Audionamix – 7.1.20

Category Archives: production

SGO’s Mistika Boutique now compatible with AJA’s T-Tap

SGO has partnered with AJA Video Systems to make its subscription-based full-finishing software solution Mistika Boutique compatible with AJA’s T-Tap portable Thunderbolt-powered I/O device in the latest Mistika 10 release. SGO also launched a special promotion offering a free 90-day trial of Mistika Boutique with new AJA T-Tap, Kona 1, Kona 4, Io 4K and Io 4K Plus purchases.

Mistika Boutique, which is designed for Windows and macOS, runs on industry-standard, off-the-shelf hardware. It features the complete spectrum of professional finishing tools, from conform to VFX, color grading, Stereo 3D, VR and more. Pricing ranges from $112 to $338 per month. When combined with AJA T-Tap — an affordable, compact video and audio output device that allows professionals to monitor high-quality 10-bit HD, SD, HDR and 2K video with embedded audio output from any compatible Mac or PC — Mistika Boutique offers users with a new cost-effective option for feeding Mac and PC outputs to preferred displays for an enhanced finishing experience.

“In recent months, the importance of strong remote post production capabilities has become paramount, and our partnership with SGO aims to make mobile finishing that much simpler, providing an affordable way to get your Mistika Boutique output from your laptop or computer to a range of supported 3G-SDI and HDMI displays,” says Nick Rashby, president of AJA Video Systems.

“Mistika Boutique was created for any type of post facility, including smaller studios or even freelance artists who want to take full advantage of the capabilities that our Mistika Technology software provides, with the added flexibility to work with their preferred hardware. T-Tap is an intuitive and cost-efficient device, making it a perfect complement for Mistika Boutique users finishing 2D, 3D and even VR content on a laptop or computer,” reports Geoff Mills, managing director at SGO. “Having worked with AJA previously to integrate Kona and Corvid cards into our high-end, turnkey Mistika Ultima finishing systems, delivering Mistika Boutique support for T-Tap was a natural progression.”

Media Composer 2020: customizable UI, ProRes for Windows, Catalina

Avid’s new Media Composer 2020 release includes a redesigned customizable user interface, a new Universal Media Engine, finishing and delivery tools, and support for Apple ProRes for Windows and Catalina. These updates are based on user feedback and are available now

Here are some details of the updates:
– Customization— Users can tailor their workspace to exactly how they want to work. Improvements to the paneled UI dramatically increase ease of use and faster editing and mastering. A new Timeline Sequence Map increases efficiency by letting creators navigate their entire sequence without taking up the whole screen, while the Blank Panel unclutters the UI and stops panels from resizing.
– More precise finishing/delivery —Expanding on the editing and finishing capabilities introduced a year ago, Media Composer 2020 is offering users the ability to fine-tune color with greater precision and make more granular gain value adjustments when working in ACES (Academy Color Encoding System) spaces. Users can finish high-resolution and HDR projects with total color precision and interoperability, ensuring pristine picture quality throughout their workflow.
– Next-generation Avid Media Engine— The Universal Media Engine enables users to accelerate their workflows by reducing the  reliance on QuickTime to deliver better media importing, playback, editing and export performance. The media engine increases processing speed of hi-res HDR media and provides native support for a wider range of formats, including direct media access and Open EXR for over-the-top services such as Netflix. Media Composer 2020 allows users to more easily create content for mobile video platforms and social media by providing 9×16 and 1:1 Mask Margins and FrameFlex framing pre-sets.
-Apple ProRes for Windows and Catalina — Like Mac users, Windows users can now create, edit, collaborate and export ProRes media natively with encoding supported on Windows machines for media creation and exporting to Mov export, MXF OP1a and MXF OP-Atom workflows. Creators also can use Media Composer on Apple’s latest macOS Catalina, a 64-bit OS that provides superior performance while leveraging the power of the new Mac Pro.
– Media Composer | Enterprise— Media Composer | Enterprise expands its role-based customization capabilities to enable users to deploy or update site settings across an organization and deploy user settings independently to individuals or groups quickly without impacting any existing site settings.

 

Audionamix – 7.1.20

DP Chat: The Baby-Sitters Club’s Adam Silver talks collaboration and color

By Randi Altman

Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club, based on the best-selling book series by Ann M. Martin, follows a group of entrepreneurial middle-school girls as they start a babysitting business in the town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. There are dad dilemmas, crushes, Halloween spookiness and more. The show stars Sophie Grace, Momona Tamada, Shay Rudolph, Malia Baker, Xochitl Gomez, Alicia Silverstone and Mark Feuerstein.

The cinematographer on The Baby-Sitters Club is Adam Silver, founder of the Santa Monica-based production company National Picture Show, which creates content across multiple platforms. Silver’s recent DP projects include Pen15, Into the Dark and the Valley Girl remake. He also served dual roles as director and DP on the TV adaption of Heathers and producer and DP on the films Daddio and A Deadly Adoption. Proving his ability to move between types of projects, Silver also works shooting commercial campaigns, such as those for Bud Light, 3M and Meta.

His most recent endeavor, The Baby-Sitters Club started streaming on Netflix on July 3. Here Silver talks to us about the show, his process and inspiration.

How early did you get involved in planning for the season? And what direction did showrunner Rachel Shukert give you about the vision she had for this new series?
I came onto the project with about six weeks of prep before we started shooting in Vancouver. I’d known EP/director Lucia Aniello socially and had seen a lot of her comedy work. I had also watched Rachel’s work on GLOW and other shows. It was exciting to do a project with both of them.

From the outset, Rachel and Lucia envisioned a look that was naturalistic and felt real but also poppy and fun to look at. So, I took this initial guideline and then got to run with it and hone it to a specific set of aesthetics and grammar, all while creating space for each director to come in and personalize it. Working closely with Lucia, I put our ideas into a visual presentation for the EPs, studio and network. They loved it, so we were off and running.

Can you talk about developing that happy and bright look?
I felt the coolest version of the show was something grounded in naturalism and realism — something that felt truthful and authentic. We wanted to enable the audience to connect emotionally with the characters, but balance that with something visually dynamic and fun to watch. We wanted something that had a sense of childlike whimsy and playfulness to serve the comedy and was inherent in the book-to-series adaptation.

How much did the books the show is based on play into the look of the show, if at all?
We were very inspired by the spirit of the books. Lucia and Rachel were superfans to put it lightly, and we all wanted something that felt like a compelling friendship/adventure story — for and about girls.

As I was doing visual research in prep, it was very easy to find references set in the world of boys — I had grown up with films like Goonies, E.T. and Stand By Me. Now there’s Stranger Things, etc., but it was surprisingly hard to find visual references or an equivalent series for girls. Which is of course what the books are, and which meant that this was such a great time to make this show.

We wanted the visual style to capture a sense of excitement and adventure and I felt there were ways to reflect that in the photography — with a dynamic camera, sense of playfulness, a richness and vibrancy to the color all while staying grounded in realism. And I really wanted to stay away from the type of old-school kids show that is too cutesy or bubble gum; I think kid audiences are way too sophisticated for that now.

There’s also an iconography associated with the original books from the cover art and other renderings. For example, the classic cover of the five main characters framed in Claudia’s room, sitting around the rotary telephone, which is another iconic device from the books. We wanted to keep those very much alive in the Netflix version, but with a modern twist.

How did you work with director Lucia Aniello and Light Iron colorist Corinne Bogdanowicz to achieve that look?
It always starts with story and what the show is about at its core. The drama and comedy of this show are born from the relationships between the five main characters. I thought a lot about how to visualize these relationship dynamics and how to use the frame to help tell this part of the story.

Lucia and I really liked the idea of a widescreen aspect ratio that could capture four of five kids in the same shot, and felt a wider frame could help articulate themes about group vs. the individual, together vs. alone, etc. I find the wider frame works well to isolate a character feeling alone.

While 16×9 didn’t feel wide enough, traditional anamorphic 2.40 actually felt too wide for the streaming format. We felt it might lose a sense of intimacy. I had gone through a similar process on Heathers (Paramount TV) and suggested we do some tests and find our own proprietary frame that felt right to the show. I got the network and post team to approve the idea, and after testing we settled on a ratio of 2.1:1. Very specific, but I liked it, and that’s what felt right to Lucia so we made it happen!

Working with Lucia, our general process was to hone the look using visual references, then I proposed a couple different lens and camera options to test during prep. She came into Sim Camera (our camera partner) with me and we went through a few setups. Then, using our test footage up in Vancouver, I did a remote color session with colorist Corinne Bogdanowicz, who was in LA working on the FilmLight Baselight.

Huge props to Light Iron’s Katie Fellion for setting that up and figuring out the tech. Corinne helped create a show LUT and some looks, which were very helpful during production. Throughout prep, in addition to exhaustive location scouting, Lucia and I went on to shot-list most of her episodes, which was key for production efficiency, especially given the limited hours with the kid cast.

What was it like shooting in Vancouver, and how long was the shoot?
It was fantastic; we had some of the best technical crews I’ve ever had: 1st AC Mikah Sharkey, who was the anchor of the camera department; operators Mikey Jechort and Brett Manyluk; gaffer Mark Alexander; and key grip Amrit Bawa.

But the town also had its challenges. We were one of 70 or 80 TV productions working at the time, which put a strain on resources. We also had tricky situations with the weather and shooting outdoors. For scheduling reasons, we had to shoot some of our summer episodes in the fall when the weather had turned, so rain became a regular part of our production. We tried to embrace it as much as possible, and Rachel and the writers did an amazing job of adjusting the scripts to incorporate the rain.

How did you choose the right camera and lenses for this project? Why was this the right combination of tools?
I’ve traditionally been a huge fan of the ARRI Alexa Mini for fast-paced TV production, but with the Netflix 4K requirement, I took it as an opportunity to try some new stuff. I hadn’t shot Red for several years but had heard great things about the Monstro chip and was excited to test it.

I paired the DSMC2 Monstro with a couple different lens packages, including both spherical and anamorphic. We liked the feel of the anamorphics right away; they captured the wider aspect ratio. We also liked the bokeh and rendering of an out-of-focus background. Even though we weren’t using its full width (essentially chopping off the extreme sides of the frame for a 2.1:1 finish), there was something about the bendiness on the wider anamorphic primes when framing a group of actors in close proximity that we felt encircled the viewer, drawing them into the group. Though I love the Cooke anamorphic/i primes, I thought this show needed a bit more crisp, clean look. After testing both, we went with the Arri/Zeiss Master anamorphics.

When testing the Red Monstro, I paid close attention to its color rendition, since my preferences for the Alexa were a lot about the color science, the system’s filmic color rendition and smooth skin tones. I ended up really liking the Monstro’s color.

DIT Mason Denysek helped to keep our color consistent with his live grade on set and into dailies. Then in final grade at Light Iron, I was able to dial it in with Corinne, most of which I was able to supervise directly.

Any challenging scenes that you are particularly proud of or found most challenging?
Overall, the trickiest part of the production was having enough time with our amazing kid actors. All our young leads were so professional and prepared, but because of their ages we had very limited hours with them. Each day became both a race and a math puzzle to figure out how to shoot all their scene work before we had to wrap them. Our producer Meg Shave and the AD team worked some magic with scheduling and other tricks to give us what we needed.

Adam Silver on set of After with director Jenny Gage.

How did you become interested in cinematography?
I started in the business in New York, moving there after college and working on set. I spent four or five years coming up in the lighting and grip departments. I had studied still photography in college and always liked the visual side of filmmaking.

After a few years working in the industry in New York, I went on to graduate film school. I mostly trained in writing and directing, but because I brought a lighting and photography background, I gravitated to cinematography, shooting dozens of my class mates shorts. These days I’m a director as well, but I will always be a cinematographer; I truly love the craft and it’s in many ways the backbone of filmmaking.

What inspires you artistically?
I’m often driven by wanting to work with a particular artist or filmmaker and will go after projects that have interesting people attached to them.

How do you keep up on new technology?
I’m not the kind of DP that attends gear conferences or anything, and I’ve never wanted to own equipment. I stay on top of it by being as truthful as I can to the story: the story will create a need for a certain type of approach or technique or grammar or style, and if it’s something I haven’t done before I’ll be forced to learn the tech of it. Prep is key, it’s where all that research happens.

Any best practices that you try to follow on each job?
The longer I do this job, the simpler my lighting gets. I also feel a sense of duty to the idea of truth. That may sound amorphous and it can mean a lot of things, but just one example is in lighting. There is truth in lighting the way it is in writing or performance.

Not long ago, I was shooting Pen15, and that’s a great example of this. The creators (also the leads) Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle wrote the show based on their very personal experiences from middle school, and they have an infallible barometer for truth. If anything in the show feels inauthentic, including the lighting — they immediately flag it. I love this. It keeps all of us honest and it’s one reason the show is so good.


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


Editing Ozark: Cindy Mollo, ACE, talks importance of tone

By Randi Altman

The Netflix drama Ozark, now streaming Season 3, has always been a fan favorite, but since the COVID-19 shutdown, it’s been credited with making quarantining just a bit more tolerable for a lot of people. The series stars Jason Bateman — who also directs and executive produces — and Laura Linney as Marty and Wendy Byrde, middle-aged parents who also happen to run a money-laundering business in the Ozarks. You know, your typical family story. Along with the Byrdes, there are a host of complex characters, including Wendy’s bipolar brother Ben, their business manager Ruth, and the calmly frightening drug cartel lawyer Helen.

Cindy Mollo

Veteran television editor Cindy Mollo, ASC, (House of Cards, Mad Men, Homicide: Life on the Street) joined the Netflix drama from the start and has edited 13 episodes over the show’s three seasons. One of the first things she asked about after reading the script for Episode 1 was tone. She says that while a discussion of tone is always important when starting a show, it was particularly important on Ozark. “Knowing that Jason Bateman was going to star in the series, I needed somebody to tell me whether they wanted it to be funny or whether it was meant to be a drama. There were lines of dialogue that, depending on the cadence, could be delivered as jokes, and if you cut it with a comedy tempo, you would have a classic Jason Bateman comedy. But I had seen Jason in Bad Words, a film he directed, and The Gift, neither of which is a comedy, and knew he might be going in a different direction.”

Mollo spoke to executive producer Chris Mundy, who was having similar conversations with Bateman. They were all leaning toward a dark drama with some humor sprinkled in. “From the beginning we talked about how we had to steer the show in a certain direction, and while there could be things that were funny, we wouldn’t edit to make it funny. We had to just let things play out and allow them to be funny organically — because even criminals do funny things from time to time.”

We recently chatted with Mollo, who shared editing responsibilities with Viks Patel and Heather Goodwin Floyd (Mollo’s former assistant on the first two seasons of the show), to talk about editing Ozark, her workflow and more.

What is your typical process like on Ozark?
You get the script for your episode, and sometime before the first day of shooting you have a tone meeting with showrunner Chris Mundy as well as the director of the episode. Chris goes through every scene. This is so important — I’ve been on shows that don’t do tone meetings, and the intent of the scene can be missed. But thanks to the tone meetings, I always know what Chris and the director are intending.

I also take detailed notes because it might be four weeks until I get the scene that was discussed, and if I have forgotten the intention, then I might go off in the wrong direction. As dailies come in, I look at my notes so I know what I’m looking for. I watch the dailies and pay attention to the best performances and the best way to bring the audience into a scene and the best way to end the scene.

Most of our directors have a definite plan, particularly Jason. His coverage is very lean and purposeful, so when I open a bin, I see that he has pretty much planned how he wants to get into a scene. You have that in mind as you are watching more and more setups. “Well, I’ll start with that shot, and this performance here is fabulous. How will I build a scene around this performance with these shots?” On Ozark, all of the performances are very good, so you have a wealth of riches.

I’m assuming some surprises come up when editing a show?
Yes, they do. An example is Season 2’s finale episode. I had three takes on Marty’s reaction in a scene between him and Wendy. In the third take, Jason cried, took some long pauses and was choking back tears. It threw me at first because it didn’t match; Jason hadn’t done that when the camera was over his shoulder and on Wendy. That was something that had evolved over the course of the performance of the scene, and it was beautiful. We wanted to use it.

I had been assembling the scene in my head as I watched dailies, but after that take, I had to go back and re-watch Wendy’s coverage. I wanted to see where she took some long pauses so it could seem like she was listening to him cry, or some long moments when she was waiting for him to compose himself. That was a very simple scene, but it took a little longer to put together because something wonderful happened in the footage that was unexpected.

Wendy’s brother Ben is manic. I remember feeling very anxious when he was on screen. I imagine that a lot of that is the acting, but you must have also helped to amp that up?
I have to give actor Tom Pelphrey and the directors so much credit. We first see Ben teaching in a school, and he seems to be a very nice, well-intentioned man, but then he goes ballistic. Then we meet Ben at the casino, and we are already looking at this guy for what craziness he might bring. There were a couple of scenes in my episode, directed by Alik Sakharov, where we talked about not minding that Ben is unpredictable because of his mental illness. We also knew he had to be a slow burn through earlier scenes and then peak.

Tom did all the work; he never went too big. Even at the gala at the casino. He never went as big as he went in front of Helen and her daughter when he confronted them at her house in the eighth episode. He attenuated that perfectly. It is frightening when you are looking at the shot of Helen protecting and holding her daughter. There was a version of the end of that scene when she actually said, “Oh, you are dead,” but we realized we didn’t need it. The look on her face tells you everything. As she’s watching him go, we are on a tight shot of her and the music is tense, and you just know that that was the nail in his coffin.

When you are editing scenes like that one at Helen’s, do you have a specific process?
In the tone meeting with Chris Mundy and the director, we focused on Ben’s arc over Episodes 7 and 8, which I was cutting. We talked a lot about how to modulate his behavior and not have him get too manic too soon. I also thought a lot about shot sizes and wanted to make sure that in Ben’s most crazed moments we were in his tighter coverage.

I built the scene from the middle back to the beginning, and then from the middle to the end because I wanted to control that peak eruption. I think in some cases we switched to a more medium shot just to keep Helen and her daughter in the frame instead of using an isolated closeup of Ben. But because his performances were so consistent, that was kind of an easy swap.

We had some takes where he was so animated and crazy that he was spitting, and I loved that because you are out of control when you are spitting. I thought that showed how far gone he was, but you wouldn’t want him spitting for the whole scene. You just want to use that selectively. It was a fun scene, and it was a hand-held camera, so it’s all really kinetic.

How many takes do they tend to do on Ozark?
On that Helen scene, in particular, we had eight different setups. Probably four takes of their close-up setups, two each of the mediums, and various wide shots of Helen and her daughter at the table in their yard. I don’t think I used the extreme wide in the final cut — it was low and pretty distant from the action. Sometimes I play with everything even though I already have an idea in my head of how I want to cut a scene, but this time I didn’t.

How did you get dailies? You were in LA, and they were in Atlanta?
We shot in the Atlanta area. At wrap, they would take the camera cards to Company 3 Atlanta, process the dailies and send them to Company 3 in LA. Then we got the footage piped over to us the morning after it had been shot. Our assistants then took the dailies, sorted through them and grouped the cameras together — if something was shot with two or three cameras, they get hooked up together. I then got a bin for each scene that had been shot.

This season we were in the same building as the writers in LA, and it felt really luxurious. I could just walk into Chris’ office to ask him a question, or he would poke his head in and ask, “Can I see how this scene was shot for Episode 5 because we are going to reference it in Episode 8.” It allows you to be really fluid and interactive because we are all in the same physical space.

The first two seasons were shot on the Panasonic VariCam, but that changed this year. How did that affect how you work?
We switched to the 6K Sony Venice for Season 3. Thanks to that higher resolution, you can go in and blow up a part of the frame, which means you can take a two-shot of the characters and make it a single, assuming that the original image is sharply focused. You have a lot of latitude, so when we needed to, we were blowing shots up and making close-ups where there weren’t any.

Which episodes did you cut this season, and how did you work with the other editors? Did you ever ask them to look at your footage?
I edited Episodes 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8. I work closely with my assistant, Mary Chin, and I’m always trying to mentor her — to help her get a little more experience with editing and learning how to change a scene, how to talk about a scene, etc. So I usually have her looking at scenes with me, or since Chris is so close, I’ll bring him in. When I did interact with the other editors, it would be to talk about how we were handling new characters in the show.

You use an Avid Media Composer?
Yes, Version 8.9.4. We use Avid Nexis for storage, and in terms of storage per episode we use 750GB to 800GB for dailies. With score, sound effects, etc., it’s about 1TB and 1.5TB, and for the season, we average between 13TB and 14TB.

Do you have a special bin set up with selects?
Yes. I work in frame view, which uses thumbnails of each take. Mary will lay out the different setups in order. If there’s a setup that is meant for the open of the scene, she will put that one first, even if it was shot last. And if there were four takes, they all get laid out next to each other … one, two, three, four.

For takes shot with multiple cameras, I will have one frame that is an icon that represents the group of these two cameras, and below it a thumbnail for the A camera and the B camera. This allows me to see what angles each camera was shooting in the thumbnail, then I have an icon I can drag into my timeline that is the two cameras married together. I can switch between the two. I try to use the selected takes as a guide, but you have to feel free to pull from anywhere because there might be a take that wasn’t selected but has one great moment, and you have to use it.

Can you talk about the differences between editing episodics versus films? Less time on the TV shows?
On Ozark, we cross-board — meaning we shoot two episodes at once, so it is in the area of 22 days. This is similar to the amount of time you might shoot on a small, low-budget feature, but you are doing two stories in that time, and it’s with the same characters, so they are not totally isolated stories … but, again, you are doing two episodes in the time that someone might be doing a very small feature!

The other difference between editing a feature and an episodic is that features are still very much director-driven, while episodic is driven by the writer-producer or showrunner. So while you do have to work with the director and make his or her cut exactly how he/she wants it to be, ultimately the next step will be to show the cut to the showrunner and make sure that all those things talked about in the tone meeting have been realized.

What episode did you submit for Emmy consideration?
I submitted the first episode of Season 3, called “War Time.” The season was meant to begin and end with the violence of the Mexican cartels and the harsh world that the Byrdes are now a part of. The first scene of the first episode took place in Mexico as men in three SUVs drive into a cul-de-sac and enter a house where people are counting drug money. They slaughter them and burn the house. The carnage is the message from one cartel to the other.

Next we cut to black and then to an incongruously happy and cheesy commercial for the Missouri Belle casino, with Wendy and Marty on the top deck toasting the camera. The commercial is actually on Wendy’s laptop as a producer is presenting it to her for notes. She dismisses the producer, and while Charlotte tells her the mundane things on her schedule for the day, Wendy sees a news piece about the torching of the homes in Mexico. Cut to Marty arriving at the new casino.

The sequence in the cul-de-sac and the destruction of a house were too expensive to shoot — approximately $1 million for a two- to three-minute sequence — so we delayed finishing the episode until we could come up with a more affordable concept. While we waited, I started the episode (and the season) with the cheesy commercial. It worked as a total gear shift from the uncertainty of the Season 2 finale, but it didn’t set the stakes as high as starting with an act of vengeful violence. So we waited.

Eventually our production team found a Latin market in Georgia that needed very little set dressing to look like a shopping center in Mexico. The idea was that a courier was making his regular money drop, but he had been corrupted and turned on the guys who were counting money in the back room, slaughtering everyone and blowing up the location with a couple of bombs. Then the cheesy commercial. It was less expensive but still very effective.

What’s next for you? Season 4 has been announced as the show’s final season.
I’m currently working on a feature-length documentary about the singer Pink, which will be completed before I return to Ozark. Since the final season will be extended (14 episodes), and we don’t have a start date yet, we only know that we will go well into 2021. So I can’t predict what will come next!


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


Framestore creates variety of animation styles for Libresse/Bodyform spots

Partnering with creatives Nick & Nadja at agency AMV BBDO, Framestore provided animation and VFX for the latest campaign for Libresse and Bodyform. The campaign was directed by Golden Globe winner and Emmy-nominated Nisha Ganatra (Late Night). Framestore provided six animated sequences, each featuring a different style of animation to show the inner worlds that act as reflections to the realities of the uterus. The film has been created to dispel myths, encourage a positive conversation and address the life-changing moments in a woman’s life, from miscarriages and menopause to endometriosis.

Framestore creative director Sharon Lock worked with Nick & Nadja to select the styles of animations that would bring to life the emotions and unique perspectives of each story. Styles included 2D cell techniques and stop-frame animation, as well as hand-painted images created with oil paint on glass.

Lock worked with the team of artists to direct the animated sequences and work as the main central point of creativity for them with the client and agency. Talking about bringing those visually different elements together into a single cohesive film, she says, “it was important that the animations produced for this film not only looked as good as possible but also made an emotional impact on audiences because of the nature of the film.

“We worked with animators who had wonderful storytelling abilities and whose work was unique and handmade and could communicate a range of tone and emotion to audiences in a short amount of time on screen.”

The team at Framestore, which included producers Niamh O’Donohoe and Emma Cook, was a part of the film’s predominantly female cast and crew, which they felt made a big difference in creating something that was honest and powerful. “We were telling real stories about the experiences of being a woman, so having the team we did meant we had something of a shorthand,” explains O’Donohoe. ‘We could easily communicate what we needed because there was a mutual understanding of how these stories had to be presented, something that I feel beautifully reflects the messages that Libresse/Bodyform is always communicating.”

Framestore also delivered invisible VFX work for the film’s live-action portions and created a world of uteri, which represents the billions of women who are a part of the Libresse/Bodyform story. These visuals are featured in the opening and closing sequences that will become the brand’s main visual for this campaign. Framestore also provided the color grade.

“It was important that everyone worked really closely together to make sure every frame did its part in telling the stories and I think the final piece speaks for itself. It was amazing to be part of such an inspiring and creative campaign,” concludes Lock.


Leon Silverman to chair HPA Industry Recovery Task Force

Industry veteran and former Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) president Leon Silverman will lead the HPA Industry Recovery Task Force (IRTF). He is a founder of HPA and continues to serve on its board. Over the course of his decades long career, he has held executive roles at major studios and entertainment companies including Netflix, The Walt Disney Studios, Kodak and LaserPacific. In these roles, he has focused on the intersection of technology and creativity, working closely with a number of key industry organizations.

The HPA’s Industry Recovery Task Force is focused on the sustainable resumption of the production and post industry with the aim of understanding how to enable content creation in an evolving world impacted by the pandemic crisis. The task force’s upcoming virtual Town Hall events will share the latest health and safety, technical and creative best practices.

“We are at a pivotal moment at an important and challenging time in our industry,” says Silverman. “While the pandemic forces us to evolve the way we work to effectively create and deliver content, we also have a real opportunity to not just get back to work, but to move our industry forward. This Task Force will mobilize experts, artists and technological visionaries from a range of disciplines to thoughtfully collaborate on industry evolution and innovation. The HPA is well suited to help create a common ground and forum for this conversation, and while we may not be in the same room, we can still help bring our industry together. I sincerely believe we can emerge from this current crisis stronger and focused on enhancing creativity and content creation itself.”

The first IRTF Town Hall will be held in July and will be moderated by Hollywood Reporter tech editor Carolyn Giardina. HPA plans to continue this format over the following months as the impact of the pandemic evolves. These events will present the latest knowledge and processes for individuals and companies at work on sets, in post-on-set environments, visual effects companies, studios, production companies and post companies. The first event will feature a panel that includes medical experts, scientists, political leaders, post artists and members of guilds. Video case studies will take pros behind the scenes to learn how facilities and companies have managed the challenges of the pandemic.

“It is extremely important,” notes Silverman, “to collaborate with the key individuals who have scientific knowledge as well as those who have already set standards for returning to work to make sure we are in sync with their guidelines and can educate our HPA community. Ultimately, our aim is to build an incredibly collaborative, creative and technically sound future.”

The specific schedule and speakers for the upcoming town halls will be announced shortly.


MisterWives’ Rock Bottom music video: light, dark and neon

American indie pop band MisterWives’ Rock Bottom video was made to promote the band’s first single off its upcoming album. In the video, the band’s lead singer, Mandy Lee, is seen walking on the sands and hills of a beach before walking through a mirror to find the rest of her band on a dance floor. The video combines neon colors and different textures with dark and gray backgrounds at the beginning as Lee goes from dark times to eventually breaking through the mirror and shining with her band on a swirling dance floor.

To capture the look the band wanted, production was done in different locations at different times of day. This included shooting on a remote beach and in the California desert, into which director and colorist Jade Ehlers and his small crew had to hand-carry all of their camera gear and lighting, including a 100-pound mirror. Ehlers color graded the piece on Resolve and edited on Adobe Premiere.

“We wanted to go for a darker tone, with the neon colors in the darkness that showed that light can shine through even the dark times. The song is about showing it is more about the journey to get to the end of the tunnel than just sitting in the dark times, and the video had to capture that perfectly,” Ehlers says.

