Tag Archives: post production

Digging Deeper: The Mill Chicago’s head of color Luke Morrison

A native Londoner, Morrison started his career at The Mill where worked on music videos and commercials. In 2013, he moved across to the Midwest to head up The Mill Chicago’s color department.

Since then, Morrison has worked on campaigns for Beats, Prada, Jeep, Miller, Porsche, State Farm, Wrigley’s Extra Gum and a VR film for Jack Daniel’s.

Let’s find out more about Morrison.

How early on did you know color would be your path?
I started off, like so many at The Mill, as a runner. I initially thought I wanted to get into 3D, and after a month of modeling a photoreal screwdriver I realized that wasn’t the path for me. Luckily, I poked my nose into the color suites and saw them working with neg and lacing up the Spirit telecine. I was immediately drawn to it. It resonated with me and with my love of photography.

You are also a photographer?
Yes, I actually take pictures all the time. I always carry some sort of camera with me. I’m fortunate to have a father who is a keen photographer and he had a darkroom in our house when I was young. I was always fascinated with what he was doing up there, in the “red room.”

Photography for me is all about looking at your surroundings and capturing or documenting life and sharing it with other people. I started a photography club at The Mill, S35, because I wanted to share that part of my passion with people. I find as a ‘creative’ you need to have other outlets to feed into other parts of you. S35 is about inspiring people — friends, colleagues, clients — to go back to the classic, irreplaceable practice of using 35mm film and start to consider photography in a different way than the current trends.

State Farm

In 2013, you moved from London to Chicago. Are the markets different and did anything change?
Yes and no. I personally haven’t changed my style to suit or accommodate the different market. I think it’s one of the things that appeals to my clients. Chicago, however, has quite a different market than in the UK. Here, post production is more agency led and directors aren’t always involved in the process. In that kind of environment, there is a bigger role for the colorist to play in carrying the director’s vision through or setting the tone of the “look.”

I still strive to keep that collaboration with the director and DP in the color session whether it’s a phone call to discuss ahead of the session, doing some grade tests or looping them in with a remote grade session. There is definitely a difference in the suite dynamics, too. I found very quickly I had to communicate and translate the client’s and my creative intent differently here.

What sort of content do you work on?
We work on commercials, music promos, episodics and features, but always have an eye on new ways to tell narratives. That’s where the pioneering work in the emerging technology field comes into play. We’re no longer limited and are constantly looking for creative ways to remain at the forefront of creation for VR, AR, MR and experiential installations. It’s really exciting to watch it develop and to be a part of it. When Jack Daniel’s and DFCB Chicago approached us to create a VR experience taking the viewer to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Kentucky, we leapt at the chance.

Do you like a variety of projects?
Who doesn’t? It’s always nice to be working on a variety, keeping things fresh and pushing yourself creatively. We’ve moved into grading more feature projects and episodic work recently, which has been an exciting way to be creatively and technically challenged. Most recently, I’ve had a lot of fun grading some comedy specials, one for Jerrod Carmichael and one for Hasan Minhaj. This job is ever-changing, be it thanks to evolving technology, new clients or challenging projects. That’s one of the many things I love about it.

Toronto Maple Leafs

You recently won two AICE awards for best color for your grade on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ spot Wise Man. Can you talk about that?
It was such a special project to collaborate on. I’ve been working with Ian Pons Jewell, who directed it, for many years now. We met way back in the day in London, when I was a color assistant. He would trade me deli meats and cheeses from his travels to do grades for him! That shared history made the AICE awards all the more special. It’s incredible to have continued to build that relationship and see how each of us have grown in our careers. Those kinds of partnerships are what I strive to do with every single client and job that comes through my suite.

When it comes to color grading commercials, what are the main principles?
For me, it’s always important to understand the idea, the creative intent and the tone of the spot. Once you understand that, it influences your decisions, dictates how you’ll approach the grade and what options you’ll offer the client. Then, it’s about crafting the grade appropriately and building on that.

You use FilmLight Baselight, what do your clients like most about what you can provide with that system?
Clients are always impressed with the speed at which I’m able to address their comments and react to things almost before they’ve said them. The tracker always gets a few “ooooooh’s” or “ahhhh’s.” It’s like they’re watching fireworks or something!

How do you keep current with emerging technologies?
That’s the amazing thing about working at The Mill: we’re makers and creators for all media. Our Emerging Technologies team is constantly looking for new ways to tell stories and collaborate with our clients, whether it’s branded content or passion projects, using all technologies at our disposal: anything is at our fingertips, even a Pop Llama.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
Well, I’ve got to have my Contax T2, an alarm clock, otherwise I’d never be anywhere on time, and my bicycle.

Would you say you are a “technical” colorist or would you rather prioritize instincts?
It’s all about instincts! I’m into the technical side, but I’m mostly driven by my instincts. It’s all about feeling and that comes from creating the correct environment in the suite, having a good kick off chat with clients, banging on the tunes and spinning the balls.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration from just being outside. It might sound like a cliché but travel is massive for me, and that goes hand in hand with my photography. I think it’s important to change your surroundings, be it traveling to Japan or just taking a different route to the studio. The change keeps me engaged in my surroundings, asking questions and stimulating my imagination.

