Tag Archives: Technicolor

Quick Chat: Scott Gershin from The Sound Lab at Technicolor

By Randi Altman

Veteran sound designer and feature film supervising sound editor Scott Gershin is leading the charge at the recently launched The Sound Lab at Technicolor, which, in addition to film and television work, focuses on immersive storytelling.

Gershin has more than 100 films to his credit, including American Beauty (which earned him a BAFTA nomination), Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim and Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. But films aren’t the only genre that Gershin has tackled — in addition to television work (he has an Emmy nom for the TV series Beauty and the Beast), this audio post pro has created the sound for game titles such as Resident Evil, Gears of War and Fable. One of his most recent projects was contributing to id Software’s Doom.

We recently reached out to Gershin to find out more about his workflow and this new Burbank-based audio entity.

Can you talk about what makes this facility different than what Technicolor has at Paramount? 
The Sound Lab at Technicolor works in concert with our other audio facilities, tackling film, broadcast and gaming projects. In doing so we are able to use Technicolor’s world-class dubbing, ADR and Foley stages.

One of the focuses of The Sound Lab is to identify and use cutting-edge technologies and workflows not only in traditional mediums, but in those new forms of entertainment such as VR, AR, 360 video/films, as well as dedicated installations using mixed reality. The Sound Lab at Technicolor is made up of audio artists from multiple industries who create a “brain trust” for our clients.

Scott Gershin and The Sound Lab team.

As an audio industry veteran, how has the world changed since you started?
I was one of the first sound people to use computers in the film industry. When I moved from the music industry into film post production, I brought that knowledge and experience with me. It gave me access to a huge number of tools that helped me tell better stories with audio. The same happened when I expanded into the game industry.

Learning the interactive tools of gaming is now helping me navigate into these new immersive industries, combining my film experience to tell stories and my gaming experience using new technologies to create interactive experiences.

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is that there are so many opportunities for the audience to ingest entertainment — creating competition for their time — whether it’s traveling to a theatre, watching TV (broadcast, cable and streaming) on a new 60- or 70-inch TV, or playing video games alone on a phone or with friends on a console.

There are so many choices, which means that the creators and publishers of content have to share a smaller piece of the pie. This forces budgets to be smaller since the potential audience size is smaller for that specific project. We need to be smarter with the time that we have on projects and we need to use the technology to help speed up certain processes — allowing us more time to be creative.

Can you talk about your favorite tools?
There are so many great technologies out there. Each one adds a different color to my work and provides me with information that is crucial to my sound design and mix. For example, Nugen has great metering and loudness tools that help me zero in on my clients LKFS requirements. With each client having their own loudness requirements, the tools allow me to stay creative, and meet their requirements.

Audi’s The Duel

What are some recent projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve been working on a huge variety of projects lately. Recently, I finished a commercial for Audi called The Duel, a VR piece called My Brother’s Keeper, 10 Webisodes of The Strain and a VR music piece for Pentatonix. Each one had a different requirement.

What is your typical workflow like?
When I get a job in, I look at what the project is trying to accomplish. What is the story or the experience about? I ask myself, how can I use my craft, shaping audio, to better enhance the experience. Once I understand how I am going to approach the project creatively, I look at what the release platform will be. What are the technical challenges and what frequencies and spacial options are open to me? Whether that means a film in Dolby Atmos or a VR project on the Rift. Once I understand both the creative and technical challenges then I start working within the schedule allotted me.

Speed and flow are essential… the tools need to be like musical instruments to me, where it goes from brain to fingers. I have a bunch of monitors in front of me, each one supplying me with different and crucial information. It’s one of my favorite places to be — flying the audio starship and exploring the never-ending vista of the imagination. (Yeah, I know it’s corny, but I love what I do!)

Technicolor’s Maxine Gervais colors Sully

Warner Bros.’s Sully, which had its US premiere last month and opens in the UK next, tells the story of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who famously landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009, saving everyone on board.

