Author Archives: Randi Altman

Review: Red Giant’s VFX Suite plugins

By Brady Betzel

If you have ever watched After Effects tutorials, you are bound to have seen the people who make up Red Giant. There is Aharon Rabinowitz, who you might mistake for a professional voiceover talent; Seth Worley, who can combine a pithy sense of humor and over-the-top creativity seamlessly; and my latest man-crush Daniel Hashimoto, better known as “Action Movie Dad” of Action Movie Kid.

In these videos, these talented pros show off some amazing things they created using Red Giant’s plugin offerings, such as the Trapcode Suite, the Magic Bullet Suite, Universe and others.

Now, Red Giant is trying to improve your visual effects workflow even further with the new VFX Suite for Adobe After Effects (although some work in Adobe Premiere as well).

The new VFX Suite is a compositing focused tool kit that will compliment many aspects of your work, from green screen keying to motion graphics compositing with tools such as Video CoPilot’s Element 3D. Whether you want to seamlessly composite light and atmospheric fog with less pre-composites, add a reflection to an object easily or even just have a better greenscreen keyer, the VFX Suite will help.

The VFX Suite includes Supercomp, Primatte Keyer 6; King Pin Tracker; Spot Clone Tracker; Optical Glow; Chromatic Displacement; Knoll Light Factory 3.1; Shadow; and Reflection. The VFX Suite is priced at $999 unless you qualify for the Academic discount, which means you can get it for $499.

In this review, I will go over each of the plugins within the VFX Suite but up first will be Primatte Keyer 6.

Overall, I love the Red Giant’s interface and GUIs, in addition they seem to be a little more intuitive for me allowing me to work more “creatively” as opposed to spending time figuring out technical issues.

I asked Red Giant what makes VFX Suite so powerful and Rabinowitz, head of marketing for Red Giant and general post production wizard shared this: “Red Giant has been helping VFX artists solve compositing challenges for over 15 years. For VFX suite, we looked at those challenges with fresh eyes and built new tools to solve them with new technologies. Most of these tools are built entirely from scratch. In the case of Primatte Keyer, we further enhanced the UI and sped it up dramatically with GPU acceleration. Primatte Keyer 6 becomes even more powerful when you combine the keying results with Supercomp, which quickly turns your keyed footage into beautifully comped footage.”

Primatte Keyer 6
Primatte is a chromakey/single-color keying technology used in tons of movies and television shows. I got familiar with Primatte once BorisFX included it in their Continuum suite of plugins. Once I used Primatte and learned the intricacies of extracting detail from hair and even just using their auto analyze function, I never looked back. On occasion, Primatte needs a little help from others, like Keylight, but typically I can usually pull easy and tough keys all within one or two instances of Primatte.

If you haven’t used Primatte before, you essentially pick your key color by drawing a line or rectangle around the color, adjust the detail and opacity of the matte and boom you’re done. With Primatte 6 you now also get Core Matte. Core Matte, essentially draws an inside mask automatically while allowing you to refine the edges — this is a real time saver when doing hundreds of interview greenscreen keys, especially when someone decides to wear a reflective necklace or piece of jewelry that usually requires an extra mask and tracking. Primatte 6 also adds GPU optimization, gaining even more preview and rendering speed than previous versions.

Supercomp
If you are an editor like me — who knows enough to be dangerous when compositing and working within After Effects — sometimes you just want (or need) a more simple interface without having to figure out all the expressions, layer order, effects and compositing modes to get something to look right. And if you are an Avid Media Composer user you may have encountered the Paint Tool, which is one of those one for all plugins. You can paint, sharpen, blur and much more from inside one tool, much like Supercomp. Think of the Supercomp interface as a Colorista or Magic Bullet Looks type interface, where you can work with composite effects such as fog, glow, lights, matte chokers, edge blend and more inside of one interface with much less pre-composing.

The effects are all GPU-accelerated and are context-aware. You can think of Supercomp as a great tool to use with your results from the Primatte Keyer, adding in atmosphere and light wraps quickly and easily inside one plugin and not multiple.

King Pin Tracker and Spot Clone Tracker
As an online editor, I am often tasked with sign replacements, paint-out of crew or cameras in shots, as well as other clean-ups. If I can’t accomplish what I want inside of BorisFX Continuum while using Mocha inside of Media Composer or Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve, I will jump over to After Effects and try my hand there. I don’t practice as much corner pinning as I would like, so I often forget the intricacies when tracking in Mocha and copying Corner Pin or Transform Data to After Effects. This is where the new King Pin Tracker can ease any difficulties, especially when performing corner pinning on relatively simple objects but still needing the ability to keyframe positions or perform a planar track without using multiple plugins or applications.