What do you do to de-stress from it all?
Riding my bike is my main thing. I usually do a 30-mile ride a few mornings a week and then 50 to 100 miles at the weekend. Riding keeps you constantly focused on that one thing, so it’s a great way to de-stress and clear your mind.

What’s next for you?
I’ve got some great projects coming up that I’m excited about. But outside of the suite, I’ll be riding in this year’s 10th Annual Fireflies West ride. For the past 10 years, Fireflies West participants have embarked on a journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in support of City of Hope. This year’s ride has the added challenge of an extra day tacked onto it making the ride 650 miles in total over seven days, so…I best get training! (See postPerspectives’ recent coverage on the ride.)

The A-List: Victoria & Abdul director Stephen Frears

By Iain Blair

Much like the royal subjects of his new film Victoria & Abdul and his 2006 offering, The Queen (which won him his second Oscar nomination), British director Stephen Frears has long been considered a national treasure. Of course, the truth is that he’s an international treasure.

The director, now 76 years old, has had a long and prolific career that spans some five decades and that has embraced a wide variety of styles, themes and genres. He cut his teeth at the BBC, where he honed his abilities to work with tight budgets and schedules. He made his name in TV drama, working almost exclusively for the small screen in the first 15 years of his career.

Stephen Frears with writer Iain Blair.

In the mid-1980s, Frears turned to the cinema, shooting The Hit, which starred Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Tim Roth. The following year he made My Beautiful Laundrette for Channel 4, which crossed over to big screen audiences and altered the course of his career.

Since then, he’s made big Hollywood studio pictures, such as the Oscar-nominated Florence Foster Jenkins, The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons, as well as Mary Reilly and Hero. But he’s probably as well-known for smaller, grittier vehicles, such as the Oscar-nominated Philomena, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Cheri, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity, Prick Up Your Ears and Snapper, films that provided a rich palette for Frears to explore stories with a strong social and political conscience.

His latest film, Victoria & Abdul, is a drama (spiced with a good dash of comedy) about the unlikely but real-life relationship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her Muslim Indian servant Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal).

I recently spoke with Frears about making the film, which is already generating a lot of Oscar buzz, especially for Dench.

This seems to be a very timely film, with its race relations, and religious and class issues. Was that part of its appeal?
Absolutely. When I read it I immediately thought it was quite provocative and a very interesting story, and I always look for interesting stories, and the whole relationship was part of the fun. I thought it was a brilliant script, and it’s got so much going on – the personal story about them, all the politics and global stuff about the British Empire.

You’ve worked with Judi Dench before, but she had already portrayed Victoria in Mrs. Brown back in 1997. Did you have to twist her arm to revisit the character?
I said I’d only make this with her, as she’s a brilliant actress and she looks a bit like Victoria, but I think initially she passed. I’m actually not quite sure since I never had a conversation with her about it. What happened was, we organized a reading and she came to that and listened to it, and then she was on board.

What did she bring to the role?
Complete believability. You absolutely believe in her as Victoria. She can do all that, playing the most powerful woman in the world, and then she was also human, which is why she was so fond of Abdul. It’s the same as directing someone like Meryl Streep. She’s just so skillful and so intelligent, and their sense of their role and its direction is very, very strong, and they’re so skilled at telling the story.

This doesn’t look like your usual heavy, gloomy Victorian period piece. How did you approach this visually?
I have a wonderful production designer, Alan MacDonald, who has worked with me on many films, including Florence Foster Jenkins, Philomena and The Queen. And we shot this with DP Danny Cohen, who is so inventive. From the start we wanted it to feel period but do it in a more modern way in order to get away from that lugubrious feeling and the heavy Victoriana. When we got to Osborne House, which was her holiday home on the Isle of Wight, it’s anything but heavy and lugubrious. It’s this light and airy villa.

Fair to say the film starts dark and gets lighter in tone and color as it goes on — while the story starts lighter and more comical, and gets darker as it goes along?
Yes, because at the start she’s depressed, she’s dressed all in black, and then it’s like Cinderella, and she’s woken up… by Abdul’s kiss on her feet.

Did that really happen?
Yes, I think it did, and I think both servants kissed her feet — but it wasn’t under a table full of jellies (laughs).

You shot all over England, Scotland and India in many of the original locations. It must have been a challenge mixing all the locations with sets?
It was. The big coup was shooting in Osborne House, which no one has ever done before. That was a big thrill but also a relief. England is full of enormous country homes, so you just go down the list finding the best ones. I’ve done Balmoral twice now, so I know how you do it, and Windsor Castle, which is Gothic. But of course, they’re not decorated in the Victorian manner, so we had to dress all the rooms appropriately. Then you mix all the sets and locations, like putting a big puzzle together.

How was shooting in India?
We shot in Agra, by the Taj Mahal. The original statue of Victoria there was taken down after independence, but we were allowed to make a copy and put it back up.

Where did you do the post? How long was the process?
It was about five months, all in London, and we cut it at Goldcrest where I’ve done all the post work on my last few films. Philomena was not done there. It all depends on the budget.

Do you like the post process?
I love being on location and I enjoy shooting, but it’s always hard and full of problems. Post is so calm by comparison, and so different from all the money and time pressures and chaos of the shoot. It’s far more analytic and methodical, and it’s when you discover the good choices you made as well as your mistakes. It’s where you actually make your film with all the raw elements you’ve amassed along the way.

