Author Archives: Randi Altman

Mark Thorely joins Mill Film Australia as MD

Mill Film in Australia, a Technicolor VFX studio, has named Mark Thorley as managing director.Hi appointment comes in the wake of the February launch of Mill Film in Adelaide, Australia.

Thorley brings with him more than 15 years of executive experience, working at such as Lucas Film, Singapore, where he oversaw studio operations and production strategies. Prior to that, Thorley spent nine years at Animal Logic, at both their Los Angeles and Sydney locations, as head of production. He also held senior positions at Screen Queensland and Omnicom.

Throughout his career, Thorley has received credits on numerous blockbuster feature films, including Kong: Skull Island, Rogue One, Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thorley will drive all aspects of VFX production, client relations and business development for Australia, reporting into the global head of Mill Film, Lauren McCallum.

Behind the Title: Colorist David Rivero

NAME: David Rivero Martin

COMPANY: Freelance colorist based in China

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
I color grade and supervise the finishing of feature films and commercials — normally all versions and often the trailers associated with them.

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The amount of retouching (other than overall luma/chroma changes) that we usually do to the image.

Lord 2

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Mostly in DaVinci Resolve and SGO Mistika, but I’m trying to get more time on Filmlight’s Baselight.

ARE YOU ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Definitively. Sometimes I’m asked, sometimes I offer it, and sometimes I just do it. It can vary wildly… from texturing (grain, noise, denoise, adding textures) to beauty passes — going through everything else the system can do (warping, flares, sky replacements, compositing).

I’m always happy to do more for the image and the project. And having these tools within the systems I use means that even if those tasks might eventually go to another department, at least we get to see them right there and then, and see how the tools affect the image. Sometimes, there are things that are just done better at the grading stage, or there are things no one realized or thought of, and we deal with them. Lately, I’ve been using warping as a beauty tool, and also as a creative tool.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
On the job site, it’s the people: directors, photographers, producers, editors, mixers, the whole team. The collaboration between creative, hard-working people is what really drives most of the projects.

On the craft side, it’s when we get to create the style of the project. Those are the color jam sessions.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Chasing payments. Ha!

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Maybe I could have made it as an illustrator (I liked the narrative side of drawing panels and pages as a comic book artist, but I was too slow for the job). Other options would be engineer or historian.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
My first experiences in a studio were actually with my dad at a sound studio. He is a musician, so back when I was a kid he would bring me to the studio to help record and mix, which was pretty interesting and mysterious at the time.

I was always interested in storytelling; and the environment I grew up surely helped, given the family background and the long Spanish tradition of pictorial and graphic arts. By the time I was finishing my technical degree on film and TV, I had already done a few editing jobs and a bunch of other home projects using mostly computers (CG, matte painting, edit, motion graphics, color, VFX), so I definitively knew my place was in post. It’s similar to how I enjoyed being in the studio helping my dad rather than playing in front of an audience. Then, at my first internship, where I went as editor and motion graphics artist, I witnessed an actual grading session take place and I knew that was it. I got introduced to the craft and started right there as assistant.

Pepsi

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I’m currently finishing grading two great films: Detective Dee 3: The Four Heavenly King (狄仁杰之四大天王) by Tsui Hark, and Lord 2 (爵迹2) by Guo Jingming. The most recent commercials I graded were for Apple, Pepsi and Cartier.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I try to craft my grading in a way that I can always be proud of, so it is hard for me choose a single one. There are several films during the last three years that I’m very proud of, including the two I’m currently working on. Sometimes it’s just some specific scenes, or sometimes it’s how we dealt with the shadows throughout the whole film. Or maybe it’s how the yellow evolves during the film, or how we shaped the volume and light of the characters in the climax of the film, etc.

I would like to mention Bangzi Melody (村戏), an independent film I graded last year that won the Golden Rooster Award (national Chinese award) for Best Cinematography. It recognized the bold creativity and effort it took during photography and grading. It was shot in color, but we graded it for black and white. And at times in the movie, the color flows into black, white with pools of red and green in the picture. Plus, there were some other effects we added into the grading. I was happy an independent film like this got recognized at that level, as well as our work with it.

Bangzi Melody

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
There is plenty of good material in the entertainment industry that I truly enjoy experiencing and analyzing: films, comic books, videogames, TV series.

When I have the chance, I go to painting galleries or museums, especially in Europe and my hometown of Madrid. Oh, and music. Music curiously serves as a guide and reference in many aspects of grading.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone, my computer and my HiFi headphones.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram. It’s a diverse source of pictures, from people of all kinds and all places.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter, going hiking through the wild or the countryside and my too many hobbies (laughs).