The video was shot with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, which was chosen because of its small size, high dynamic range and ability to shoot in low light, all essential requirements that allowed Ehlers to shoot at the locations that were best for the song.

“Honestly, because of how different all our scenes were, I knew we needed a camera that had great low light that would allow us to be sparing with light since this shoot had a lot of hiking involved,” he says. “The beach location was quite crazy, and we hiked all of the gear in, so having a small camera bag to carry everything in was great.”

Throughout the video, Ehlers had to adjust for different textures and unexpected lighting problems — including lighting the lead singer’s bright-green puffy dress against a gray background in the desert. Another challenge came from shooting the dance floor scenes, wherein the black floor was not putting out as much light as expected. To compensate and get the shots, Ehlers used the camera’s 13 stops of dynamic range and dual native ISO up to 25,600 along with the Blackmagic Raw codec for high-quality, lifelike color images and skin tones.

“Because of the bit range of the camera’s sensor, I was able to qualify the dress to make it pop a bit more, which was amazing and saved me a lot of extra work. And the dance floor scenes were great but were also harder than we imagined, so we had to push the camera higher on the ISO so get the exposure we needed,” concludes Ehlers.


15th annual HPA Awards will be online, engineering call for entries begins

The Hollywood Professional Association’s HPA Awards, which have been celebrating creatives and technology for 15 years, will take place online this year in a live show on November 19.

Out of respect for the current challenges facing the industry, HPA has instituted a number of important changes for the 2020 HPA Awards, with the goal of making them accessible to the greatest number of members in the community while supporting HPA’s mission of honoring the individuals and companies that serve the industry in indispensable ways. Those changes include an easier submission process, an extended entry period and reduced entry fees. Additionally, the online HPA show will be open to all who are interested to attend at no cost.

The call for entries is open for the Engineering Excellence Award, an integral part of the HPA Awards. The HPA Engineering Excellence Award recognizes companies that have demonstrated creative ingenuity to develop breakthrough technologies in media, content production, finishing, distribution and archive. The call for entries will close on July 31. Entrants for this peer-judged award may include products or processes and must represent a significant step forward for their industry beneficiaries. Judging will take place through remote presentations in August. Recipients of the 2019 HPA Engineering Excellence Award were Adobe, Epic Games, Pixelworks, Portrait Displays and LG Electronics.

“This year, as always, we encourage the submission of your significant technological achievements,” says Joachim Zell, chair of the HPA Engineering Excellence Award Committee and HPA Board member. “What we see at the HPA Engineering Excellence Award judging sessions are important ideas that lead the growth and stability of the industry. Critical, game-changing products have been presented here. The atmosphere is competitive, collegial and passionate. I expect that this year’s entries will be as compelling as in the past, if not even more so, given our circumstances. I am looking forward to seeing what our industry has to present.”

In consideration of social distancing, the application and presentation process for the engineering honors will be different from previous years. Applicants will engage in a two-step process: submission of written and video elements, followed by a live, virtual Q&A with a blue-ribbon panel of judges. “We will again assemble an esteemed group of judges who are recognized industry experts,” explains Zell. “While we will not be able to gather the judges together in person this year, we have devised a plan for live, online interaction with judges and will maintain our focus on the noncommercial, interactive nature of the submission process.”

The recipients of the Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation and the Engineering Excellence Award will both be announced in advance of the awards and presented during the online show. Information about the creative categories, opening in the coming weeks, will be coming soon.


AJA upgrades Ki Pro Go H.264 recorder/player

In response to user requests, AJA Video Systems has released Ki Pro Go v2.0  firmware for its portable multi-channel H.264 recorder and player. The update introduces enhancements for improved H.264 recording quality and reliability, including recording support for up to 25Mb/s, 10-bit and 4:2:2 color space, in addition to new expanded timecode capabilities with LTC, enhanced super out and front-panel audio monitoring, in-system drive formatting, network file downloads and gang recording support.

Ki Pro Go offers up to four channels of simultaneous HD or SD recording from HDMI or SDI sources direct to off-the-shelf USB drives. The new firmware also provides 4:2:2 color space and 10-bit options for capturing richer imagery. Ki Pro Go now offers five bit rate speeds — 5Mb/s (Low), 10Mb/s (Med-Low), 15 (Medium), 20 (Med-High) and 25 (High) — providing users with increased flexibility to choose their desired bit rate for production needs.

New enhanced super out and front-panel audio monitoring also display the remaining media percentage and audio meters for all four video channels for improved user monitoring. Ki Pro Go v2.0 further expands timecode choices by offering a new option for LTC on one of the analog audio inputs, enabling the second analog audio input channel to function as a mono input.

Additionally, the firmware introduces new in-system media formatting, eliminating the need for a separate PC. Network file downloading allows for more streamlined use in critical live production environments, giving the user the option to move recorded files to a central server on the LAN.

Gang support has also been added so that users can connect multiple Ki Pro Go devices together via easy-to-use Ethernet and control the entire group of devices using one unit via Ki Pro Go’s web-based UI or front-panel button controls.

Ki Pro Go v2.0 firmware is available now as a free download from the AJA website. Ki Pro Go is available through AJA’s reseller network for $3,995.

Review: Sound Devices MixPre 3-II portable 5-track audio recorder

By Brady Betzel

Even though things are opening up slowly, many of us are still spending the majority of our time at home. Some of us are lucky enough to be working, some still furloughed and some unemployed. Many are using the time to try new things.

Here is one idea: While podcasts might not be a moneymaker out of the gate, they are a great way to share your knowledge with the community. Whether you’re making video or audio, there is one constant: You need high-quality audio recording equipment. In this review, I am going to be covering Sound Devices’ MixPre-3 II three-preamp, five-track, 32-bit float audio recorder.

While at Sundance this past January, I saw someone using this portable recorder. It seemed easy to use and very durable. I was intrigued enough to reach out to Sound Devices about a review; they sent me the MixPre-3 II, which is their smallest and most portable recorder. The box can run with a power cable, USB-C or with four AA batteries. The MixPre-3 II has several new advancements over the original MixPre-3, including 32-bit float recording, USB audio streaming, recording up to 192KHz, faster hardware, internal LTC timecode generation and output, adjustable limiters, auto-copy to USB drive, and pre-roll buffer increased to 10 seconds. But really the MixPre-3 II is a rugged field audio recorder, voiceover recorder, podcast recorder and more. It currently retails for around $680 from retailers like Sweetwater and B&H.

One of my goals for this review was to see how easy this recorder was to set up and use with relatively little technical know-how. It was really simple. In my mind, I wanted to plug in the MixPre-3 II and begin recording — and to my surprise, I was up and running within 10 minutes.

Up and Running
To test it, I grabbed an old AKG microphone (which I got when I purchased an entire Avid Nitris offline edit bay after Matchframe went out of business), an XLR cable, my Android phone and a spare TRRS cable to plug my phone into the MixPre-3 II for audio. I accessed the menus using the touch screen and the gain knobs. I was able to adjust the XLR mic on Input 1 and the phone on Input 2, which I set by pushing the gain knob to assign the input to the aux/mic input, and I plugged my headphones into the headphone jack to monitor the audio.

The levels on the on-screen display used in conjunction with my headphones let me dial in my gain without raising the noise floor too much. I was actually impressed at how quiet the noise was. I think I can attribute the clean audio to my AKG mic and Kashmir microphone preamps. The audio was surprisingly clean, even when recording in a noisy garage. I used Spotify on my Android phone to mix in songs while I was talking on the AKG (like a podcast), and within 10 minutes, I was ready to record.

Digging Deeper
Once I was up and running, I dove a little deeper and discovered that the MixPre-3 II can connect to my phone using Sound Devices’ Wingman app. The Wingman app can trigger recording as well as monitor your inputs. I then remembered I had a spare Timecode Systems Ultra Sync One timecode generator from a previous review. One essential tool when working with backup audio or field recording during a video shoot is sync.

Without too much work, I plugged in the Ultra Sync One using a Mini BNC-to-3.5mm cable connector to send mic level LTC timecode to the MixPre-3 II via the aux/mic input. I then enabled external timecode through the menus and had timecode running to the MixPre-3 II. The only caveat when using the 3.5mm plug for timecode from the Ultra Sync One is that you lose the ability to feed something like a 3.5mm mic or phone into the MixPre-3 II. But still, it was easy to get external timecode into the recorder.

It is really amazing that the MixPre-3 II gives users the ability to be up and running in minutes, not hours. Beyond the simplicity of use, you can dive deeper into the Advanced Menu to assign different inputs to different gain knobs, control the MixPre-3 II over USB, use timecode or HDMI signals to trigger recording and much more.

Summing Up
Sound Devices produces some great products. The MixPre-3 II costs under $700; while that might not be cheap, it’s definitely worth it. The high-quality casing and ease of use makes it a must-buy if you are looking for a podcast recorder, field audio recorder or mixer.

In addition to its product line, Sound Devices is also one of those companies making a difference during the pandemic.

The past couple of months have been very eye-opening for our industry and the world. We are seeing the best from people and businesses. My wife began sewing masks using her own fabric for hospital workers (for free), people are donating their time and money to bring meals to children and the elderly, and we’ve seen so many more amazing acts of kindness.
Sound Devices recently began producing face shields. See our coverage here. After we get through these hard times, I know that I and many others will remember the companies and people who tried to do their best for the community at large. Sound Devices is one of those companies.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on shows like Life Below Zero and The Shop. He is also a member of the Producers Guild of America. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

 

Stephen Lighthill named president of ASC

The American Society of Cinematographer’s board of governors has once again elected Stephen Lighthill as president of the organization. He previously held the position from 2012 to 2013. The board also voted in VPs Amy Vincent, Bill Bennett and John Simmons; treasurer Levie Isaacks; secretary Gregg Heschong; and sergeant-at-arms David Darby.

Lighthill, who was most recently a VP at the ASC, takes over the reins from outgoing ASC president Kees van Oostrum, who served the maximum four terms and recently was appointed to lead IMAGO, the international federation of cinematographers.

Lighthill assumes his role at an important time in history, as members continue to advocate for equal rights and diversity as well as safe production environments amidst the COVID-19 contagion. “This is a challenging moment for filmmaking in general, and cinematography in particular,” he says. “As an organization, we are making plans to put words into action. Through the work of the Future Practices Committee and Vision Committee, I’m ready to lead our society in responding and in making our work environments safe, equal and diverse.”

Lighthill is currently at the American Film Institute Conservatory as the discipline chair/cinematography, where he’s been a proponent for gender diversity and supported 100 female cinematography graduates during his tenure. He has also long served as an officer on the national executive board of the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG) as well.

Lighthill began his career shooting for San Francisco Bay Area news programs as well as national news shows such as 60 Minutes. He segued into documentary cinematography, working on many films, including Gimme Shelter and Berkeley in the Sixties. The latter was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Audience Award at Sundance.

His narrative credits include such television dramas as Vietnam War Story, Earth 2 and Nash Bridges, among many others. In 2018, Lighthill was honored with the ASC President’s Award. He was also the recipient of the Society of Camera Operators President’s Award in 2000.

The ASC has over 20 committees leading the organization’s various initiatives, including the recently formed Future Practices Committee to assist and advise on COVID-19 safety on set; the Motion Imaging Technology Council (MITC) formed in 2003 to understand technology’s ongoing impact on the imaging chain in a way that best serves the creative interests of filmmakers; the efforts of the Vision Committee to encourage and support the advancement of underrepresented cinematographers, their crews and other filmmakers; regional and international ASC Master Classes taught by members; Clubhouse Conversation discussions with members and filmmakers about highly regarded work; and the activities of the Education & Outreach Committee with film schools.

OWC intros Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD with 4TB capacity

OWC is offering the latest version of its Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD 2.5-inch SATA solid state drives. Available in capacities from 240GB ($79.75) up to 4TB ($899.75), the new device is engineered to bring older Macs and PCs up to current-model performance levels.

The Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD targets users who require sustained performance in audio, video and production applications when a drop in performance could lead to lost frames and production time.

The company says that adding a Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD to any Mac or PC can help restore it to like-new performance levels and expand the longevity of the machine. Built using high-quality NAND flash memory and controller design, the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD delivers sustained real-world tested read/write speeds over 500MB/s throughout its storage capacity — resulting in faster boots and application launch times to greatly improved system responsiveness.

 

Estudios GGM to resume production, open new soundstages

Estudios GGM in Mexico is unveiling three new soundstages as it prepares to resume production activity later this month. Ranging from 10,000 to 13,000 square feet, the new stages will be the studio’s largest and give it a total of nine shooting spaces. Construction of one stage is already complete, while work on the other two will be finished by November, when the studio expects to be supporting a full slate of television and feature productions.

Planned before the coronavirus outbreak, the new stages are meant to serve Mexico’s accelerating boom in television and film production. Launched in 2016, Estudios GGM was operating at capacity prior to the lockdown, providing stages, production offices, casting, editing, visual effects and other services to projects from Telemundo, Netflix, Amazon, Viacom, MGM and other producers. Enemigo Intimo, Falsa Identidad, El Club, Luis Miguel: The Series and Ingobernable are among the streaming series recently shot in whole or in part at the studio.

Francisco Bonilla

“We expect production activity to pick up rapidly beginning in June,” says Estudios GGM CTIO Francisco Bonilla. “We built these stages to increase capacity and meet the needs of producers from around the world who are want to shoot in Mexico. They are large shooting spaces, have high ceilings and are supported by many other resources to accommodate a cinematic style of production.”

Adding to the social distancing guidelines mandated by the Mexican government, the studio will apply a variety of health and safety measures to protect cast and crew, including culture changes and hygienic training for work and everyday life; thermal CCTV monitoring; periodic chemical, ozone and UV sanitization; and restricted access to facilities, sets and offices. The new stages are complemented by modular, multi-purpose space that will allow directors, cinematographers, control room crew and other personnel to work in isolation. Other steps will include regular sanitizing of cameras, lighting, wardrobe and props; the use of masks and gloves; and modifications to craft and catering services. All the studio’s stages are equipped with HVAC systems that draw fresh air from outdoors to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

“We are working with local health officials and medical advisors to develop appropriate protocols,” notes Bonilla. “We are also monitoring the situations in Spain, Italy, Germany, Iceland, Australia and other countries where production has resumed. We are gathering as much information as possible to allow production to ramp up quickly but safely.”

While production has been curtailed during the lockdown, other work has continued. The studio has been using Bebop remote collaboration technology and Adobe tools to allow sound and picture editors, visual effects artists and others to carry on their work remotely. It has also been serving as a beta site for Avid On-Demand, a cloud-based editing platform. Similarly, post finishing has continued at Cinematic Media, the post facility located within the studio complex, with most staff working off site.

Estudios GGM is also expanding its visual effects department. It is hiring artists and adding new capabilities, including high-end motion capture and virtual set technology. Demand for visual effects services has risen dramatically along with the broader push to elevate production value. The studio expects the need for sophisticated visual effects to grow as productions look to limit travel and location production.

For producers eager to get back to production, Estudios GGM wants to make the process simple by providing one-stop solutions. “We provide everything necessary to produce premium television and cinema,” Bonilla says. “That includes experienced talent and crew to reduce the need to travel or bring people from outside the country.”

Hulu’s The Great: Creator and showrunner Tony McNamara

By Iain Blair

Aussie writer/director Tony McNamara is the creator, showrunner and executive producer of Hulu’s The Great, the new 10-episode series starring Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great and Nicholas Hoult as Russian Emperor Peter III. The Great is a comedy-drama about the rise of Catherine the Great — from German outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history (from 1762 until 1796).

Season 1 is a fictionalized and anachronistic story of an idealistic, romantic young girl who arrives in Russia for an arranged marriage to Emperor Peter. Hoping for love and sunshine, she finds instead a dangerous, depraved, backward world that she resolves to change. All she has to do is kill her husband, beat the church, baffle the military and get the court on her side. A very modern story about the past, which incorporates historical facts occasionally, it encompasses the many roles she played over her lifetime — as lover, teacher, ruler, friend and fighter.

L-R: Tony McNamara and cinematographer John Brawley

McNamara most recently wrote the Oscar-winning film The Favourite, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His other feature film credits include The Rage in Placid Lake, which he wrote and directed, and Ashby.

McNamara has writen some Australia’s most memorable television series, including The Secret Life of Us, Love My Way, Doctor Doctor and Spirited. He also served as showrunner of the popular series Puberty Blues.

I recently spoke with McNamara, who was deep in post, about making the show and his love of editing and post.

When you wrote the stage play this is based on, did you also envision it as a future TV series?
Not at all. I was just a playwright and I’d worked a bit in TV but I never thought of adapting it. But then Marian Macgowan, my co-producer on this, saw it and suggested making a movie of it, and I began thinking about that

What did the stage version teach you?
That it worked for an audience, that the characters were funny, and that it was just too big a story for a play or a film.

It’s like a Dickensian novel with so many periods and great characters and multiple storylines.
Exactly, and as I worked more and more in TV, it seemed like the perfect medium for this massive story with so many periods and great characters. So once the penny dropped about TV, it all went very fast. I wrote the pilot and off we went.

I hear you’re not a fan of period pieces, despite this and all the success you had with The Favourite. So what was the appeal of Catherine and what sort of show did you set out to make?
I love period films like Amadeus and Barry Lyndon, but I don’t like the dry, polite, historically accurate, by-the-numbers ones. So I write my things thinking, “What would I want to watch?” And Catherine’s life and story are so amazing, and anything but polite.

What did Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult bring to their roles?
They’re both great actors and really funny, and that was important. The show’s a drama in terms of narrative, but it also feels like a comedy, but then it also gets very dark in places. So they had to be able to do both — bring a comic force to it but also be able to put emotional boots on the ground… and move between the two very easily, and they can do that. They just got it and knew the show I wanted to make before we even got going. I spent time with them discussing it all, and they were great partners.

Where do you shoot?
We did a lot of it on stages at 3 Mills Studios in London and shot some exteriors around London. We then went to this amazing palace near Naples, Italy, where we shot exteriors and interiors for a couple of weeks. We really tried to give the show a bit more of a cinematic feel and look than most TV shows, and I think the production design is really strong. We all worked very hard to not make it feel at all like sets. We planned it out so we could move between a lot of rooms so you didn’t feel trapped by four walls in just one set. So even though it’s a very character-driven story, we also wanted to give it that big epic sweep and scope.

Do you like being a showrunner?
(Laughs) It depends what day it is. It’s a massive job and very demanding.

What are the best parts of the job and the worst?
I love the writing and working with the actors and the director. Then I love all the editing and all the post — that’s really my favorite thing in the whole process after the writing. I’ve always loved editing, as it’s just another version of writing. And I love editors, and ours are fun to hang out with, and it’s fun to try and solve problems. The worst parts are having to deal with all the scheduling and the nuts and bolts of production. That’s not much fun.

Where do you post?
We do it all in London, with all the editing at Hireworks and all the sound at Encore. When we’re shooting at the studios we set up an edit suite on site, so we start working on it all right away. You have to really, as the TV schedule doesn’t allow much time for post compared with film.

Talk about editing. You have several editors, I assume because of the time factor. How does that work?
We had three editors, who are all so creative and inventive. I love getting all the material and then editing and tweaking things, particularly in comedy. There’s often a very fine line in how you make something funny and how you give the audience permission to laugh.

I think the main editing challenges were usually the actual storytelling, as we tell a lot of stories really fast, so it’s managing how much story you tell and how quickly. It’s a 10-hour story; you’re also picking off moments in an early episode that will pay off far later in the series. Plus you’re dealing with the comedy factor, which can take a while to get up and running in terms of tone and pace. And if there’s a darker episode, you still want to keep some comedy to warm it up a bit.

But I don’t micro-manage the editors. I watch cuts, give some notes and we’ll chat if there are big issues. That way I keep fresh with the material. And the editors don’t like coming on set, so they keep fresh too.

How involved are you with the sound?
I’m pretty involved, especially with the pre-mix. We’ll do a couple of sessions with our sound designer, Joe Fletcher, and Marian will come in and listen, and we’ll discuss stuff and then they do the fixes. The sound team really knows the style of the soundscape we want, and they’ll try various things, like using tones instead of anything naturalistic. They’re very creative.

Tony McNamara and Elle Fanning on set

There’s quite a lot of VFX. 
BlueBolt and Dneg did them all — and there are a lot, as period pieces always need a ton of small fixes. Then in the second half, we had a lot of stuff like dogs getting thrown off roofs, carriages in studios that had to be running through forests, and we have a lot of animals — bears, butterflies and so on. There’s also a fair whack of violence, and all of it needed VFX.

Where do you do the DI?
We did the grading at Encore, and we spent a lot of time with DP John Brawley setting the basic look early on when we did the pilot, so everyone got it. We had the macro look early, and then we’d work on specific scenes and the micro stuff.

Are you already planning Season 2?
I have a few ideas and a rough arc worked out, but with the pandemic we’re not sure when we’ll even be able to shoot again.


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

Invisible VFX on Hulu’s Big Time Adolescence

By Randi Altman

Hulu’s original film Big Time Adolescence is a coming-of-age story that follows 16-year-old Mo, who is befriended by his sister’s older and sketchy ex-boyfriend Zeke. This aimless college dropout happily introduces the innocent-but-curious Mo to drink and drugs and a poorly thought-out tattoo.

Big Time Adolescence stars Pete Davidson (Zeke), Griffin Gluck (Mo) and Machine Gun Kelly (Nick) and features Jon Cryer as Mo’s dad. This irony will not be lost on those who know Cryer from his own role as disenfranchised teen Duckie in Pretty in Pink.

Shaina Holmes

While this film doesn’t scream visual effects movie, they are there — 29 shots — and they are invisible, created by Syracuse, New York-based post house Flying Turtle. We recently reached out to Flying Turtle’s Shaina Holmes to find out about her work on the film and her process.

Holmes served as VFX supervisor, VFX producer and lead VFX artist on Big Time Adolescence, creating things like flying baseballs, adding smoke to a hotboxed car, removals, replacements and more. In addition to owning Flying Turtle Post, she is a teacher at Syracuse University, where she mentors students who often end up working at her post house.

She has over 200 film and television credits, including The Notebook, Tropic Thunder, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Men in Black 3, Swiss Army Man and True Detective.

Let’s find our more…

How early did you get involved on Big Time Adolescence?
This this was our fifth project in a year with production company American High. With all projects overlapping in various stages of production, we were in constant contact with the client to help answer any questions that arose in early stages of pre-production and production.

Once the edit was picture-locked, we bid all the VFX shots in October/November 2018, VFX turnovers were received in November, and we had a few short weeks to complete all VFX in time for the premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019.

What direction were you given from your client?
Because this was our fifth feature with American High and each project has similar basic needs, we already had plans in place for how to shoot certain elements.

For example, most of the American High projects deal with high school, so cell phones and computer screens are a large part of how the characters communicate. Production has been really proactive about hiring an on-set graphics artist to design and create phone and computer screen graphics that can be used either during the shoot or provided to my team to add in VFX.

Having these graphics prebuilt has saved a lot of design time in post. While we still need to occasionally change times and dates, remove the carrier, change photos, replace text and other editorial changes, we end up only needing to do a handful of shots instead of all the screen replacements. We really encourage communication during the entire process to come up with alternatives and solutions that can be shot practically, and that usually makes our jobs more efficient later on.

Were you on set?
I was not physically needed on set for this film, however after filming completed, we realized in post that we were missing some footage during the batting cages scene. The post supervisor and I, along with my VFX coordinator, rented a camera and braved the freezing Syracuse, New York, winter to go to the same batting cages and shoot the missing elements. These plates became essential, as production had turned off the pitching machine during the filming.

Before and After: Digital baseballs

To recreate the baseball in CG, we needed more information for modeling, texture and animation within this space to create more realistic interaction with the characters and environment in VFX. After shoveling snow and ice, we were able to set the camera up at the batting cage and create the reference footage we needed to match our CG baseball animation. Luckily, since the film shot so close to where we all live and work, this was not a problem… besides our frozen fingers!

What other effects did you provide?
We aren’t reinventing the wheel here in the work we do. We work on features wherein invisible VFX are the supporting roles that help create a seamless experience for the audience without distractions from technical imperfections and without revising graphics to enable the story to unfold properly. I work with the production team to advise on ways to shoot to save on costs in post production and use creative problem solving to cut down costs in VFX to satisfy their budget and achieve their intended vision

That being said, we were able to do some fun sequences including CG baseballs, hotboxing a car, screen replacements, graphic animation and alterations, fluid morphs and artifact cleanup, intricate wipe transitions, split screens and removals (tattoos, equipment, out-of-season nature elements).

Can you talk about some of those more challenging scenes/effects?
Besides the CG baseball, the most difficult shots are the fluid morphs. These usually consist of split screens where one side of the split has a speed change effect to editorially cut out dialogue or revise action/reactions.

They seem simple, but to seamlessly morph two completely different actions together over a few frames and create all the in-betweens takes a lot of skill. These are often more advanced than our entry-level artists can handle, so they usually end up on my plate.

What was the review and approval process like?
All the work starts with me receiving plates from the clients and ends with me delivering final versions to the clients. As I am the compositing supervisor, we go through many internal reviews and versions before I approve shots to send to the client for feedback, which is a role I’ve done for the bulk of my career.

For most of the American High projects, the clients are spread out between Syracuse, LA and NYC. No reviews were done in person, although if needed, I could go to Syracuse Studios at any time to review dailies if there was any footage I thought could help with some fix-it-in-post VFX requests.

All shots were sent online for review and final delivery. We worked closely with the executive producer, post supervisor, editor and assistant editor for feedback, notes, design and revisions. Most review sessions were collaborative as far as feedback and what’s possible.

What tools did you use on the film?
Blackmagic’s Fusion is the main compositing software. Artists were trained on Fusion by me when they were in college, so it is an easy and affordable transition for them to use for professional-quality work. Since everyone has their own personal computer setup at home, it’s been fairly easy for artists to send comp files back to me and I render on my end after relinking. That has been a much quicker process for internal feedback and deliveries as we’re working on UHD and 4K resolutions.

For Big Time Adolescence specifically, we also needed to use Adobe After Effects for some of the fluid morph shots, plus some final clean-up in Fusion. For the CG baseball shots, we used Autodesk Maya and Substance Painter, rendered with Arnold and comped in Fusion.

You are female-owned and you are in Syracuse, New York. Not something you hear about every day.
Yes, we are definitely set up in a great up-and-coming area here in Ithaca and Syracuse. I went to film school at Ithaca College. From there, I worked in LA and NYC for 20 years as a VFX artist and producer. In 2016, I was offered the opportunity to teach VFX back at Ithaca College, so I came back to the Central New York area to see if teaching was the next chapter for me.

Timing worked out perfectly when some of my former co-workers were helping create American High, using the Central New York tax incentives and they were prepping to shoot feature films in Syracuse. They brought me on as the local VFX support since we had already been working together off and on since 2010 in NYC. When I found myself both teaching and working on feature films, that gave me the idea to create a company to combine forces.

Teaching at Syracuse University and focusing on VFX and post for live-action film and TV, I am based at The Newhouse School, which is very closely connected with American High and Syracuse Studios. I was already integrated into their productions, so this was just a really good fit all around to bring our students into the growing Central New York film industry, aiming to create a sustainable local talent pool.

Our team is made up of artists who started with me in post mentorship groups I created at both Ithaca College (Park Post) and Syracuse University (SU Post). I teach them in class, they join these post group collaborative learning spaces for peer-to-peer mentorship, and then a select few continue to grow at Flying Turtle Post.

What haven’t I asked that’s important?
When most people hear visual effects, they think of huge blockbusters, but that was never my thing. I love working on invisible VFX and the fact that it blows people’s minds — how so much attention is paid to every single shot, let alone frame, to achieve complete immersion for the audience, so they’re not picking out the boom mic or dead pixels. So much work goes on to create this perfect illusion. It’s odd to say, but there is such satisfaction when no one noticed the work you did. That’s the sign of doing your job right!

Every show relies on invisible VFX these days, even the smallest indie film with a tiny budget. These are the projects I really like to be involved in as that’s where creativity and innovation are at their best. It’s my hope that up-and-coming filmmakers who have amazing stories to tell will identify with my company’s mentorship-focused approach and feel they also are able to grow their vision with us. We support female and underrepresented filmmakers in their pursuit to make change in our industry.


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

Unit9 signs trilingual director Maya Albanese  

Production studio Unit9 has signed director Maya Albanese to its roster. She specializes in emotional and comedic stories that highlight diverse characters and under-represented social themes. Albanese brings experience in filmmaking, branded entertainment and screenwriting.