You worked with a new editor, Melanie Ann Oliver, who cut Les Mis and The Danish Girl for director Tom Hooper and Anna Karenina for director Joe Wright. How did that relationship work?
She wasn’t on set, but we talked every day about it, and she became the main conduit for it all, like all editors. She’s the person you’re talking to all the time, and we spent about three months editing. The main challenge was trying to find the right tone and the balance between all the comedy, jokes and the subtext — what was really going on. We went in knowing it would be very comedic at the start, and then it gets very serious and emotional by the end.

Who did the visual effects and how many visual effects shots are there?
I always use the same team. Union VFX did them all, and Adam Gascoyne, who did Florence Foster Jenkins and Philomena with me, was the VFX supervisor. The big VFX shots were of all the ships crossing the ocean, and a brilliant one of Florence. And as it’s a period piece, there’s always a lot of adding stuff and clean up, and we probably had several hundred VFX shots or so in the end, but I never know just how many.

Iain Blair and Judi Dench

How important are sound and music to you?
They’re both hugely important, even though I don’t really know much about music or sound mixing and just depend on my team, which includes supervising sound editor Becki Ponting. We mixed all the music by Thomas Newman at Abbey Road, and then we did the final mix at Twickenham Studios. The thing with composers like Thomas Newman and Alexandre Desplat who did The Queen and Florence is that they read me really well. When Alexandre was hired to score The Queen, they asked him to write a very romantic score, and he said, “No, no, I know Stephen’s films. They’re witty, so I’ll write you a witty score,” and it was perfect and won him an Oscar nomination. Same with this. Tom read it very, very well.

Did you do a DI?
Yes, at Goldcrest as usual, with Danny and colorist Adam Glasman. They’re very clever, and I’m not really involved. Danny does it. He gets me in and shows me stuff but I just don’t pretend to be technically clever enough about the DI as mine is a layman’s approach to it, so they do all the work and show me everything, and then I give any suggestions I might have. The trick with any of this is to surround yourself with the best technicians and the best actors, tell them what you want, and let them do their jobs.

Having made this film, what do you think about Victoria now?
I think she was far more humane than is usually shown. I never really studied her at school, but there was this enduring image of an old battleaxe, and I think she was far more complex than that image. She learned Urdu from Abdul. That tells you a lot.


Industry insider Iain Blair has been interviewing the biggest directors in Hollywood and around the world for years. He is a regular contributor to Variety and has written for such outlets as Reuters, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe.

Fireflies West: Post pros bike to raise cancer awareness, money

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Fireflies West connects an international community of entertainment and advertising executives who cycle 630 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness for City of Hope Hospital. City of Hope is a research and treatment center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy.

Over the last decade, nearly 250 participating Fireflies West riders, along with a supporting volunteer network, and over 30 industry sponsors, have raised close to $2,000,000 to date for City of Hope.

The ride began on October 4 in Mill Valley, 60 Fireflies West riders (the biggest group to date) will cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and then traverse the rugged, winding roads down the coastline between San Francisco and Los Angeles for seven days. The riders will average 100 miles per day. The riders will be welcomed home on October 10 with an arrivals celebration at 72andSunny agency.

Every dollar goes directly to City of Hope without any administration costs, ensuring that every tax-deductible donation goes directly to fighting cancer. Moreover, the annual riders fund their own way and expenses out of their own pocket, a reflection of their incredibly generous spirits. Through stamina, friendship, sheer will and spirited volunteerism, the Fireflies West rides on.

Here are just some of the reasons that motivates and moves riders:

“The truth is, the dire battle with cancer is an experience that hits very close to home for me, having had immediate family and friends survive or lose the battle over the course of my life. Some were treated at City of Hope,” says Damian Stevens, managing director of Arcade. “There was no question that I wanted to contribute to the betterment of those affected, and as an avid cyclist Fireflies West provided an opportune platform. I’ll never forget the first Fireflies ride years ago, a bonding experience with friends and strangers alike that touched me in a way I never expected — heightening my awareness and perspective on how deeply impactful the disease is, how precious life is and how everyone is interconnected to the battle in some way. Part of my own process of healing and providing healing to others was to ask donors for a name of someone affected by cancer that I can include in a list, which I then folded up and placed in my bike jersey pocket every single day of the ride, adding names as more donations came through. In my mind, it provided an incredible sense of togetherness, unifying those affected, including myself, spiritually and experientially and reminding us all that we are not alone. I’m inspired by a possibility of a cure, and will continue to contribute to that possibility in any way that I can.”

Raimondi and cyclist he “angeled.”

“I’ve been cycling since I was in college, and I’m 52 now. I have a lot of miles under my belt. I always rode because I could, because I loved it, and if we raised money that was cool too,” explains Michael Raimondi, president/managing partner of Union Editorial. “Last year I ‘angeled’ — rode in the back with a cyclist who needed help. Turned out he had been cancer free for six months and wanted to ride with us to see if he could do it. I told him he was in inspiration and he said, ‘I didn’t set out to be an inspiration, I just didn’t want to die.’ Riding was an affirmation that he was alive. I’ve participated in seven out of the last 10 years of Fireflies West including the first one, but it was during the ride last year that my passion for cycling was overshadowed by a true and deep appreciation for the ride’s mission. I can ride in the front and I did a lot, but we have a saying, ‘the real ride is in the back.’ I never understood that until last year. I’m looking forward to riding in the back again this year.”