Luke Morrison joins Electronic Theatre Collective as head of color

Electric Theatre Collective has added Luke Morrison to its London of office as head of color. He will lead a team that already includes Jason Wallis, Lewis Crossfield, Kaitlyn Battistelli, Ruth Wardell, Mathieu Caplanne and Tim Smith.

During his decade-plus career, Morrison has won multiple AICE Awards, including a win in the Color Grading: Over 90 Seconds category for his 2018 Canadian Olympic Committee “Be Olympic” spot directed by Ian Pons Jewell.

Morrison joins Electric Theatre Collective from The Mill, where he spent the past few years setting up the color department at their Chicago office. While there, he led their color team and nurtured up-and-coming talent.

When asked what excited him about joining Electric, Luke had this to say: “Working with and nurturing talent is something that I’m really passionate about, so seeing how Electric holds this as one of their core values is exciting. The opportunity to add my experience and help shape the company whilst building upon their impressive work is inspiring. Having known and worked with many Electric members in the past, I’m looking forward to working alongside them again.”

To date Luke has worked with brands the like of Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Beats and, most recently, Dollar Shave Club. He has graded for directors such as Wally Pfister, Pete Riski and Mark Romanek.

Eleven mixes two Jurassic-themed Target spots

Jeff Payne, founder/mixer at Santa Monica’s audio post studio Eleven, helped bring dinosaurs to life — well, kind of — for two new Target spots, Dino Clash and Giant Steps. The spots coincided with the recent release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Dino Clash begins with the shadow of a dinosaur roaming a toy city where its shadow meets another dino shadow. We then see a boy and a girl each holding a toy dino, giggling and roaring. The girl starts singing the Jurassic Park theme song, which is then taken over by the original music musical. It plays while the Jurassic World logo appears followed by the Target logo and the tagline, “Jurassic World gear is here.”

Giant Steps also begins with the shadow of a dinosaur roaming a suburban street toy street. The camera lands on a toy car that is suddenly crushed by a roaring boy’s tiny foot. He is wearing a dino mask and roaring, then his roar morphs into one of a “real” dinosaur.

Eleven was brought in after the final picture edit had been completed. While the sound design and music for this spot was done by Antfood, Payne says he did “a bit of additional sound design to ‘plus the spot.’ I added more aggressive booms for footsteps, remixed the city sounds, added some ambience under the kids scene and did some editing of the sound design from what was provided.

“The sound design splits were a challenge because the backgrounds were already pre-mixed i.e.: city ambiance was married with siren, etc., so I had to do some cutting around to have better control over the individual sounds.”

Payne says the main challenge of the job was editing the backend music to match the different art cards that were changing while they were mixing. “The goal is always to make the ‘hits’ hit correctly on the visual as well as making it in time musically.”

Payne used an Avid Pro Tools HD X with an Avid S6 console to complete the job.

New Dell Precision workstations offer smaller footprint

Dell’s new Precision 3930 rack is a 1RU workstation that delivers better rack density through its short depth. Extended operating temperatures and features such as dust filters and legacy ports allow it to integrate seamlessly into complex medical imaging and industrial automation solutions.

With the debut of Intel Xeon E processors, and recently introduced 8th generation Intel Core processors, the rack provides up to 64GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory. In addition, the Intel Xeon E processor supports Error Correcting Code (ECC) for increased reliability.

The Precision 3930 rack provides the flexibility of up to 250W of double-wide Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro graphics, and scalability with up to 24TB of storage. It offers three PCIe slots, and an optional PCI slot. It also features secure and fast remote 1:1 user access, with optional Teradici PcoIP technology and support for up to quad-display zero clients.

Dell has purpose-built these new entry-level workstations to focus on data- and graphics-intensive work. The Dell Precision 3630 tower is 23 percent smaller than the previous generation with more expandability. It features a range of easy-to-reach ports that make it possible to connect to external data sources, storage devices and more. It is VR-ready. 8th Generation Intel Core i and new professional-grade Xeon E processors provide faster memory speeds up to 2666MHz 64GB and up to 225W of Nvidia Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro graphics support.

Dell Precision 3630

The Dell Precision 3630 tower offers scalable storage featuring SATA and PCIe NVMe SSDs, which can be configured for up to 14TB with RAID support. The new Precision 3430 small form factor tower offers the same benefits as the Precision 3630, but in an even smaller footprint, and up to 55W of graphics support. It’s also expandable with up to 6TB of storage with RAID support.