Director Clint Eastwood once again called on long-time collaborator and cinematographer Tom Stern to shoot the film. He used Arri Alexa 65 large-format cameras at 6K resolution. Sully was then finished in 4K and readied for distribution, including to IMAX HDR theaters.

Maxine Gervais at work.

Technicolor colorist Maxine Gervais, who supervised dailies and provided the grade, helped develop the overall aesthetic of the film and helped established a look of photorealism with a “very current feel,” working closely with Stern and director Eastwood. Because the emergency landing took place on a cold January morning, it was important that the visual tones reflected how cold the river temperatures were along with the tension and urgency of the situation.

“Because it was freezing that day, we wanted to make sure that it looked and felt that way — and that’s what you experience when you see the movie,” says Gervais, who used FilmLight’s Baselight on the project.

Sully also features several flashback scenes, for which Gervais used Baselight’s compositing tools. “I love the composite grading capability where you can blend layers in additive, subtractive and other modes — each layer becomes an element. It can serve a creative yet intricate look as well as some basic VFX, and it just keeps getting better.”

Composite grading also enables precise control when grading VFX shots. “The 4K VFX shots were sometimes delivered with up to eight element mattes. It gave me the ability to stack and treat every element from the plane, the water, the background and foreground to create a unique set of creative grades to work with and manipulate in realtime, without processing or rendering,” she explains.

Technicolor’s MPC provided key visual effects. As the VFX shots were brought into the Baselight timeline, the evolving grade was applied so the film could be continually reviewed with Eastwood and Stern in an IMAX environment. “This is my third collaboration with the Malpaso team [Eastwood’s production company],” says Gervais, who also worked on Jersey Boys and American Sniper. “Sully is definitely high-tech in every sense of the word from a DI point of view. We had to ensure that the look would hold up, that the VFX and non-VFX shots would balance out, the blacks and the highlights would be pristine, and that the resolution was perfectly preserved to meet the exacting standards of IMAX.”

Gervais worked closely with the IMAX team, “especially with Lee Wimer, who had been a lab-timer at Technicolor for many years. Bob Peichel produced the Sully color finishing and Erik Kauffman delivered editorial conform, along with Jeff Pantaleo who was Gervais’ color assist. Technicolor also delivered theatrical marketing color for the film’s theatrical and broadcast trailers. In addition to color grading and color finishing at Technicolor Hollywood, Technicolor Toronto’s sound team created IMAX Audio DRM for the film’s theatrical release.

Check out Gervais discussing some of her work:

Deluxe hires Walter Schonfeld as president of digital cinema global ops

Walter Schonfeld, formerly CEO of SDI Media Group and president of Technicolor Entertainment Services, has joined Deluxe as president, digital cinema global operations (DTDC).

DTDC, a joint venture between entertainment services companies Deluxe and Technicolor, handles digital mastering, distribution and key management for feature film titles released worldwide.

Schonfeld is the former CEO of localization company SDI Media Group, where he introduced technology-based tools and services to maximize its scale and scope, integrating global operations. Previously, he was also president of Technicolor’s worldwide entertainment services group for six years, and was instrumental in transitioning the company to digital services and expanding the geographic scope of its operations. Prior to Technicolor, Schonfeld was a SVP at MCI Telecommunications, heading international business development and developing global strategies and partnerships for the S&P 500 firm. He is also a veteran, having served as a US Air Force officer during the first Gulf War.

Schonfeld, based in Burbank, takes over the leadership role of DTDC as Deluxe veteran executive Warren Stein departs at the end of the year. Stein and Schonfeld will work closely during this time to ensure a consistent and smooth transition of all projects, processes and operations.

Schonfeld said, “DTDC is highly regarded throughout the industry and well known for the quality of their work. The organization and its professionals around the world are top notch, and I’m looking forward to being part of the team John has been assembling and the new energy and vision he has brought to Deluxe.”

Schonfeld will guide operations and teams across DTDC facilities worldwide — Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Sydney and Madrid.