For Bill Sewell, co-founder of Wiredrive, “Riding smooths out the rough edges of my day. Riding with the Fireflies lets me do what I love with people I both admire and enjoy being around. Riding from SF to LA to help raise money to fight cancer brings us together with a sense of purpose that is bigger than us. I seldom stumble into communities that change me. I’m so glad I found the Fireflies.

Bill Sewell

“Four years ago, I did not own a bike,” he continues. “After attending several Fireflies arrival parties, I simply could not get my head around how these 40+ men and women could ride so far for so long… and I told them that. In 2013, some wonderful Firefly suggested I buy a bike and join for the Guest Day ride. That idea was like a light switch turning on — it made everything easier and less overwhelming. I bought that bike and two days later was riding up to the top of Mandeville Canyon. I was one of the last ones to reach the gate, encouraged by the whole group clapping and cheering me on. That day, I knew I had found my people. I rode that Guest Day and went on to complete both the West Coast ride in 2014 and the European ride in 2016. Riding smooths out the rough edges of my day. Riding with the Fireflies lets me do what I love with people I both admire and enjoy being around. Riding from SF to LA to help raise money to fight cancer brings us together with a sense of purpose that is bigger than us. I seldom stumble into communities that change me. I’m so glad I found the Fireflies.”

City of Hope is a leading research and treatment center dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy. City of Hope developed the technology behind four of the world’s most widely used drugs to fight cancer: Drugs like Herceptin, Avastin, Rituxan and Erbitux that are used worldwide to fight and treat cancer. City of Hope has the best overall outcome of any US treatment center for leukemia and other blood cancers. They have successfully performed more than 11,000 stem cell transplants, among the highest in the nation. Even though City of Hope patients are the sickest, they survive the longest.

Want to get involved? You can find out more at http://www.fireflieswest.com.

Updating the long-running Ford F-150 campaign

Giving a decade-long very successful campaign a bit of a goose presents unique challenges, including maintaining tone and creative continuity while bringing a fresh perspective. To help with the launch of the new 2018 Ford F-150, Big Block director Paul Trillo brought all of his tools to the table, offering an innovative spin to the campaign.

Big Block worked closely with agency GTB, from development to previz, live-action, design, editorial, all the way through color and finish.

Trillo wanted to maintain the tone and voice of the original campaign while adding a distinct technical style and energy. Dynamic camera movement and quick editing helped bring new vitality to the “Built Ford Tough” concept.

Technically challenging camera moves help guide the audience through distinct moments. While previous spots relied largely on motion graphics, Trillo’s used custom camera rigs on real locations.

Typography remained a core of the spots, all underscored by an array of stop-motion, hyperlapse, dolly zooms, drone footage, camera flips, motion control and match frames.

Premiere was used for editing. CG was a combination of Maya and 3ds Max. Compositing was done in Nuke and Flame with finishing in Flame. 

Mother! director Darren Aronofsky

By Iain Blair

Writer/director/producer Darren Aronofsky made a big splash when his debut feature Pi won the prestigious Director’s Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. He then quickly followed that up with 2000’s acclaimed drama Requiem for a Dream.

But his hot streak and momentum came to a screeching halt in 2002 when Brad Pitt dropped out of his expensive and ambitious sci-fi epic The Fountain just weeks before shooting was due to start. Aronofsky scrambled to completely rewrite and retool The Fountain, this time starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.

Since then, Aronofsky has regained his momentum and continued to make visually audacious films as 2008’s The Wrestler, 2010’s Black Swan (he got a directing Oscar nom, and star Natalie Portman took home the gold) and 2014’s Noah.

His latest film, Mother!, is another hard-to-categorize film — part horror story, part comedy, part fable, part psychological thriller — that stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple whose relationship is severely tested when uninvited guests suddenly arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence and ultimately turning it into a literal war zone.

I recently talked to Aronofsky about making the film, and why he ditched the score.

This isn’t just a horror film. What sort of film did you set out to make?
After Black Swan I wanted to return to the horror genre, and I felt the home invasion genre hadn’t been used well in a while — and we can all relate to having house guests that overstay their welcome. So I felt that was a great starting point, and I also wanted to deal with larger issues — the planet we all live on, as guests in a sense. But I’m not really a genre filmmaker. For me, Pi was a thriller at its core, but I added lots of stuff and it became something else. I think I always do that. When I pitched Black Swan they felt it wasn’t enough of a ballet movie or horror film. It didn’t fit into any one genre. I just do what I think is cool and interesting, and then I start adding stuff.

How tough was it walking the tonal tightrope between the beginning comedy and the increasingly dark, serious nature of the film?
It was tricky, but I think I was just truthful to what I’d written, and the intent of the characters does not change. They’re all very bad guests, and the level of the badness is what shifts, and the pitch changes. It’s like speeding up an old vinyl record — it just gets crazier and crazier, and more and more intense.