As a trilingual director, she has crafted work in English, Spanish and French for brands including Disney, Warner Bros, Chevrolet, L’Oréal, IBM, Visa and Google. Albanese is fresh off directing a series of magical-realism spots for Bic and comedy spots for Visa, all of which combine her expertise in directing talent, visual effects and animation.

Earlier this year, she finished a dark surrealist comedy called Freeze, which she wrote and directed about women’s fertility. It stars Chris Parnell, Adrian Grenier, Mindy Sterling, Nora Zehetner, Rick Overton, Kel Mitchell and Queen Jazzmun.  “Freeze” is an official selection of the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase at the 73rd Cannes Film Festival.

Albanese has shot and directed three documentaries: Cuba’s Violin (2014), which screened at festivals worldwide; Blind Date (2015), which premiered at Doc NYC; and Bigger Than Us (2020), which is an intimate behind-the-scenes story of the first-ever, SAG-registered feature film made made by a cast and crew, more than half of whom have a disability.

Albanese found her way to Unit9 through the Commercial Directors Diversity Program fellowship. In 2018, she was one of six directors chosen by the Directors Guild of America and Association of Independent Commercial Producers for the competitive fellowship.

“Telling moving stories that create more inclusivity in front of and behind the camera, whether that’s about women, minorities or people with disabilities, is what drives me,” says Albanese. “I believe we need to continue pushing for this now more than ever. I’m really looking forward to working with the Unit9 team to make bold new stories come to life on screen. Together, I believe we can make sure that all kinds of people get to see themselves reflected in media and advertising.”

Caption: Maya Albanese is pictured left, on set.

Dell intros redesigned Precision mobile workstation line

Dell Technologies has introduced new mobile workstations in its Precision line, which targets professional content creators. The Precisions feature the Dell Optimizer, an automated AI-based optimization technology that learns how each person works and adapts to their behavior. It is designed to improve overall application performance; enable faster log-in and secure lock outs; eliminate echoes and reduce background noise on conference calls; and extend battery run time.

The reengineered  Precision workstation portfolio is designed to handle demanding workloads, such as intensive graphics processing, data analysis and CAD modeling. With smaller footprints and thermal innovations, the new Precision mobile workstations offer increased performance and ISV certifications with professional graphics from Nvidia and the latest 10th Gen Intel Core vPro and Xeon processors.

Designed for creators and pros, the Dell Precision 5550 and 5750 are small and thin 15-inch and 17-inch mobile workstations, respectively, and offer a 16:10, four-sided InfinityEdge (up to HDR 400) display.

The new Precision 5750 is also VR/AR and AI-ready to handle fast rendering, detailed visualizations and complex simulations. Targeting media and entertainment pros, the 5750 comes with the option of an Nvida Quadro RTX 3000 GPU, weighing in at only 4.7 pounds. It is available with a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) HDR400 screen, dual Thunderbolt (four ports total) and up to two M.2 NVMe drives.

The Dell Precision 5550 is available now starting at $1,999. The Dell Precision 5750 is available in early June starting at $2,399.

The Precisions are designed for sustainability with recycled materials, sustainable packaging, energy efficient designs and EPEAT Gold registrations.

 

Epic Games offers first look at Unreal Engine 5

Epic Games has offered a first look at Unreal Engine 5 — the next-generation of its technology designed to create photorealistic images on par with movie CG and real life. Designed for development teams of all sizes, it offers productive tools and content libraries

Unreal Engine 5 will be available in preview in early 2021, and in full release late in 2021, supporting next-generation consoles, current-generation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS and Android.

The reveal was introduced with Lumen in the Land of Nanite, a realtime demo running live on PlayStation 5, to showcase Unreal Engine technologies that can allow creators to reach the highest level of realtime rendering detail in the next generation of games and beyond.

New core technologies in Unreal Engine 5
Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry will allow artists to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see. Nanite virtualized geometry means that film-quality source art comprising hundreds of millions or billions of polygons can be imported directly into Unreal Engine — anything from ZBrush sculpts to photogrammetry scans to CAD data. Nanite geometry is streamed and scaled in real time, so there are no more polygon count budgets, polygon memory budgets, or draw count budgets. Users won’t need to bake details to normal maps or manually author LODs, and, according to Epic, there is no loss in quality.

Lumen is a fully dynamic global Illumination solution that reacts to scene and light changes. The system renders diffuse interreflection with infinite bounces and indirect specular reflections in detailed environments, at scales ranging from kilometers to millimeters. Artists can create more dynamic scenes using Lumen, for example, changing the sun angle for time of day, turning on a flashlight, or blowing a hole in the ceiling. Additionally, indirect lighting will adapt accordingly. Lumen erases the need to wait for lightmap bakes to finish and to author light map UVs — a big time savings when an artist can move a light inside the Unreal Editor and lighting looks the same as when the game is run on console.

To build large scenes with Nanite geometry technology, Epic’s team made heavy use of the Quixel Megascans library, which provides film-quality objects up to hundreds of millions of polygons. To support vastly larger and more detailed scenes than previous generations, PlayStation 5 provides a dramatic increase in storage bandwidth.

The demo also showcases existing engine systems such as Chaos physics and destruction, Niagara VFX, convolution reverb and ambisonics rendering.

Unreal Engine 4 and 5 Timeline
Unreal Engine 4.25 already supports next-generation console platforms from Sony and Microsoft, and Epic is working closely with console manufacturers and dozens of game developers and publishers using Unreal Engine 4 to build next-gen games. Epic is designing for forward compatibility, so developers can get started with next-gen development now in UE4 and move projects to UE5 when ready.

Epic will release Fortnite, built with UE4, on next-gen consoles at launch and, in keeping with the team’s commitment to prove out industry-leading features through internal production, migrate the game to UE5 in mid-2021.

Waiving Unreal Engine Royalties: first $1 Million in Game Revenue
Game developers can still download and use Unreal Engine for free, but now royalties are waived on the first $1 million in gross revenue per title. The new Unreal Engine license terms are retroactive to January 1, 2020.

Epic Online Services
Friends, matchmaking, lobbies, achievements, leaderboards and accounts: Epic built these services for Fortnite, and launched them across seven major platforms — PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Now Epic Online Services are opened up to all developers for free in a simple multiplatform SDK.

Developers can mix and match these services together with their own account services, platform accounts, or Epic Games accounts, which reach the world’s largest social graph with over 350 million players and their 2.2 billion friend connections across half a billion devices.

Production begins again on New Zealand’s Shortland Street series

By Katie Hinsen

The current global pandemic has shut down production all over the world. Those who can have moved to working from home, and there’s speculation about how and when we’ll get back to work again.

New Zealand, a country with a significant production economy, has announced that it will soon reopen for shoots. The most popular local television show, Shortland Street, was the first to resume production after an almost six-week break. It’s produced by Auckland’s South Pacific Pictures.

Dylan Reeve

I am a native New Zealander who has worked in post there on and off over the years. Currently I live in Los Angeles, where I am an EP for dailies and DI at Nice Shoes, so taking a look at how New Zealand is rolling things out interests me. With that in mind, I reached out to Dylan Reeve, head of post production at Shortland Street, to find out how it looked the week they went back to work under Level 3 social distancing restrictions.

Shortland Street is a half-hour soap that runs five nights a week on prime-time television. It has been on air for around 28 years and has been consistently among the highest-rated shows in the nation. It’s a cultural phenomenon. While the cast and crew take a single three-week annual break from production during the Christmas holiday season, the show has never really stopped production … until the pandemic hit.

Shortland Street’s production crew is typically made up of about 100 people; the post department consists of two editors, two assistants, a composer and Reeve, who is also the online editor. Sound mixes and complex VFX are done elsewhere, but everything else for the production is done at the studio.

New Zealand responded to COVID-19 early, instituting one of the harshest lockdowns in the world. Reeve told me that they went from alert Level 1 — basic social distancing, more frequent handwashing — to Level 3 as soon as the first signs of community transmission were detected. They stayed at this level for just two days before going to Level 4: complete lockdown. New Zealanders had 48 hours to get home to their families, shop for supplies and make sure they were ready.

“On a Monday afternoon at about 1:30pm, the studio emptied out,” explains Reeve. “We were shut down, but we were still on air, and we had about five or six weeks’ worth of episodes in various stages of production and post. I then had two days to figure out and prepare for how we were going to finish all of those and make sure they got delivered so that the show could continue to be on air.”

Shortland Street’s main production building dressed as the exterior of the hospital where the show is set, with COVID workplace safety materials on the doors.

The nature of the show’s existing workflow meant that Reeve had to copy all the media to drives and send Avids and drives home with the editors. The assistant editors logged in remotely for any work they needed to do, and Reeve took what he needed home as well to finish onlining, prepping and delivering those already-shot episodes to the broadcaster. They used Frame.io for review and approval with the audio team and with the directors, producers and network.

“Once we knew we were coming back into Level 3, and the government put out more refined guidelines about what that required, we had a number of HoD meetings — figuring out how we could produce the show while maintaining the restrictions necessary.”

I asked Reeve whether he and his crew felt safe going back to work. He reminded me that New Zealand only went back down to Level 3 once there had been a period with no remaining evidence of community transmission. Infection rates in New Zealand had spent two weeks in single digits, including two days when no new cases had been reported.

Starting Up With Restrictions
My conversation with Reeve took place on May 4, right after his first few days back at work. I asked him to explain some of the conditions under which the production was working while the rest of the country was still in isolation. Level 3 in New Zealand is almost identical to the lockdown restrictions put in place in US cities like New York and Los Angeles.

“One of the key things that has changed in terms of how we’re producing the show is that we physically have way less crew in the building. We’re working slower, and everyone’s having to do a bit more, maybe, than they would normally.

Shortland Street director Ian Hughes and camera operator Connagh Heath discussing blocking with a one-metre guide.

“When crew are in a controlled workspace where we know who everyone is,” he continues, “that allows us to keep track of them properly — they’re allowed to work within a meter of one another physically (three feet). Our policy is that we want staff to stay two meters (six feet) apart from one another as much as possible. But when we’re shooting, when it’s necessary, they can be a meter from one another.”

Reeve says the virus has certainly changed the nature of what can be shot. There are no love scenes, no kissing and no hugs. “We’re shooting to compensate for that; staging people to make them seem closer than they are.

Additionally, everything stays within the production environment. Parts of our office have been dressed; parts of our building have been dressed. We’ll do a very low-profile exterior shoot for scenes that take place outside, but we’re not leaving the lot.”

Under Level 3, everyone is still under isolation at home. This is why, explains Reeve, social distancing has to continue at work. That way any infection that comes into the team can be easily traced and contained and affect as few others as possible. Every department maintains what they call a “bubble,” and very few individuals are allowed to cross between them.

Actors are doing their own hair and makeup, and there are no kitchen or craft services available. The production is using and reusing a small number of regular extras, with crew stepping in occasionally as well. Reeve noted that Australia was also resuming production on Neighbours, with crew members acting as extras.

“Right now in our studio, our full technical complement consists of three camera operators at the moment, just one boom operator and one multi-skilled person who can be the camera assist, the lighting assist and the second boom op if necessary. I don’t know how a US production would get away with that. There’s no chance that someone who touches lights on a union production can also touch a boom.”

Post Production
Shortland Street’s post department is still working from home. Now that they are back in production, they are starting to look at more efficient ways to work remotely. While there are a lot of great tools out there for remote post workflows, Reeve notes that for them it’s not that easy, especially when hardware and support are halfway across the world, borders are closed and supply chains are disrupted.

There are collaboration tools that exist, but they haven’t been used “simply because the pace and volume of our production means it’s often hard to adapt for those kinds of products,” he says. “Every time we roll camera, we’re rolling four streams of DNxHD 185, so nearly 800Mb/s each time we roll. We record that media directly into the server to be edited within hours, so putting that in the cloud or doing anything like that was never the best workflow solution. When we wanted feedback, we just grabbed people from the building and dragged them into the edit suite when we wanted them to look at something.”

Ideally, he says, they would have tested and invested in these tools six months ago. “We are in what I call a duct tape stage. We’re taking things that exist, that look useful, and we’re trying to tape them together to make a solution that works for us. Coming out of this, I’m going to have to look at the things we’ve learned and the opportunities that exist and decide whether or not there might be some ways we can change our future production. But at the moment, we’re just trying to make it through.”

Because Shortland Street has only just resumed shooting, they haven’t reached the point yet where they need to do what Reeve calls “the first collaborative director/editor thing” from start to finish. “But there are two plans that we’re working toward. The easy, we-know-it-works plan is that we do an output, we stick it on Frame.io, the director watches it, puts notes on it, sends it back to us. We know that works, and we do that sometimes with directors anyway.

“The more exciting idea is that we have the directors join us on a remote link and watch the episodes as they would if they were in the room. We’ve experimented with a few things and haven’t found a solution that makes us super-happy. It’s tricky because we don’t have an existing hardware solution in place that’s designed specifically for streaming a broadcast output signal over an internet connection. We can do a screen-share, and we’ve experimented with Zoom and AnyDesk, but in both those cases, I’ve found that sometimes the picture will break up unacceptably, or sync will drift — especially using desktop-sharing software that’s not really designed to share full-screen video.”

Reeve and crew are just about to experiment with a tool used for gaming called Parsec. It’s designed to share low-latency, in-sync, high-frame-rate video. “This would allow us to share an entire desktop at, theoretically, 60fps with half-second latency or less. Very brief tests looked good. Plan A is to get the directors to join us on Parsec and screen-share a full-screen output off Avid. They can watch it down and discuss with the editor in real time or just make their own notes and work through it interactively. If that experience isn’t great, or if the directors aren’t enjoying it, or if it’s just not working for some reason, we’ll fall back to outputting a video, uploading it to Frame.io and waiting for notes.

What’s Next?
What are the next steps for other productions returning to work? Shortland Street is the only production that chose to resume under Level 3. The New Zealand Film Commission has said that filming will resume eventually under Level 2, which is being rolled out in several stages beginning this week. Shortland Street’s production company has several other shows, but none have plans to resume yet.

“I think it’s a lot harder for them to stay contained because they can’t shoot everything in the studio,” explains Reeve. “Our production has an added advantage because it is constantly shooting and the core cast and crew are mostly the same every day. I think these types of productions will find it easiest to come back.”

Reeve says that anyone coming into their building has to sign in and deliver a health declaration — recent travel, contact with any sick person, other work they’ve been engaged in. “I think if you can do some of that reasonable contact tracing with the people in your production, it will be easier to start again. The more contained you can keep it, the better. It’s going to be hard for productions that are on location, have high turnover or a large number of extras — anything where they can’t keep within a bubble.

“From a post point of view, I think we’re going to get a lot more comfortable working remotely,” he continues. “And there are lots of editors who already do that, especially in New Zealand. If that can become the norm, and if there are tools and workflows that are well established to support that, it could be really good for post production. It offers a lot of great opportunities for people to essentially broaden their client essentially or the geographic regions in which they can work.

Productions are going to have to make their own sort of health and safety liability decisions, according to Reeve. “All of the things we are doing are effectively responding to New Zealand government regulation, but that won’t be the case for everyone else.”

He sees some types of production finding an equilibrium. “Love Island might be the sort of reality show you can make. You can quarantine everyone going into that show for 14 days, make sure they’re all healthy, and then shoot the show because you’re basically isolated from the world. Survivor as well, things like that. But a reality show where people are running around the streets isn’t happening anymore. There’s no Amazing Race, that’s for sure.”


After a 20-year career talent-side, Katie Hinsen turned her attention to building, developing and running post facilities with a focus on talent, unique business structures and innovative use of technology. She has worked on over 90 major feature and episodic productions, founded the Blue Collar Post Collective, and currently leads the dailies & DI department at Nice Shoes.

Posting John Krasinski’s Some Good News

By Randi Altman

Need an escape from a world filled with coronavirus and murder hornets? You should try John Krasinski’s weekly YouTube show, Some Good News. It focuses on the good things that are happening during the COVID-19 crisis, giving people a reason to smile with things such as a virtual prom, Krasinski’s chat with astronauts on the ISS and bringing the original Broadway cast of Hamilton together for a Zoom singalong.

L-R: Remy, Olivier, Josh and Lila Senior

Josh Senior, owner of Leroi and Senior Post in Dumbo, New York, is providing editing and post to SGN. His involvement began when he got a call from a mutual friend of Krasinski’s, asking if he could help put something together. They sent him clips via Dropbox, and a workflow was born.

While the show is shot at Krasinski’s house in New York at different times during the week, Senior’s Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are spent editing and posting SGN.

In addition to his post duties, Senior is an EP on the show, along with his producing partner Evan Wolf Buxbaum at their production company, Leroi. The two work in concert with Allyson Seeger and Alexa Ginsburg, who executive produced for Krasinski’s company, Sunday Night Productions. Production meetings are held on Tuesday, and then shooting begins. After footage is captured, it’s still shared via Dropbox or good old iMessage.

Let’s find out more…

What does John use for the shoot?
John films on two iPhones. A good portion of the show is screen-recorded on Zoom, and then there’s the found footage user-generated content component.

What’s your process once you get the footage? And, I’m assuming, it’s probably a little challenging getting footage from different kinds of cameras?
Yes. In the alternate reality where there’s no coronavirus, we run a pretty big post house in Dumbo, Brooklyn. And none of the tools of the trade that we have there are really at play here, outside of our server, which exists as the ever-present backend for all of our remote work.

The assets are pulled down from wherever they originate. The masters are then housed behind an encrypted firewall, like we do for all of our TV shows at the post house. Our online editor is the gatekeeper. All the editors, assistant editors, producers, animators, sound folks — they all get a mirrored drive that they download, locally, and we all get to work.

Do you have a style guide?
We have a bible, which is a living document that we’ve made week over week. It has music cues, editing style, technique, structure, recurring themes, a living archive of all the notes that we’ve received and how we’ve addressed them. Also, any style that’s specific to segments, post processing, any phasing or audio adjustments that we make all live within a document, that we give to whoever we onboard to the show.

Evan Wolf Buxbaum

Our post producers made this really elegant workflow that’s a combination of Vimeo and Slack where we post project files and review links and share notes. There’s nothing formal about this show, and that’s really cool. I mean, at the same time, as we’re doing this, we’re rapidly finishing and delivering the second season of Ramy on Hulu. It comes out on May 29.

I bet that workflow is a bit different than SGN’s.
It’s like bouncing between two poles. That show has a hierarchy, it’s formalized, there’s a production company, there’s a network, there’s a lot of infrastructure. This show is created in a group text with a bunch of friends.

What are you using to edit and color Some Good News?
We edit in Adobe Premiere, and that helps mitigate some of the challenges of the mixed media that comes in. We typically color inside of Adobe, and we use Pro Tools for our sound mix. We online and deliver out of Resolve, which is pretty much how we work on most of our things. Some of our shows edit in Avid Media Composer, but on our own productions we almost always post in Premiere — so when we can control the full pipeline, we tend to prefer Adobe software.

Are review and approvals with John and the producers done through iMessage in Dropbox too?
Yes, and we post links on Vimeo. Thankfully we actually produce Some Good News as well as post it, so that intersection is really fluid. With Ramy it’s a bit more formalized. We do notes together and, usually internally, we get a cut that we like. Then it goes to John, and he gives us his thoughts and we retool the edit; it’s like a rapid prototyping rather than a gated milestone. There are no network cuts or anything like that.

Joanna Naugle

For me, what’s super-interesting is that everyone’s ideas are merited and validated. I feel like there’s nothing that you shouldn’t say because this show has no agenda outside of making people happy, and everybody’s uniquely qualified to speak to that. With other projects, there are people who have an experience advantage, a technical advantage or some established thought leadership. Everybody knows what makes people happy. So you can make the show, I can make the show, my mom can make the show, and because of that, everything’s almost implicitly right or wrong.

Let’s talk about specific episodes, like the ones featuring the prom and Hamilton? What were some of the challenges of working with all of that footage. Maybe start with Hamilton?
That one was a really fun puzzle. My partner at Senior Post, Joanna Naugle, edited that. She drew on a lot of her experience editing music videos, performance content, comedy specials, multicam live tapings. It was a lot like a multicam live pre-taped event being put together.

We all love Hamilton, so that helps. This was a combination of performers pre-taping the entire song and a live performance. The editing technique really dissolves into the background, but it’s clear that there’s an abundance of skill that’s been brought to that. For me, that piece is a great showcase of the aesthetic of the show, which is that it should feel homemade and lo-fi, but there’s this undercurrent of a feat to the way that it’s put together.

Getting all of those people into the Zoom, getting everyone to sound right, having the ability to emphasize or de-emphasize different faces. To restructure the grid of the Zoom, if we needed to, to make sure that there’s more than one screen worth of people there and to make sure that everybody was visible and audible. It took a few days, but the whole show is made from Thursday to Sunday, so that’s a limiting factor, and it’s also this great challenge. It’s like a 48-hour film festival at a really high level.

What about the prom episode?
The prom episode was fantastic. We made the music performances the day before and preloaded them into the live player so that we could cut to them during the prom. Then we got to watch the prom. To be able to participate as an audience member in the content that you’re still creating is such a unique feeling and experience. The only agenda is happiness, and people need a prom, so there’s a service aspect of it, which feels really good.

John Krasinski setting up his shot.

Any challenges?
It’s hard to put things together that are flat, and I think one of the challenges that we found at the onset was that we weren’t getting multiple takes of anything, so we weren’t getting a lot of angles to play with. Things are coming in pretty baked from a production standpoint, so we’ve had to find unique and novel ways to be nonlinear when we want to emphasize and de-emphasize certain things. We want to present things in an expositional way, which is not that common. I couldn’t even tell you another thing that we’ve worked on that didn’t have any subjectivity to it.

Let’s talk sound. Is he just picking up audio from the iPhones or is he wearing a mic?
Nope. No, mic. Audio from the iPhones that we just run through a few filters on Pro Tools. Nobody mics themselves. We do spend a lot of time balancing out the sound, but there’s not a lot of effect work.

Other than SGN and Ramy, what are some other shows you guys have worked on?
John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch, 2 Dope Queens, Random Acts of Flyness, Julio Torres: My Favorite Shapes by Julio Torres and others.

Anything that I haven’t asked that you think is important?
It’s really important for me to acknowledge that this is something that is enabling a New York-based production company and post house to work fully remotely. In doing this week over week, we’re really honing what we think are tangible practices that we can then turn around and evangelize out to the people that we want to work with in the future.

I don’t know when we’re going to get back to the post house, so being able to work on a show like this is providing this wonderful learning opportunity for my whole team to figure out what we can modulate from our workflow in the office to be a viable partner from home.


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

Video Chat: Posting Late Night With Seth Meyers from home

By Randi Altman

For many, late-night shows have been offering up laughs during a really tough time, with hosts continuing to shoot from dens, living rooms, backyards and country houses, often with spouses and kids pitching in as crew.

NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers is one of those shows. They had their last in-studio taping on March 13, followed by a scheduled hiatus week, followed by the news they wouldn’t be able to come back to the studio. That’s when his team started preproduction and workflow testing to figure out questions like “How are we going to transfer files?” and “How are we going to get it on the air?”

I recently interviewed associate director and lead editor Dan Dome about their process and how that workflow has been allowing Meyers to check in daily from his wasp-ridden and probably haunted attic.

(Watch our original Video Interview here or below.)

How are you making this remote production work?
We’re doing a combination of things. We are using our network laptops to edit footage that’s coming in for interviews or comedy pieces. That’s all being done locally, meaning on our home systems and without involving our SAN or anything like that. So we’re cutting interviews and comedy pieces and then sending links out for approval via Dropbox. Why Dropbox? The syncing features are really great when uploading and downloading footage to all the various places we need to send it.

Once a piece is approved and ready to go into the show — we know the timings are right, we know the graphics are right, we know the spelling is correct, audio levels look good, video levels look good — then we upload that back to Dropbox and back to our computers at 30 Rock where our offices are located. We’re virtually logging into our machines there to compile the show. So, yeah, there are a few bits and pieces to building stuff remotely. And then there are a few bits and pieces to actually compiling the show on our systems back at home base.

What do you use for editing?
We’re still on Adobe Premiere. We launched on Premiere when the show started in February of 2014, and we’re still using that version — it’s solid and stable, and doing a daily show, we don’t necessarily get a ton of time to test new versions. So we have a stable version that we like for doing the show composite aspect of things.

When we’re back at 30 Rock and editing remote pieces, we’re using the newer versions of Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.2 9.2.0 (41 Build). At home we are using Premiere Pro CC 2020 14.0.4 (Build 18).

Let talk about how Seth’s been shooting. What’s his main camera?
Some of the home studio recording has been on iPads and iPhones. Then we’re using Zoom to do interviews, and there are multiple records of that happening. The files are then uploaded and downloaded between the edit team, and our director is in on the interviews, setting up cameras and trying to get it to look the best it can.

Once those interviews are done, the different records get uploaded to Dropbox. On my home computer, I use a 6TB CalDigit drive for Dropbox syncing and media storage. (Devon Schwab and Tony Dolezal, who are also editing pieces, use 4TB G-RAID drives with Thunderbolt 3.) So as soon as they tell me the file is up, I sync locally on the folder I know it’s going to, the media automatically downloads, and we simultaneously download it to our systems at 30 Rock. So it syncs there as well. We have multiple copies of it, and if we need to, we can hand off a project between me, Devin or Tony; we can do that pretty easily.

Have you discovered any challenges or happy surprises working this way?
It has been a nice happy surprise that it’s like, “Oh wow, this is working pretty well.” We did have a situation where we thought we might lose power on the East coast because of rains and winds and things like that. So we had safeguards in place for that, as far as having an evergreen show that was ready to go for that night in case we did end up losing power. It would have been terrible, but everything held up, and it worked pretty well.

So there are certainly some challenges to working this way, but it’s amazing that we are working and we can keep our mind on other things and just try to help entertain people while this craziness is going on.

You can watch our original Video Interview with Dome here:

Director/EP Lenny Abrahamson on Hulu’s Normal People

By Iain Blair

Irish director Lenny Abrahamson first burst onto the international scene in 2015 with the harrowing drama Room, which picked up four Oscar nominations, including for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. Abrahamson’s latest project is Hulu’s Normal People, based on Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel of the same name.

 (Photo by: Enda Bowe)

Lenny Abrahamson

The series focuses on the passionate, tender and complicated relationship of Marianne and Connell — from the end of their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Trinity College. At school, he’s a popular sports hero, while she’s upper class, lonely, proud and intimidating. But when Connell comes to pick up his mother from her cleaning job at Marianne’s house, a strange connection grows between the two teenagers… one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying in Dublin and Marianne has found her feet in a new social world but Connell hangs on the sidelines, shy and uncertain as the tables are turned.

The series stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (War of the Worlds, Cold Feet) as Marianne and Paul Mescal, in his first television role, as Connell. Adapted by Sally Rooney alongside writers Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe, Normal People is a 12-episode 30-minute drama series produced by Element Pictures for Hulu and BBC Three. Rooney and Abrahamson also serve as executive producers and Endeavour Content is the international distributor.

I spoke with Abrahamson — whose credits also include The Little Stranger, Frank, Garage, What Richard Did and Adam & Paul — about making the show, his workflows and his love of editing.

You’ve taken on quite a few book projects in the past. What was the appeal of this one?
It’s always an instinctual thing — something chimes with me. Yeah, I’ve done a number of literary adaptations, and I wasn’t really looking to do another. In fact, I was setting out not do another one, but in this case the novel just struck me so much, with such resonance, and it’s very hard not to do it when that happens. And it’s an Irish project and I hadn’t shot in Ireland for some seven years, and it was great to go back and do something that felt so fresh, so all of that was very attractive to me.

(Photo by Enda Bowe/Hulu)

Rooney co-wrote the script with Alice Birch, but translating any novel to a visual medium is always tricky, especially this book with all its inner psychological detail. As a director, how challenging was it to translate the alternating sections of the book while maintaining forward motion of the narrative?
It was pretty challenging. The writing is so direct and honest, yet deep, which is a rare combination. And Sally’s perspective is so fresh and insightful, and all that was a challenge I tried to take on and capture in the filming. How do you deal with something so interior? When you really care about the characters as I did, how do you do justice to them and their extraordinary relationship? But I relished the challenge.

Obviously, casting the right actors was crucial. What did Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal bring to their roles and the project?
I feel very lucky to have found them. We actually found Paul first, very early on. He’d been making some waves in theater in Ireland, but he’d never been on screen in anything. What I saw in him was a combination of intelligence, which both characters had to have, and brilliant choices in playing Connell. He really captured that mix of masculinity and anxiety which is so hard to do. There is a sensitivity but also an inarticulateness, and he has great screen presence. Daisy came later, and it was harder in that you had to find someone who works well with Paul. She’s brilliant too, as she found a way of playing Marianne’s spikiness in a very un-clichéd and delicate way that allows you to see past it. They ended up working so well together and became good friends, too.