The Spot Clone Tracker is exactly what is says it is. Much like Resolve’s Patch Replace, Spot Clone Tracker allows you to track one area while replacing that same area with another area from the screen. In addition, Spot Clone Tracker has options to flip vertical, flip horizontal, add noise, and adjust brightness and color values. For such a seemingly simple tool, the Spot Clone Tracker is the darkhorse in this race. You’d be suprised how many clone and paint tools don’t have adjustments, like flipping and flopping or brightness changes. This is a great tool for quick dead pixel fixes and painting out GoPros where you don’t need to mask anything out. Although there is an option to “Respect Alpha.”

Optical Glow and Knoll Light Factory 3.1
Have you ever been in an editing session that needed police lights amplified or a nice glow on some text that the stock plugins just couldn’t get right? Optical Glow will solve this. In another amazing simple-yet-powerful Red Giant plugin, Optical Glow can be applied and gamma adjusted for video, log and linear levels right off the bat.

From there you can pick an inner tint, outer tint, overall glow color aka Colorize and set the vibrance. I really love the Falloff, Highlight Rolloff, and Highlights-Only functions that allow you to fine tune the glow and just how much it shows and affects. It’s so simple that it is hard to mess up, but the results speak for themselves and render out quicker than other glow plugins I am using.

Knoll Light Factory has been newly GPU accelerated in Version 3.1 to decrease render times when using the over 200 presets or customizing your own lens flares. Optical Glow and Knoll Light Factory really compliment each other.

Chromatic Displacement
Since watching an Andrew Kramer tutorial covering displacement, I always wanted to make a video that showed huge seismic blasts but didn’t really want to put the time into properly making chromatic displacement. Lucky for me, Red Giant has introduced Chromatic Displacement! Whether you want to quickly make rain drops appear on the camera lens or you want to add a seismic blast from a phaser, Chromatic Displacement will allow you to offset your background with a glass or mirror-like appearance, or even add a heatwave appearance quickly. Simply choose the layer you want to displace from and adjust parameters such as displacement amount, spread and spread chroma, or if you want to render using the CPU or GPU.

Shadow and ReflectionRed Giant packs Shadow and Reflection plugins into the VFX Suite as well. The Shadow plugin not only makes it easy to create shadows in front of or behind an object based on alpha channel or brightness, but best of all gives you an easy way to identify the point where the shadow should bend. The Shadow Bend option lets you identify where the bend exists, what color the Bend Axis should be, but also identify the type of seam and seam size and even allows for motion blur.

The Reflection plugin is very similar to the Shadow plugin and produces quick and awesome reflections without any After Effects wizardry. Just like Shadow, the Reflection plugin allows for a bend to be identified. Plus, you can adjust the softness of the reflection quickly and easily.

Summing Up
In the end, Red Giant always delivers great and useful plugins. VFX Suite is no different, and the only downside some might point to is the cost. While $999 is expensive, if compositing is a large portion of your business, the efficiency you gain may outweigh the costs.

Much like Shooter Suite does for online editors, Trapcode Suite does for VFX masters and Universe does for jacks of all trades, VFX Suite will take all of your ideas and help them blend seamlessly into your work.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

LumaFusion mobile filmmaking editing app updated

Luma Touch has updated LumaFusion, its video editing application for iOS. Created by video editing industry veterans Chris Demiris and Terri Morgan, LumaFusion Version 2 introduces new features and a new UI, and effectively doubles the number of audio/video tracks supported to 12 tracks, with six video tracks supporting 4K video in realtime.

The UI now features all-new vector icons streamline editing, with new track headers for locking, hiding and muting all tracks, and an overview of the timeline that lets users jump to any location in your edit with a single touch.

Keying

Additional updates include:
• New Timeline Overview:, which makes it quick and easy to see your whole project and jump to a specific location in your edit
• New Shuttle Control: Press-and-hold the Play button to scrub at different rates to find the right frame
• Track Headers with track link/unlink, track locking, hide and mute
• Flexible Editing: Video and audio clips on the primary (anchor) track let users to edit the way they want
• External Display: Users can view their video on the large screen and get more room for your timeline and library with new UI layouts
• Support for Gnarbox 2.0 SSD, as well as improvements for supporting Gnarbox1.0
• Dozens of editing and media management improvements

Ryan Connolly is a filmmaker, writer, director and creator of the YouTube channel, Film Riot. He has been testing LumaFusion 2.0. “LumaFusion is surprisingly fast and fluid, and is also perfect for doing previs on location scouts.”

LumaFusion Version 2  is available now on the App Store for $29.99, but the company is offering a discount of 50% until June 27, 2019.

DP Chat: Catch-22’s Martin Ruhe, ASC

By Randi Altman

For the bibliophiles out there, you know Catch-22 as the 1961 book by Joseph Heller. Cinephiles might remember the 1970 film of the same name starring Alan Arkin. And for those who are familiar with the saying, but not its origins, a Catch-22 is essentially a no-win situation. The famous idiom comes from the book — specifically the main character, Captain John Yossarian, a World War II bombardier who finds himself needing to escape the war, but rules and regulations hold him back.

