Friday, November 24, 2017

Toolbox

  • Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017
Cooke helps shed light on "The Morning After"
“The Morning After” (photo by Stefania Rosini)
LEICESTER, UK -- 

Shanra J. Kehl’s The Morning After, shot with Cooke S4/i lenses, features eight intercut vignettes shot in eight locations in 11 days, telling the story of the moment when you wake up next to someone... the next morning.
 
“I’ve always been a really big fan of Cooke lenses,” said Kehl. “To my eye, you get a warmer image that’s gentler on the skin and a really good friend to the actors by not calling out whatever flaws they might have, especially in 4K and above. The light the Cooke lenses absorb gives you a more pastel-like look that enhances the pallet of the Alexa Plus in a warm, glowy way. It’s just beautiful and that’s what I needed.”
 
In those awkward “moment after” moments when people don’t say what they want to say, Kehl wanted to portray a dreamy, hopeful world with light and exposure to make her characters more vulnerable and lead to more conversation. The Morning After is brightly lit, with emotions exposed and raw.
 
“When writing, I envisioned large windows lighting the film so that the characters couldn’t hide in a corner,” said Kehl. “We used windows as the main light source and then added minimal fill lighting. The window was key, and we had to shoot at the right time of the day in all eight locations.”
 
In a mansion, Kehl blocked and scheduled for light coming through the windows. A hotel room was booked with an eastern exposure to capture sunrise, while the two sets that were built — a room in a hostel and a “dot com” loft — were created to give similar lighting.
 
“The hostel scene was one where the Cooke S4/i lenses really shone,” said Kehl. “Sunlight burst through the window and we had to add more negative fill. But once I went to color correct, the Cookes held up so well with the Alexa Plus that you can’t tell. When you have a window with someone in front of it, the light is so soft and just wraps around their skin, even when diffused.”
 
The S4/i kit, rented from Division Camera in North Hollywood, consisted of 18, 25, 35, 50, 75 and 100mm primes, with a 65mm used for pickups. It was on the pickup day that the Cooke S4/i 65mm would help Kehl again during coloring.
 
“We were running out of daylight during ‘golden hour’ on pickups for our threesome vignette, and I knew that if I wasn’t using a Cooke lens that would give me a more contrasty and cooler look, that I wouldn’t be able to correct it as much,” explained Kehl. “When you’re literally racing against the sun, and you’re wanting a specific look, knowing that your lens can help give you that look really eases the pressure.”
 
All of that light gave Kehl a great depth of field, helping her to tell the story of the locations as well as the characters. In the threesome vignette mansion, multiple windows lit the actress from the threesome snooping around and seeing what the couple has to offer, and enhancing the look of the location.
 
“If you haven’t used Cookes before, what are you waiting for?” asked Kehl. “They make a cinematographer’s and gaffer’s job easier when you pick the right camera and right lens. And, it enhances the look of the actors... that’s the director in me.”
 
After touring the festival circuit in 2015 and 2016 — garnering multiple nominations and wins — The Morning After was picked up by Amazon, Fandango, Apple TV, HBO Europe and Lighthouse Home Entertainment (for on-disc and on-demand release in Germany). It is also scheduled to be added to the lineup of a number of cable network providers. The Morning After was produced by Oops Productions, and He and She Films.

  • Friday, Nov. 17, 2017
Timecode-sync solution unveiled for GoPro HERO6 cameras
The SyncBac PRO for GoPro® HERO6 Black cameras
WORCESTER, UK -- 

Timecode Systems, known for wireless technologies for sharing timecode and metadata, has announced the release of the SyncBac PRO for GoPro® HERO6 Black cameras, a customized timecode-sync solution for the newest generation of GoPro action cameras.

Using the same transformative timecode technology as the original SyncBac PRO, this latest release from Timecode Systems has been remodeled to work seamlessly with the new GoPro HERO6 Black camera.

By enabling the HERO6 to generate its own frame-accurate timecode, the SyncBac PRO creates the capability to timecode-sync multiple GoPro cameras wirelessly over long-range RF. If GoPro cameras are being used as part of a wider professional multicamera shoot, SyncBac PRO also allows GoPro cameras to timecode-sync with professional cameras and professional audio devices using Timecode Systems products for timecode. At the end of a shoot, the edit team receives SD cards with frame-accurate timecode embedded into the MP4 file. Eliminating the need to align content manually, SyncBac PRO makes it quicker and easier to transfer footage directly into the edit timeline for a swifter and far more efficient postproduction process that delivers huge cost savings.