You co-directed with Hettie Macdonald (Doctor Who, Howard’s End), with you directing the first six episodes and Macdonald directing the final six. How did that work in terms of maintaining the same naturalistic tone and feel you set?
We spoke a lot at the beginning when she came on board. The whole idea was for her to bring her own sensibility to it. We’d already cast and shot the first half and we knew a director of her caliber wasn’t going to break that. We had two DPs: Suzie Lavelle and she had had Kate McCullough. During the shooting I had the odd note, like, “It looks great,” but I was more involved with her material during editing, which is natural as the EP. We had a great relationship.

Tell us about post and your approach.
We did it all — the editing, sound and VFX — at Outer Limits, which is on the coast about 30 minutes outside Dublin. It’s run by two guys who used to be at Screen Scene, where I posted my last five or six films. I followed them over there as I like them so much. It’s a lovely place, very quiet. The editor and I were based out there for the whole thing.

Our VFX supervisor was Andy Clarke, and it’s all pretty invisible stuff, like rain and all the fixes. I also did all the grading and picture finishing at Outer Limits with my regular colorist Gary Curran, who’s done nearly all my projects. He knows what I like, but also when to push me into bolder looks. I tend toward very low-contrast, desaturated looks, but over the years he’s nudged me into more saturated, vivid palettes, which I now really like. And we’ll be doing a 4K version.

I love post, as after all the stress of the shoot and all the instant decisions you have to make on the set, it’s like swimming ashore. You reach ground and can stand up and get all the water out of your lungs and just take your time to actually make the film. I love all the creative possibilities you get in post, particularly in editing.

You edited with your go-to editor Nathan Nugent. Was he on set?
No, we sent him dailies. On a film, he might be cutting next door if we’re in a studio, but not on this. He’s very fast and I’d see an assembly of stuff within 24 hours of shooting it. We like to throw everything up in the air again during the edit. Whatever we thought as we shot, it’s all up for grabs.

What were the main editing challenges?
I think choosing to work with short episodes was really good as it takes away some of the pressure to have lots of plot and story, and it allows you to look really closely at the shifts in their relationship. But there’s nowhere to hide, and you have to absolutely deeply care about the two of them. But if you do, then all the losses and gains, the highs and lows, become as big a story as any you could tell. That’s what gives it momentum. But if you don’t get that right, or you miscast it, then the danger is that you do lose that momentum.

So it’s a real balancing act… to feel that you’re spending time with them but also letting the story move forward in a subtle way. It’s the challenge of all editing — maintaining the tension and pace while letting an audience get a deep and close enough look at the characters.

Lenny Abrahamson

Can you talk about the importance of music and sound in the show.
I’ve had the same team ever since What Richard Did, including my supervising sound designer and editor Steve Fanagan and sound mixer Niall O’Sullivan. They’re so creative. Then I had composer Stephen Rennicks who’s also done all my projects. What was different this time was that we also licensed some tracks, as it just felt right. Our music supervisors Juliet Martin and Maggie Phillips were great with that.

So it was a core team of five, and I did what I always like to do — get all of that involved far earlier than you’d normally do. We don’t just lock picture and hand it over, so this way you have sound constantly interacting with editorial, and they both develop organically at the same time.

What’s next?
Another collaboration with Sally on her first novel, “Conversations With Friends,” with the same team I had on this. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, who knows when we’ll be able to start shooting.


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

COVID-19: How our industry is stepping up

We’ve been using this space to talk about how companies are discounting products, raising money and introducing technology to help with remote workflows, as well as highlighting how pros are personally pitching in.

Here are the latest updates, followed by what we’ve gathered to date:

Adobe
Adobe has made a $4.5 million commitment to trusted organizations that are providing vital assistance to those most in need.

• Adobe is joining forces with other tech leaders in the Bay Area to support the COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a trusted foundation that serves a network of local nonprofits. Adobe’s $1 million donation will help provide low-income people in Santa Clara County through The Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System Financial Assistance Program  with immediate financial assistance to help pay rent or meet other basic needs. Additionally, Adobe is donating $250,000 to the Valley Medical Center Foundation to purchase life-saving ventilators for Bay Area hospitals.
• Adobe has donated $1 million to the COVID-19 Fund of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the recognized global leader in providing rapid disaster relief and basic human and medical services. Adobe’s support will help aid vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19 around the world. This is in addition to the $250,000 the company is donating to Direct Relief as a part of Adobe’s #HonorHeroes campaign.
• To support the community in India, Adobe is donating $1 million towards the American India Foundation (AIF) and the Akshaya Patra Foundation. The donation will help AIF source much-needed ventilators for hospitals, while the grant for Akshaya Patra will provide approximately 5 million meals to impacted families.

Harbor
Harbor is releasing Inspiration in Isolation, a new talk series that features filmmakers in candid conversation about their creative process during this unprecedented time and beyond. The web series aims to reveal the ideas and rituals that contribute to their creative process. The premiere episode features celebrated cinematographer Bradford Young and senior colorist Joe Gawler. The two, who are collaborators and friends, talk community, family, adapting to change and much more.

The full-length episodes will be released on Harbor’s new platform, HarborPresents, with additional content on Harbor’s social media (@HarborPictureCo).

HPA
The HPA has formed the HPA Industry Recovery Task Force, which will focus on sustainably resuming production and post services, with the aim of understanding how to enable content creation in an evolving world impacted by the pandemic.

The task force’s key objectives are:
• To serve as a forum for collaboration, communication and thought leadership regarding how to resume global production and post production in a sustainable fashion.
• To understand and influence evolving technical requirements, such as the impact of remote collaboration, work from home and other workflows that have been highlighted by the current crisis.
• To provide up-to-date information and access to emerging health and safety guidelines that will be issued by various governments, municipalities, unions, guilds, industry organizations and content creators.
• To provide collaborative support and guidance to those impacted by the crisis.

Genelec
Genelec is donating a percentage of every sale of its new Raw loudspeaker range to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for the remainder of this year. Additionally, Genelec will fund 10 one-year AES memberships for those whose lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. A longtime sustaining member of AES, Genelec is making the donation to help sustain the society’s cash flow, which has been significantly affected by the coronavirus situation.

OWC
OWC has expanded its safety protocols, as they continue to operate as an essential business in Illinois. They have expanded their already strong standard operating practice in terms of cleanliness with additional surface disinfection actions, as well as both gloves and masks being used by their warehouse and build teams. Even before recent events, manufacturing teams used gloves to prevent fingerprinting units during build, but those gloves have new importance now. In addition, OWC has both MERV air filters in place and a UV air purifier, which combined are considered to be 99.999% effective in killing/capturing all airborne bacteria and viruses.

Red

For a limited time, existing DSMC2 and Red Ranger Helium and Gemini customers can purchase a Red Extended Warranty at a discounted price. Existing customers who are into their second year of warranty can pay the standard pricing they would receive within their first year instead of the markup price. For example, instead of paying $1,740 (the 20% markup), a DSMC2 Gemini owner who is in within the second year of warranty can purchase an Extended Warranty for $1,450.

This promotion has been extended to June 30. Adding the Red Extended Warranty not only increases the warranty coverage period but also provides benefits such as priority repair, expedited shipping, and premium technical support directly from Red. Customers also have access to the Red Rapid Replacement Program. Extended Warranty is also transferable to new owners if completing a Transfer of Ownership with Red.

DejaSoft
DejaSoft has extended its offering of giving editors 50% off all their DejaEdit licenses — it now goes through the end of June. In addition, the company will help users implement DejaEdit in the best way possible to suit their workflow. DejaEdit allows editors to share media files and timelines automatically and securely with remote co-workers around the world, without having to be online continuously. It helps editors working on Avid Nexis, Media Composer and EditShare workflows across studios, production companies and post facilities ensure that media files, bins and timelines are kept up to date across multiple remote edit stations.

Assimilate
Assimilate is offering all of its products — including Scratch 9.2, Scratch VR 9.2, PlayPro 9.2, Scratch Web and the recently released Live Looks and Live Assist — for free through October 31. Users can register for free licenses. Online tutorials are here and free access to Lowepost online Scratch training is here.

B&H
B&H is partnering with suppliers to donate gear to the teams at Mount Sinai and other NYC hospitals to help health care professionals and first responders stay in touch with their loved ones. Some much-needed items are chargers, power sources, battery packs and mobile accessories. B&H is supporting the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and Direct Relief.

FXhome
FXhome last month turned the attention of its “Pay What You Want” initiative to direct proceeds to help fight Covid-19. This month, in an effort to teach the community new skills, and inspire them with new ideas to help them reinvent themselves, FXhome has today launched a new, entirely free Master Class series designed to teach everything from basic editing, to creating flashy title sequences, to editing audio and of course, learning basic VFX and compositing.

Nugen Audio 
Nugen Audio has a new “Staying Home, Staying Creative” initiative aimed at promoting collaboration and creativity in a time of social distancing. Included are a variety of videos, interviews and articles that will inspire new artistic approaches for post production workflows. The company is also providing temporary replacement licenses for any users who do not have access to their in-office workstations.

Already available on the Staying Creative web page is a special interview with audio post production specialist Keith Alexander. Building from his specialty in remote recording and sound design for broadcast, film and gaming, Alexander shares some helpful tips on how to work efficiently in a home-based setting and how to manage audio cleanup and broadcast-audio editing projects from home. There’s also an article focused on three ways to improve lo-fi drum recording in a less-than-ideal space.

Nugen is also offering temporary two-month licenses for current iLok customers, along with one additional Challenge Response license code authorization. The company has also reduced the prices of all products in its web store.

Tovusound 
Tovusound has extended its 20% discount until the end of the month and has added some new special offers.

The Spot Edward Ultimate Suite expansion, regularly $149, is now $79 with coupon. It adds the Spot creature footstep and movement instrument to the Edward footstep, cloth and props designer. Customers also get free WAV files with the purchase of all Edward instruments and expansions and with all Tovusound bundles. Anyone who purchased one of the applicable products after April 1 also has free access to the WAV files.

Tovusound will continue to donate an additional 10% of the sales price to the CleanOceanProject.org. Customers may claim their discounts by entering STAYHOME in the “apply coupon” field at checkout. All offers end on April 30.

 

Previous Updates

Object Matrix and Cinesys-Oceana
Object Matrix and Cinesys-Oceana are hosting a series of informal online Beer Roundtable events in the coming months. The series will discuss the various challenges with implementing hybrid technology for continuity, remote working and self-serve access to archive content.You can register for the next Beer Roundtable here. The sessions will be open, fun and relaxed. Participants are asked to grab themselves a drink and simply raise their glass when they wish to ask a question.

During the first session, Cinesys-Oceana CTO Brent Angle and Object Matrix CEO Jonathan Morgan will introduce what they believe to be the mandatory elements of the ultimate hybrid technology stack. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion hosted by Harry Skopas, director M&E solutions architecture and technical sales at Cinesys-Oceana, with guest appearances from the media and sports technology communities.

MZed
MZed, an online platform for master classes in filmmaking, photography and visual storytelling, is donating 20% of all sales to the Los Angeles Food Bank throughout April. For every new MZed Pro membership, $60 is donated, equating to 240 meals to feed hungry children, seniors and families. MZed serves the creative community, a large portion of which lives in the LA area and is being hit hard by the lockdown due to the coronavirus. MZed hopes to help play a role in keeping high-risk members of the community fed during a time of extreme uncertainty.

MZed has also launched a “Get One, Gift One” initiative. When someone purchases an MZed Pro membership, that person will not only be supporting the LA Food Bank but will instantly receive a Pro membership to give to someone else. MZed will email details upon purchase.

MZed offers hundreds of hours of training courses covering everything from photography and filmmaking to audio and lighting in courses like “The Art of Storytelling” with Alex Buono and Philip Bloom’s Cinematic Masterclass.

NAB Show
NAB Show’s new digital experience, NAB Show Express, will take place May 13-14. The platform is free and offers 24-hour access to three educational channels, on-demand content and a Solutions Marketplace featuring exhibitor product information, announcements and demos. Registration for the event will open on April 20 at NABShowExpress.com. Each channel will feature eight hours of content streamed daily and available on-demand to accommodate the global NAB Show audience. NAB Show Express will also offer NAB Show’s signature podcast, exploring relevant themes and featuring prominent speakers.

Additionally, NAB Show Express will feature three stand-alone training and executive leadership events for which separate registrations will be available soon. These include:
• Executive Leadership Summit (May 11), produced in partnership with Variety
• Cybersecurity & Content Protection Summit (May 12), produced in partnership with Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) – registration fees apply
• Post | Production World Online (May 17-19), produced in partnership with Future Media Conferences (FMC) – registration fees apply.

Atto 
Atto Technology is supporting content producers who face new workflow and performance challenges by making Atto Disk Benchmark for macOS more widely available and by updating Atto 360 tuning, monitoring and analytics software. Atto 360 for macOS and Linux have been updated for enhanced stability and include an additional tuning profile. The current Windows release already includes these updates. The software is free and can be downloaded directly from Atto.

Sigma
Sigma has launched a charitable giving initiative in partnership with authorized Sigma lens dealers nationwide. From now until June 30, 2020, 5% of all Sigma lens sales made through participating dealers will be donated to a charitable organization of the dealers’ choice. Donations will be made to organizations working on COVID-19 relief efforts to help ease the devastation many communities are feeling as a result of the global crisis. A full list of participating Sigma dealers and benefiting charities can be found here.

FXhome 
To support those who are putting their lives on the line to provide care and healing to those impacted by the global pandemic, FXhome is adding Partners In Health, Doctors Without Borders and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy as new beneficiaries of the FXhome “Pay What You Want” initiative.

Pay What You Want is a goodwill program inspired by the HitFilm Express community’s desire to contribute to the future development of HitFilm Express, the company’s free video editing and VFX software. Through the initiative, users can contribute financially, and those funds will be allocated for future development and improvements to HitFilm. Additionally, FXhome is contributing a percentage of the proceeds to organizations dedicated to global causes important to the company and its community. The larger the contribution from customers, the more FXhome will donate.

Besides adding the three new health-related beneficiaries, FXhome has extended its campaign to support each new cause from one month to three months, beginning in April and running through the end of June. A percentage of all proceeds of revenues generated during this time period will be donated to each cause.

Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund
Created by The Film and TV Charity in close partnership with the BFI, the new COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund provides support to the many thousands of active workers and freelancers who have been hit hardest by the closure of productions across the UK. The fund has received initial donations totaling £2.5 million from Netflix, the BFI, BBC Studios, BBC Content, WarnerMedia and several generous individuals.

It is being administered by The Film and TV Charity, with support from BFI staff. The Film and TV Charity and the BFI is covering all overheads, enabling donations to go directly to eligible workers and freelancers across film, TV and cinema. One-off grants of between £500 and £2,500 will be awarded based on need. Applications for the one-off grants can be made via The Film and TV Charity’s website. The application process will remain open for two weeks.

The Film and TV Charity also has a new COVID-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme offering support for industry freelancers waiting for payments under the Government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Interest-free grants of up to £2,000 will be offered to those eligible for Self-employment Income Support but who are struggling with the wait for payments in June. The Covid-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme opens April 15. Applicants will have one week to make a claim via The Film and TV Charity’s website.

Lenovo
Lenovo is offering a free 120-day license of Mechdyne’s TGX Remote Desktop software, which uses Nvidia Quadro GPUs and a built-in video encoder to compress and send information from the host workstation to the end-point device to decode. This eliminates lag on complex and detailed application files.

Teams can share powerful, high-end workstation resources across the business, easily dialing up performance and powerful GPUs from their standard workstation to collaborate remotely with coworkers around the world.

Users keep data and company IP secure on-site while reducing the risk of data breaches and remotely administering computer hardware assets from anywhere, anytime.
Users install the trial on their host workstations and install the receiver software on their local devices to access their applications and projects as if they were in the office.

Ambidio 
To help sound editors, mixers and other post pro who suddenly find themselves working from home, Ambidio is making its immersive sound technology, Ambidio Looking Glass, available for free. Sound professionals can apply for a free license through Ambidio’s website. Ambidio is also waiving its per-title releasing fee for home entertainment titles during the current cinema shutdown. It applies to new titles that haven’t previously been released through Blu-ray, DVD, digital download or streaming. The free offer is available through May 31.

Ambidio Looking Glass can be used as a monitoring tool for theatrical and television projects requiring immersive sound. Ambidio Looking Glass produces immersive sound that approximates what can be achieved on a studio mix stage, except it is playable through standard stereo speaker systems. Editors and mixers working from home studios can use it to check their work and share it with clients, who can also hear the results without immersive sound playback systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing sound editors and mixers to work remotely,” says Ambidio founder Iris Wu. “Many need to finish projects that require immersive sound from home studios that lack complex speaker arrays. Ambidio Looking Glass provides a way for them to continue working with dimensional sound and meet deadlines, even if they can’t get to a mix stage.”

Qumulo
Through July 2020, Qumulo is offering its cloud-native file software for free to public and private-sector medical and health care research organizations that are working to minimize the spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus.

“Research and health care organizations across the world are working tirelessly to find answers and collaborate faster in their COVID-19 vaccine mission,” said Matt McIlwain, chairman of the board of trustees of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and managing partner at Madrona Venture Group. “It will be through the work of these professionals, globally sharing and analyzing all available data in the cloud, that a cure for COVID-19 will be discovered.”

Qumulo’s cloud-native file and data services allows organizations to use the cloud to capture, process, analyze and share data with researchers distributed across geographies. Qumulo’s software works seamlessly with the applications medical and health care researchers have been using for decades, as well as with artificial intelligence and analytics services more recently developed in the cloud.

Medical organizations can register to use Qumulo’s file software in the cloud, which will be deployable through the Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud marketplaces.

Goldcrest Post
Goldcrest Post has established the capability to conduct most picture and sound post production work remotely. Colorists, conform editors and other staff are now able to work from home or a remote site and connect to the facility’s central storage and technical resources via remote collaboration software. Clients can monitor work through similar secure, fast and reliable desktop connections.

The service allows Goldcrest to ensure theatrical and television projects remain on track while allowing clients to oversee work in as normal a manner as possible under current circumstances.

Goldcrest has set up a temporary color grading facility at a remote site convenient for its staff colorists. The site includes a color grading control panel, two color-calibrated monitors and a high-speed connection to the main Goldcrest facility. The company has also installed desktop workstations and monitors in the homes of editors and other staff involved in picture conforming and deliverables. Sound mixing is still being conducted on-site, but sound editorial and ancillary sound work is being done from home.In taking these measures, the facility has reduced its on-site staff to a bare minimum while keeping workflow disruption to a minimum.

Ziva Dynamics
Ziva Dynamics is making Ziva VFX character simulation software free for students and educators. The same tools used on Game of Thrones, Hellboy and John Wick: Chapter 3 are now available for noncommercial projects, offering students the chance to learn physics-based character creation before they graduate. Ziva VFX Academic licenses are fully featured and receive the same access and support as other Ziva products.

In addition to the software, Ziva Academic users will now receive free access to Ziva Dynamics’ simulation-ready assets Zeke the Lion (previously $10,000) and Lila the Cheetah. Thanks to Ziva VFX’s Anatomy Transfer feature, the Zeke rig has helped make squirrels, cougars, dogs and more for films like John Wick 3, A Dog’s Way Home and Primal.

Ziva Dynamics will also be providing a free Ziva Academic floating lab license to universities so students can access the software in labs across campuses whenever they want. Ziva VFX Academic licenses are free and open to any fully accredited institution, student, professor or researcher (an $1,800 value). New licenses can be found in the Ziva store and are provided following a few eligibility questions. Academic users on the original paid plan can now increase their license count for free.

OpenDrives 
OpenDrives’ OpenDrives Anywhere is an in-place private cloud model that enables customers with OpenDrives to work on the same project from multiple locations without compromising performance. With existing office infrastructure, teams already have an in-place private cloud and can extend its power to each of their remote professionals. No reinvestment in storage is needed.

Nothing changes from a workflow perspective except physical proximity. With simple adjustments, remote control of existing enterprise workstations can be extended via a secure connection. HP’s ZCentral Remote Boost (formerly RGS) software will facilitate remote access over secure connection to your workstations, or Teradici can provide both dedicated external hardware and software solutions for this purpose, giving teams the ability to support collaborative workflows at low cost. OpenDrives can also get teams quickly set up in under two hours on a corporate VPN and in under 24 hours without.

Prime Focus Technologies 
Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), the technology arm of Prime Focus, has added new features and advanced security enhancements to Clear to help customers embrace the virtual work environment. In terms of security, Clear now has a new-generation HTML 5 player enabled with Hollywood-grade DRM encryption. There’s also support for just-in-time visual watermarking embedded within the stream for streaming through Clear as a secure alternative to generating watermarking on the client side.

Clear also has new features that make it easier to use, including direct and faster download from S3 and Azure storage, easier partner onboarding and an admin module enhancement with condensed permissions to easily handle custom user roles. Content acquisition is made easier with a host of new functionalities to simplify content acquisition processes and reduce dependencies as much as possible. Likewise, for easier content servicing, there is now automation in content localization, to make it easier to perform and review tasks on Clear. For content distribution, PFT has enabled on-demand cloud distribution on Clear through the most commonly used cloud technologies.

Brady and Stephenie Betzel
Many of you know postPerspective contributor and online video editor Brady Betzel from his great reviews and tips pieces. During this crisis, he is helping his wife, Stephenie, make masks for her sister (a nurse) and colleagues working at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, California, in addition to anyone else who works on the “front lines.” She’s sewn over 300 masks so far and is not stopping. Creativity and sewing is not new to her. Her day job is also creating. You can check out her work on Facebook and Instagram.

Object Matrix 
Object Matrix co-founder Nick Pearce has another LinkedIn dispatch, this time launching Good News Friday, where folks from around the globe check in with good news!  You can also watch it on YouTube. Pearce and crew are also offering video tips for surviving working from home. The videos, hosted by Pearce, and are updated weekly. Check them out  here.

Conductor
Conductor is waiving charges for orchestrating renders in the cloud. Updated pricing is reflected in the cost calculator on Conductor’s Pricing page. These changes will last at least through May 2020. To help expedite any transition needs, the Conductor team will be on call for virtual render wrangling of cloud submissions, from debugging scenes and scripts to optimizing settings for cost, turnaround time, etc. If you need this option, then email support@conductortech.com.

Conductor is working with partners to set up online training sessions to help studios quickly adopt cloud strategies and workflows. The company will send out further notifications as the sessions are formalized. Conductor staff is also available for one-on-one studio sessions as needed for those with specific pipeline considerations.

Conductor’s president and CEO Mac Moore said this: “The sudden onset of this pandemic has put a tremendous strain on our industry, completely changing the way studios need to operate virtually overnight. Given Conductor was built on the ‘work from anywhere’ premise, I felt it our responsibility to help studios to the greatest extent possible during this critical time.”

Symply
Symply is providing as many remote workers in the industry as possible with a free 90-day license to SymplyConveyor, its secure, high-speed transfer and sync software. Symply techs will be available to install SymplyConveyor remotely on any PC, Mac or Linux workstation pair or server and workstation.

The no-obligation offer is available at gosymply.com. Users sign up, and as long as they are in the industry and have a need, Symply techs will install the software. The number of free 90-day licenses is limited only by Symply’s ability to install them given its limited resources.

Foundry
Foundry has reset its trial database so that users can access a new 30-day trial for all products regardless of the date of their last trial. The company continues to offer unlimited non-commercial use of Nuke and Mari. On the educational side, students who are unable to access school facilities can get a year of free access to Nuke, Modo, Mari and Katana.

They have also announced virtual events, including:

• Foundry LiveStream – a series of talks around projects, pipelines and tools.
• Foundry Webinars – A 30 to 40-minute technical deep dive into Foundry products, workflows and third-party tools.
• Foundry Skill-Ups – A 30-minute guide to improving your skills as a compositor/lighter/texture artist to get to that next level in your career.
• Foundry Sessions – Special conversations with our customers sharing insights, tips and tricks.
• Foundry Workflow Wednesdays –10-minute weekly videos posted on social media showing tips and tricks with Nuke from our experts.

Alibi Music Library
Alibi Music Library is offering free whitelisted licensing of its Alibi Music and Sound FX catalogs to freelancers, agencies and production companies needing to create or update their demo reels during this challenging time.

Those who would like to take advantage of this opportunity can choose Demo Reel 2020 Gratis from the shopping cart feature on Alibi’s website next to any desired track(s). For more info, click here.

2C Creative
Caleb & Calder Sloan’s Awesome Foundation, the charity of 2C Creative founders Chris Sloan and Carla Kaufman Sloan, is running a campaign that will match individual donations (up to $250 each) to charities supporting first responders, organizations and those affected by COVID-19. 2C is a creative agency & production company serving the TV/streaming business with promos, brand integrations, trailers, upfront presentations and other campaigns. So far, the organization’s “COVID-19 Has Met Its Match” campaign has raised more than $50,000. While the initial deadline date for people to participate was April 6, this has now been extended to April 13. To participate, please visit ccawesomefoundation.org for a list of charities already vetted by the foundation or choose your own. Then, simply email a copy of your donation receipt to: cncawesomefoundation@gmail.com and they will match it!

Red Giant 
For the filmmaking education community, Red Giant is offering Red Giant Complete — the full set of tools including Trapcode Suite, Magic Bullet Suite, Universe, VFX Suite and Shooter Suite — free for students or faculty members of a university, college or high school. Instead of buying separate suites or choosing which tools best suits one’s educational needs or budget, students and teachers can get every tool Red Giant makes completely free of charge. All that’s required is a simple verification.

How to get a free Red Giant Complete license if you are a student, teacher or faculty member:
1. Use school or organization ID or any proof of current employment or enrollment for verification. More information on academic verification is available here.
2. Send your academic verification to academic@redgiant.com.
3. Wait for approval via email before purchasing.
4. Once you get approval, go to the Red Giant Complete Product Page and “buy” your free version. You will only be able to buy the free version if you have been pre-approved.

The free education subscription will last 180 days. When that time period ends, users will need to reverify their academic status to renew their free subscription.

Flanders Scientific
Remote collaboration and review benefits greatly from having the same type of display calibrated the same way in both locations. To help facilitate such workflow consistency, FSI is launching a limited time buy one, get one for $1,000 off special on its most popular monitor, the DM240.

Nvidia
For those pros needing to power graphics workloads without local hardware, cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, offer Nvidia Quadro Virtual Workstation instances to support remote, graphics-intensive work quickly without the need for any on-prem infrastructure. End-users only need a connected laptop or thin client, as the virtual workstations support the same Nvidia Quadro drivers and features as the physical Quadro GPUs used by pro artists and designers in local workstations.

Additionally, last week, Nvidia has expanded its free virtual GPU software evaluation to 500 licenses for 90 days to help companies support their remote workers with their existing GPU infrastructure. Nvidia vGPU software licenses — including Quadro Virtual Workstation — enable GPU-accelerated virtualization so that content creators, designers, engineers and others can continue their work. More details are available here.  Nvidia has also posted a separate blog on virtual GPUs to help admins who are working to support remote employees

Harman
Harman is offering a free e-learning program called Learning Sessions in conjunction with Harman Pro University.

The Learning Sessions and the Live Workshop Series provide a range of free on-demand and instructor-led webinars hosted by experts from around the world. The Industry Expert workshops feature tips and tricks from front of house engineers, lighting designers, technicians and other industry experts, while the Harman Expert workshops feature in-depth product and solution webinars by Harman product specialists.

• April 7—Lighting for Churches: Live and Video with Lucas Jameson and Chris Pyron
• April 9—Audio Challenges in Esports with Cameron O’Neill
• April 15—Special Martin Lighting Product Launch with Markus Klüesener
• April 16—Lighting Programming Workshop with Susan Rose
• April 23—Performance Manager: Beginner to Expert with Nowell Helms

Apple
Apple is offering free 90-day trials of Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X apps for all in order to help those working from home and looking for something new to master, as well as for students who are already using the tools in school but don’t have the apps on their home computers.

Avid
For its part, Avid is offering free temp licenses for remote users of the company’s creative tools. Commercial customers can get a free 90-day license for each registered user of Media Composer | Ultimate, Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Ultimate and Sibelius | Ultimate. For students whose school campuses are closed, any student of an Avid-based learning institution that uses Media Composer, Pro Tools or Sibelius can receive a free 90-day license for the same products.