Martin Ruhe (right) on-set with George Clooney.

Now there is yet another Catch-22 to point to: Hulu’s miniseries, which stars Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie and George Clooney. Clooney is also an executive producer, alongside Grant Heslov, Luke Davies, David Michôd, Richard Brown, Steve Golin and Ellen Kuras. The series was written by Davies and Michôd and directed by Clooney, Heslov and Kuras, who each directed two episodes. It was shot entirely in Italy.

We recently reached out to the show’s German-born DP, Martin Ruhe, ASC, to find out about his workflow on the series and how he became a cinematographer.

Tell us about Catch-22. How would you describe the look of the film that you and the directors wanted to achieve?
George was very clear — he wanted to push the look of the show toward something we don’t see very often these days in TV or films. He wanted to feel the heat of the Italian summer.

We also wanted to contrast the absurdity of what happens on the ground with the claustrophobic and panic of the aerial work. We ended up with a strong warm tone and a lot of natural light. And we move the camera as if we‘re always with our hero (Abbott). Very often we travel with him in fluent camera moves, and then we contrast that with shaky hand-held camera work in the air. It was good fun to be able to have such a range to work with.

Were you given examples of the look that was wanted?
We looked at newsreel footage from the period and at stills and benefitted from production designer David Gropman‘s research. Then I took stills when we did camera tests with our actors in costume. I worked on those on my computer until we got to a place we all liked.

Stefan Sonnenfeld at Company 3 did the grading for the show and loved it. He gave us a LUT that we used for our dailies. Later, when we did the final grade, we added film grain and refined our look to what it is now.

How early did you get involved in the production?
I spoke with George Clooney and Grant Heslov for the first time four months before we started to shoot. I had eight weeks of prep.

How did you go about choosing the right camera and lenses for this project?
A lot of the scenes were happening in very small spaces. I did a lot of research on smaller cameras, and since we would have a lot of action scenes in those planes, I did not want to use any cameras with a rolling shutter.

I ended up using Arri Alexa Minis with Cooke S4 lenses and also some Flare cameras by IO industries, which could record 4K raw to Q7 Odyssey recorders. We mounted those little ones on the planes whenever they were flying for real. We also used it for the parachute jump.

This is a period piece. How did that affect your choices?
The main effect was the choice of light sources when we shot interiors and night scenes. I love fluorescents, and they existed in the period, but just not in those camps and not in the streets of Rome at night. We used a lot of practicals and smaller sources, which we spread out in the little streets of a small town where we shot, called Viterbo (standing in for Rome).

Another thing I learned was that in those camps at night, lights were blacked out. That meant we were stuck with moonlight and general ambience for night scenes, which we created with HMI sources — sometimes direct if we needed to cover big areas, like when the air base gets attacked at night in Episode 5.

Any challenging scenes that you are particularly proud of or found most challenging? 
In the end of Episode 5, Yossarian’s plane loses both engines in combat and goes down. We see YoYo and others escape the plane, while the pilot takes the plane over water and tries to land it. It’s a very dramatic scene.

We shot some exteriors of the real B25 Mitchell over Sardinia. We mounted camera systems in a DC3 and our second Mitchell to get the shots with the real planes. The destruction on the engines and the additional planes were added in post. The interiors of our actors in the plane were shot at Cinecitta Studios in Rome. We had a fuselage of a real B-25 on a gimbal. The studio was equipped with a 360-degree screen and a giant top light.

In the plane, we shot with a hand-held ARRI Alexa Mini camera. It was only the actors, myself and my focus puller inside. We never altered the physical space of the plane but instead embraced the claustrophobia. We see all of the crew members getting out — only the pilot stays on board. There was so little physical space for our actors since the fuselage was rigged to the gimbal, and then we also had to create the lighting for them to jump into within a couple of feet of space.

Then, when Yossarian leaves the plane, we actually put a small camera on a stuntman while another stuntman in Yossarian’s wardrobe did a real jump. We combined that with some plate shots from a helicopter (with a 3D plane in it) and some shots of our actor on a rig on the backlot of Cinecitta.

It all worked out. It was always our goal to shoot as many real elements as we could and leave the rest with post.

Stepping away from Catch-22. How did you become interested in cinematography?
I grew up in a small town in western Germany. No one in my family had anything to do with film. I loved movies and wanted to work on them as a director. After a little journey, I got an internship at a camera rental in London. It was then I saw for the first time what cinematographers do. I loved it and knew that was it. Then I studied in Berlin, became a focus puller for a couple of years and started working as a DP on music videos, then commercials and then, a little later, films.

What inspires you artistically?
Photography and movies. There is a lot of good work out there by a lot of talented DPs. I love to look at photographers I like as well as some documentary stills like the ones you see in the World Press Photo contest once a year. I love it when it is real. There are so many images around us every day, but if I don’t believe them (where they seem real to me), they are just annoying.