What were the main technical challenges of making this?
Technically, it was one of the hardest things me and my team have ever tried to do, because the last 25 minutes — the fever dream — were so demanding to choreograph and to maintain that nightmare fever-pitch for that long and have it build and build needed every department to work together in perfect sync.

The house is like another character. How did you deal with that?
It was vital to me that the film felt realistic and grounded for the first half, at least. I don’t think we could have pulled that off just shooting it on a stage, and we couldn’t find a real house that worked, so we went to great expense and effort to actually build the house up in Montreal where we shot. We actually built the house twice — the first time with just the first floor out in this beautiful field, which allowed us to do all the daylight sequences in natural light, and we shot those all in order. Then we built the full three-story house in a soundstage in Montreal for all the interior and night sequences, and as the house is like another character that morphs and changes, it really had to be a real house with all the plumbing and wiring, so that when it starts coming apart, it feels very real.

Do you like the post process and where did you do all the post?
I love post, and we did it all in New York at Sixteen 19. This post was very difficult and it ended up being 53 weeks – by far the longest I’ve ever done.

You cut this film with editor Andrew Weisblum, who collaborated with you on Noah, The Wrestler and Black Swan, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. How did that relationship work?
Editing was very tricky, because I wanted to pull the audience into Jen’s experience and not give them a chance to breathe, so we shot the film exclusively from her point of view, with hardly any wide shots, which usually allow you to get out of any sticky situations. Basically, the film is either shot over her shoulder, on her face or at what she’s looking at. This gives you incredibly limited coverage to work with in the edit, and Andy was forced to work with that. He began in preproduction, and we did three months of rehearsal which DP Matty Libatique, who’s shot most of my films, shot as a test. We then cut it together so we were able to look at a 100-minute rough version and get a sense of the camera movements and placement and how it would all look and learn from it. That was very helpful.

One of the biggest shocks of the film is that there’s no music. Can you talk about that decision and the importance of the sound design in the film?
It was a shock to me too! I’d hired composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who’s done films like Arrival and The Theory of Everything, and he wrote a wonderful score, and we worked on it for five months, but it was really weird — every time we played it to picture, it just didn’t do what it was supposed to do, and we couldn’t figure out why. Then he said to me, “The score’s actually taking away from Jen’s performance, and pushing the film in another direction.” He was right. So we decided that the best score for the film was no score at all, which was pretty tough after all that work — and it scared the hell out of me, since I’ve always relied on music to be a major part of my films.

So I then turned to my longtime sound designer Craig Henighan and told him to just go for it, and that then became a huge part of the film. We actually kept some music cues all the way up to the mix stage, which we did at Warners, but ultimately realized we didn’t even need that because they suddenly stuck out.

Can you talk about the VFX, and working again with VFX supervisor Dan Schrecker.
Dan and I were roommates at college, and he’s done all my films. We had a huge number of shots — over 1,200, more than we had in Noah, although not so complex. We had a lot of different houses working on them, including ILM, Hybride, Raynault, and it was a mad rush at the end because the studio changed our release date, so we had to do two months of VFX work in just one month.

How important was the DI on this, and where did you do it?
At Company 3 with Tim Stipan who’s done all my films, and we worked very hard on the look to get this great, warm, lightly burnt butter look, so the DI was crucial.

Did it turn out the way you envisioned it?
It’s always a constant evolution, and the colors a film takes on constantly shift and change, depending on the cast and production design and so on, but I’m very happy with it.

All Photos: Niko Tavernise


Industry insider Iain Blair has been interviewing the biggest directors in Hollywood and around the world for years. He is a regular contributor to Variety and has written for such outlets as Reuters, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe.

Behind the Title: Park Road Post’s Anthony Pratt

NAME: Anthony Pratt

COMPANY: Park Road Post Production

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Park Road is a bespoke post production facility, and is part of the Weta Group of Companies based on the Miramar Peninsular in Wellington, New Zealand.

We are internationally recognized for our award-winning sound and picture finishing for TV and film. We walk alongside all kinds of storytellers, supporting them from shoot through to final delivery.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Workflow Architect — Picture

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I get to think about how we can work with a production to wrap process and people around a project, all with a view of achieving the best result at the end of that process. It’s about taking a step back and challenging our current view while thinking about what’s next.

We spend a lot of time working with the camera department and dailies team, and integrating their work with editorial and VFX. I work alongside our brilliant director of engineering for the picture department, and our equally skilled systems technology team — they make me look good!

From a business development perspective, I try to integrate the platforms and technologies we advance into new opportunities for Park Road as a whole.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I quite like outreach around the company and the group, so presenting and sharing is fun — and it’s certainly not always directly related to the work in the picture department. Our relationships with film festivals, symposia, the local industry guilds and WIFT always excite me.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
My favorite time of all is when we get to see our clients work in a cinema with an audience for the first time — then the story is really real.

It’s great when our team is actively engaged as a creative partner, especially during the production phase. I enjoy learning from our technical team alongside our creative folk, and there’s always something to learn.

We have fantastic coffee and baristas; I get to help QC that throughout my day!

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
It’s always hard when a really fantastic story we’ve helped plan for isn’t greenlit. That’s the industry, of course, but there are some stories we really want to see told! Like everyone, there are a few Monday mornings that really need to start later.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
I get a huge kick on the days we get to sign off the final DCP for a theatrical release. It’s always inspiring seeing all that hard work come together in our cinema.