Aris
Aris, a full-service production and post house based in Los Angeles, is partnering with ThinkLA to offer free online editing classes for those who want to sharpen their skills while staying close to home during this worldwide crisis. The series will be taught by Aris EP/founder Greg Bassenian, who is also an award-winning writer and director. He has also edited numerous projects for clients including Coca-Cola, Chevy and Zappos.

mLogic
mLogic is offering a 15% discount on its mTape Thunderbolt 3 LTO-7 and LTO-8 solutions The discount applies to orders placed on the mTape website through April 20th. Use discount code mLogicpostPerspective15%.

Xytech
Xytech has launched “Xytech After Dark,” a podcast focusing on trends in the media and broadcasting industries. The first two episodes are now available on iTunes, Spotify and all podcasting platforms.

Xytech’s Greg Dolan says the podcast “is not a forum to sell, but instead to talk about why create the functionality in MediaPulse and the types of things happening in our industry.”

Hosted by Xytech’s Gregg Sandheinrich, the podcast will feature Xytech staff, along with special guests. The first two episodes cover topics including the recent HPA Tech Retreat (featuring HPA president Seth Hallen), as well as the cancellation of the NAB Show, the value of trade shows and the effects of COVID-19 on the industry.

Adobe
Adobe shared a guide to best practices for working from home. It’s meant to support creators and filmmakers who might be shifting to remote work and need to stay connected with their teams and continue to complete projects. You can find the guide here.

Adobe’s principal Creative Cloud evangelist, Jason Levine, hosted a live stream — Video Workflows With Team Projects that focus on remote workflows.

Additionally, Karl Soule, Senior Technical Business Development Manager, hosed a stream focusing on Remote video workflows and collaboration in the enterprise. If you sign up on this page, you can see his presentation.

Streambox
Streambox has introduced a pay-as-you-go software plan for video professionals who use its Chroma 4K, Chroma UHD, Chroma HD and Chroma X streaming encoder/decoder hardware. Since the software has been “decoupled” from the hardware platform, those who own the hardware can rent the software on a monthly basis, pause the subscription between projects and reinstate it as needed. By renting software for a fixed period, creatives can take on jobs without having to pay outright for technology that might have been impractical

Frame.io 
Through the end of March, Frame.io is offering 2TB of free extra storage .capacity for 90 days. Those who could use that additional storage to accommodate work from home workflows should email rapid-response@frame.io to get it set up.

Frame.io is also offering free Frame.io Enterprise plans for the next 90 days to support educational institutions, nonprofits and health care organizations that have been impacted. Please email rapid-response@frame.io to set up this account.

To help guide companies through this new reality of remote working, Frame.io is launching a new “Workflow From Home” series on YouTube, hosted by Michael Cioni, with the first episode launching Monday, March 23rd. Cioni will walk through everything artists need to keep post production humming as smoothly as possible. Subscribe to the Frame.io YouTube channel to get notified when it’s released.

EditShare
EditShare has made its web-based, remote production and collaboration tool, Flow Media Management, free through July 1st. Flow enables individuals as well as large creative workgroups to collaborate on story development with capabilities to perform extensive review approval from anywhere in the world. Those interested can complete this form and one of EditShare’s Flow experts will follow up.

Veritone 
Veritone will extend free access to its core applications — Veritone Essentials, Attribute and Digital Media Hub — for 60 days. Targeted to media and entertainment clients in radio, TV, film, sports and podcasting, Veritone Essentials, Attribute, and Digital Media Hub are designed to make data and content sharing easy, efficient and universal. The solutions give any workforce (whether in the office or remote) tools that accelerate workflows and facilitate collaboration. The solutions are fully cloud-based, which means that staff can access them from any home office in the world as long as there is internet access.

More information about the free access is here. Certain limitations apply. Offer is subject to change without notice.

SNS
In an effort to quickly help EVO users who are suddenly required to work on editing projects from home, SNS has released Nomad for on-the-go, work-from-anywhere, remote workflows. It is a simple utility that runs on any Mac or Windows system that’s connected to EVO.

Nomad helps users repurpose their existing ShareBrowser preview files into proxy files for offline editing. These proxy files are much smaller versions of the source media files, and therefore easier to use for remote work. They take up less space on the computer, take less time to copy and are easier to manage. Users can edit with these proxy files, and after they’re finished putting the final touches on the production, their NLE can export a master file using the full-quality, high-resolution source files.

Nomad is available immediately and free to all EVO customers.

Ftrack
Remote creative collaboration tool ftrack Review is free for all until May 31. This date might extend as the global situation continues to unfold. ftrack Review is an out-of-the-box remote review and approval tool that enables creative teams to collaborate on, review and approve media via their desktop or mobile browser. Contextual comments and annotations eliminate confusion and reduce reliance on email threads. ftrack Review accepts many media formats as well as PDFs. Every ftrack Review workspace receives 250 GB of storage.

Cinedeck 
Cinedeck’s cineXtools allows editing and correcting your file deliveries from home.
From now until April 3rd, pros can get a one month license of cineXtools free of charge.

 

 

Posting Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World

While preparing to climb both Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse without the use of bottled oxygen, renowned climber Ueli Steck fell to his death in late April of 2017. VR director and alpine photographer Jonathan Griffith and mountain guide Tenji Sherpa, both friends of Steck, picked up the climber’s torch, and the result was the 8K 3D documentary Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World, produced by Facebook’s Oculus.

Over the course of three years, Griffith shot footage following Tenji and some of the world’s most accomplished climbers in some of the world’s most extreme locations. The series also includes footage that lets viewers witness what it is like to be engulfed in a Himalayan avalanche, cross a crevasse and staring deep in its depths, take a huge rock-climbing fall, camp under the stars and soak in the view from the top of the world.

For the post part of the doc, Griffith called on veteran VR post pro Matthew DeJohn for editing and color correction, VR stitching expert Keith Kolod and Brendan Hogan for sound design.

“It really was amazing how a small crew was able to get all of this done,” says Griffith. “The collaboration between myself as the cameraman and Matt and Keith was a huge part of being able to get this series done — and done at such as a high quality.

“Matt and Keith would give suggestions on how to capture for VR, how camera wobbling impacted stitching, how to be aware of the nadir and zenith in each frame and to think about proximity issues. The efficient post process helped in letting us focus on what was needed, and I am incredibly happy with the end result.”

DeJohn was tasked with bringing together a huge amount of footage from a number of different high-end camera systems, including the Yi Halo and Z Cam V1 Pro.

DeJohn called on Blackmagic Resolve for this part of the project, saying that using one tool for all helped speed up the process.“A VR project usually has different teams of multiple people for editing, grading and stitching, but with Resolve, Keith and I handled everything,” he explains.

Within Resolve, DeJohncut the series at 2Kx2K, relinked to 8Kx8K source and then change the timeline resolution to 8Kx8K for final color and rendering. He used the Fairlight audio editing tab to make fine adjustments, manage different narration takes with audio layers, and manage varied source files such as mono-narration, stereo music and four-channel ambisonic spatial audio.

In terms of color grading, DeJohn says, “I colored the project from the very first edit so when it came to finalize the color it was just a process of touching things up.”

Fusion Studio was used for stereoscopic alignment fixes, motion graphics, rig removal, nadir patches, stabilization, stereo correction of the initial stitch, re-orienting 360 imagery, viewing the 360 scenes in a VR headset and controlling focal areas. More intense stitching work was done by Kolod using Fusion Studio.

Footage of such an extreme environment, as well as the closeness of climbers to the cameras, provided unique challenges for Kolod who had to rebuild portions of images from individual cameras. He also had to manually ramp down the stereo on the images north and south poles to ensure easy viewing, fix stereo misalignment and distance issues between the foreground and background and calm excessive movement in images.

“A regular fix I had to make was adjusting incorrect vertical alignments, which create huge problems for viewing. Even if a camera is a little bit off, the viewer can tell,” says Kolod. “The project used a lot of locked-off tripod cameras, and you would think that the images coming from them would be completely steady. But a little bit of wind or slight movement in what is usually a calm frame makes a scene unwatchable in VR. So I used Fusion for stabilization on a lot of shots.”

“High-quality VR work should always be done with manual stitching with an artist making sure there are no rough areas. The reason why this series looks so amazing is that there was an artist involved in every part of the process — shooting, editing, grading and stitching,” concludes Kolod.

RuckSackNY: Branding, targeted videos and high-quality masks

By Randi Altman

Fred Ruckel got his start in post at New York’s Post Perfect in the ‘90s. From there he grew his skills and experience before opening his own shop, Stitch. While spending his days as a Flame artist, in his spare time Ruckel and his wife Natasha invented something called the Ripple Rug. They’ve since moved to upstate New York, where they built an extensive post suite and studio under the name RuckSackNY.

Fred Ruckel at work.

What is the Ripple Rug, you ask? It’s essentially a cat playground in a rug, but their site describes it as “a multifunction pet enrichment system mainly geared toward house cats.”

Fred and Natasha (whose own career includes stints at creative agencies as well as Autodesk) felt strongly about manufacturing the Ripple Rug in the US, and they wanted to use recycled materials. After a bit of research, they found a factory in Georgia and used recycled plastic water bottles in the process. To date they have recycled over 3 million bottles.

To help promote the Ripple Rug, the Ruckels leveraged their creative capabilities from years of working in advertising and post to create a brand from scratch.

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, the Ruckels realized they were in a unique position — they could repurpose the Georgia factory to make masks and face shields for health workers and the general population. While reformatting the factory to this type of manufacturing is still ongoing, the Ruckels wanted to make sure that, in the meantime, people would have access to high-quality face masks. So they sourced masks via their textile production partners, had them tested in a US lab, and have already sold over 40,000 masks under their new brand, SnugglyMask.

Many have taken to making their own masks, so the factory will also be making filters to help beef up that protection, which will allow people to buy filter packs for their homemade masks. Check out their video showing people how to make their own masks.  “We should have that part functional this week or next. Our mask supplier is quickly trying to put together the production pipeline so we can make masks here, but those machines are automated and take a bit of engineering to make them work properly.”

These materials will be both sold to the general public and donated to those on the frontlines. The Ruckels have once again used their creative backgrounds to build a brand and tell a story. Let’s find out more from Fred…

With the recent COVID-19 crisis, you realized that your factory could be used to make masks — both for civilians and for medical professionals and those on the frontline. How did you come to that realization, and what were your first steps?
When the pandemic broke out, we immediately took action to help the cause. Our factory makes many textile products, and we knew we could set up an assembly line to make masks, shields and gowns, and with some funding, we could pretty much make anything. We have the know-how and ability, as well as 60,000 square feet of space, which we are cutting a chunk out of to make a clean room to handle the process in as sterile an environment as possible.

I reached out to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, our local congressman and Empire State Development. At the same time, I was communicating with Georgia (we are a registered business in both states) and worked with the Department of Economic Development and the National Association of Manufacturers. That led us to the Global Center for Medical Innovation.

Natasha Ruckel

So while that was happening, you decided to sell and donate masks?
Yes. While waiting for responses to help us retool our factory, we had to do something to be an immediate help. We did not want to wait on the sidelines for red tape to be cut; we had to come up with Plan B while waiting for government help.

Plan B meant using our resources to allow us to purchase masks without several levels of middlemen raising the prices. We still ended up with two levels of middlemen, but it’s better than five! In manufacturing, it is all about pennies. This is a lesson I learned from a mentor early on with our Ripple Rug project. Middlemen make pennies, a nickel becomes $50,000 in profit on 1 million units, so pennies add up, and middlemen capitalize on that. My goal is to remove middlemen and get directly sourced goods to people in need at the best price possible.

Can you describe both masks and the materials used?
In our PSA, we demonstrate the use of a cloth bandana versus a basic medical mask. We are looking to filter particulate matter down to the micron level, smaller than the human eye can see. For reference, the human eye can only see particles as small as 50 to 60 microns (think about a fleck of dust caught in sunlight). The particles we are looking to “arrest” are down to .3 microns, smaller than red blood cells.

The mechanical weaving of cloth masks makes them porous. This allows particulate matter to pass right through, as the holes are enormous in scale. The key component is the middle layer is called “melt-blown.” The outer layer is a polypropylene spun-bond fiber, and the inside layer is an acrylic spun-bond fiber. Sandwiched between is the melt -blown layer, which is the fine particulate catcher. Each layer captures a different size particle. Think of it as a video production — it would be like adding multiple scrims to lights to block light, except we are blocking particles in this case.

You recently created a PSA detailing the differences in the masks people are using to protect themselves. What did you use to shoot and post?
The PSA was shot using a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. We have some great Fiilex LED lighting kits with a ring light and a 7-foot white shooting tent. My intent wasn’t to make a full-on video. I was shooting elements to make animating gifs to show the testing process. When I loaded the footage into Adobe Premiere and made a selects reel, I realized we had the elements of a PSA … and so a spot was born.

Natasha looked at my selects and quickly switched into producer mode and pieced together a storyline. We then had to shoot more elements. Fortunately, our shooting studio is in our home, so there were no delays. I shot an element, loaded it, shot another and so on until we had the pieces to make it work.

Natasha created graphic elements in Adobe Illustrator while I worked on the edit in Premiere. We also took product pics in raw mode for the packaging and demos, which we developed in camera raw within Photoshop. We shot the video portion in 4K, which allowed us to punch in for closeups and pull back to reframe as if it were a multi-cam shoot.

We filmed on a stainless steel table to give it a clinical feel while blowing it out a little bit to feel ethereal and hazy. My favorite shot is the water dripping on the table; the lighting and table make it feel like mercury.

Why was it so important for you to turn your business into the mask business?
There are so many reasons that it is hard to pinpoint. I knew we had the capability, and our pipeline was efficient enough to pull it off from start to finish. As an inventor I’ve seen people take advantage of situations for financial gain — like knocking off products — and that means making fake masks, which cause more harm than good.

I saw an opportunity to protect everyone I know by supplying quality masks they can trust. On internet sites, fake masks can look identical. In fact, the pics might be of the real mask, but they ship you a cheap version that’s missing some key elements.

I do not cut corners. As a Flame artist, I continually dealt with clients saying, ‘It’s good enough, let’s move to the next shot.” Good enough is not what I do; I do not have a halfway button. I’d look like a bad Flame artist if I didn’t go all the way.

Knowing that we can play an active part in protecting my friends and family and colleagues in the post community by taking on this single effort made me pull the trigger. With that, SnugglyMask.com was born.

Are you guys selling and donating masks? How is that working?
We are both selling and donating masks. One of our RuckSackNY clients is a philanthropist named Josh Malone. As his marketing agency, we created a mask donation program. The first hospitals we shipped to were Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Westchester Medical Center. We will be donating to hospitals nationwide and also selling masks to hospitals and the public via our site, https://www.snugglymask.com/. This is a place people can go for a mask they can trust and that has been lab tested. We built a brand in just a week, and sales simply exploded due to our honest content and demand.

Why is it important for you to make sure your products are being made in the US?
We make the Ripple Rug in the US to provide jobs for US workers. There are more than 100 people working at 10 companies in five states for Ripple Rug. I order carpet 100,000 square feet at a time and cannot imagine shipping it from overseas with the demand we must meet. Shipping from China takes weeks, if not months.

Making it in the USA means continual production to meet demand while reinvesting to grow along the way. Sure, I could produce my products in China and make a lot more money, but I am proud to say American workers put food on the table and children go to school because we make our products in the USA. That alone makes it worth it to me.

Do you feel the videos you create help get more people to pay attention to the product?
We feel effective videos engage viewers and build intrigue about our product. We create a range of videos, not just the regular polished spots. Consumers appreciate the feeling of user-generated content, as it adds to the authenticity of the product. If every spot is beautiful, it feels staged.

We have a series called “Cats Gone Wild” in which all of the videos are made solely of user-generated content sourced from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. I edit them to a stock music track and create a theme for each video. We add titles to call out the social media names to give credit to the person who posted the video and to give them a little spotlight on our show reel. This, in turn, creates engagement, as it encourages them to share the video on their social media channels.

I keep my edits to around a minute for this series to “get in and get out” before losing the viewer’s attention. The original content is cut to a whimsical track and is fun to watch — who doesn’t love cute cat videos? We share these on social media, and that helps grow our sales. Our customers love it, they get acknowledgement, our brand grows, and we are able to show our product in action.


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

Atomos Ninja V to record 5.9K raw from Panasonic S1H

Atomos and Panasonic are making updates to the Ninja V HDR monitor-recorder and Panasonic Lumix S1H mirrorless digital camera that will make it possible to record 5.9K Apple ProRes raw files directly from the camera’s sensor. The free updates will be available May 25.

The Ninja V captures highly detailed 12-bit raw files from the S1H over HDMI at up to 5.9K/29.97p in full frame or 4K/59.94p in Super35. These clean, unprocessed files preserve the maximum dynamic range, color accuracy and detail from the S1H. The resulting ProRes raw files offer perfect skin tones and easily matched colors ideal for both HDR and SDR (Rec. 709) workflows.

With the new 3.5K Super35 Anamorphic 4:3 raw mode, the Ninja V and S1H combination caters to cinematographers who shoot with anamorphic lenses. The Ninja V and S1H can now be used as an A camera or a smaller B camera on an anamorphic raw production.

Each frame recorded in ProRes raw has metadata supplied by the S1H. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and other NLEs will automatically recognize ProRes raw files as coming from the S1H and set them up for editing and display in either SDR or HDR projects automatically. Additional information will also allow other software to perform extensive parameter adjustments.

Agency vet Hal Dantzler joins Charlieuniformtango as EP/Creative Content

Hal Dantzler has joined Charlietango  as executive producer/creative content. Most recently he was SVP, broadcast production at TM Advertising in Dallas. In his new role at he will executive produce all video production, among other things.

Dantzler has over 20 years of experience, working with clients such as Nissan, Reebok, American Film Institute, Bausch + Lomb and Universal Orlando. He also has several Super Bowl spots under his belt for clients like Nationwide Insurance, American Airlines and Tabasco — many of which have garnered top honors at Cannes, One Show and the Effies.

“I’m looking forward to working closely with the current team of directors to help hone their skillsets and fine-tune their creative voices,” Hal continued. “I know what advertisers and agencies are looking for because I’ve been there. Tapping into my decades of agency-side experience will allow me to bring a hard-earned POV to each production.”

“I’ve worked with tango for 25 years,” Dantzler continues. “Lola Lott and Jack Waldrip were starting up the business at the same time I moved to the Dallas market to work at the DDB office here. In fact, my first production in Dallas was Charlieuniformtango’s first job. I’ve watched them grow from a one-editor offline facility to a post house with video production capabilities.”

Goldcrest adds Wade Rudolph as head of production

New York City’s Goldcrest Post has hired Wade Rudolph as head of production. Rudolph joins after holding a similar position at Deluxe Creative Services, New York, and brings 15 years of production and post experience, spanning episodic and long-form television, independent features and documentaries. At Goldcrest, he will oversee picture finishing and work with clients and the facility’s colorist and editors to ensure projects hit their creative and delivery deadlines.

In addition to his six years at Deluxe as head of production and senior producer, Rudolph’s background also includes senior producer roles with Technicolor PostWorks and Post Factory. He began his career with MTV Networks. His recent credits include the HBO series High Maintenance, the Amazon Prime feature Sea Oak and the HBO feature The Night Of.

“I’ve known Wade for more than a decade and watched as he’s developed into one of the best in-house producers in the industry,” says Goldcrest Post managing director Domenic Rom. “He is smart, understands current workflows and knows how to help clients manage projects efficiently and take advantage of the latest technical resources.”

Rudolph said that he was attracted to Goldcrest by the opportunity to work with Rom, whom he previously served under at Technicolor PostWorks. “Dom gave me my first job in post production,” he says. “I admire the way he treats his staff, his values and his commitment to his clients. I’m thrilled to work with him again.”

Quick Chat: Director/DP Ruben Latre creates Candleosophy spot at home

Unable to travel the globe to shoot his spots and documentary projects, New York’s Hostage Films director/DP Ruben Latre is still working. With social distancing rules in effect, Ruben is still filming, designing and editing… but from his home. His latest spot for mediation candle company Candleosophy showcases some of his in-house capabilities to create new content without cast or crew.

The spot, created for digital and social networks, features macro shots of organic imagery, layered with subtle text, stylized design treatment and a peaceful music track.

Latre on set before social distancing.

We reached out to Latre to find out more about the spot and his workflow:

Was this an existing project you setup and then came up with an alternative on how to do it?
Yes, we had planned to shoot a spot for Candleosophy, showing a candle meditation with a cast and in a nature setting. Once it became clear that involving anyone would be risking the health of cast and crew, production made the decision to shut down the live-action shoot. At that point, we regrouped on how to convey the meditative moment without a full studio shoot, without cast and location — and to have only the tabletop portion — without leaving the house. It was always supposed to be more focused on serenity, and less product-oriented, so I tried to have that play out in this smaller way.

How did you describe to the client what it was going to look like?
I’ve worked with the client before on a really unique wonderful project, The Pioneer, so I think part of it was a level of trust. It was a bit of luck to have a client who believed in me.

What did you shoot on, light with, edit and color on?
I shot on a Red camera that I have at home, and even though I have lighting, the spot felt like it was calling for something more raw. So it’s being lit by natural light, shaped to suit each frame. I edited on Adobe Premiere and color corrected in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. Sound design was via Adobe Audition.

Latre’s at-home set up

Did the client provide some of the footage?
They did not provide footage, only candles. All the rest was done in my house.

What were some lessons you learned from the project?
Since the sets were very little, about two feet, I tried to make it feel wider and worked a lot with magnification.

For the whole project, I used diopters and extension tubes to create a shallow depth of field, which was a little bit of testing and playing around to get the look I was after.

What were some of the best and worst parts of working this way?
While I was shooting the spot, I was easily able to change directions. I think when you are able to work alone and see something you as the director are happy with it, it feels easier to stand by the result. However, it’s a lot more work in all of the aspects of making a frame, and there are technical limitations in terms of what you are able to execute.

Killing Eve EP Sally Woodward Gentle walks us through Season 3

By Iain Blair

Killing Eve is more than just one of the most addictive spy thrillers on TV. It’s also a dark comedy, a workplace drama and a globe-trotting actioner that tells the story of two women engaged in an epic game of cat-and-mouse — Eve (Sandra Oh), head of a secret MI6 unit, and Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a beautiful (and strangely likeable) psychopathic assassin Eve’s been tasked to track down.

Sally Woodward Gentle

The award-winning show continues the story of the two women when it returns for its third season, now airing on both BBC America and AMC. Season 3 sees Eve back in action after having survived being shot by Villanelle in the Season 2 finale. Eve is now in Rome and her current MI6 status is in flux after being manipulated by Carolyn (Fiona Shaw), Eve’s boss.

Continuing the show’s tradition of passing the baton to a new female writing voice, Suzanne Heathcote serves as lead writer and executive producer for Season 3, joining executive producers Sally Woodward Gentle, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who was brought on by Gentle as head writer for Season One), Lee Morris, Gina Mingacci, Damon Thomas, Jeff Melvoin and Sandra Oh. Killing Eve is produced by Sid Gentle Films and is distributed by Endeavor Content.

I recently spoke with Gentle — the BAFTA-winning and Emmy-nominated EP of the dramas Any Human Heart and The Durrells in Corfu — about making the show (based on the books of Luke Jennings) and her workflow.

What can you tell us about Season 3 without giving too much away?
It’s a much more emotional season. We move Eve and Villanelle’s relationship on, and we get to see more of what Villanelle is really about. At the same time, Eve is really tested. We also bring in lots of new characters, which is very exciting, and Carolyn and Konstantin (Villanelle’s handler, played by Kim Bodnia) have got huge roles to play.

The appeal of two female leads seems obvious now, but were there doubts about having them play traditional male roles when you first optioned Jennings’ books?
Not really. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind. I just felt that people really enjoy having a female assassin, and that it would be great to have another woman chase her. And I didn’t feel that the idea was wildly original. It just felt right, but I knew there were other female assassin shows out there, and I didn’t want people to go, “Oh, there’s La Femme Nikita.” I did feel it was time to do something bolder with it.

Is that how you decided to involve Phoebe Waller-Bridge?
Exactly. I’d read Fleabag and we’d had a meeting, and I just loved her attitude. Back then, she’d only done Fleabag and written some very clever comedy. I loved the idea of putting Luke’s novellas together with her attitude, joie de vivre and love of TV and what it could do. It didn’t feel like, “Wow, this will be earth-shatteringly different!” It just felt like something really interesting to do. Just do it and see what comes out.

You’ve executive produced all three seasons. What are the main challenges of this show?
To keep it feeling really fresh each year, and to not repeat stuff you’ve done. To examine new, different areas of emotional relationships, and to put people under different types of stress. The other big challenge is that we have to turn it around from start to finish in just one year. We have to write all the scripts, shoot them, post them and get them out there in that time. It’s really hard work, both physically and mentally, but a lot of our team’s been here since the start. They love it, and that really helps, and everyone wants to push it a bit harder every season, so we embrace all new ideas.

Is it true that when Sandra Oh was first approached, she didn’t quite believe she was being cast as Eve?
Yeah, she hadn’t pictured herself in the role, but she’s brilliant.

What do Sandra and Jodie bring to the mix?
They bring so much. We were still finishing scripts for Season 1 as we shot, so you can’t help but feed their input into the scripts, and the characters really have so much of the actors’ DNA. They just know them so well and how they’d respond.

You always use great locations. Where did you shoot Season 3?
In Spain, Romania, the UK. We get around!

Where do you post?
All at Molinare in London. We do everything from the edit to the grade, and we do all the sound at Hackenbacker, which is part of Molinare.

Do you like the post process?
I love it and really enjoy it. We have a great post supervisor, Kate Stannard, who’s been on the show since the start. The great thing about post is that you get to rewrite all the raw material and be really creative with it.

Talk about editing. You have several editors, I assume because of the time factor. How does that work?
We have a great team of editors, including Dan Crinnion, who’s been on the show since the start, and an Italian editor Simone Nesti, who does the assembly and who’s also been with us since the start. As soon as a director has finished shooting, we get right in there with the editor who does that block. We shoot in blocks of two episodes,and each block has its own editor and assistants. It’s not a huge team considering the amount of work.

The show is a real genre mash-up — thriller, comedy, action, emotional drama. How do you handle all the shifting tones?
That’s the big editing challenge and the thing we were most concerned about in Season 1  — that Eve’s and Villanelle’s two stories were too disparate to be knitted together properly. But once you start to get a feel for what the show is and what works and what doesn’t, it flows more easily. For me, if it gets too broad and it doesn’t feel truthful, that’s not good. But then it’s also a big piece of entertainment, so you can be really wild with it. We’re not saving lives, and there’s no massive message. We just want to be truthful about human behavior and be very entertaining.

There’s obviously a lot of attention also paid to the sound and the music.
Thanks for noticing. We have a great production sound team. Nigel Heath is our rerecording mixer, and our aim is not to have the dialogue too clean and out front. We like to keep a lot of texture in the background and make it feel quite immersive. Then in terms of the music, composer David Holmes is quite bold in his choices. That’s very tricky, as we try hard not to be too genre and obvious with the cues, so they don’t just reinforce the visuals and what you should feel. So at a very dark moment the score might be quite celebratory and glorious. We’re constantly trying to flip it.

What about the DI?
It’s incredibly important, and our colorist Gareth Spensley has worked on it since Season 1 so he knows the show really well, and he works very closely with our DP Julian Court, who’s done most of the episodes since the start. Sometimes we have to shoot out of sequence, at different times of year, so you have to match all that. We try to find locations that feel fresh and exciting, and then we try hard not to overstylize the look and keep all the skin tones as natural and real as possible, and then enhance the beauty of the rest of it. At the very start of the show, we thought of pushing the look to get a more “noir” look, but it just didn’t feel right, so we just leant more into the pleasure of the visuals.

How important are the Emmys to a show like this?
Hugely important, for both the show and the actors. I think it’s given us far more visibility.

I heard you already got picked up for Season 4. How far along are you with it?
We’re already writing and nearly have the whole season arc worked out, and we’ll start shooting it at the end of September. Of course, it all depends on what happens with the COVID-19 crisis, but that’s the plan.

Will you do more seasons?
I can see us going on as long as we keep refreshing it and move their relationship along. Then we have all these new characters we’ve created who’ll be there in Season 4 and beyond, so there’s plenty to explore.


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

Words of wisdom from editor Jesse Averna, ACE

We are all living in a world we’ve never had to navigate before. People’s jobs are in flux, others are working from home, and anxiety is a regular part of our lives. Through all the chaos, Jesse Averna has been a calming voice on social media, so postPerspective reached out to ask him to address our readership directly.

Jesse, who was co-founder of the popular Twitter chat and Facebook group @PostChat, works at Disney Animation Studio and is a member of the American Cinema Editors.