Looking back over the last few years, what new technology has changed the way you work?
Maybe LED lighting and maybe the high sensitivity of today’s digital cameras. You are so much more free in your choice of locations, days and, especially, night work because you can work with fewer lights.

What are some of your best practices or rules you try to follow on each job?
Keep it as simple as you can, and stay true to your vision.

Explain your ideal collaboration with the director when setting the look of a project.
I’m not sure there is just one way to go. After reading the script, you have an idea of what it can be, and then you start getting the information of the where and in what frame you will work.

Martin Ruhe behind the ARRI Alexa.

I love to spend time with my directors in prep — going to the locations, seeing them in different light, like mornings, noon or during night. Then I love to work with stills and sometimes also reference pictures to show what I think it can be and present a way we can get there. It’s always very important to leave some space for things to develop.

What’s your go-to gear — things you can’t live without?
I look for the right gear for each project. I like ARRI cameras, but I’ve also shot two movies with Panavision cameras.

I have shot movies in various countries, and the early ones didn’t have big budgets, so I tried to work with local crew and gear that was available. The thing I like about that is you get to know different ways of doing things, and also you might work with gear you would have never picked yourself. It keeps you flexible. When I start a project, I am trying to develop a feel for the story and the places it lives. Once I have that feel, I start into how and decide what tools I’ll use.

Photo Credit: Philippe Antonello


Randi Altman is the founder and editor-in-chief of postPerspective. She has been covering production and post production for more than 20 years. 

Yoomin Lee joins MPC London as senior colorist

Yoomin Lee has joined Moving Picture Company’s color team in London. Lee got her start working for some of Australia’s top post houses including Frame Set & Match, The Lab and Cutting Edge, before joining Jogger Studios London in 2016.

While at Jogger, she worked on many campaigns, including those for Google, Valentino, FIFA and Samsung. A collaboration with director Anton Corbijn has seen her grade projects for Depeche Mode and U2, including the visuals for the latter’s The Joshua Tree Tour in 2017, which played across the world’s largest concert screen.

You can check out her work here.

Amazon’s Sneaky Pete: DP Arthur Albert on the look of Season 3

By Karen Moltenbrey

Crime has a way of finding Pete Murphy, or should we say Marius Josipovic (Giovanni Ribisi). Marius is a con man who assumed his cellmate’s identity when he was paroled from prison. His twofold plan was: one, pretend to be the still-incarcerated Pete with whom the family has been estranged for the past 20 years, and hide out on their farm in Connecticut; and two, con them out of money so he can pay back a brutal mobster (Bryan Cranston, who also produces) or face dire consequences.

Arthur Albert

Marius’s plan, however, is flawed. The family is lovable and quirky, but broke. Furthermore, they are in the bail bond business. Marius starts to really care for the family while also discovering that his cover is not that safe.

Similar to how Marius’ plans on Sneaky Pete have changed, so has the show’s production on the current and final Season 3, streaming on Amazon now. This year, they moved from New York to California, in tandem with the storylines. Blake Masters also took over as showrunner, and cinematographer Arthur Albert (ER, The Blacklist, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) came on as director of photography, infusing his own aesthetic into the series.

“I asked Blake if he wanted me to maintain the look they had used previously, and he said he wanted to put his own stamp on it and raise the bar in every department. So, I had free rein to change the look,” notes Albert.

The initial look established for Sneaky Pete had a naturalistic feel, and the family’s bail office was lit with fluorescent lighting. Albert, in contrast, opted for a more cinematic look with portrait-style lighting. “It’s just an aesthetic choice,” he says. “The sets, designed by (Jonathan) Carlson, are absolutely brilliant and I tried to keep them as rich and layered as possible.”

For Manhattan scenes, Masters wanted a mid-century, modern look. “I made New York moody and as interesting as I could — cooler, more contrasty,” says Albert. When the story shifts to Southern California, Masters asked for a bright, more vibrant look. “There’s a big location change,” Albert adds. “For this season, you want to feel that change. It’s a big decision for the whole family to pick up their operation and move it, so I wanted the overall look of the show to feel new and different.”

The edginess and feeling of danger, though, comes less from the lighting in this show and more from the camera movement. The use of Steadicam gives it a bit of a stalking feel, serving as a moving viewpoint.

When Albert first met with Masters, they discussed what they thought worked in previous episodes. They liked the ones that used handheld and close-up shots that were wide and close to the actor, but in the end they went with a more traditional approach used by Jon Avnet, who directed four of the 10 episodes this season.

Season 3 was primarily shot with two cameras (Albert’s son, Nick, served as second-unit DP and A-camera operator, and Jordan Keslow, B-camera/Steadicam operator). A fan of Red cameras — Albert used an early incarnation for the last six episodes of ER – he employed Red’s DSMC2 with the new Gemini 5K S35 sensor for Season 3. The Gemini leverages dual sensitivity modes to provide greater flexibility for a variety of shooting environments.