I am also particularly fond of summer days where we can get away from the facility for a half hour and eat lunch on a beach somewhere with the crew — in Miramar a beach is only 10 minutes away.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d be building my own business and making my own work — if it wasn’t strictly film related it would still be narrative — and I’m always playing with technology, so no doubt I’d be asking questions about what that meant from a lived perspective, regardless of the medium. I’d quite probably be distilling a bit more gin as well!

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION? HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I think it kind of chose me in the end… I’ve always loved the movies and experimented with work in various media types from print and theatre through animation and interactivity — there was always a technology overtone — before landing where I needed to be: in cinema.

I came to high-end film post somewhat obliquely, having built an early tapeless TV pipeline; I was able to bring that comfort with digital acquisition to an industry transitioning from 35mm in the mid 2000s.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I’m profoundly privileged to work for a company owned by Peter Jackson, and I have worked on every project of his since The Lovely Bones. We are working on Christian Rivers’ Mortal Engines at present. We recently supported the wonderful Jess Hall shooting on the Alexa 65 for Ghost in the Shell. He’s a really smart DOP.

I really enjoy our offshore clients. As well as the work we do with our friends in the USA. we’ve done some really great work recently with clients in China and the Middle East. Cultural fusion is exhilarating.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
We worked with director Geoff Murphy to restore and revisit his seminal New Zealand feature from 1983 UTU Redux, and that was the opening night feature for the 2013 NZ International Film Festival. It was incredibly good fun, was honorable and is a true taonga in our national narrative.

A Park Road Mistika grading suite.

The Hobbit films were a big chunk of the last decade for us, and our team was recognized with multiple awards. The partnerships we built with SGO, Quantum, Red and Factorial are strong to this day. I was very fortunate to collect some of those awards on our team’s behalf, and was delighted to have that honor.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I rely on clean water and modern medicine to help keep myself, and our wider community, safe from harm. And I am really conscious that to keep that progress moving forward we’re going to have to shepherd our natural world one hell of a lot better.

Powerful computing and fast Internet transformed not only our work, but time and distance for me. I’ve learned more about film, music and art because of the platforms running without friction on the Internet than I would have dared dreamed in the ‘90s.

I hold in my hand a mobile access point that can not only access a mind-bogglingly large world of knowledge and media, but can also dynamically represent that information for my benefit and allow me to acknowledge the value of trust in that connection — there’s hope for us in the very large being accessible by way of the very small.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I kind of abandoned Facebook a few years ago, but Film Twitter has some amazing writers and cinematographers represented. I tend to be a bit of a lurker most other places — sometimes the most instructive exercise is to observe! Our private company Slack channels supplement the rest of my social media time.

To be honest, most of our world is respectfully private, but I do follow @ParkRoadPost on Instagram and Twitter.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Our team has a very broad range of musical tastes, and we tend to try and share that with each other… and there is always Radiohead. I have a not-so-secret love of romantic classical music and lush film scores. My boss and I agree very much on what rock (and a little alt-country) should sound like, so there’s a fair bit of that!

When my headphones are on there is sometimes old-school liquid or downbeat electronica, but mostly I am listening to the best deep house that Berlin and Hamburg have to offer while I work.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
A quick walk around the peninsular is a pretty good way of chilling out, especially if it’s dusk or dawn — then I can watch some penguins on the rocks while ships come in and out of the harbor!

My family (including the furry ones!) are incredible, and they help provide perspective in all things.

Wellington is the craft beer capital of New Zealand, so there’s always an opportunity for some food and an interesting drop from Garage Project (or Liberty brewing out of Auckland) with mates in town. I try and hang out with a bunch of my non-industry friends every month or so — those nights are definitely my favorite for music, and are good for my soul!

Sim Group purchases Vancouver’s The Crossing Studios

Sim Group, a family of companies offering production and post services across TV, feature film and commercials, has strengthened its place in the industry with the acquisition of Vancouver-based The Crossing Studios. This full-service studio and production facility adds approximately 400,000 square feet to Sim’s footprint.

With proximity to downtown Vancouver, the city’s international airport and all local suppliers, The Crossing Studios has been home to many television series, specials and feature films. In addition to providing full-service studio rentals, mill/paint/lockup space and production office space, The Crossing Studios also offer post production services, including Avid suite rentals, dailies, color correction and high-speed connectivity.

The Crossing Studios was founded by Dian Cross-Massey in 2015 and is the second-largest studio facility in the lower mainland, comprised of nine buildings in Vancouver, all are located just 30 minutes from downtown. Cross-Massey has over 25 years of experience in the industry, having worked as a writer, executive producer, visual effects supervisor, director, producer and a production manager. Thanks to this experience, Cross-Massey prides herself on knowing first-hand how to anticipate client needs and contributes to the success of her clients’ projects.

“When I was a producer, I worked with Sim regularly and always felt they had the same approach to fair, honest work as I did, so when the opportunity presented itself to combine resources and support our shared clients with more offerings, the decision to join together felt right,” says Cross-Massey.

The Crossing Studios clients include Viacom, Fox, Nickelodeon, Lifetime, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal and ABC.