NAB: The making of Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book’

By Bob Hoffman

While crowds lined up above the south hall at NAB to experience the unveiling of the new Lytro camera, across the hall a packed theatre conference room geeked-out as the curtain was slightly pulled back during a panel on the making of director Jon Favreau’s cinematic wonder, The Jungle Book.   Moderated by ICG Magazine editor David Geffner, Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato, ASC, along with Jungle Book producer Brigham Taylor and Technicolor master colorist Mike Sowa enchanted the packed room with stories of the making and finishing of the hit film.

Legato first started developing his concepts for “virtual production” techniques on Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, and shortly thereafter, with James Cameron and his hit Avatar. During the panel, Legato took the audience through a set of short demo clips of various scenes in the film while providing background on the production processes used by cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC, and Favreau to capture the live-action component of the film. Legato pointedly explained that his process is informed by a very traditional analog approach. The development of his thinking is based on a commitment to giving the filmmaking team tools and methodologies that allow them to work within their own particular comfort zones.

They may be working in a virtual environment, but Favreau’s wonderful touch is brilliantly demonstrated by the performance of 12-year-old Neel Sethi on his theatrical debut feature. Geffner noted more than once that “the emotional stakes are so well done you get involved emotionally” — without any notion of the technical complexity underlying the narrative.  One other area noted by Legato and Sowa was the myriad of theatrical-HDR deliverables for The Jungle Book, including up to 14-foot lamberts for the 3D presentation.  This film, and presentation, was just another clear indicator that HDR is a clear differentiator that audiences are clamoring for.

Bob Hoffman works at Technicolor in Hollywood.

Former Technicolor tech guru Tom Burns joins EMC

EMC, which just introduced the new software-defined storage product IsilonSD Edge and a new next-generation EMC Isilon OneFS operating system targeting post pros, has hired media and technology veteran Tom Burns as its media and entertainment CTO. Burns was most recently at Technicolor as director of post-production infrastructure. While there  he re-engineered film- and tape-based workflows using shared storage. Other experiences includes building a boutique post-production facility in Shanghai.

“Tom is an expert in media technology and is ideally suited to lead our team as his experience spans broadcast, feature and episodic post, VFX and 3D animation software development,” says David Chapa, CTO for EMC’s Emerging Technology Division. “Currently we’re seeing a rapid growth of file-based data that has increased the need for highly scalable and efficient storage solutions that meet high-demand post-production, transcoding and distribution requirements. Tom’s background gives him unique insight into the needs of our media and entertainment customers. He understands first-hand that every company’s storage needs are different.”

Burns was also the architect of the converged IP and SDI infrastructure for Oprah Winfrey’s first network, Oxygen (now NBCUniversal). He is a founding member of the StudioSysAdmins social networking site, and has previously spoken on the topic of technology and business transformation at conferences including the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA) and SIGGRAPH.

“Every organization’s storage footprint is different, and our customers in the media and entertainment space are no exception,” says Burns. “The needs of an OTT operator differ vastly from those of a VFX facility and EMC provides a full spectrum of high-performing storage solutions that are simple, scalable and resilient.”

Technicolor buys VFX house The Mill

Technicolor has purchased London-based The Mill, a large visual effects and content creation studio for the advertising industry, for €259 million ($292 million) on a debt-free basis.

Founded in 1990, The Mill has been providing high-end visual effects for both advertising agencies and brands, and has earned in excess of 1,000 industry awards. It has operations in the key markets of London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

According to Technicolor, this acquisition accomplishes many objectives set out in Technicolor’s Drive 2020 strategic roadmap:
·     It establishes visual effects and digital creation across all segments of high-end content, including cinema, TV and advertising.
·     It reinforces Technicolor’s portfolio of brands, including MPC, Mr. X and Mikros Image servicing a broad range of customers across 10 global locations.
·     It brings talent and expertise around emerging technologies such as virtual reality content that will enable Technicolor’s to enhance its technology platform across the entire industry.
·    It adds significant financial contribution with a business that has grown revenues at a 16% CAGR since 2009 to reach €135 million in 2014 while delivering EBITDA margins of approximately 20 percent.
·     It allows Production Services to better balance its portfolio through increased exposure to advertising and strengthens the financial profile of the Entertainment Services segment. With this acquisition, Production Services accounts for approximately 40 percent of Entertainment Services revenues.