Hey,

How are you doing? This isn’t an ad. I’m not going to sell you anything or try to convince you of anything. I just want to take the opportunity to check in. Like many of you, I’m a post professional (an editor) currently working from home. If we don’t look out for each other, who will? Please know that it’s okay not to be okay right now. I have to be honest, I’m exhausted. I’m just endlessly reading news and searching for new news and reading posts about news I’ve already read and searching again for news I might have missed …

I want to remind you of a couple things that I think might bring some peace, if you let me. I fear it’s about to get much darker and much scarier, so we need to anchor ourselves to some hope.

You are valuable. The world is literally different because you are here. You have intrinsic value, and that will never change. No matter what. You are thought about and loved, despite whatever the voice in your head says. I’m sure your first reaction to reading that is to blow it off, but try to own it. Even for just a moment. It’s true.

You don’t deserve what’s going on, but let it bring some peace that the whole world is going through it together. You might be isolated, but you’re not alone. We are forced to look out for one another by looking out for ourselves. It’s interesting; I feel so separate and vulnerable, but the truth is that the whole planet is feeling and reacting to this as one. We are in sync, whether we know it or not — and that’s encouraging to me. We ALL want to be well and be safe, and we want our neighbors to be well also. We have a rare moment of feeling like a people, like a planet.

If you are feeling anxious, do me a favor tonight. Go outside and look at the stars. Set a timer for five minutes. No entertainment or phone or anything else. Just five minutes. Reset. Feel yourself on a cosmic scale. Small. A blink of an eye. But so, so valuable.

And please give yourself a break. A sanity check. If you need help, please reach out. If you need to nest, do it. You need to tune out, do it. Take care of yourself. This is an unprecedented moment. It’s okay not to be okay. Once you can, though, see who you can help. This complete shift of reality has made me think about legacy. This is a unique legacy-building moment. That student who reached out to you on LinkedIn asking for advice? You now have time to reply. That nonprofit you thought about volunteering your talents to? Now’s your chance. Even just to make the connection. Who can you help? Check in on? You don’t need any excuse in our current state to reach out.

I know I’m just some rando you’re reading on the internet, but I believe you are going to make it through this. You are wonderful. Do everything you can to be safe. The world needs you. It’s a better place because you are here. You know things, have ideas to share and will make things that none of the rest of us do or have.

Hang in there, my friends, and let me know if you have any thoughts, encouragements or tips for staying sane during this time. I’ll try to compile them into another article to share.

Jesse
@dr0id


Jesse Averna  — pictured on his way to donate masks — is a five-time Emmy-winning ACE editor living in LA and working in the animation feature world. 

Finishing artist Tim Nagle discuses work on indie film Miss Juneteenth

Lucky Post Flame artist Tim Nagle has a long list of projects under his belt, including collaborations with David Lowery — providing Flame work on the short film Pioneer as well as finishing and VFX work to Lowery’s motion picture A Ghost Story. He is equally at home working on spots, such as campaigns for AT&T, Hershey’s, The Home Depot, Jeep, McDonald’s and Ram..

Nagle began his formal career on the audio side of the business, working as engineer for Solid State Logic, where he collaborated with clients including Fox, Warner Bros., Skywalker, EA Games and ABC.

Tim Nagle

We reached out to Nagle about his and Lucky Post’s work on the feature film Miss Juneteenth, which premiered at Sundance and was recently honored by SXSW 2020 as the winner of the Louis Black Lone Star award.

Miss Juneteenth was directed (and written) by Channing Godfrey Peoples — her first feature-length film. It focuses on a woman from the south — a bona fide beauty queen once crowned Miss Juneteenth, a title commemorating the day slavery was abolished in Texas. The film follows her journey as she tries to hold onto her elegance while striving to survive. She looks for ways to thrive despite her own shortcomings as she marches, step by step, toward self-realization.

How did the film come to you?
We have an ongoing relationship with Sailor Bear, the film’s producing team of David Lowery, Toby Halbrooks and James Johnston. We’ve collaborated with them on multiple projects, including The Old Man & The Gun, directed by Lowery.

What were you tasked to do?
We were asked to provide dailies transcoding, additional editorial, VFX, color and finishing and ultimately delivery to distribution.

How often did you talk to director Channing Godfrey Peoples?
Channing was in the studio, working side by side with our creatives, including colorist Neil Anderson and me, to get the project completed for the Sundance deadline. It was a massive team effort, and we felt privileged to help Channing with her debut feature.

Without spoilers, what most inspires you about the film?
There’s so much to appreciate in the film — it’s a love letter to Texas, for one. It’s directed by a woman, has a single mother at its center and is a celebration of black culture. The LA Times called it one of the best films to come out of Sundance 2020.

Once you knew the film was premiering at Sundance, what was left to complete and in what amount of time?
This was by far the tightest turnaround we have ever experienced. Everything came down to the wire, sound being the last element. It’s one of the advantages of having a variety of talent and services under one roof — the creative collaboration was immediate, intense and really made possible by our shorthand and proximity.

How important do you think it is for post houses to be diversified in terms of the work they do?
I think diversification is important not only for business purposes but also to keep the artists creatively inspired. Lucky Post’s ongoing commitment to support independent film, both financially and creatively, is an integrated part of our business along with brand-supported work and advertising. Increasingly, as you see greater crossover of these worlds, it just seems like a natural evolution for the business to have fewer silos.

What does it mean to you as a company to have work at Sundance? What kinds of impact do you see — business, morale and otherwise?
Having a project that we put our hands on accepted into Sundance was such an honor. It is unclear what the immediate and direct business impacts might be, but for morale, this is often where the immediate value is clear. The excitement and inspiration we all get from projects like this just naturally makes how we do business better.

What software and hardware did you use?
On this project we started with Assimilate Scratch for dailies creation. Editorial was done in Adobe Premiere. Color was Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, and finishing was done in Autodesk Flame.

What is a piece of advice that you’d give to filmmakers when considering the post phase of their films?
We love being involved as early as possible — certainly not to get in anyone’s way,  but to be in the background supporting the director’s creative vision. I’d say get with a post company that can assist in setting looks and establishing a workflow. With a little bit of foresight, this will create the efficiency you need to deliver in what always ends up being a tight deadline with the utmost quality.

COVID-19: NAB talks plans, more companies offer support, info about remote work

Last Friday, NAB’s president/CEO, Gordon Smith, issued a statement saying that rather than rescheduling the NAB Show for later this year, NAB would be unveiling a new digital offering called NAB Show Express, and enhancing NAB Show New York later this year. Here is part of what he said.

“First, we are exploring a number of ways to bring the industry together online, both in the short and long term. We know from many years of serving the community with face-to-face events, that connectivity is vital to the health and success of the industry. That’s why we are excited to announce NAB Show Express, targeted to launch in April 2020. This digital experience will provide a conduit for our exhibitors to share product information, announcements and demos, as well as deliver educational content from the original selection of programming slated for the live show in Las Vegas, and create opportunities for the community to interact virtually — all of which adds up to something that brings the NAB Show community together in a new way.

“Second, we will be enhancing NAB Show New York with new programs, partners, and experiences. We have already had numerous conversations with show partners about expanding their participation and have heard from numerous exhibitors interested in enhancing their presence at this fall’s show. NAB Show New York represents the best opportunity for companies to announce and showcase their latest innovations and comes at a perfect time for the industry to gather face-to-face to restart, refocus, and reengage as we move forward together.”

A number of companies are releasing updates and offering discounts and tips for working remotely. Here is a bit of news from some of those companies, and we will add more companies to this list as the news comes in, so watch this space.

mLogic
mLogic is offering a 15% discount on its mTape Thunderbolt 3 LTO-7 and LTO-8 solutions The discount applies to orders placed on the mTape website through April 20th. Use discount code mLogicpostPerspective15%.

Xytech
Xytech has launched “Xytech After Dark,” a podcast focusing on trends in the media and broadcasting industries. The first two episodes are now available on iTunes, Spotify and all podcasting platforms.

Xytech’s Greg Dolan says the podcast “is not a forum to sell, but instead to talk about why create the functionality in MediaPulse and the types of things happening in our industry.”

Hosted by Xytech’s Gregg Sandheinrich, the podcast will feature Xytech staff, along with special guests. The first two episodes cover topics including the recent HPA Tech Retreat (featuring HPA president Seth Hallen), as well as the cancellation of the NAB Show, the value of trade shows and the effects of COVID-19 on the industry.

Nvidia
Nvidia is expanding its free virtual GPU software evaluation to 500 licenses for 90 days to help companies support their remote workers with their existing GPU infrastructure. Nvidia vGPU software licenses — including Quadro Virtual Workstation — enable GPU-accelerated virtualization so that content creators, designers, engineers and others can continue their work. More details are available here.  Nvidia has also posted a separate blog on virtual GPUs to help admins who are working to support remote employees

Object Matrix 
Object Matrix is offering video tips for surviving working from home. The videos, hosted by co-founder Nicholas Pearce, are here.

Adobe
Adobe shared a guide to best practices for working from home. It’s meant to support creators and filmmakers who might be shifting to remote work and need to stay connected with their teams and continue to complete projects. You can find the guide here.

Adobe’s principal Creative Cloud evangelist, Jason Levine, hosted a live stream — Video Workflows With Team Projects ±that focus on remote workflows.

Additionally, Karl Soule, Senior Technical Business Development Manager, hosed a stream focusing on Remote video workflows and collaboration in the enterprise. If you sign up on this page, you can see his presentation.

Streambox
Streambox has introduced a pay-as-you-go software plan for video professionals who use its Chroma 4K, Chroma UHD, Chroma HD and Chroma X streaming encoder/decoder hardware. Since the software has been “decoupled” from the hardware platform, those who own the hardware can rent the software on a monthly basis, pause the subscription between projects and reinstate it as needed. By renting software for a fixed period, creatives can take on jobs without having to pay outright for technology that might have been impractical.

And last week’s offerings as well

Frame.io 
Through the end of March, Frame.io is offering 2TB of free extra storage capacity for 90 days. Those who could use that additional storage to accommodate work from home workflows should email rapid-response@frame.io to get it set up.

Frame.io is also offering free Frame.io Enterprise plans for the next 90 days to support educational institutions, nonprofits and health care organizations that have been impacted. Please email rapid-response@frame.io to set up this account.

To help guide companies through this new reality of remote working, Frame.io is launching a new “Workflow From Home” series on YouTube, hosted by Michael Cioni, with the first episode launching Monday, March 23rd. Cioni will walk through everything artists need to keep post production humming as smoothly as possible. Subscribe to the Frame.io YouTube channel to get notified when it’s released.

EditShare
EditShare has made its web-based, remote production and collaboration tool, Flow Media Management, free through July 1st. Flow enables individuals as well as large creative workgroups to collaborate on story development with capabilities to perform extensive review approval from anywhere in the world. Those interested can complete this form and one of EditShare’s Flow experts will follow up.

Veritone 
Veritone will extend free access to its core applications — Veritone Essentials, Attribute and Digital Media Hub — for 60 days. Targeted to media and entertainment clients in radio, TV, film, sports and podcasting, Veritone Essentials, Attribute, and Digital Media Hub are designed to make data and content sharing easy, efficient and universal. The solutions give any workforce (whether in the office or remote) tools that accelerate workflows and facilitate collaboration. The solutions are fully cloud-based, which means that staff can access them from any home office in the world as long as there is internet access.

More information about the free access is here. Certain limitations apply. Offer is subject to change without notice.

SNS
In an effort to quickly help EVO users who are suddenly required to work on editing projects from home, SNS has released Nomad for on-the-go, work-from-anywhere, remote workflows. It is a simple utility that runs on any Mac or Windows system that’s connected to EVO.

Nomad helps users repurpose their existing ShareBrowser preview files into proxy files for offline editing. These proxy files are much smaller versions of the source media files, and therefore easier to use for remote work. They take up less space on the computer, take less time to copy and are easier to manage. Users can edit with these proxy files, and after they’re finished putting the final touches on the production, their NLE can export a master file using the full-quality, high-resolution source files.

Nomad is available immediately and free to all EVO customers.

Ftrack
Remote creative collaboration tool ftrack Review is free for all until May 31. This date might extend as the global situation continues to unfold. ftrack Review is an out-of-the-box remote review and approval tool that enables creative teams to collaborate on, review and approve media via their desktop or mobile browser. Contextual comments and annotations eliminate confusion and reduce reliance on email threads. ftrack Review accepts many media formats as well as PDFs. Every ftrack Review workspace receives 250 GB of storage.

DejaSoft
DejaSoft is offering editors 50% off all their DejaEdit licenses through the end of April. In addition, the company will help users implement DejaEdit in the best way possible to suit their workflow.

DejaEdit allows editors to share media files and timelines automatically and securely with remote co-workers around the world, without having to be online continuously. It helps editors working on Avid Nexis, Media Composer and EditShare workflows across studios, production companies and post facilities ensure that media files, bins and timelines are kept up to date across multiple remote edit stations.

Cinedeck 
Cinedeck’s cineXtools allows editing and correcting your file deliveries from home.
From now until April 3rd, pros can get a one month license of cineXtools free of charge.

Main Image: Courtesy of Frame.io

Main Image: Courtesy of Adobe

Quick Chat: Scholar’s Will Johnson and William Campbell

By Randi Altman

In celebrating its 10th anniversary, animation and design company Gentleman Scholar has relaunched as Scholar and has put a new emphasis on its live-action work. Started by directors/partners William Campbell and Will Johnson in Los Angeles, the company has grown over the years and now boasts a New York City location as well.

Recent Scholar projects include the animated Timberland Legends Club spot, the live-action and animated Porsche Pop Star and the live-action Acura TLX.

Considering their new name change and website rebrand, we decided to reach out to “The Wills” to find out more about Scholar’s work philosophy and what this change means to the company.

Audi Q3

Why did you decide to rename and relaunch as Scholar?
Will Johnson: After 10 years it felt like a good time to redefine how the world views us. Not as only as a one-stop shop that can handle all of your design and animation needs, but also a live-action and storytelling powerhouse.

Will Campbell: The new name evokes cleanliness and sophistication and better represents how we have evolved. Gentleman Scholar was fun, quirky and playful. We’re still all of those things, but we feel like we’ve also become more cinematic, more polished and better collaborators that understand production more clearly… which allows us to navigate the industry better as a whole.

Even when it comes to live action and carrying our film into post, we can assess solutions on-set quicker and more fluidly, understanding the restrictions or additions we can take with us into the software. Scholar has changed immensely over the past 10 years. We have grown up and become smarter, faster and better. The rebrand is a window to who we have already become and who we plan to be.

How is the business different, and what’s stayed the same?
Johnson: It’s more refined. We’ve learned a lot about how to conduct ourselves in a competitive art world — the positive ways that we approach each project and allowing the stress of the job to kick us in the ass but not let it guide the decisions we make. It’s also about being patient with our team as well as our own decision-making.

Creativity is a process, and “turning it on” every day isn’t always easy. Understanding that not every idea you have is a great idea and how to be comfortable with your creative self is important. To trust in the “why” you are making something versus the “what” that you make. And that’s reflected in the new company name and our new website design. It’s the same us. The same wild bunch of creative explorers intent on pushing the boundaries of design and live action. We are just more certain of who we are and the stories we tell, and therefore more inclusive in our path to get there.

Acura

Campbell: We now have a decade’s worth of work to back up our thoughts and collaborations. This is enormous when you need to show how capable you are, not just in the standard we hold ourselves to visually, but in the quality and sophistication of our evolving storytelling. We have fine-tuned our production processes, enabling the pipelines of our edit, animation, CG and composite teams to more easily embrace the techniques and tools we use to craft the stories we want to tell… so we can be more decisive with the concepts we put on the table. From the software to the hardware, we are more refined.

Can you talk about how the industry has changed over the past 10 years?
Johnson: It’s more spread out than it’s ever been. There is more content that reaches more eyes in more places. From social to OOH to broadcast, the need to pull everyone together and create something that speaks to everyone all at once feels like it’s stronger and more apparent than before. And we’ve seen it all at this point, from vertical campaigns to entirely experiential ones. The era of “do more with less” is here.

Campbell: For us, we were very young when we opened Scholar. We were in our 20s, and everything was a fire drill and we thrived off the chaos. We have learned to harness the inspiration that comes with chaos and channel it into focused, productive creation.

Have you embraced working in the cloud — storage, rendering, review and approval, etc. — and if so, in what way?
Johnson: Yes. We know it’s a fast-paced world and in the climate of things, generally the globe is embracing a cloud-based way of thinking. Luckily, we have an amazing team of technologists so we can tap into our home-base server from anywhere at any time. From rendering to storage to reviews and approvals — it keeps us all united, focused and organized when we’re moving a million miles a minute in any different direction.

Campbell: Scholar has been testing the technology as it is getting better and cheaper, but we are always balancing convenience versus security, and those swing on a job-by-job basis. We’ve written tools to take advantage of storage and rendering resources on both coasts and use Aspera to facilitate file syncing between each office.

Can you talk about the tools you use for your work?
Johnson: The tangible ones are the usual suspects. Adobe’s Creative Suite and 3D tools like Autodesk Maya, Maxon Cinema 4D, Foundry Nuke and all of the animation and time-based ones, like Adobe Premiere and Avid Media Composer. But my favorite tools tend to be the brains and skills of our team… the words on paper and the channeling of art and thought into something tactile. As creators, we lust to make things, and seeing that circuit board of craft and making is something amazing to watch.

Campbell: Scholar has always been a mixed-media studio. We love getting our hands dirty with new software or cameras. We fundamentally want to do what’s right for the job and not rest inside our comfort zone. Thinking about what style is right for a client, not “how do I make my style fit,” is just how we are wired. The tool is always a means to an end. My favorite jobs are the ones where the technique is invisible, and it’s all about the experience.

We are operating in an entirely new world these days with the coronavirus and working remotely. How are you guys embracing the change?
Campbell: With an office on each coast, we have already had to learn to work as a team remotely. The years of unifying groups from a distance and finding ways for technology to bring artists closer together has set the stage for us right now. We have transitioned our workforce to 100% remote. It’s early days yet, but everyone is in good spirits, and we feel as connected as ever, although I do miss our lunch table.

Johnson: We’re definitely thankful for the staff and talent that we surround ourselves with and how they’ve handled their work-from-home routines. The check-ins, the mind melds and the daily (hourly) hangouts have helped. We’re using the change in the world as an opportunity to showcase our adaptability — how we can scale up and down even in the remote world — as a way to continue to grow our relationships and push the creative boundaries.

As people who find it hard to simply sit still, we’ve changed how we approach and talk about a project as each script comes in. The conversations about techniques are important — how we look at animation with a live-action lens, how 2D can become 3D, or vice versa. We’re more easily adaptable and change purely out of the need to discover what’s new.

Main Image: (L-R) Will Johnson and Will Campbell

Colorist Chat: Framestore LA senior colorist Beau Leon

Veteran colorist Beau Leon recently worked with director Spike Jonze on a Beastie Boys documentary and a spot for cannabis retailer MedMen.

What’s your title and company?
I’m senior colorist at LA’s Framestore

Spike Jonze’s MedMen

What kind of services does Framestore offer?
Framestore is a multi-Oscar-winning creative studio founded over 30 years ago, and the services offered have evolved considerably over the decades. We work across film, television, advertising, music videos, cinematic data visualization, VR, AR, XR, theme park rides… the list is endless and continues to change as new platforms emerge.

As a colorist, what would surprise people the most about what falls under that title?
Despite creative direction or the equipment used to shoot something, whether it be for film or TV, people might not factor in how much color or tone can dictate the impact a story has on its audience. As a colorist, my role often involves acting as a mediator of sorts between various creative stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page about what we’re trying to convey, as it can translate differently through color.

Are you sometimes asked to do more than just color on projects?
Earlier in my career, the process was more collaborative with DPs and directors who would bring color in at the beginning of a project. Now, particularly when it comes to commercials with tighter deadlines and turnarounds, many of those conversations happen during pre-production without grading factored in until later in the pipeline.

Rihanna’s Needed Me

Building strong relationships and working on multiple projects with DPs or directors always allows for more trust and creative control on my end. Some of the best examples I’ve seen of this are on music video projects, like Rihanna’s Needed Me, which I graded here at Framestore for a DP I’d grown up in the industry with. That gave me the opportunity to push the creative boundaries.

What system do you work on?
FilmLight Baselight

You recently worked on the new Beastie Boys documentary, Beastie Boys Story. Can you talk a bit about what you did and any challenges relating to deadlines?
I’ve been privileged to work with Spike Jonze on a number of projects throughout my career, so going into Beastie Boys Story, we already had a strong dialogue. He’s a very collaborative director and respectful of everyone’s craft and expertise, which can be surprisingly rare within our industry.

Spike Jonze’s Beatie Boys Story

The unique thing about this project was that, with so much old footage being used, it needed to be mastered in HDR as well as reworked for IMAX. And with Spike being so open to different ideas, the hardest part was deciding which direction to choose. Whether you’re a hardcore Beastie Boys fan or not, the documentary is well worth watching once it will air on AppleTV+ in April.

Any suggestions for getting the most out of a project from a color perspective?
As an audience, our eyes have evolved a great deal over the last few decades. I would argue that most of what we see on TV and film today is extremely oversaturated compared to what we’d experience in our real environment. I think it speaks to how we treat consumers and anticipate what we think they want — colorful, bright and eye-catching. When it’s appropriate, I try to challenge clients to think outside those new norms.

How do you prefer to work with the DP or director?
Whether it’s working with a DP or director, the more involved I can be early on in the conversation, the more seamless the process becomes during post production and ultimately leads to a better end result. In my experience, this type of access is more common when working on music videos.

Most one-off commercial projects see us dealing with an agency more often than the director, but an exception to the rule that comes to mind is on another occasion when I had the chance to collaborate on a project with Spike Jonze for the first ever brand campaign for cannabis retailer MedMen called The New Normal. He placed an important emphasis on grading and was very open to my recommendations and vision.

How do you like getting feedback in terms of the look?
A conversation is always the best way to receive feedback versus a written interpretation of imagery, which tends to become very personal. An example might be when a client wants to create the feeling of a warm climate in a particular scene. Some might interpret that as adding more warm color tones, when in fact, if you think about some of the hottest places you’ve ever visited, the sun shines so fiercely that it casts a bright white hue.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
That’s an easy answer — to me, it’s all about the amazing people you meet in this industry and the creative collaboration that happens as a result. So many of my colleagues over the years have become great friends.

Any least favorites?
There isn’t much that I don’t love about my job, but I have witnessed a change over the years in the way that our industry has begun to undervalue relationships, which I think is a shame.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
I would be an art teacher. It combines my passion for color and visual inspiration with a forum for sharing knowledge and fostering creativity.

How early did you know this would be your path?
In my early 20s, I started working on dailies (think The Dukes of Hazzard, The Karate Kid, Fantasy Island) at a place in The Valley that had a telecine machine that transferred at a frame rate faster than anywhere else in LA at the time. It was there that I started coloring (without technically realizing that was the job I was doing, or that it was even a profession).

Soon after, I received a call from a company called 525 asking me to join them. They worked on all of the top music videos during the prime “I Want My MTV” era, and after working on music videos as a side hustle at night, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. When I first walked into the building, I was struck by how much more advanced their technology was and immediately felt out of my depth. Luckily, someone saw something in me before I recognized it within myself. I worked on everything from R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” to TLC’s “Waterfalls” and The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight.” I found such joy in collaborating with some of the most creative and spirited directors in the business, many of whom were inspiring artists, designers and photographers in their spare time.

Where do you find inspiration?
I’m lucky to live in a city like LA with such a rich artistic scene, so I make a point to attend as many gallery openings and exhibitions as I can. Some of my favorite spaces are the Annenberg Space for Photography, the Hammer Museum and Hauser & Wirth. On the weekends I also stop by Arcana bookstore in Culver City, where they source rare books on art and design.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
I think I would be completely fine if I had to survive without technology.

This industry comes with tight deadlines. How do you de-stress from it all?
After a long day, cooking helps me decompress and express my creativity through a different outlet. I never miss a trip to my local farmer’s market, which also helps to keep me inspired. And when I’m not looking at other people’s art, I’m painting my own abstract pieces at my home studio.

Review: Digital Anarchy’s Transcriptive 2.0

By Barry Goch

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Warner Bros. to cover the UHD HDR remastering of The Wizard of Oz. I had recorded audio of the entire experience so I could get accurate quotes from all involved — about an hour of audio. I then uploaded the audio file to Rev.com and waited. And waited. And waited. A few days later they came back and said they couldn’t do it. I was perplexed! I checked the audio file, and I could clearly hear the voices of the different speakers, but they couldn’t make it work.

That’s when my editor, Randi Altman, suggested Digital Anarchy’s Transcriptive, and it saved the day. What is Transcriptive? It’s an automated, intelligent transcription plugin for Adobe Premiere editors designed to automatically transcribe video using multiple speech and natural language processing engines with accuracy.

Well, not only did Transcriptive work, it worked super-fast, and it’s affordable and simple to use … once everything is set up. I spent a lot of time watching Transcriptive’s YouTube videos and then had to create two accounts for the two different AI transcription portals that they use. After a couple of hours of figuring and setup, I was finally good to go.

Digital Anarchy has lots of videos on YouTube about setting up the program. Here is a link to the overview video and a link to 2.0 new features. After getting everything set up, it took less than five minutes from start to finish to transcribe a one-minute video. That includes the coolest part: automatically linking the transcript to the video clip with word-for-word accuracy.

Transcriptive extension

Step by Step
Import video clip into Premiere, select the clips, and open the Transcriptive Extension.

Tell Transcriptive if you want to use an existing transcript or create a new transcription.

Then choose the AI that you want to transcribe your clip. You see the cost upfront, so no surprises.

Launch app

I picked the Speechmatics AI:

Choosing AI

Once you press continue, Media Encoder launches.

Media Encoder making FLAC file automatically.

And Media Encoder automatically makes a FLAC file and uploads it to the transcription engine you picked.

One minute later, no joke, I had a finished transcription linked word-accurately to my source video clip.

Final Thoughts
The only downside to this is that the transcription isn’t 100% accurate. For example, it heard Lake Tahoe as “Lake Thomas” and my son’s name, Oliver, as “over.”

Final transcription

This lack of accuracy is not a deal breaker for me, especially since I would have been totally out of luck without it on The Wizard of Oz article, which you can read here. For me, the speed and ease of use more than compensates for the lack of accuracy. And, as AI’s get better, the accuracy will only improve.

And on February 27, Digital Anarchy released Transcriptive V.2.0.3, which is compatible with Adobe Premiere v14.0.2. The update also includes a new prepaid option that can lower the cost of transcription to $2.40 per hour of footage. Transcriptive’s tight integration with Premiere makes it a must-have for working with transcripts when cutting long- and short-form projects.


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

Seagate’s new IronWolf 510 M.2 NVMe SSD

Seagate Technology has beefed up its high-performance solutions for multi-user NAS environments by adding to its IronWolf SSD product line. IronWolf 510 is an M.2 NVMe SSD with caching speeds of up to 3GB/s for NVMe-compatible systems and is designed for creative pros and businesses that need 24/7 multi-user storage that is cache-enabled.

The IronWolf 510 SSD meets NAS manufacturer requirements of one drive write per day (DWPD), allowing multi-user NAS environments to do more with their data with lasting performance. According to Seagate, IronWolf 510 SSD is reliable with 1.8 million hours mean time between failures (MTBF) in a PCIe form factor, two years of Rescue Data Recovery Services, and a five-year limited warranty. IronWolf Health Management helps analyze drive health and will soon be available on compatible NAS systems.

“We are the first to provide a purpose-built M.2 NVMe for NAS that not only goes beyond SATA performance metrics but also provides three times the endurance when compared to the competition. This meets the required endurance spec of one DWPD which our NAS partners expect for their customers,” says Matt Rutledge, senior VP, devices. “Because of such high endurance, our customers are getting a tough SSD for small business and creative professional NAS environments.”

The IronWolf 510 SSD PCIe Gen3 x4, NVMe 1.3 is available in 240GB ($119.99), 480GB ($169.99), 960GB ($319.99) and 1.92TB ($539.99) capacities and is compatible with leading NAS vendors.

Review: Litra Pro’s Premium 3 Point Lighting Bundle

By Brady Betzel

With LED lights showing up everywhere these days, it’s not always easy to find the balance between affordability, power output and size. I have previously reviewed itty bitty-LED lights like the Litra Torch, which for its size is amazing. Litra has now expanded its LED offerings, adding the Litra Pro and the Litra Studio.

Litra Studio ($650) is at the top of the Litra mountain with not only varying color temperatures — from 2,000 to 10,000 kelvin with adjustable green/magenta settings — but also RGBWW (RGB + cool white + warm white), CCT (kelvin adjustments), HSL (hue + saturation + lightness), color gel presets, flash effects and more.