“The decision to add The Crossing Studios to the Sim family was a natural one,” says James Haggarty, CEO, Sim Group. “Through our end-to-end services, we pride ourselves on delivering streamlined solutions that simplify the customer experience. Dian and her team are extremely well respected within the entertainment industry, and together, we’ll not only be able to support the incredible growth in the Vancouver market, but clients will have the option to package everything they need from pre-production through post for better service and efficiencies.”

Caringo offering 100TB of free S3 scale-out storage to M&E firms

Caringo, a scale-out cloud and object storage platform company, is offering complimentary full-featured 100TB Swarm licenses to qualified media & entertainment firms with a need to store, manage and protect their growing library of digital assets while keeping them securely accessible.

Qualified firms include but are not limited to recording studios, content creation and post production houses, broadcasters and film studios.

“IT execs in the M&E space are under extreme pressure to provide long-term accessible storage and instant search and delivery to customers and viewers,” said Adrian Herrera, VP of marketing at Caringo. “The cloud isn’t a viable option for many because of security and cost concerns. The solution to this is using the same technology that powers major clouds — object storage — secure in their datacenter.”

The complimentary 100TB license and integration consultation is immediately available to qualified M&E firms. Interested parties can visit their website for more info.

The system offers:
• Hardware and server use for content. Use up to 95% of hard drive space and 100% of drive bays for digital assets.
• The ability to automatically add performance or capacity in 90 seconds and continuously upgrade hardware without downtime or disruption to asset accessibility.
• Automated policy-based protection to optimize for rapid access or data center footprint delivering enterprise-grade durability while defending against ransomware attacks.
• Cross-platform collaboration and access enabled by Write/Read/Edit via HTTP, S3 or NFS interchangeably.
• Rapid asset retrieval and instant delivery via integrated search with the ability to add custom metadata.

Main Image: NEP’s control room where Caringo’s solutions are in use.

Mistika Ultima offering storage connectivity via ATTO HBAs

SGO has certified ATTO’s 12Gb ExpressSAS host bus adapters (HBAs) for use with its high-end post system, the Mistika Ultima. This new addition can help post teams to better manage large data transfers and offer support for realtime editing of uncompressed 4K video.

The latest addition to the ATTO ExpressSAS family, the 12Gb SAS/SATA HBA provides users with fast storage connectivity while allowing scalability for next-gen platforms and infrastructures. Optimized for extremely low latency and high-bandwidth data transfer, ExpressSAS HBAs offer a wide variety of port configurations, RAID-0, -1, and -1e.

“Projects that our customers are working on are becoming incredibly data heavy and the integration of ATTO products into a Mistika solution will help smooth and speed up data transfers, shortening production times,” said Miguel Angel Doncel, CEO of SGO.

Chatting up IBC’s Michael Crimp about this year’s show

Every year, many from our industry head to Amsterdam for the International Broadcasting Convention. With IBC’s start date coming fast, what better time for the organization’s CEO, Michael Crimp, to answer questions about the show, which runs from September 15-19.

IBC is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. How will you celebrate?
In addition to producing a commemorative book, and our annual party, IBC is starting a new charitable venture, supporting an Amsterdam group that provides support through sport for disadvantaged and disabled children. If you want to play against former Ajax players in our Saturday night match, bid now to join the IBC All-Stars.

It’s also about keeping the conversation going. We are 50 years on and have a huge amount to talk about — from Ultra HD to 5G connectivity, from IP to cyber security.

How has IBC evolved over the past 10 years?
The simple answer is that IBC has evolved along with the industry, or rather IBC has strived to identify the key trends which will transform the industry and ensure that we are ahead of the curve.

Looking back 10 years, digital cinema was still a work in progress: the total transition we have now seen was just beginning. We had dedicated areas focused on mobile video and digital signage, things that we take for granted today. You can see the equivalents in IBC2017, like the IP Showcase and all the work done on interoperability.

Five years ago we started our Leaders’ Summit, the behind-closed-doors conference for CEOs from the top broadcasters and media organizations, and it has proved hugely successful. This year we are adding two more similar, invitation-only events, this time aimed at CTOs. We have a day focusing on cyber security and another looking at the potential for 5G.

We are also trying a new business matchmaking venue this year, the IBC Startup Forum. Working with Media Honeypot, we are aiming to bring startups and scale-ups together with the media companies that might want to use their talents and the investors who might back the deals.

Will IBC and annual trade shows still be relevant in another 50 years?
Yes, I firmly believe they will. Of course, you will be able to research basic information online — and you can do that now. We have added to the online resources available with our IBC365 year-round online presence. But it is much harder to exchange opinions and experiences that way. Human nature dictates that we learn best from direct contact, from friendly discussions, from chance conversations. You cannot do that online. It is why we regard the opportunity to meet old friends and new peers as one of the key parts of the IBC experience.

What are some of the most important decisions you face in your job on a daily basis?
IBC is an interesting business to head. In some ways, of course, my job as CEO is the same as the head of any other company: making sure the staff are all pulling in the same direction, the customers are happy and the finances are secure. But IBC is unlike any other business because our focus is on spreading and sharing knowledge, and because our shareholders are our customers. IBC is organized by the industry for the industry, and at the top of our organization is the Partnership Board, which contains representatives of the six leading professional and trade bodies in the industry: IABM, IEE, IET, RTS, SCTE and SMPTE.