Tim Sarnoff, president of production services and deputy CEO at Technicolor, wrote this about the acquisition in his blog:

“For a company like Technicolor, this phenomenon is a terrific opportunity to focus on our established strengths as a creative technology company and to invest further in the talent and resources that will help drive this evolving definition of artistic and persuasive storytelling.  Today’s acquisition of The Mill is aligned to the growing demand for premium content and creation of new consumer experiences.

Tim Sarnoff

Tim Sarnoff

The Mill is a leading provider of VFX content creation for the advertising, gaming and music industries. The Mill’s leading position in the global advertising VFX/post-production market aligns to our desire for immediate scale. Their investment in developing and producing content in emerging spaces (they partnered with Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group on a five-minute live-action virtual reality short film) also complements our company-wide efforts in these technologies. The Mill and their passionate talent are constantly pushing the frontiers of visual narrative, which means they will avidly leverage the technical chops of Technicolor to create new solutions for their clients.

“Equally, The Mill’s push into the content creation space, working closely with agencies to develop and realize their more technically complex ideas and stories, provides Technicolor visibility further upstream in the content creation value chain. 

“With this acquisition Technicolor will extend its current position and technology know-how in VFX to rapidly capture further market share within the advertising and branded experience sector.”

To read Sarnoff’s entire blog click here.

Deluxe and Technicolor launch d-cinema joint venture 

Deluxe and Technicolor have entered into a binding agreement to create a new digital cinema joint venture, Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema, which will specialize in theatrical digital cinema mastering, distribution, and key management services.

Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema will bring together best-in-class technologies, personnel, work processes, and facilities to provide seamless digital cinema services to customers globally. The new business will be managed by Deluxe and based in Burbank. All other lines of business will continue to operate independently of one another.

This joint venture is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015.

NAB 2015: MPSE panel profiles audio post for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

By Mel Lambert

“When a soundtrack is loud you can wing it, but for Fifty Shades of Grey everything had to be carefully balanced to match the different environments,” reported sound effects mixer Anna Behlmer who, with Terry Porter overseeing dialog and music, re-recorded the intricate soundtrack for director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s recent film of the best-selling novel by E. L. James.

“The film’s carefully crafted Foley, for example, created the sense of isolation on the 50th floor of the building that Christian Grey [played by Jamie Dornan] owned,” she continued. “My intention was to create an atmosphere for the scene that you cannot tell is there, but that you Continue reading

‘Banshee’ VFX Part 2: Technicolor Flame artist Paul Hill

By Randi Altman

A couple of weeks ago we checked in with Banshee associate producer Gwyn Shovelski, who talked about the show’s visual effects workflow. That workflow includes Technicolor Flame artist Paul Hill, who has intimate knowledge of what the Banshee team wants — he worked with most of them during the run of HBO’s True Blood.

Cinemax’s Banshee takes place in a small, picturesque town in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. Banshee is home to a variety of people who have some pretty ugly secrets to hide. It’s also home to a stockpile of guns that would make some drug cartels drool.

A big plot point on Banshee, which ended its third season in March, is showing some of the main Continue reading

‘Banshee’ associate producer Gwyn Shovelski talks VFX

By Randi Altman

For those of you lucky enough to have discovered Banshee on Cinemax, you know just how fun a ride it can be… and just how violent. The amount of blood spilled would make Quentin Tarantino proud.

The show recently finished its third season run of action-packed goodness, and while the episodes featured many in-your-face visual effects — I urge you to search for “Chayton’s Death Scene” on YouTube — courtesy of Zoic Studios, there were also many effects that were just, well, face effects.

If you are a viewer, you know that most of the characters aren’t who they appear to be, and the audience is let in on their back stories via flashbacks. That is where Technicolor Flame artist Continue reading