Dell now supports Intel Core X-series processors, in addition to the Intel Xeon W processor options already available on the Dell Precision 5820 Tower. On all Dell Precision 3000 series workstations, adding Intel Optane memory will keep responsiveness high.

Dell continues to partner with application providers for ISV certifications. Dell workstations provide professional features such as Dell’s Reliable Memory Technology Pro (with ECC memory), to protect from potential crashes by mapping out bad memory locations, and Dell Precision Optimizer AI software, which optimizes the system automatically to run applications faster.

The Dell Precision 3430 small form factor tower, which starts at $649, and the Dell Precision 3630 tower, which starts at $749 are both available now. The Dell Precision 3930 rack starts at $899 and will be available worldwide on July 26. The Dell Precision 5820 tower workstation starts at $1,1190 and is also available now.

Blackmagic intros eGPU for MacBook Pro

New from Blackmagic is the Blackmagic eGPU, a high-performance graphics processor for pro editing, visual effects and compositing tools, like DaVinci Resolve, as well as apps for the creation of 3D games and immersive VR. Designed in collaboration with Apple, the Blackmagic eGPU features a built-in Radeon Pro 580, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI 2.0, 85W of charging power and four USB 3.1 connections. It supports Thunderbolt 3 displays.

Designed for pro video editors, colorists and visual effects artists who need to remain mobile, the eGPU plugs in via Thunderbolt 3. According to Blackmagic, the eGPU provides users with higher resolution images, higher frame rate gameplay, better lighting and more detailed textures.

The eGPU features a thermal cooling system that’s been designed to balance the airflow and dissipate heat more efficiently. The cooling system also enables extremely quiet operation as low as 18dB, vital for those working in video production and audio engineering environments.

Users get 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, 256-bit memory bandwidth and 36 discreet compute units for up to 5.5 teraflops of processing power. The Radeon Pro 580 can fill 38.4 billion textured pixels per second. In addition, the Blackmagic eGPU supports Metal graphics technology from Apple, which provides near-direct access to the GPU for maximizing graphics and compute performance with games and apps.

Customers running DaVinci Resolve 15, for example, can expect increased performance for editing with more realtime effects, color corrections with more nodes.

In addition to graphics and computational acceleration, this eGPU can be used as a docking hub for connecting devices such as keyboards, mice, Thunderbolt monitors, big screen HDMI televisions, high speed storage and more. It features two 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 connections, a built-in four-port USB hub and HDMI which supports 4K output. Plus, the connections are ergonomically spaced, making it easy to connect and disconnect peripherals.

The Blackmagic eGPU has a built-in power supply that powers the GPU while also providing 85W of downstream power via Thunderbolt 3 for charging laptop computers and powering peripherals. The power supply works from 100V to 240V and features a standard IEC power connector so it can be used anywhere in the world.

iPi Motion Capture V.4 software offers live preview

iPi Soft, makers of motion capture technology, has introduced iPi Motion Capture Version 4, the next version of its markerless motion capture software. Version 4 includes realtime preview capability for a single-depth sensor. Other new features and enhancements include support for new depth sensors (Intel RealSense D415/D435, ASUS Xtion2 and Orbbec Astra/ Astra Pro); improved arms and body tracking; and support for action cameras such as GoPro and SJCAM. With Version 4, iPi Soft also introduces a perpetual license model.

The realtime tracking feature in Version 4 uses iPi Recorder, a free software provided by iPi Soft for capturing, playback and processing video records from multiple cameras and depth sensors, to communicate with iPi Mocap Studio software, which tracks in realtime and instantly transfers motion to 3D characters. This allows users to see how the motion will look on a 3D character and improve motion accordingly at the time of acting and recording, without the need to redo multiple iterations of acting, recording and offline tracking.

Live tracking results can then be stored to disk for additional offline post processing, such as tracking refinement (to improve tracking accuracy), manual corrections and jitter removal.

iPi Mocap Version 4 currently includes the realtime tracking feature for a single depth sensor only. iPi Soft is scheduled to bring realtime functionality for multiple depth sensors to users by the end of this year.

Development of plug-ins for popular 3D game engines, including Unreal Engine and Unity, is also underway.

Tracking Improvements include:
• Realtime tracking support of human performance for live preview for a single-depth sensor (Basic and Pro configurations). Motion can be transferred to a 3D character.
• Improved individual body parts tracking, after performing initial tracking, allows users to re-do tracking for selected body parts to fix tracking errors more quickly.
• Tracking improvements of head and hands when used in conjunction with Sony’s PS Move motion controller takes into account joint limits.