Can you talk a bit about the conference?
One significant development from that first IBC 50 years ago is the nature of the conference. The founders were insistent that an exhibition needed a technical conference, and in 1967 it was based solely on papers outlining the latest research.

Today, the technical papers program still forms the center piece of the conference. But today our conference is much broader, speaking to the creative and commercial people in our community as well as the engineering and operational.

This year’s conference is subtitled “Truth, Trust and Transformation,” and has five tracks running over five days. Session topics range from the deeply technical, like new codec design, to fake news and alternative facts. Speakers range from Alberto Duenas, the principal video architect at chipmaker ARM to Dan Danker, the product director at Facebook.

How are the attendees and companies participating in IBC changing?
The industry is so much broader than it once was. Consumers used to watch television, because that was all that the technology could achieve. Today, they expect to choose what they want to watch, when and where they want to watch it, and on the device and platform which happen to be convenient at the time.

As the industry expands, so does the IBC community. This year, for example, we have the biggest temporary structure we have ever built for an IBC, to house Hall 14, dedicated to content everywhere.

Given that international travel can be painful, what should those outside the EU consider?
Amsterdam is, in truth, a very easy place for visitors in any part of the world to reach. Its airport is a global hub. The EU maintains an open attitude and a practical approach to visas when required, so there should be no barriers to anyone wanting to visit IBC.

The IBC Innovation Awards are always a draw. Can you comment on the calibre of entries this year?
When we decided to add the IBC Innovation Awards to our program, our aim was to reflect the real nature of the industry. We wanted to reward the real-world projects, where users and technology partners got together to tackle a real challenge and come up with a solution that was much more than the sum of its parts.

Our finalists range from a small French-language service based in Canada to Google Earth; from a new approach to transmitters in the USA to an online service in India; and from Asia’s biggest broadcaster to the Spanish national railway company.

The Awards Ceremony on Sunday night is always one of my highlights. This year there is a special guest presenter: the academic and broadcaster Dr. Helen Czerski. The show lasts about an hour and is free to all IBC visitors.

What are the latest developments in adding capacity at IBC?
There is always talk of the need to move to another venue, and of course as a responsible business we keep this continually under review. But where would we move to? There is nowhere that offers the same combination of exhibition space, conference facilities and catering and networking under one roof. There is nowhere that can provide the range of hotels at all prices that Amsterdam offers, nor its friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Talking of hotels, visitors this year may notice a large building site between hall 12 and the station. This will be a large on-site hotel, scheduled to be open in time for IBC in 2019.

And regulars who have resigned themselves to walking around the hoardings covering up the now not-so-new underground station will be pleased to hear that the North-South metro line is due to open in July 2018. Test trains are already running, and visitors to IBC next year will be able to speed from the centre of the city in under 10 minutes.

As you mentioned earlier, the theme for IBC2017 is “Truth, Trust and Transformation.” What is the rationale behind this?
Everyone has noticed that the terms “fake news” and “alternative facts” are ubiquitous these days. Broadcasters have traditionally been the trusted brand for news: is the era of social media and universal Internet access changing that?

It is a critical topic to debate at IBC, because the industry’s response to it is central to its future, commercially, as well as technically. Providing true, accurate and honest access to news (and related genres like sport) is expensive and demanding. How do we address this key issue? Also, one of the challenges of the transition to IP connectivity is the risk that the media industry will become a major target for malware and hackers. As the transport platform becomes more open, the more we need to focus on cyber security and the intrinsic design of safe, secure systems.

OTT and social media delivery is sometimes seen as “disruptive,” but I think that “transformative” is the better word. It brings new challenges for creativity and business, and it is right that IBC looks at them.

Will VR and AR be addressed at this year’s conference?
Yes, in the Future Zone, and no doubt on the show floor. Technologies in this area are tumbling out, but the business and creative case seems to be lagging behind. We know what VR can do, but how can we tell stories with it? How can we monetize it? IBC can bring all the sides of the industry together to dig into all the issues. And not just in debate, but by seeing and experiencing the state of the art.

Cyber security and security breaches are becoming more frequent. How will IBC address these challenges?
Cyber security is such a critical issue that we have devoted a day to it in our new C-Tech Forum. Beyond that, we have an important session on cyber security on Friday in the main conference with experts from around the world and around the industry debating what can and should be done to protect content and operations.

Incidentally, we are also looking at artificial intelligence and machine learning, with conference sessions in both the technology and business transformation strands.

What is the Platform Futures — Sport conference aiming to address?
Platform Futures is one of the strands running through the conference. It looks at how the latest delivery and engagement technologies are opening new opportunities for the presentation of content.

Sport has always been a major driver – perhaps the major driver – of innovation in television and media. For many years now we have had a sport day as part of the conference. This year, we are dedicating the Platform Futures strand to sport on Sunday.

The stream looks at how new technology is pushing boundaries for live sports coverage; the increasing importance of fan engagement; and the phenomenon of “alternative sports formats” like Twenty20 cricket and Rugby 7s, which provide lucrative alternatives to traditional competitions. It will also examine the unprecedented growth of eSports, and the exponential opportunities for broadcasters in a market that is now pushing towards the half-billion-dollar size.