The DP also likes the way it renders skin tones without requiring diffusion. “The color is really true and good, and the dynamic range is great. It held for really bright window areas and really dark areas, both with amazing range,” he says. The interiors of the sets were filmed on a stage in Los Angeles, and the exteriors were shot on location afterward. With the Gemini’s two settings (standard mode for well-lit conditions and a low-light setting), “You can shoot a room where you can barely see anyone, and it looks fully lit, or if it’s a night exterior where you don’t have enough time, money or space to light it, or in a big set space where suddenly you want to shoot high speed and you need more light. You just flip a switch, and you’ve got it. It was very clean with no noise.”

This capability came in handy for a shoot in Central Park at night. The area was heavily restricted in terms of using lights. Albert used the 3200 ISO setting and the entire skyline of 59th Street was visible — the clouds and how they reflected the light of the buildings, the detail of the night sky, the silhouettes of the buildings. In another similar situation, he used the low-light setting of the camera for a night sequence filmed in Grand Central Terminal. “It looked great, warm and beautiful; there is no way we could have lit that vast space at night to accommodate a standard ISO,” says Albert.

As far as lenses on Sneaky Pete, they used the Angenieux short zooms because they are lightweight and compact, can be put on a Steadicam and are easy to hold. “And I like the way they look,” Albert says. He also used the new Sigma prime lenses, especially when an extreme wide angle was needed, and was impressed with their sharpness and lack of distortion.

Throughout filming, the cinematographer relied on Red’s IPP2 (image processing pipeline) in-camera, which resulted in a more effective post process, as it is designed for an HDR workflow, like Sneaky Pete — which is required by Amazon.

The color grade for the series was done at Level 3 Post by Scott Ostrowsky, who had also handled all the previous seasons of Sneaky Pete and with whom Albert had worked with on The Night Shift and other projects. “He shoots a very cinematic look and negative. I know his style and was able to give him that look before he came into the suite. And when we did the reviews together, it was smooth and fast,” Ostrowsky says. “At times Sneaky Pete has a very moody look, and at times it has a very open look, depending on the environment we were shooting in. Some of the dramatic scenes are moody and low-light. Imagine an old film noir movie, only with color. It’s that kind of feel, where you can see through the shadows. It’s kind of inky and adds suspense and anticipation.”

Ostrowsky worked with the camera’s original negative — “we never created a separate stream,” he notes. “It was always from the camera neg, unless we had to send a shot out for a visual effects treatment.”

Sneaky Pete was shot in 5K, from which a 3840×2160 UHD image was extracted, and that is what Ostrowsky color graded. “So, if I needed to use some kind of window or key, it was all there for me,” he says. Arthur or Nick Albert would then watch the second pass with Ostrowsky, who would make any further changes, and then the producers would watch it, adding their notes. Ostrowsky worked used the Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve.

“I want to make the color work for the show. I don’t want the color to distract from the show. The color should tell the story and help the story,” adds Ostrowsky.

While not every change has been for the best for Pete himself since Season 1, the production changes on Sneaky Pete’s last season appear to be working just fine.


Karen Moltenbrey is a veteran VFX and post writer.

Remembering ARRI’s Franz Wieser

By Randi Altman

Franz Wieser passed away last week, and the world is worse for it. I’ve known Franz for over 20 years, going back to when he was still based in ARRI’s Blauvelt, New York, office and I was editor of Post Magazine.

We would meet in the city from time to time for an event or a meal. In fact, he introduced me to a hidden gem of a restaurant just off Washington Square Park that has become one of my favorites. It reminds me of him — warm, friendly and welcoming.

I always laugh when I remember him telling me about when his car broke down here in New York. Even though he had his hazard lights on and it was clear his car wasn’t cooperating, people kept driving by and giving him the finger. He was bemused but incredulous, which made it even funnier.

Then he moved to LA and I saw him less… a quick hello at trade shows a couple of times a year. When I think of Franz, I remember his smile first and how soft spoken and kind he was.

He touched many over the years and their stories are similar to mine.

“I have known Franz for nearly two decades, but it was during the earliest days of ARRI’s digital era that we truly connected,” shares Gary Adcock, an early ARRI digital adopter, writer and industry consultant. “We got together after one of the director of photography conferences I chaired at NAB to talk about ARRI’s early D20 and D21 digital cameras. Franz was just a great person, always a kind word, always wanting to know how your family and friends were. It will be that kindness that I will miss the most.”

“This is such sad news,” says Andy Shipsides, CTO at Burbank’s AbleCine. “Franz was a dear friend and will be greatly missed. He was an amazing person and brought fun and levity to his work everyday. I had lunch with him several months ago and I feel lucky to have shared that time with him. Franz was a truly a delightful person. He took me out when I first moved to LA to welcome me to the city, which I will always remember. He always had a smile on his face, and his positive energy was contagious. He will be very much missed, a big loss for our industry.”