New Sensors and cameras supported include:
• Support for Intel RealSense D415 / D435 depth cameras, Asus Xtion2 motion sensors and Orbbec Astra / Astra Pro 3D cameras.
• Support for action cameras such as GoPro and SJCAM, including wide-angle cameras, allows users to come closer to the camera decreasing space requirements.
• The ability to calibrate individual internal parameters of any camera, helps users to correctly reconstruct 3D information from video for improved overall tracking quality.
• The ability to load unsynchronized videos from multiple cameras and then use iPi Recorder to sync and convert footage to .iPiVideo format used by iPi Mocap Studio.
• Support of fast motion action cameras — video frame rate can reach up to 120fps to allow for tracking extremely fast motions.

Version 4’s perpetual license is not time-limited and includes two years with full support and software updates. Afterwards, users have the option to subscribe to a support plan to continue receiving full support and software updates. Alternatively, they can continue using their latest software version.

iPi Motion Capture Version 4 is also available as a subscription-based model. Prices range from $165 to $1995 depending on the version of software (Express, Basic, Pro) and the duration of subscription.

The Basic edition provides support for up to 6 Sony PS3 Eye cameras or 2 Kinect sensors, and tracking of a single actor. The Pro version features full 16-camera/four depth sensors capability and can track up to three actors. A 30-day free trial for Version 4 is available.

 

Disfiguring The Man in Black for HBO’s Westworld

If you watch HBO’s Westworld, you are familiar with the once-good guy turned bad guy The Man in Black. He is ruthless and easy to hate, so when Karma caught up to him audiences were not too upset about it.

Westworld doesn’t shy away from violence. In fact, it has a major role in the series. A recent example of an invisible effect displaying mutilation came during the show’s recent Season Two finale. CVD VFX, a boutique visual effects house based in Vancouver, was called on to create the intricate and gruesome result of what The Man in Black’s hand looked like after being blown to pieces.

During the long-awaited face-off between The Man in Black (Ed Harris) and Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), we see their long-simmering conflict culminate with his pistol pressed against her forehead, cocked and ready to fire. But when he pulls the trigger, the gun backfires and explodes in his hand, sending fingers flying into the sand and leaving horrifyingly bloody stumps.

CVD VFX’s team augmented the on-set footage to bring the moment to life in excruciating detail. Harris’ fingers were wrapped in blue in the original shot, and CVD VFX went to work removing his digits and replacing them with animated stubs, complete with the visceral details of protruding bone and glistening blood. The team used special effects makeup for reference on both blood and lighting, and were able to seamlessly incorporate the practical and digital elements.

The result was impressive, especially considering the short turnaround time that CVD had to create the effect.

“We were brought on a little late in the game as we had a couple weeks to turn it around,” explains Chris van Dyck, founder of CVD VFX, who worked with the show’s VFX supervisor, Jay Worth. “Our first task was to provide reference/style frames of what we’d be proposing. It was great to have relatively free reign to propose how the fingers were blown off. Ultimately, we had great direction and once we put the shots together, everyone was happy pretty quickly.”

CVD used Foundry’s Nuke and Autodesk’s Maya to create the effect.

CVD VFX’s work on Westworld wasn’t the first time they worked with Worth. They previously worked together on Syfy’s The Magicians and Fox’s Wayward Pines.

Sony creates sounds for Director X’s Superfly remake

Columbia Pictures’ Superfly is a reimagining of Gordon Parks Jr.’s classic 1972 blaxploitation film of the same name. Helmed by Director X and written by Alex Tse, this new version transports the story of Priest from Harlem to modern-day Atlanta.

Steven Ticknor

Superfly’s sound team from Sony Pictures Post Production Services — led by supervising sound editor Steven Ticknor, supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer Kevin O’Connell, re-recording mixer Greg Orloff and sound designer Tony Lamberti — was tasked with bringing the sonic elements of Priest’s world to life. That included everything from building soundscapes for Atlanta’s neighborhoods and nightclubs to supplying the sounds of fireworks, gun battles and car chases.

“Director X and Joel Silver — who produced the movie alongside hip-hop superstar Future, who also curated and produced the film’s soundtrack — wanted the film to have a big sound, as big and theatrical as possible,” says Ticknor. “The film is filled with fights and car chases, and we invested a lot of detail and creativity into each one to bring out their energy and emotion.”