But for today’s review, I am wanted to focus on the Litra Pro LED, which comes to the Premium 3 Point Lighting Bundle, complete with light stands, lights, soft boxes, and carrying case. I had reached out to Litra about reviewing this bundle because I am tired of having to lug around big clunky lights for quick interviews or smaller setup product shots. And to be honest, it was right before I was heading to Sundance to shoot some interviews for postPerspective, I and didn’t want to check a bag at the airport. (Check out my interviews with editors at Sundance here.)

For the trip, I wanted to bring lights, a Blackmagic 6K Pocket cinema camera, my Canon L series zoom lens, a small tripod and some hard drives all stuffed into my backpack. I knew I’d be in the snow, so I needed lights that could potentially withstand all types of precipitation. Also, I would be throwing these lights around, so I needed them to be durable. The Litra Pro lights fit the bill. They measure 2.75in x 2in x 1.2in  — smaller than a phone, weigh 6oz and have upwards of a 10-hour battery life if set to 5% power. Each Litra Pro costs just under $220 but can be purchased in different bundle assortments. Individually, each Litra Pro comes with a rubberized diffuser, USB-A to Micro-USB charging cable (very short, maybe 3-4inches in length), DSLR mount (to be mounted in a hot/cold shoe), GoPro mount and a little zipper bag.

I wish Litra would package not only the GoPro mount to ¼”-20 but also the female ¼”-20 to GoPro mount adapter to be mounted to something like a tripod. If you don’t already them them, you’d need to purchase the GoPro mounts. Alternatively, it would be nice to have a mini-ball head mount like they sell on the site separately.

I was sent the Litra Pro Premium 3 Point Lighting Bundle. This essentially gives you everything you need for a standard three-point lighting setup — key light, fill light and back light. In addition, you get three light stands with carrying bags, three soft boxes, a customizable foam-insert carrying case and the standard accessories. This package retails for $779.95, which is a pretty good discount. If bought separately, the package would add up to about $820 not including the light stands, which aren’t available on Litra site and cost around $26 for two on Amazon. That means with the bundle you are essentially getting a free carrying case and light stands. The carrying case fits most of the products, except for the light stands. I had some trouble fitting all of the soft boxes along with the original accessories into the carrying case, but with a little force, I got it zipped up.

Do Specs Live Up to Output?
The Litra Pro lights are amazing lights packed into a small package, but with a kind of expensive price tag — Think of the saying, “Better, faster, cheaper: Pick two because you can’t have all three.” They have a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of greater than 95, which on the surface means they will show accurate colors. They can output up to 1200 lumens (increasing from 0-100% in 5% increments) either by app or on the light itself; have a 70-degree beam angle; can be adjusted from 3000k to 6000k color temperature in 100k increments; and have zero flicker, no matter the shutter speed (a.k.a. shutter angle). The top OLED screen displays battery info, Bluetooth connection info, kelvin temperature and brightness values.

One of my two favorite features of the Litra Pro lights are the rugged exterior and the impact they can withstand, based on MIL-STD-810 testing. The Litra Pros can withstand a lot of punishment, typically more than any filmmaker will dish out. For me, I need lights that can be in a pocket, a backpack, or mounted on a lighting stand in the rain, and these lights will withstand all of the elements.

They stood up to my practical production abuse: dropping, water, snow, rain, general throwing around in my backpack on an airplane, and my three sons — all under 10 — throwing them around. In fact, they are waterproofed up to 30 meters (90 feet).

My second favorite feature is the ability to control color temperature and brightness among a group of lights simultaneously or individually through the Litra app. When purchasing the 3 Point Lighting Bundle, this makes a lot of sense. Controlling all of the lights from one app simultaneously can allow you to watch your output image on the camera without moving around the room adjusting each light.

When I first started writing this review, the Litra app was one of the most important factors. When I was at Sundance, I needed to change lighting temperatures or brightness levels without leaving my interview position. I wasn’t able to bring an external monitor, so I only had the monitor on the back of the BMPCC6K camera to judge my lighting decisions. But with the updated Litra app, I was able to quickly add the three Litra Pro lights into a group and adjust the temperature and brightness easily. I tested the app on both Android and iOS devices, and as of mid-February, they both worked.

There can be a little lag when adjusting the brightness and temperature of the lights in a group, but they quickly catch up. The Litra app also has “CTO” (Color Temperature Orange) common preset temperatures of Daylight 5600, ⅛ CTO 4900K, ¼ CTO 4500K, ½ CTO 3800K and ¾ CTO 3200K to quickly jump to the more common color temperatures. If those don’t work, you can also set your favorites. An interesting function is to flash the lights — you can set a brightness minimum/maximum, color temperature and strobe per second in Hz.

When shooting product and interview photography or videography, I like to use diffusion. As I mentioned earlier, the light comes with a rubberized diffusion cover that sits right on the camera. But if you need a little more distance between the light and your diffusion to draw out the softness of the light, the Litra 3 Point Lighting Bundle includes soft boxes that snap together and snap onto the Litra Pro. At first, I was a little thrown off by the soft boxes because you have to build them and break them down if you want to travel with them — I guess I was hoping for more of a collapsible setup. But they come with a padded, zippered pouch for transport, and they lay very flat when broken down. They actually work pretty well when snapped together and are pretty durable. The soft boxes are indispensable for interviews. Without the soft boxes, it is hard to get an even light; add the rubberized diffusion and you will almost get there, but the soft boxes really spread the light nicely.

Over Christmas, I helped out at an event for a pediatric cancer-based foundation called The Bumblebee Foundation, which supports families with kids going through pediatric cancer treatments. They needed someone to take pictures, so I grabbed my camera and mounted one of the Litra Pro lights with a soft box onto the hot shoe of my Canon 5D Mark II with the included mount. The Litra Pro was easy to use, and it didn’t startle people like a flash might. It was a really key item to have in that environment.

I also do some product photography/videography for my wife, who sews and makes hair bows, tutus and more. I needed to light a few Girl Scout Cookie hair bows she had made, so I mounted two of the lights using the lighting stands and soft boxes and just stood one of the Litra Pros behind the products. You can see the video here.

What was interesting is that I wanted more light vertically, and because the Litra Pros have 2-¼”-20 mounts (one on the bottom and one on the side), I could quickly mount the lights vertically. I never really realized how helpful mounting the Litra Pros vertically would be until I actually needed it. At the same time, I had left the lights on at 60-80% power, and after a few minutes, I felt the heat the Litra Pros can put out. It isn’t quite burning, but the Litra Pros do get hot to the touch if left on for a while… just something to keep in mind.

Summing Up
From the military-grade-feeling exterior aluminum construction to the CRI color accuracy, the Litra Pro lights are truly amazing. Whether you use them to light interviews at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival (like I did), add one to a GoPro shoot to take the load off of the sensor with a high ISO, or use them to light product photography, the Litra Pro 3 Point Lighting Bundle is worth your money. They can fit into your pocket and withstand being dropped on the ground or in water.

All in all, this is a great bundle. The Litra Pros are not cheap, but the peace of mind you get knowing they will still work if you drop them or get them wet is worth every penny. When flying to Sundance, I had no fear throwing them around. I was setting up the lighting for my interviews and noticed a water ring on the table from a glass of water. I didn’t think twice and put the Litra Pro right in the water. In fact, when I was shooting some videos for this review, I put the Litra Pros in a vase of water. At first I was nervous, but then I went for it, and they worked flawlessly.

If you are looking for super-compact lighting that is bright enough to use outdoors, light interviews indoors, film underwater, and even double as photography lighting, the Litra Pros are for you. If you are like me and need to do a lot of product videography and interview lighting quickly, the Litra Pro Premium 3 Point Lighting Bundle is where you should look.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on shows like Life Below Zero and The Shop. He is also a member of the Producer’s Guild of America. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Goldcrest Post’s Jay Tilin has passed away

Jay Tilin, head of production at New York’s Goldcrest Post, passed away last month after a long illness. For 40 years, Tilin worked in the industry as an editor, visual effects artist and executive. His many notable credits include the Netflix series Marco Polo and the HBO series Treme and True Detective.

“Jay was in integral part of New York’s post production community and one of the top conform artists in the world,” said Goldcrest Post managing director Domenic Rom. “He was beloved by our staff and clients as an admired colleague and valued friend. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and all who knew him.”

Tilin began his career in 1980 as an editor with Devlin Productions. He also spent many years at The Tape House, Technicolor, Riot and Deluxe, all in New York. He was an early adopter of many now standard post technologies, from the advent of HD video in the 1990s through more recent implementations of 4K and HDR finishing.

His credits also include the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, the Sundance Channel series Hap and Leonard, the PBS documentary The National Parks and the Merchant Ivory feature City of Your Final Destination. He also contributed to numerous commercials and broadcast promos. A native New Yorker, Tilin earned a degree in broadcasting from SUNY Oswego.

Tilin is survived by his wife Betsy, his children Kelsey and Sam, his mother Sonya and his sister Felice (Trudy).

Quick Chat: Editing Leap Day short for Stella Artois

By Randi Altman

To celebrate February 29, otherwise known as Leap Day, beer-maker Stella Artois released a short film featuring real people who discover their time together is valuable in ways they didn’t expect. The short was conceived by VaynerMedia, directed by Division7s Kris Belman and cut by Union partner/editor Sloane Klevin. Union also supplied Flame work on the piece.

The film begins with the words, ”There is a crisis sweeping the nation” set on a black screen. Then we see different women standing on the street talking about how easy it is to cancel plans. “You’re just one text away,” says one. “When it’s really cold outside and I don’t want to go out, I use my dog excuse,” says another. That’s when the viewer is told, through text on the screen, that Stella Artois has set out to right this wrong “by showing them the value of their time together.”

The scene changes from the street to a restaurant where friends are reunited for a meal and a goblet of Stella after not seeing each other for a while. When the check comes the confused diners ask about their checks, as an employee explains, that the menu lists prices in minutes, and that Leap Day is a gift of 24 hours and that people should take advantage of that by “uncancelling plans.”

Prior to February 29, Stella encouraged people to #UnCancel plans and catch up with friends over a beer… paid for by the brand. Using the Stella Leap Day Fund — a $366,000 bank of beer reserved exclusively for those who spend time together (there are 366 days in a Leap Year) — people were able to claim as much as a 24-pack when sharing the film using #UnCancelPromo and tagging someone they would like to catch up with.

Editor Sloane Klevin

For the film short, the diners were captured with hidden cameras. Union editor Klevin, who used an Avid Media Composer 2018.12.03 with EditShare storage, was tasked with finding a story in their candid conversations. We reached out to her to find out more about the project and her process.

How early did you get involved in this project, and what kind of input did you have?
I knew I was probably getting the job about a week before they shot. I had no creative input into the shoot; that really only happens when I’m editing a feature.

What was your process like?
This was an incredibly fast turnaround. They shot on a Wednesday night, and it was finished and online the following Wednesday morning at 12am.

I thought about truncating my usual process in order to make the schedule, but when I saw their shooting breakdown for how they planned to shoot it all in one evening, I knew there wouldn’t be a ton of footage. Knowing this, I could treat the project the way I approach most unscripted longform branded content.

My assistant, Ryan Stacom, transcoded and loaded the footage into the Avid overnight, then grouped the four hidden cameras with the sound from the hidden microphones — and, brilliantly, production had time-of-day timecode on everything. The only thing that was tricky was when two tables were being filmed at once. Those takes had to be separated.

The Simon Says transcription software was used to transcribe the short pre and post interviews we had, and Ryan put markers from the transcripts on those clips so I could jump straight to a keyword or line I was searching for during the edit process. I watched all the verité footage myself and put markers on anything I thought was usable in the spot, typing into the markers what was said.

How did you choose the footage you needed?
Sometimes the people had conversations that were neither here nor there, because they had no idea they were being filmed, so I skipped that stuff. Also, I didn’t know if the transcription software would be accurate with so much background noise from the restaurant on the hidden table microphones, so markering myself seemed the best option. I used yellow markers for lines I really liked, and red for stuff I thought we might want to be able to find and audition, but those wasn’t necessarily my selects. That way I could open the markers tool, and read through my yellow selects at a glance.

Once I’d seen everything, I did a music search of Asche & Spencer’s incredibly intuitive, searchable music library website, downloaded my favorite tracks and started editing.  Because of the fast turnaround, the agency was nice enough to send an outline for how they hoped the material might be edited. I explored their road map, which was super helpful, but went with my gut on how to deviate. They gave me two days to edit, which meant I could post for the director first and get his thoughts.

Then I spent the weekend playing with the agency and trying other options. The client saw the cut and gave notes on both days I was with the agency, then we spent Monday and Tuesday color correcting (thanks to Mike Howell at Color Collective), reworking the music track, mixing (with Chris Afzal at Wave Studios), conforming, subtitling.

That was a crazy fast turnaround.
Considering how fast the turnaround was, it went incredibly smoothly. I attribute that to the manageable amount of footage, fantastic casting that got us really great reactions from all the people they filmed, and the amount of communication my producer at Union and the agency producer had in advance.


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

 

Krista Liney directs Ghost-inspired promo for ABC’s The Bachelor

Remember the Ghost-inspired promo for ABC’s The Bachelor, which first aired during the 92nd Academy Awards telecast? ABC Entertainment Marketing developed the concept and wrote the script, which features current Bachelor lead Peter Weber in a send-up of the iconic pottery scene in Ghost between Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze. It even includes the Righteous Brothers song, Unchained Melody, which played over that scene in the film.

ABC Entertainment Marketing tapped Canyon Road Films to produce and Krista Liney to direct. Liney captured Peter taking off his shirt, sitting down at the pottery wheel and “getting messy” — a metaphor for how messy his journey to love has been. As he starts to mold the clay, he is joined by one set of hands, then another and another. As the clay collapses, Whoopi Goldberg appears to say, “Peter, you in danger, boy” – a take-off of the line she delivers to Moore’s character in the film.

This marks Liney’s first shoot as a newly signed director coming on board at Canyon Road Films, a Los Angeles-based creative production company that specializes in television promos and entertainment content.

Liney has a perspective from the side of the client and the production house, having previously served as a marketing executive on the network side. “With promos, I aim to create pieces that will cut through the clutter and command attention,” she explains. “For me, it’s all about how I can best build the anticipation and excitement within the viewer.”

The piece was shot on an ARRI Alexa Mini with Primes and Optimo lenses. ABC finished the spot in-house.

Other credits include EP Lara Wickes and DP Eric Schmidt.

Behind the Title: Dell Blue lead editor Jason Uson

This veteran editor started his career at LA’s Rock Paper Scissors, where he spent four years learning the craft from editors such as Bee Ottinger and Angus Wall. After freelancing at Lost Planet, Spot Welders and Nomad, he held staff positions at Cosmo Street, Harpo Films and Beast Editorial before opening Foundation Editorial his own post boutique in Austin.

NAME: Jason Uson

COMPANY: Austin, Texas-based Dell Blue

Can you describe what Dell Blue does?
Dell Blue is the in-house agency for Dell Technologies.

What’s your job Title?
Senior Lead Creative Editor

What does that entail?
Outside of the projects that I am editing personally, there are multiple campaigns happening simultaneously at all times. I oversee all of them and have my eyes on every edit, fostering and mentoring our junior editors and producers to help them grow in their careers.

I’ve helped establish and maintain the process regarding our workflow and post pipeline. I also work closely with our entire team of creatives, producers, project managers and vendors from the beginning of each project and follow it through from production to post. This enables us to execute the best possible workflow and outcome for every project.

To add another layer to my role, I am also directing spots for Dell when the project is right.

Alienware

That’s a lot! What else would surprise people about what falls under that title?
The number of hours that go into making sure the job gets done and is the best it can be. Editing is a process that takes time. Creating something of value that means something is an art no matter how big or small the job might be. You have to have pride in every aspect of the process. It shows when you don’t.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
I have two favorites. The first is the people. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. The team here at Dell is truly something special. We are family. We work together. Play together. Happy Hour together. Respect, support and genuinely care for one another. But, ultimately, we care about the work. We are all aligned to create the best work possible. I am grateful to be surrounded by such a talented and amazing group of humans.

The second, which is equally important to me, is the process of organizing my project, watching all the footage and pulling selects. I make sure I have what I need and check it off my list. Music, sound effects, VO track, graphics and anything else I need to get started. Then I create my first timeline. A blank, empty timeline. Then I take a deep breath and say to myself, “Here we go.” That’s my favorite.

Do you have a least favorite?
My least favorite part is wrapping a project. I spend so much time with my clients and creatives and we really bond while working on a project together. We end on such a high note of excitement and pride in what we’ve done and then, just like that, it’s over. I realize that sounds a bit dramatic. Not to worry, though, because lucky for me, we all come back together in a few months to work on something new and the excitement starts all over again.

What is your most productive time of day?
This also requires a two-part answer. The first is early morning. This is my time to get things done, uninterrupted. I go upstairs and make a fresh cup of coffee. I open my deck doors. I check and send emails, and get my personal stuff done. This clears out all of my distractions for the day before I jump into my edit bay.

The second part is late at night. I get to replay all of the creative decisions from the day and explore other options. Sometimes, I get lucky and find something I didn’t see before.

If you didn’t have this job, what would you be doing instead?
That’s easy. I’d be a chef. I love to cook and experiment with ingredients. And I love to explore and create an amazing dining experience.

I see similarities between editors and chefs. Both aim to create something impactful that elicits an emotional response from the “elements” they are given. For chefs, the ingredients, spices and techniques are creatively brought together to bring a dish to life.

For editors, the “elements” that I am given, in combination with the use of my style, techniques, sound design, graphics and music etc. all give life to a spot.

How early did you know this would be your path?
I had originally moved to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an actor. Yes, it’s groundbreaking, I know. During that time, I met editor Dana Glauberman (The Mandalorian, Juno, Up in the Air, Thank You for Smoking, Creed II, Ghostbusters: Afterlife). I had lunch with her at the studios one day in Burbank and went on a tour of the backlot. I got to see all the edit bays, film stages, soundstages and machine rooms. To me, this was magic. A total game-changer in an instant.

While I was waiting on that one big role, I got my foot in the door as a PA at editing house Rock Paper Scissors. One night after work, we all went for drinks at a local bar and every commercial on TV were the ones (editors) Angus Wall and Adam Pertofsky had worked on within the last month, and I was blown away. Something clicked.

This entire creative world behind the scenes was captivating to me. I made the decision at that moment to lean in and go for it. I asked the assistant editor the following morning if he would teach me — and I haven’t looked back. So, Dana, Angus and Adam… thank you!

Can you name some of your recent projects?
I edited the latest global campaign for Alienware called Everything Counts, which was directed by Tony Kaye. More recently, I worked on the campaign for Dell’s latest and greatest business PC laptop that launches in March 2020, which was directed by Mac Premo.

Dell business PC

Side note: I highly recommend Googling Mac Premo. His work is amazing.

What project are you most proud of?
There are two projects that stand out for me. The first one is the very first spot I ever cut — a Budweiser ad for director Sam Ketay and the Art Institute of Pasadena. During the edit, I thought, “Wow, I think I can do this.” It went on to win a Clio.

The second is the latest global campaign for Alienware, which I mentioned above. Director Tony Kaye is a genius. Tony and I sat in my edit bay for a week exploring and experimenting. His process is unlike any other director I have worked with. This project was extremely challenging on many levels. I honestly started looking at footage in a very different way. I evolved. I learned. And I strive to continue to grow every day.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
Wow, good question. I guess I’ll be that guy and say my phone. It really is a necessity.

Spotify, for sure. I am always listening to music in my car and trying to match artists with projects that are not even in existence yet.

My Bose noise cancelling headphones.

What social media channels do you follow?
I use Facebook and LinkedIn — mainly to stay up to date on what others are doing and to post my own updates every now and then.

I’m on Instagram quite a bit. Outside of the obvious industry-related accounts I follow, here are a few of my random favorites:

@nuts_about_birds
If you love birds as much as I do, this is a good one to follow.

@sergiosanchezart
This guy is incredible. I have been following his work for a long time. If you are looking for a new tattoo, look no further.

@andrewhagarofficial
I was lucky enough to meet Andrew through my friend @chrisprofera and immediately dove into his music. Amazing. Not to mention his dad is Sammy Hagar. Enough said.

@kaleynelson
She’s a talented photographer based in LA. Her concert stills are impressive.

@zuzubee
I love graffiti art and Zuzu is one of the best. Based is Austin, she has created several murals for me. You can see her work all over the city, as well as installations during SXSW and Austin City Limits, on Bud Light cans, and across the US.

Do you listen to music at work? What types?
I do listen to music when I work but only when I’m going through footage and pulling selects. Classical piano is my go-to. It opens my mind and helps me focus and dive into my footage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love music. But if I am jamming to my favorite, Sammy Hagar, I can’t drive…I mean dive… into my footage. So classical piano for me.

How do you de-stress from it all?
This is an understatement, but there are a few things that help me out. Sometimes during the day, I will take a walk around the block. Get a little vitamin D and fresh air. I look around at things other than my screen. This is something (editors) Tom Muldoon and John Murray at Nomad used to do every day. I always wondered why. Now I know. I come back refreshed and with my mind clear and ready for the next challenge.

I also “like” to hit the gym immediately after I leave my edit bay. Headphones on (Sammy Hagar, obviously), stretch it out and jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes.

All that is good and necessary for obvious reasons, but getting back to cooking… I love being in the kitchen. It’s therapy for me. Whether I am chopping and creating in the kitchen or out on the grill, I love it. And my wife appreciates my cooking. Well, I think she does at least.

Photo Credits: Dell PC and Jason Uson images – Chris Profera

Adam Milano joins Hecho Studios from Live Nation

Hecho Studios in LA has named Adam Milano as head of development, a new title at the company. He makes the move from Live Nation where he served as SVP of production. Milano will report directly to Hecho Studios’ president, Briony McCarthy.

In addition to creating and producing content, Hecho has 11 editorial bays, two audio suites, full finishing capabilities with color and picture, and an animation and motion graphics team.

During his time at Live Nation, Milano produced the GLAAD-awarded and Emmy-nominated Believer documentary with Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds. He also worked across Live Nation’s slate of music-driven projects, including The Afterparty, a hip-hop comedy directed by Ian Edelman, which premiered on Netflix in 2018, and Gaga: Five Foot Two.

Milano’s previous posts include SVP of gilm at Simon Cowell’s SYCO Entertainment, where he helped Cowell launch the US division and SYCO’s scripted film/television division. While there, he produced the One Direction movie, This is Us. Milano began his career at Sony Pictures Entertainment, working from 2002-2012 as VP of production.

“Adam is both radically in tune with culture and a consummate experienced creator and producer,” says McCarthy. “As our first head of development, he’ll focus on developing our upcoming slate of reality, pop culture and music content and support our newly formed branded content division.”

Milano will lead the charge in diversifying Hecho’s originals entertainment and branded content productions into more scripted, reality and music-based programming in the context of current culture.

Amazon’s The Expanse Season 4 gets HDR finish

The fourth season of the sci-fi series The Expanse was finished in HDR for the first time streaming via Amazon Prime Video. Deluxe Toronto handled end-to-end post services, including online editorial, sound remixing and color grading. The series was shot on ARRI Alexa Minis.

In preparation for production, cinematographer Jeremy Benning, CSC, shot anamorphic test footage at a quarry that would serve as the filming stand-in for the season’s new alien planet, Ilus. Deluxe Toronto senior colorist Joanne Rourke then worked with Benning, VFX supervisor Bret Culp, showrunner Naren Shankar and series regular Breck Eisner to develop looks that would convey the location’s uninviting and forlorn nature, keeping the overall look desaturated and removing color from the vegetation. Further distinguishing Ilus from other environments, production chose to display scenes on or above Ilus in a 2.39 aspect ratio, while those featuring Earth and Mars remained in a 16:9 format.

“Moving into HDR for Season 4 of our show was something Naren and I have wanted to do for a couple of years,” says Benning. “We did test HDR grading a couple seasons ago with Joanne at Deluxe, but it was not mandated by the broadcaster at the time, so we didn’t move forward. But Naren and I were very excited by those tests and hoped that one day we would go HDR. With Amazon as our new home [after airing on Syfy], HDR was part of their delivery spec, so those tests we had done previously had prepared us for how to think in HDR.

“Watching Season 4 come to life with such new depth, range and the dimension that HDR provides was like seeing our world with new eyes,” continues Benning. “It became even more immersive. I am very much looking forward to doing Season 5, which we are shooting now, in HDR with Joanne.”

Rourke, who has worked on every season of The Expanse, explains, “Jeremy likes to set scene looks on set so everyone becomes married to the look throughout editorial. He is fastidious about sending stills each week, and the intended directive of each scene is clear long before it reaches my suite. This was our first foray into HDR with this show, which was exciting, as it is well suited for the format. Getting that extra bit of detail in the highlights made such a huge visual impact overall. It allowed us to see the comm units, monitors, and plumes on spaceships as intended by the VFX department and accentuate the hologram games.”

After making adjustments and ensuring initial footage was even, Rourke then refined the image by lifting faces and story points and incorporating VFX. This was done with input provided by producer Lewin Webb; Benning; cinematographer Ray Dumas, CSC; Culp or VFX supervisor Robert Crowther.

To manage the show’s high volume of VFX shots, Rourke relied on Deluxe Toronto senior online editor Motassem Younes and assistant editor James Yazbeck to keep everything in meticulous order. (For that they used the Grass Valley Rio online editing and finishing system.) The pair’s work was also essential to Deluxe Toronto re-recording mixers Steve Foster and Kirk Lynds, who have both worked on The Expanse since Season 2. Once ready, scenes were sent in HDR via Streambox to Shankar for review at Alcon Entertainment in Los Angeles.

“Much of the science behind The Expanse is quite accurate thanks to Naren, and that attention to detail makes the show a lot of fun to work on and more engaging for fans,” notes Foster. “Ilus is a bit like the wild west, so the technology of its settlers is partially reflected in communication transmissions. Their comms have a dirty quality, whereas the ship comms are cleaner-sounding and more closely emulate NASA transmissions.”

Adds Lynds, “One of my big challenges for this season was figuring out how to make Ilus seem habitable and sonically interesting without familiar sounds like rustling trees or bird and insect noises. There are also a lot of amazing VFX moments, and we wanted to make sure the sound, visuals and score always came together in a way that was balanced and hit the right emotions story-wise.”

Foster and Lynds worked side by side on the season’s 5.1 surround mix, with Foster focusing on dialogue and music and Lynds on sound effects and design elements. When each had completed his respective passes using Avid ProTools workstations, they came together for the final mix, spending time on fine strokes, ensuring the dialogue was clear, and making adjustments as VFX shots were dropped in. Final mix playbacks were streamed to Deluxe’s Hollywood facility, where Naren could hear adjustments completed in real time.

In addition to color finishing Season 4 in HDR, Rourke also remastered the three previous seasons of The Expanse in HDR, using her work on Season 4 as a guide and finishing with Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 15. Throughout the process, she was mindful to pull out additional detail in highlights without altering the original grade.

“I felt a great responsibility to be faithful to the show for the creators and its fans,” concludes Rourke. “I was excited to revisit the episodes and could appreciate the wonderful performances and visuals all over again.”

Marriage Story director Noah Baumbach

By Iain Blair

Writer/director Noah Baumbach first made a name for himself with The Squid and the Whale, his 2005 semi-autobiographical, bittersweet story about his childhood and his parents’ divorce. It launched his career, scoring him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Noah Baumbach

His latest film, Marriage Story, is also about the disintegration of a marriage — and the ugly mechanics of divorce. Detailed and emotionally complex, the film stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as the doomed couple.

In all, Marriage Story scooped up six Oscar nominations — Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score. Laura Dern walked away with a statue for her supporting role.

The film co-stars Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta. The behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Robbie Ryan, editor Jennifer Lame and composer Randy Newman.

Just a few days before the Oscars, Baumbach — whose credits also include The Meyerwitz Stories, Frances Ha and Margot at the Wedding — talked to me about making the film and his workflow.

What sort of film did you set out to make?
It’s obviously about a marriage and divorce, but I never really think about a project in specific terms, like a genre or a tone. In the past, I may have started a project thinking it was a comedy but then it morphs into something else. With this, I just tried to tell the story as I initially conceived it, and then as I discovered it along the way. While I didn’t think about tone in any general sense, I became aware as I worked on it that it had all these different tones and genre elements. It had this flexibility, and I just stayed open to all those and followed them.

I heard that you were discussing this with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as you wrote the script. Is that true?
Yes, but it wasn’t daily. I’d reached out to both of them before I began writing it, and luckily they were both enthusiastic and wanted to do it, so I had them as an inspiration and guide as I wrote. Periodically, we’d get together and discuss it and I’d show them some pages to keep them in the loop. They were very generous with conversations about their own lives, their characters. My hope was that when I gave them the finished script it would feel both new and familiar.

