire further Scratch licenses at a discounted price. (Without the discount, the current global pricing for Scratch 8.3 is one-year rental license at $650 US and a permanent license — including first-year maintenance/support — is $3,000 US.)

Jeff Edson, and milkshake

Jeff Edson, and a milkshake.

On the heels of this announcement we reached out to Assimilate CEO Jeff Edson to find out more.

Your announcement about this partnership emphasized the Chinese market, but you also mention these bundles are available worldwide. Are Kinefinity cameras only available in China?
No, the cameras are available worldwide. Kinefinity is building their channels outside of China, and have a reseller in Europe. But  this is clearly important to Assimilate from the standpoint of the Chinese market. For us this is a key partnership for that market: a localization and local support partner, etc.

In what other countries do you expect this bundle to play a big role?
With the number of digital cameras that keep coming to market — each one with their own set of unique offerings — we see more and more people who are camera neutral. Shooters are trying everything new that comes along, all in the name of creating the best images they can. I think that it is key for all cameras to be honest — a workflow that goes along with their cameras.

We see almost all cinema cameras providing some tool to get people from camera to some point in the post workflow. With the rate at which new technology comes to market, to keep this from becoming all about technology and focused on creating great stories, these kinds of bundles are important, in my opinion.

What are the benefits of this particular bundle for filmmakers? Is it only for the high-end or anyone shooting on any camera?
Kinefinity has a 4K Mini as well as their 6K high-end cameras. I talked a bit about the importance of these kinds of bundles with new cameras and, to be honest, the ability to deliver this kind of bundle helps with the deployment/use/success of using new cameras…so I  believe the target is everyone.

Can you walk us through the workflow benefits of this bundle?
It provides the kind of camera-to-dailies controls/workflow that is key to developing on-set looks and then takes it seamlessly to post and finishing, As you know, Scratch is used worldwide in all parts of the workflow, from on-set to finishing and everything in between. This provides filmmakers the ability to shoot with these new cameras and work in ways they are used to, focusing on the imagery as opposed to technology.

Can users expect other types of bundles like this with other camera makers?
Time will tell…there have been these kinds of conversations with camera vendors for years. For example, our relationship with Red started from day one. They did not bundle, but certainly promoted with us closely.

We have done some special promotions regionally with Sony, specifically in Latin America. It is not a bundle, per se, but it is a very aggressive offering with their F55/F65 cameras in that region. This was also done with Sony in the EMEA market.

At the channel level we have done a bundle with AJA Kona4/Io 4K products (via B&H) as well as announced a bundle with Bluefish444 with their 4K Neutron product. I believe that as all parts of the technology move ahead for 4K and beyond, focusing on workflow is more important than the pieces.

Anything I haven’t asked that you would like to add or elaborate on?
As you know from our history, Assimilate has always been on the front edge of technology in our markets, and the same is true with VR now. This is a market that screams for partnerships between the camera world and tools for finishing.

‘Gone Girl’: Light Iron and David Fincher’s path to 6K

By Daniel Restuccio

Light Iron Post CEO Michael Cioni is an outspoken and passionate advocate of pushing the edge of post technology for the mission of getting the best images possible on screen. David Fincher’s Gone Girl represents the third movie, following The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, that Cioni and his team have collaborated on with the director.

“If you are really doing something profound, you can’t solve it in one project,” shares Cioni, whose company has offices in LA and New York. With David Fincher and his team, key ideas don’t get put to the wayside after the movie finishes. “They store it, develop it and improve it, and then it’s re-deployed with more advanced technology on the next project.”

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