One element that received special attention from the sound team was the Lexus LC500 that Priest (Trevor Jackson) drives in the film. As the sports car was brand new, no pre-recorded sounds were available, so Ticknor and Lamberti dispatched a recording crew and professional driver to the California desert to capture every aspect of its unique engine sounds, tire squeals, body mechanics and electronics. “Our job is to be authentic, so we couldn’t use a different Lexus,” Ticknor explains. “It had to be that car.”

In one of the film’s most thrilling scenes, Priest and the Lexus LC500 are involved in a high-speed chase with a Lamborghini and a Cadillac Escalade. Sound artists added to the excitement by preparing sounds for every screech, whine and gear shift made by the cars, as well as explosions and other events happening alongside them and movements made by the actors behind the wheels.

It’s all much larger than life, says Ticknor, but grounded in reality. “The richness of the sound is a result of all the elements that go into it, the way they are recorded, edited and mixed,” he explains. “We wanted to give each car its own identity, so when you cut from one car revving to another car revving, it sounds like they’re talking to each other. The audience may not be able to articulate it, but they feel the emotion.”

Fights received similarly detailed treatment. Lamberti points to an action sequence in a barber shop as one of several scenes rendered partially in extreme slow motion. “It starts off in realtime before gradually shifting to slo-mo through the finish,” he says. “We had fun slowing down sounds, and processing them in strange and interesting ways. In some instances, we used sounds that had no literal relation to what was happening on the screen but, when slowed down, added texture. Our aim was to support the visuals with the coolest possible sound.”

Re-recording mixing was accomplished in the 125-seat Anthony Quinn Theater on an Avid S6 console with O’Connell handling dialogue and music and Orloff tackling sound effects and Foley. Like its 1972 predecessor, which featured an iconic soundtrack from Curtis Mayfield, the new film employs music brilliantly. Atlanta-based rapper Future, who shares producer credit, assembled a soundtrack that features Young Thug, Lil Wayne, Miguel, H.E.R. and 21 Savage.

“We were fortunate to have in Kevin and Greg, a pair of Academy Award-winning mixers, who did a brilliant job in blending music, dialogue and sound effects,” says Ticknor. “The mix sessions were very collaborative, with a lot of experimentation to build intensity and make the movie feel bigger than life. Everyone was contributing ideas and challenging each other to make it better, and it all came together in the end.”

Sim Post NY expands audio offerings, adds five new staffers

Sim Post in New York is in growth mode. They recently expanded their audio for TV and film services and boosted their post team with five new hires. Following the recent addition of a DI theater to its New York location, Sim is building three audio suites, a voiceover room and support space for the expanded audio capabilities.

Primetime Emmy award-winner Sue Pelino joins Sim as a senior re-recording mixer. Over Pelino’s career, she has been nominated for 10 Primetime Emmy Awards, most recently winning her third Emmy in 2017 for Outstanding Sound Mixing for her work on the 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (HBO). Project highlights that include performance series such as VH1 Sessions at West 54th, Tony Bennett: An American Classic, Alicia Keys — Unplugged, Tupac: Resurrection and Elton John: The Red Piano.

Dan Ricci also joins the Sim audio department as a re-recording mixer. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, his prior work experience includes time at Sony Music and credits include Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and the Grammy-nominated Jerry Before Seinfeld Netflix special. Ricci has worked extensively with Dolby Atmos and immersive technologies involved in VR content creation.

Ryan Schumer completes Sim New York’s audio department as an assistant audio engineer. Schumer has a bachelor’s degree from Five Towns College on Long Island in Jazz Commercial Music with a concentration in audio recording technology.

Stephanie Pacchiano joins Sim as a finishing producer, following a 10-year stint at Broadway Video where she provided finishing and delivery services for a robust roster of clients. Highlights include Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Atlanta, Portlandia, Documentary Now! and delivering Saturday Night Live to over 25 domestic and international platforms.

Kassie Caffiero joins Sim as VP, business development, east coast sales. She brings with her over 25 years of post experience. A graduate of Queens College with a degree in communication arts, Caffiero began her post career in the mid 1980s and found herself working on the CBS TV series. Caffiero’s experience managing the scheduling, operations and sales departments at major post facilities led her to the role of VP of post production at Sony Music Studios in New York City for 10 years. This was followed by a stint at Creative Group in New York for five years and most recently Broadway Video, also in New York, for six years.

Sim Post is a division of Sim, provides end-to-end solutions for TV and feature film production and post production in LA, Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Atlanta.