ARRI sent out the following about Franz.

It is with great sadness, that we share the news of the passing of Franz Wieser, VP, marketing at ARRI Inc.

Franz Wieser grew up in Rosenheim in Bavaria, Germany. He was originally hired by ARRI CT in nearby Stephanskirchen, where ARRI’s Lighting factory is situated. Franz started at ARRI with an internship with Volker Bahnemann, a member of the supervisory board of the ARRI Group, at what was then called Arriflex Corporation in Blauvelt, NY, USA, and spent some time doing market research in New York and California.

In July 1994, Franz accepted a position as marketing manager at Arriflex with Volker Bahnemann and relocated to New York at that time. Franz had a distinguished career of 25 years in marketing for Arriflex and ARRI Inc., leading to his current position of VP of marketing based in the ARRI Burbank office. His contributions spanned the marketing of ARRI film and digital camera systems and analog and digital lighting fixtures. He also built sustaining relationships with the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) and many others in the film and television industry. His ability to connect with people, his friendliness and reliability, along with his deep understanding of the film industry was outstanding. He was a highly valued member of the global marketing network and a wonderful person and colleague.

Glenn Kennel, president and CEO of ARRI Inc., says “Franz will be remembered by his colleagues and many friends in the industry as a friend and mentor, willing to listen and help. He always had a smile on his face and a gracious approach.”

We are very saddened by his early loss and will remember him well. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife and his parents. 

Lenovo intros next-gen ThinkPads

Lenovo has launched the next generation of its ThinkPad P Series with the release of five new ThinkPads, including the ThinkPad P73, ThinkPad P53, ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 and ThinkPad P53s and P43s.

The ThinkPad P53 features the Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPU with RT and Tensor cores, offering realtime raytracing and AI acceleration. It now features Intel Xeon and 9th Gen Core class CPUs with up to eight cores (including the Core i9) up to 128GB of memory and 6TB of storage.

This mobile workstation also boasts a new OLED touch display with Dolby Vision HDR for superb color and some of the deepest black levels ever. Building on the innovation behind the ThinkPad P1 power supply, Lenovo is also maximizing the portability of this workstation with a 35 percent smaller power supply. The ThinkPad P53 is designed to handle everything from augmented reality and VR content creation to the deployment of mobile AI or ISV workflows. The ThinkPad P53 will be available in July, starting at $1,799.

At 3.74 pounds and 17.2mm thin, Lenovo’s thinnest and lightest 15-inch workstation — the ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 — includes the latest Nvidia Quadro Turing T1000 and T2000 GPUs. The ThinkPad P1 also features eight-core Intel 9th Gen Xeon and Core CPUs and an OLED touch display with Dolby Vision HDR.

The ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 will be available at the end of June starting at $1,949.

With its 17.3-inch Dolby Vision 4K UHD screen and mobility with a 35% smaller power adaptor, Lenovo’s ThinkPad P73 offers users maximum workspace and mobility. Like the ThinkPad 53, it features the Intel Xeon and Core processors and the most powerful Nvidia Quadro RTX graphics. The ThinkPad P73 will be available in August starting at $1,849.

The ThinkPad P43s features a 14-inch chassis and will be available in July starting at $1,499.

Rounding out the line is the ThinkPad P53s which combines the latest Nvidia Quadro graphics and Intel Core processors — all in a thin and light chassis. The ThinkPad P53s will be available in June, starting at $1,499.

For the first time, Lenovo is adding new X-Rite Pantone Factory Color Calibration to the ThinkPad P1 Gen 2, ThinkPad P53 and ThinkPad P73. The unique factory color calibration profile is stored in the cloud to ensure more accurate recalibration. This profile allows for dynamic switching between color spaces, including sRGB, Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 to ensure accurate ISV application performance.

The entire ThinkPad portfolio is also equipped with advanced ThinkShield security features – from ThinkShutter to privacy screens to self-healing BIOS that recover when attacked or corrupted – to help protect users from every angle and give them the freedom to innovate fearlessly.

Quick Chat: Sinking Ship’s Matt Bishop on live-action/CG series

By Randi Altman

Toronto’s Sinking Ship Entertainment is a production, distribution and interactive company specializing in children’s live-action and CGI-blended programming. The company has 13 Daytime Emmys and a variety of other international awards on its proverbial mantel. Sinking Ship has over 175 employees across all its divisions, including its VFX and interactive studio.

Matt Bishop

Needless to say, the company has a lot going on. We decided to reach out to Matt Bishop, founding partner at Sinking Ship, to find out more.

Sinking Ship produces, creates visual effects and posts its own content, but are you also open to outside projects?
Yes, we do work in co-production with other companies or contract our post production service to shows that are looking for cutting-edge VFX.

Have you always created your own content?
Sinking Ship has developed a number of shows and feature films, as well as worked in co-production with production companies around the world.