What did they bring to the roles?
They were so prepared and helped push for the truth in every scene. Their involvement from the very start did influence how I wrote their roles. Nicole has that long monologue and I don’t know if I’d have written it without Scarlett’s input and knowing it was her. Adam singing “Being Alive” came out of some conversations with him. They’re very specific elements that come from knowing them as people.

You reunited with Irish DP Robbie Ryan, who shot The Meyerowitz Stories. Talk about how you collaborated on the look and why you shot on film?
I grew up with film and feel it’s just the right medium for me. We shot The Meyerowitz Stories on Super 16, and we shot this on 35mm, and we had to deal with all these office spaces and white rooms, so we knew there’d be all these variations on white. So there was a lot of discussion about shades and the palette, along with the production and costume designers, and also how we were going to shoot these confined spaces, because it was what the story required.

You shot on location in New York and LA. How tough was the shoot?
It was challenging, but mainly because of the sheer length of many of the scenes. There’s a lot of choreography in them, and some are quite emotional, so everyone had to really be up for the day, every day. There was no taking it easy one day. Every day felt important for the movie.

Where did you do the post?
All in New York. I have an office in the Village where I cut my last two films, and we edited there again. We mixed on the Warner stage, where I’ve mixed most of my movies. We recorded the music and orchestra in LA.

Do you like the post process?
I really love it. It’s the most fun and the most civilized part of the whole process. You go to work and work on the film all day, have dinner and go home. Writing is always a big challenge, as you’re making it up as you go along, and it can be quite agonizing. Shooting can be fun, but it’s also very stressful trying to get everything you need. I love working with the actors and crew, but you need a high level of energy and endurance to get through it. So then post is where you can finally relax, and while problems and challenges always arise, you can take time to solve them. I love editing, the whole rhythm of it, the logic of it.

_DSC4795.arw

Talk about editing with Jennifer Lame. How did that work?
We work so well together, and our process really starts in the script stage. I’ll give her an early draft to get her feedback and, basically, we start editing the script. We’ll go through it and take out anything we know we’re not going to use. Then during the shoot she’ll sometimes come to the set, and we’ll also talk twice a day. We’ll discuss the day’s work before I start, and then at lunch we’ll go over the previous day’s dailies. So by the time we sit down to edit, we’re really in sync about the whole movie. I don’t work off an assembly, so she’ll put together stuff for herself to let me know a scene is working the way we designed it. If there’s a problem, she’ll let me know what we need.

What were the big editing challenges?
Besides the general challenges of getting a scene right, I think for some of the longer ones it was all about finding the right rhythm and pacing. And it was particularly true of this film that the pace of something early on could really affect something later. Then you have to fix the earlier bit first, and sometimes it’s the scene right before. For instance, the scene where Charlie and Nicole have a big argument that turns into a very emotional fight is really informed by the courtroom scene right before it. So we couldn’t get it right until we’d got the courtroom scene right.

A lot of directors do test screenings. Do you?
No, I have people I show it to and get feedback, but I’ve never felt the need for testing.

VFX play a role. What was involved?
The Artery did them. For instance, when Adam cuts his arm we used VFX in addition to the practical effects, and then there’s always cleanup.

Talk about the importance of sound to you as a filmmaker, as it often gets overlooked in this kind of film.
I’m glad you said that because that’s so true, and this doesn’t have obvious sound effects. But the sound design is quite intricate, and Chris Scarabosio (working out of Skywalker Sound), who did Star Wars, did the sound design and mix; he was terrific.

A lot of it was taking the real-world environments in New York and LA and building on that, and maybe taking some sounds out and playing around with all the elements. We spent a lot of time on it, as both the sound and image should be unnoticed in this. If you start thinking, “That’s a cool shot or sound effect,” it takes you out of the movie. Both have to be emotionally correct at all times.

Where did you do the DI and how important is it to you?
We did it at New York’s Harbor Post with colorist Marcy Robinson, who’s done several of my films. It’s very important, but we didn’t do anything too extreme, as there’s not a lot of leeway for changing the look that much. I’m very happy with the look and the way it all turned out.

Congratulations on all the Oscar noms. How important is that for a film like this?
It’s a great honor. We’re all still the kids who grew up watching movies and the Oscars, so it’s a very cool thing. I’m thrilled.

What’s next?
I don’t know. I just started writing, but nothing specific yet.


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

Director James Mangold on Oscar-nominated Ford v Ferrari

By Iain Blair

Filmmaker James Mangold has been screenwriting, producing and directing for years. He has made films about country legends (Walk the Line), cowboys (3:10 to Yuma), superheroes (Logan) and cops (Cop Land), and has tackled mental illness (Girl Interrupted) as well.

Now he’s turned his attention to race car drivers and Formula 1 with his movie Ford v Ferrari, which has earned Mangold an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The film also received nods for its editing, sound editing and sound mixing.

James Mangold (beard) on set.

The high-octane drama was inspired by a true-life friendship that forever changed racing history. In 1959, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) is on top of the world after winning the most difficult race in all of motorsports, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But his greatest triumph is followed quickly by a crushing blow — the fearless Texan is told by doctors that a grave heart condition will prevent him from ever racing again.

Endlessly resourceful, Shelby reinvents himself as a car designer and salesman working out of a warehouse space in Venice Beach with a team of engineers and mechanics that includes hot-tempered test driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). A champion British race car driver and a devoted family man, Miles is brilliant behind the wheel, but he’s also blunt, arrogant and unwilling to compromise.

After Shelby’s vehicles make a strong showing at Le Mans against Italy’s venerable Enzo Ferrari, Ford Motor Company recruits the firebrand visionary to design the ultimate race car, a machine that can beat even Ferrari on the unforgiving French track. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, Shelby, Miles and their ragtag crew battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to develop a revolutionary vehicle that will outshine every competitor. The film culminates in the historic showdown between the US and Italy at the grueling 1966 24 hour Le Mans race.

Mangold’s below-the-line talent, many of whom have collaborated with the director before, includes Academy Award-nominated director of photography Phedon Papamichael; film editors Michael McCusker, ACE, and Andrew Buckland; visual effects supervisor Olivier Dumont; and composers Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.

L-R: Writer Iain Blair and Director James Mangold

I spoke with Mangold — whose other films include Logan, The Wolverine and Knight and Day — about making the film and his workflow.

You obviously love exploring very different subject matter in every film you make.
Yes, and I do every movie like a sci-fi film — meaning inventing a new world that has its own rules, customs, language, laws of physics and so on, and you need to set it up so the audience understands and they get it all. It’s like being a world-builder, and I feel every film should have that, as you’re entering this new world, whether it’s Walk the Line or The French Connection. And the rules and behavior are different from our own universe, and that’s what makes the story and characters interesting to me.

What sort of film did you set out to make?
Well, given all that, I wanted to make an exciting racing movie about that whole world, but it’s also that it was a moment when racing was free of all things that now turn me off about it. The cars were more beautiful then, and free of all the branding. Today, the cars are littered with all the advertising and trademarks — and it’s all nauseating to me. I don’t even feel like I’m watching a sport anymore.

When this story took place, it was also a time when all the new technology was just exploding. Racing hasn’t changed that much over the past 20 years. It’s just refining and tweaking to get that tiny edge, but back in the ‘60s they were still inventing the modern race car, and discovering aerodynamics and alternate building materials and methods. It was a brand-new world, so there was this great sense of discovery and charm along with all that.

What were the main technical challenges in pulling it all together?
Trying to do what I felt all the other racing movies hadn’t really done — taking the driving out of the CG world and putting it back in the real world, so you could feel the raw power and the romanticism of racing. A lot of that’s down to the particulates in the air, the vibrations of the camera, the way light moves around the drivers — and the reality of behavior when you’re dealing with incredibly powerful machines. So right from the start, I decided we had to build all the race cars; that was a huge challenge right there.

How early on did you start integrating post and all the VFX?
Day one. I wanted to use real cars and shoot the Le Mans and other races in camera rather than using CGI. But this is a period piece, so we did use a lot of CGI for set extensions and all the crowds. We couldn’t afford 50,000 extras, so just the first six rows or so were people in the stands; the rest were digital.

Did you do a lot of previz?

A lot, especially for Le Mans, as it was such a big, three-act sequence with so many moving parts. We used far less for Daytona. We did a few storyboards and then me and my second unit director, Darrin Prescott — who has choreographed car chases and races in such movies as Drive, Deadpool 2, Baby Driver and The Bourne Ultimatum — planned it out using matchbox cars.

I didn’t want that “previzy” feeling. Even when I do a lot of previz, whether it’s a Marvel movie or like this, I always tell my previz team “Don’t put the camera anywhere it can’t go.” One of the things that often happens when you have the ability to make your movie like a cartoon in a laboratory — which is what previz is — is that you start doing a lot of gimmicky shots and flying the camera through keyholes and floating like a drone, because it invites you to do all that crazy shit. It’s all very show-offy as a director — “Look at me!” — and a turnoff to me. It takes me out of the story, and it’s also not built off the subjective experience of your characters.

This marks your fifth collaboration with DP Phedon Papamichael, and I noticed there’s no big swooping camera moves or the beauty shot approach you see in all the car commercials.
Yes, we wanted it to look beautiful, but in a real way. There’s so much technology available now, like gyroscopic setups and arms that let you chase the cars in high-speed vehicles down tracks. You can do so much, so why do you need to do more? I’m conservative that way. My goal isn’t to brand myself through my storytelling tricks.

How tough was the shoot?
It was one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever had, with my regular crew and a great cast. But it was also very grueling, as we were outside a lot, often in 115-degree heat in the desert on blacktop. And locations were big challenges. The original Le Mans course doesn’t exist anymore like it used to be, so we used several locations in Georgia to double for it. We shot the races wide-angle anamorphic with a team of a dozen professional drivers, and with anamorphic you can shoot the cars right up into the lens — just inches away from camera, while they’d be doing 150 mph or 160 mph.

Where did you post?
All on the Fox lot at my offices. We scored at Capitol Records and mixed the score in Malibu at my composer’s home studio. I really love the post, and for me it’s all part of the same process — the same cutting and pasting I do when I’m writing, and even when I’m directing. You’re manipulating all these elements and watching it take form — and particularly in this film, where all the sound design and music and dialogue are all playing off one another and are so key. Take the races. By themselves, they look like nothing. It’s just a car whipping by. The power of it all only happens with the editing.

You had two editors — Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland. How did that work?
Mike’s been with me for 20 years, so he’s kind of the lead. Mike and Drew take and trade scenes, and they’re good friends so they work closely together. I move back and forth between them, which also gives them each some space. It’s very collaborative. We all want it to look beautiful and elegant and well-designed, but no one’s a slave to any pre-existing ideas about structure or pace. (Check out postPerspective‘s interview with the editing duo here.)

What were the big editing challenges?
It’s a car racing movie with drama, so we had to hit you with adrenalin and then hold you with what’s a fairly procedural and process-oriented film about these guys scaling the corporate wall to get this car built and on the track. Most of that’s dramatic scenes. The flashiest editing is the races, which was a huge, year-long effort. Mike was cutting the previz before we shot a foot, and initially we just had car footage, without the actors, so that was a challenge. It all transformed once we added the actors.

Can you talk about working on the visual effects with Method’s VFX supervisor Olivier Dumont?
He did an incredible job, as no one thinks there are so many. They’re really invisible, and that’s what I love — the film feels 100% analog, but of course it isn’t. It’s impossible to build giant race tracks as they were in the ‘60s. But having real foregrounds really helped. We had very few scenes where actors were wandering around in a green void like on so many movies now. So you’re always anchored in the real world, and then all the set extensions were in softer focus or backlit.

This film really lends itself to sound.
Absolutely, as every car has its own signature sound, and as we cut rapidly from interiors to exteriors, from cars to pits and so on. The perspective aural shifts are exciting, but we also tried to keep it simple and not lose the dramatic identity of the story. We even removed sounds in the mix if they weren’t important, so we could focus on what was important.

Where did you do the DI, and how important is it to you?
At Efilm with Skip Kimball (working on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve), and it was huge on this, especially dealing with the 24-hour race, the changing light, rain and night scenes, and having to match five different locations was a nightmare. So we worked on all that and the overall look from early on in the edit.

What’s next?
Don’t know. I’ve got two projects I’m working on. We’ll see.


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

The 71st NATAS Technology & Engineering Emmy Award winners

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has announced the recipients of the 71st Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards. The event will take place in partnership with the National Association of Broadcasters, during the NAB Show on Sunday, April 19 in Las Vegas.

The Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards are awarded to a living individual, a company or a scientific or technical organization for developments and/or standardization involved in engineering technologies that either represent so extensive an improvement on existing methods or are so innovative in nature that they materially have affected television.

A committee of engineers working in television considers technical developments in the industry and determines which, if any, merit an award.

“The Technology & Engineering Emmy Award was the first Emmy Award issued in 1949, and it laid the groundwork for all the other Emmys to come,” says Adam Sharp, CEO/president of NATAS. “We are especially excited to be honoring Yvette Kanouff with our Lifetime Achievement Award in Technology & Engineering.”

Kanouff has held CTO and president roles at various companies in the cable and media industry. Over the years, she has spearheaded transformational technologies, such as video on demand, cloud DVR, digital and on-demand advertising, streaming security and privacy.

And now the Awards recipients:

Pioneering System for Live Performance-Based Animation Using Facial Recognition
– Adobe

HTML5 Development and Deployment of a Full TV Experience on Any Device
– Apple
– Google
– LG
– Microsoft
– Mozilla
– Opera
– Samsung

Pioneering Public Cloud-Based Linear Media Supply Chains
– AWS
– Discovery
– Evertz
– Fox Neo (Walt Disney Television)
– SDVI

Pioneering Development of Large Scale, Cloud Served, Broadcast Quality,
Linear Channel Transmission to Consumers
– Sling TV
– Sony PlayStation Vue
– Zattoo

Early Development of HSM Systems That Created a Pivotal Improvement in Broadcast Workflows
– Dell (Isilon)
– IBM
– Masstech
– Quantum

Pioneering Development and Deployment of Hybrid Fiber Coax Network Architecture
– Cable Labs

Pioneering Development of the CCD Image Sensor
– Bell Labs
– Michael Tompsett

VoCIP (Video over Bonded Cellular Internet)
– Aviwest
– Dejero
– LiveU
– TVU Networks

Ultra-High Sensitivity HDTV Camera
– Canon
– Flovel

Development of Synchronized Multi-Channel Uncompressed Audio Transport Over IP Networks
– ALC NetworX
– Audinate
– Audio Engineering Society
– Kevin Gross
– QSC
– Telos Alliance
– Wheatstone

Emmy statue image courtesy of ATAS/NATAS

DP Chat: The Grudge’s Zachary Galler

By Randi Altman

Being on set is like coming home for New York-based cinematographer Zachary Galler, who as a child would tag along with his father while he directed television and film projects. The younger Galler started in the industry as a lighting technician and quickly worked his way up to shooting various features and series.

His first feature as a cinematographer, The Sleepwalker, premiered at the in 2014 and was later distributed by IFC. His second feature, She’s Lost Control, was awarded the C.I.C.A.E. Award at the Berlin International Film Festival later that year. Other television credits include all eight episodes of Discovery’s scripted series Manhunt: Unabomber, Hulu’s The Act and USA’s Briarpatch (coming in February). He recently completed the feature Nicolas Pesce-directed thriller The Grudge, which stars John Cho and Betty Gilpin and is in theaters now.

Tell us about The Grudge. How early did you get involved in planning, and what direction were you given by the director about the look he wanted?
Nick and I worked together on a movie he directed called Piercing. That was our first collaboration, but we discovered that we had very similar ideas and working styles and we formed a special relationship. Shortly after that project, we started talking about The Grudge, and about a year later we were shooting. We talked a lot about how this movie should feel, and how we could achieve something new and different from something neither of us had done before. We used a lot of look-books and movie references to communicate, so when it came time to shoot we had the visual language down fluently and that allowed us keep each other consistent in execution.

How would you describe the look?
Nick really liked the bleach-bypass look from David Fincher’s Se7en, and I thought about a mix of that and (photographer) Bill Henson. We also knew that we had to differentiate between the different storyline threads in the movie, so we had lots to figure out. One of the threads is darker and looks very yellow, while another is warmer and more classic. Another is slightly more desaturated and darker. We did keep the same bleach-bypass look throughout, but adjusted our color temperature, contrast and saturation accordingly. For a horror movie like this, I really wanted to be able to control where the shadow detail turned into black, because some of our scare scenes relied on that so we made sure to light accordingly, and were able to fine-tune most of that in-camera.

How did you work with the director and colorist to achieve that look?
We worked with FotoKem colorist Kostas Theodosiou (who used Blackmagic Resolve). I was shooting a TV show during the main color pass, so I only got to check in to set looks and approve final color, but Nick and Kostas did a beautiful job. Kostas is a master of contrast control and very tastefully helped us ride that line of where there should be detail and where it should not be detail. He was definitely an important part of the collaboration and helped make the movie better.

Where was it shot and how long was the shoot?
We shot the movie in 35 days in Winnipeg, Canada.

How did you go about choosing the right camera and lenses for this project and why these tools?
Nick decided early on that he wanted to shoot this film anamorphic. Panavision has been an important partner for me on most of my projects, and I knew that I loved their glass. We got a range of different lenses from Panavision Toronto to help us differentiate our storylines — we shot one on T Series, one on Primo anamorphics and one on G Series anamorphics. The Alexa Mini was the camera of choice because of its low light sensitivity and more natural feel.

Now more general questions…

How did you become interested in cinematography?
My father was a director, so I would visit him on set a lot when I was growing up. I didn’t know quite what I wanted to do when I was young but I knew that it was being on set. After dropping out of film school, I got a job working in a lighting rental warehouse and started driving trucks and delivering lights to sets in New York. I had always loved taking pictures as a kid and as I worked more and learned more, I realized that what I wanted to do was be a DP. I was very lucky in that I found some great collaborators early on in my career that both pushed me and allowed me to fail. This is the greatest job in the world.

What inspires you artistically? And how do you simultaneously stay on top of advancing technology that serves your vision?
Artistically, I am inspired by painters, photographers and other DPs. There are so many people doing such amazing work right now. As far as technology is concerned, I’m a bit slow with adopting, as I need to hold something in my hands or see what it does before I adopt it. I have been very lucky to get to work with some great crews, and often a camera assistant, gaffer or key grip will bring something new to the table. I love that type of collaboration.

 

DP Zachary Galler (right) and director Nicolas Pesce on the set of Screen Gems’ The Grudge.

What new technology has changed the way you works?
For some reason, I was resistant to using LUTs for a long time. The Grudge was actually the first time I relied on something that wasn’t close to just plain Rec 709. I always figured that if I could get the 709 feeling good when I got into color I’d be in great shape. Now, I realize how helpful they can be, and that you can push much further. I also think that the Astera LED tubes are amazing. They allow you to do so much so fast and put light in places that would be very hard to do with other traditional lighting units.

What are some of your best practices or rules you try to follow on each job?
I try to be pretty laid back on set, and I can only do that because I’m very picky about who I hire in prep. I try and let people run their departments as much as possible and give them as much information as possible — it’s like cooking, where you try and get the best ingredients and don’t do much to them. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some great crews over the years.

What’s your go-to gear — things you can’t live without?
I really try and keep an open mind about gear. I don’t feel romantically attached to anything, so that I can make the right choices for each project.


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

Directing Olly’s ‘Happy Inside Out’ campaign

How do you express how vitamins make you feel? Well, production company 1stAveMachine partnered with independent creative agency Yard NYC to develop the stylized “Happy Inside Out” campaign for Olly multivitamin gummies to show just that.

Beauty

The directing duo of Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli, known as Mathery, highlighted the brand’s products and benefits by using rich textures, colors and lighting. They shot on an ARRI Alexa Mini. “Our vision was to tell a cohesive narrative, where each story of the supplements spoke the same visual language,” Mathery explains. “We created worlds where everything is possible and sometimes took each product’s concept to the extreme and other times added some romance to it.”

Each spot imagines various benefits of taking Olly products. The side-scrolling Energy, which features a green palette, shows a woman jumping and doing flips through life’s everyday challenges, including through her home to work, doing laundry and going to the movies. Beauty, with its pink color pallete, features another woman “feeling beautiful” while turning the heads of a parliament of owls. Meanwhile, Stress, with its purple/blue palette, features a women tied up in a giant ball of yarn, and as she unspools herself, the things that were tying her up spin away. In the purple-shaded Sleep, a lady lies in bed pulling off layer after layer of sleep masks until she just happily sleeps.

Sleep

The spots were shot with minimal VFX, other than a few greenscreen moments, and the team found itself making decisions on the fly, constantly managing logistics for stunt choreography, animal performances and wardrobe. Jogger Studios provided the VFX using Autodesk Flame for conform, cleanup and composite work. Adobe After Effects was used for all of the end tag animation. Cut+Run edited the campaign.

According to Mathery, “The acrobatic moves and obstacle pieces in the Energy spot were rehearsed on the same day of the shoot. We had to be mindful because the action was physically demanding on the talent. With the Beauty spot, we didn’t have time to prepare with the owls. We had no idea if they would move their heads on command or try to escape and fly around the whole time. For the Stress spot, we experimented with various costume designs and materials until we reached a look that humorously captured the concept.”

The campaign marks Mathery’s second collaboration with Yard NYC and Olly, who brought the directing team into the fold very early on, during the initial stages of the project. This familiarity gave everyone plenty of time to let the ideas breath.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood director Marielle Heller

By Iain Blair

If you are of a certain age, the red cardigan, the cozy living room and the comfy sneakers can only mean one thing — Mister Rogers! Sony Pictures’ new film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is a story of kindness triumphing over cynicism. It stars Tom Hanks and is based on the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

Marielle Heller

In the film, jaded writer Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), whose character is loosely based on Junod, is assigned a profile of Rogers. Over the course of his assignment, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is helmed by Marielle Heller, who most recently directed the film Can You Ever Forgive Me? and whose feature directorial debut was 2015’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Heller has also directed episodes of Amazon’s Transparent and Hulu’s Casual.

Behind the scenes, Heller collaborated with DP Jody Lee Lipes, production designer Jade Healy, editor Anne McCabe, ACE, and composer Nate Heller.

I recently spoke with Heller about making the film, which is generating a lot of Oscar buzz, and her workflow.

What sort of film did you set out to make?
I didn’t want to make a traditional biopic, and part of what I loved about the script was it had this larger framing device — that it’s a big episode of Mister Rogers for adults. That was very clever, but it’s also trying to show who he was deep down and what it was like to be around him, rather than just rattling off facts and checking boxes. I wanted to show Fred in action and his philosophy. He believed in authenticity and truth and listening and forgiveness, and we wanted to embody all that in the filmmaking.

It couldn’t be more timely.
Exactly, and it’s weird since it’s taken eight years to get it made.

Is it true Tom Hanks had turned this down several times before, but you got him in a headlock and persuaded him to do it?
(Laughs) The headlock part is definitely true. He had turned it down several times, but there was no director attached. He’s the type of actor who can’t imagine what a project will be until he knows who’s helming it and what their vision is.

We first met at his grandkid’s birthday party. We became friends, and when I came on board as director, the producers told me, “Tom Hanks was always our dream for playing Mister Rogers, but he’s not interested.” I said, “Well, I could just call him and send him the script,” and then I told Tom I wasn’t interested in doing an imitation or a sketch version, and that I wanted to get to his essence right and the tone right. It would be a tightrope to walk, but if we could pull it off, I felt it would be very moving. A week later he was like, “Okay, I’ll do it.” And everyone was like, “How did you get him to finally agree?” I think they were amazed.

What did he bring to the role?
Maybe people think he just breezed into this — he’s a nice guy, Fred’s a nice guy, so it’s easy. But the truth is, Tom’s an incredibly technically gifted actor and one of the hardest-working ones I’ve ever worked with. He does a huge amount of research, and he came in completely prepared, and he loves to be directed, loves to collaborate and loves to do another take if you need it. He just loves the work.

Any surprises working with him?
I just heard that he’s actually related to Fred, and that’s another weird thing. But he truly had to transform for the role because he’s not like Fred. He had to slow everything down to a much slower pace than is normal for him and find Fred’s deliberate way of listening and his stillness and so on. It was pretty amazing considering how much coffee Tom drinks every day.

What did Matthew Rhys bring to his role?
It’s easy to forget that he’s actually the protagonist and the proxy for all the cynicism and neuroticism that many of us feel and carry around. This is what makes it so hard to buy into a Mister Rogers world and philosophy. But Matthew’s an incredibly complex, emotional person, and you always know how much he’s thinking. He’s always three steps ahead of you, he’s very smart, and he’s not afraid of his own anger and exploring it on screen. I put him through the ringer, as he had to go through this major emotional journey as Lloyd.

How important was the miniature model, which is a key part of the film?
It was a huge undertaking, but also the most fun we had on the movie. I grew up building miniatures and little cities out of clay, so figuring it all out — What’s the bigger concept behind it? How do we make it integrate seamlessly into the story? — fascinated me. We spent months figuring out all the logistics of moving between Fred’s set and home life in Pittsburgh and Lloyd’s gritty, New York environment.

While we shot in Pittsburgh, we had a team of people spend 12 weeks building the detailed models that included the Pittsburgh and Manhattan skylines, the New Jersey suburbs, and Fred’s miniature model neighborhood. I’d visit them once a week to check on progress. Our rule of thumb was we couldn’t do anything that Fred and his team couldn’t do on the “Neighborhood,” and we expanded a bit beyond Fred’s miniatures, but not outside of the realm of possibility. We had very specific shots and scenes all planned out, and we got to film with the miniatures for a whole week, which was a delight. They really help bridge the gap between the two worlds — Mister Rogers’ and Lloyd’s worlds.

I heard you shot with the same cameras the original show used. Can you talk about how you collaborated with DP Jody Lee Lipes, to get the right look?
We tracked down original Ikegami HK-323 cameras, which were used to film the show, and shipped them in from England and brought them to the set in Pittsburgh. That was huge in shooting the show and making it even more authentic. We tried doing it digitally, but it didn’t feel right, and it was Jody who insisted we get the original cameras — and he was so right.

Where did you post?
We did it in New York — the editing at Light Iron, the sound at Harbor and the color at Deluxe.

Do you like the post process?
I do, as it feels like writing. There’s always a bit of a comedown from production for me, which is so fast-paced. You really slow down for post; it feels a bit like screeching to a halt for me, but the plus is you get back to the deep critical thinking needed to rewrite in the edit, and to retell the story with the sound and the DI and so on.

I feel very strongly that the last 10% of post is the most important part of the whole process. It’s so tempting to just give up near the end. You’re tired, you’ve lost all objectivity, but it’s critical you keep going.

Talk about editing with Anne McCabe. What were the big editing challenges?
She wasn’t on the set. We sent dailies to her in New York, and she began assembling while we shot. We have a very close working relationship, so she’d be on the phone immediately if there were any concerns. I think finding the right tone was the biggest challenge, and making it emotionally truthful so that you can engage with it. How are you getting information and when? It’s also playing with audiences’ expectations. You have to get used to seeing Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers, so we decided it had to start really boldly and drop you in the deep end — here you go, get used to it! Editing is everything.

There are quite a few VFX. How did that work?
Obviously, there’s the really big VFX sequence when Lloyd goes into his “fever dreams” and imagines himself shrunk down on the set of the neighborhood and inside the castle. We planned that right from the start and did greenscreen — my first time ever — which I loved. And even the practical miniature sets all needed VFX to integrate them into the story. We also had seasonal stuff, period-correct stuff, cleanup and so on. Phosphene in New York did all the VFX.

Talk about the importance of sound and music.
My composer’s also my brother, and he starts very early on so the music’s always an integral part of post and not just something added at the end. He’s writing while we shoot, and we also had a lot of live music we had to pre-record so we could film it on the day. There’s a lot of singing too, and I wanted it to sound live and not overly produced. So when Tom’s singing live, I wanted to keep that human quality, with all the little mouth sounds and any mistakes. I left all that in purposely. We never used a temp score since I don’t like editing to temp music, and we worked closely with the sound guys at Harbor in integrating all of the music, the singing, the whole sound design.

How important is the DI to you?
Hugely important and we finessed a lot with colorist Sam Daley. When you’re doing a period piece, color is so crucial – that it feels authentic to that world. Jody and Sam have worked together for a long time and they worked very hard on the LUT before we began, and every department was aware of the color palette and how we wanted it to look and feel.

What’s next?
I just started a new company called Defiant By Nature, where I’ll be developing and producing TV projects by other people. As for movies, I’m taking a little break.


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