What came first, your post or your production services? Or were they introduced in tandem?
Both sides of company evolved together as a way to push our creative visions. We started acquiring equipment on our first series in 2004, and we always look for new ways to push the technology.

Can you mention some of your most recent projects?
Some of our current projects include Dino Dana (Season 4), Dino Dana: The Movie, Endlings and Odd Squad Mobile Unit.

What is your typical path getting content from set to post?
We have been working with Red cameras for years, and we were the first company in Canada to shoot in 4K over a decade ago. We shoot a lot of content, so we create backups in the field before the media is sent to the studio.

Dino Dana

You work with a lot of data. How do you manage and keep all of that secure?
Backups, lots of backups. We use a massive LTO-7 tape robot and we have over a 2PB of backup storage on top of that. We recently added Qumulo to our workflow to ensure the most secure method possible.

What do you use for your VFX work? What about your other post tools?
We use a wide range of software, but our main tools in our creature department are Pixologic Zbrush and Foundry Mari, with all animation happening inside Autodesk Maya.

We also have a large renderfarm to handle the amount of shots, and our render engine of choice is Arnold, which is now an Autodesk project.  In post we use an Adobe Creative Cloud pipeline with 4K HDR color grading happening in DaVinci Resolve. Qumulo is going to be a welcome addition as we continue to grow and our outputs become more complex.


Randi Altman is the founder and editor-in-chief of postPerspective. She has been covering production and post production for more than 20 years. 

Axis provides 1,000 VFX shots for the TV series Happy!

UK-based animation and visual effects house Axis Studios has delivered 1,000 shots across 10 episodes on the second series of the UCP-produced hit Syfy show Happy!.

Based on Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel, Happy! follows alcoholic ex-cop turned hitman Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni), who teams up with imaginary unicorn Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt). In the second season, the action moves from Christmastime to “the biggest holiday rebranding of all time” and a plot to “make Easter great again,” courtesy of last season’s malevolent child-kidnapper, Sonny Shine (Christopher Fitzgerald).

Axis Studios, working across its three creative sites in Glasgow, Bristol, and London, collaborated with executive producer and director Brian Taylor and showrunner Patrick Macmanus to raise the bar on the animation of the fully CG character. The studio also worked on a host of supporting characters, including a “chain-smoking man-baby,” a gimp-like Easter Bunny and even a Jeff Goldblum-shaped cloud. Alongside the extensive animation work, the team’s VFX workload greatly increased from the first season — including two additional episodes, creature work, matte painting, cloud simulations, asset building and extensive effects and clean-up work.

Building on the success of the first season, the 100-person team of artists further developed the animation of the lead character, Happy!, improving the rig, giving more nuanced emotions and continually working to integrate him more in the real-world environments.

EIPMA: Focusing on industry mentoring

By Barry Goch

As an instructor, I try to bridge the gap between the technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow. So much of what I do as an industry pro depends on knowing and respecting the past while keeping an eye on the future. I see a digital divide as I guide my students into the world of contemporary post production. For example, it helps them to know the origins of terms like bin, trim and splice.

So when I had the opportunity to learn more about the Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance (EIPMA), I was intrigued. It’s an organization that wants to pay it forward by providing mentors to students and educational institutions. I’m proud to say that I am one of the first beneficiaries. When I was looking for a guest speaker for my UCLA post production class, EIPMA came through in a heartbeat.

I’m happy this organization exists and I want to spread the word to other educators, institutions and facilities. Let’s find out more from EIPMA president Bernard Weiser, who is also VP of the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE).

Bernard Weiser

What inspired you to start the Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance?
The beginning idea for EIPMA started with the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE). The MPSE is a craft society for sound editors and I am vice president. Its main purpose is to bring attention to the craft of sound editing and what sound editors do — both technically and creatively.

A longtime board member and treasurer of the MPSE, Paul Rodriguez, passed away about a year and half ago. We very much looked upon him as a sound ambassador — he went to many events, including NAB, each year, speaking about sound editorial. (You can see him chatting with us and sharing his wisdom during NAB 2017) The MPSE wanted to honor him and came up with the idea of a mentoring program in his name, since he had given so many editors their start in our industry. MPSE President Tom McCarthy began talking about it, and a lot of other organizations started to hear about the idea and said, “You know, we’ve been trying to put a mentorship program together. We’d like to be involved in this.”

How long did it take to get it going?
Literally, in two or three days, this had grown far bigger than the MPSE, far bigger than anything that was imagined. After a month or two of discussion about this, and given my background as an instructor at the UCLA Film School, I was voted president of what is now called EIPMA. In addition to the MPSE, we have many industry organizations involved as members — American Cinema Editors (ACE), Audio Engineering Society, Cinema Audio Society (CAS), Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE), The Recording Academy (Grammy’s), SMPTE and SoundGirls.org (a group of women that does field reporting). All are founding members with more industry organizations poised to come aboard.

It sounds like you have a lot of momentum already for a brand-new organization, and there’s definitely a need for it. There’s definitely a lack of hand-off from the old-school ways to the new-school ways.
We realized that many top industry and veteran professionals have a feeling of wanting to give back. But also, what all of us would see are changes in the industry that create a gap. New people coming in are basically fresh out of school or from some other background, and there’s no real apprenticeship program anymore. So they come in and start working and they really don’t have a background for professional workflows, protocols, and just the way that industry professional life works. Professors and educators see the need for this as well, and that is the core of what we are doing as an organization, to be a conduit between those two points.

How do you envision the rollout of mentoring programs?
We start out with Q&As, setting up a panel especially for high schools that will show the different crafts that are out there. Around the high school level, you have a lot of kids that might be talented and looking toward the craft of storytelling through videos and such, but they just don’t know all of the different fields that are out there. They know there’s writing and there’s directing, but they really don’t know the depths of the different crafts. A Q&A can start to show that, and they can ask professionals how they got started and learn a more detailed perspective of those crafts.

Then, we move to the college level, where these are people who probably are majoring in cinema studies, film studies, television or broadcast, and they have more of a commitment toward what’s going on. So we will do Q&As in the different crafts for them too, but start to proceed a little bit further — and that’s where group mentoring can happen. Also, we can send individual professionals in as a guest lecturers to help cross that divide within the classroom. We look upon it as an aid to the educators, and the way we see this working, in fact, is having educators invite us in so we can help support education from a “real-world” perspective.

Then the third part is graduate and post-graduate students, or what we call “pre-industry individuals,” such as people coming out of the military, which I am very familiar with. One of my first jobs was doing films for the military for three years. There’s great talent in the military. They come out and have no idea where to go or how to pursue a career in entertainment; I really feel we have a role to fill in that area as well. In this third category, we’d start with many of the events I mentioned earlier, but also include one-on-one mentoring, helping people with their own projects, getting them seen, helping them with areas of filmmaking that could be their strength to help them keep going. That’s where job fairs and new contacts leading them toward internships and a much higher level of advice can come into play.

We also want to offer shadowing possibilities for late-college-level, close-to-graduation, college-level and the graduate students. They could come for a couple of days and follow someone skilled in a craft to see what goes on during the day.

L-R, front: At Notre Dame High School are EIPMA board members MPSE/music editor Steven A. Saltzman, MPSE/sound supervisor Christopher B. Reeves, ACE/picture editor Molly Shock and Sound Girls/mastering engineer Jett Galindo.

I have my own experience with the organization. Having Mark Lanza, MPSE, from EIPMA as a guest speaker in my UCLA Extension post production class was magical.
Yeah, by the way, Mark, who is also on the EIPMA board, is one of our first mentors/lecturers. It’s a perfect example. In fact, on May 3, we had a Q&A at Notre Dame High School in the San Fernando Valley, with panelists representing picture editing, sound design/editing, music editing and live field recording.

How is the EIPMA addressing the diversity issue in the industry?
EIPMA recognizes that diversity is an important step in fixing serious issues that have existed for so long in our business. When one sees what diversity has to offer the entertainment industry creatively, I for one fall in love with filmmaking all over again. I see it directly in the students at UCLA who come from around the world, bringing their different cultures, varying social, economic and ethnic backgrounds all into their stories and into their films. And, at the end of the day, this is what it’s all about — storytelling. Diversity opens a huge door to a wide world of fresh stories and with it, the next generation of incredibly talented filmmakers

Where are you in terms of rolling this out, and how can the readers of postPerspective connect with the organization?
What we’re doing this summer is building our database. We have our website, which is EIPMA.org. We invite educators, potential mentors, volunteers, interested businesses, students and individuals interested in the program to come and register their information, and especially their emails, so we can contact them as the program goes forward. In late September, we will have an introductory event at Sony Picture Studios in Culver City. Sound Girls is putting together an event that will happen in a few weeks as well.

Bernard Weiser mingling with educators and Avid folks during Avid’s Learning Program reception during NAB.

Tell us about the connection with Avid.
Avid is the only manufacturer involved with us as a member organization and has representatives on our board. At NAB, during Avid Connect weekend, there was a meet and greet with educators from around the world. I gave a talk about what we’re doing. Avid CEO Jeff Rosica fell in love with what we were doing. The next day I met with Avid executives from back east, and we had 100% of their support.

Avid talks about its connection with education. It’s not just making sales. They really want to support the educators and help develop the next generation of filmmakers. They know what that means business-wise but also, they’re also very supportive in doing the right thing. We are thrilled by Avid’s support and commitment.

Main Image: Mark Lanza, MPSE, is on the EIPMA board talking to Barry Goch’s UCLA Extension class.


Barry Goch is a finishing artist at LA’s The Foundation as well as a UCLA Extension Instructor, Post Production. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gochya