Time savings of around 85 percent are being achieved in postproduction as a result of using SyncBac PRO, but it’s not just editors who appreciate the benefits that synchronisation offers. The creative freedom SyncBac PRO allows on set means everyone from the camera operators to the artists in front of the camera feel the benefits.

“With SyncBac PRO generating timecode for GoPro cameras, there’s no need to disrupt the creative flow of filming in order to slate cameras manually, so everyone on set or location can concentrate on capturing the innovative content that makes incredible television and films,” said Olivia Allen, global sales manager for Timecode Systems. “Our system fits perfectly into a world where just about any camera angle can now be utilised. By significantly reducing time at the point of acquisition and in postproduction, SyncBac PRO makes GoPro cameras a genuinely low-cost way for professional production teams to capture additional, unique camera angles.”

The SyncBac PRO is a custom-built product for the HERO6 camera. Close work with GoPro has allowed Timecode Systems to connect directly with the camera’s technology to develop an innovative solution that makes the cameras more compatible with professional multicamera production methods.

“With the HERO6, GoPro has added features that considerably advance camera performance and image quality, which increases the appeal of using GoPro cameras for professional filming for television and film,” said Ashok Savdharia, chief technology officer for Timecode Systems. “SyncBac PRO further enhances the camera’s compatibility with professional production methods by adding the ability to integrate footage into a multicamera film and broadcast workflow in the same way as larger-scale professional cameras.”

SyncBac PRO remains the only timecode generator and sync solution that works with GoPro cameras. The new SyncBac PRO for GoPro HERO6 Black will start shipping this winter, and it is now available for preorder. 

  • Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017
Avid unveils video-over-IP interface for connectivity
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- 

Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID) has unveiled Avid Artist™ | DNxIP, the latest addition to the Avid I/O family of hardware interfaces. Part of Avid’s commitment to offering the most comprehensive tools and workflow solutions to create, distribute and optimize media, the new portable interface enables broadcasters and large postproduction facilities to connect their entire studios over IP for greater flexibility and efficiency.

Built in partnership with AJA and powered by MediaCentral®, an open, tightly integrated and efficient platform designed for media, Avid Artist | DNxIP is a Thunderbolt™ 3 equipped I/O device that enables the transfer of SMPTE standard HD video over 10 GigE IP networks, with high-quality local monitoring over 3G-SDI and HDMI 2.0. The highly portable desktop box eliminates the challenges of managing physical resources associated with legacy video routing over SDI and gives customers more flexibility in how they route video within their facilities.

“The increased agility and efficiency of IP workflows is a must have for content creators and broadcasters in today’s competitive climate,” said Alan Hoff, VP of market solutions for Avid. “We’ve collaborated with AJA on the newest addition to our Avid Artist product line, Avid Artist DNxIP, which offers broadcasters and postproduction facilities a portable yet powerful video interface for IP workflows.”

“DNxIP is the next evolution of our development efforts with Avid, a trusted technology partner. We’re excited to be teaming up with them again on a next-generation hardware option that meets the needs of professional IP workflows,” said Nick Rashby, president, AJA Video Systems.

Avid Artist | DNxIP will be available Q1 2018.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017
OptiTrack releases Motive 2.0 motion tracking software
OptiTrack's Motive 2.0
CORVALIS, Ore. -- 

OptiTrack, a provider of motion capture solutions and technology, has announced the release of its Motive 2.0 software. With an expanded feature set and redesigned user interface, Motive 2.0 advances its precision human and object tracking capabilities across VR, animation, movement sciences, and robotics applications. 

“There is something for every OptiTrack user in Motive 2.0,” said Brian Nilles, chief strategy officer, OptiTrack. “We dramatically improved the workflows and feature sets based on customer input, and made some big advancements with our product roadmap to completely automate the daily operation of OptiTrack systems. For instance, the introduction of continuous calibration removes the need for the ‘wand wave’ that has been a daily component of motion capture and tracking systems for over 30 years. Now, little or no calibration maintenance is required after installation, and there is no longer a deterioration of the calibration over time. It simply produces the very best accuracy that OptiTrack is well known for--all the time.”

Additional Motive 2.0 highlights include OptiTrack Active support, delivering a highly optimized wide area tracking system for location-based entertainment VR. Several workflow refinements have also been made to make it even easier for non-technical staff to set up and maintain high volume LBE VR experiences.

Useful for character animation and biomechanics applications, a new rigid body refinement tool improves the tracking quality and decreases post-processing time by defining rigid bodies during capture session takes. This also increases marker location accuracy in final data output. For biomechanics and industrial measurement workflows, Motive 2.0’s new probe measurement kit allows users to sample precise 3D data points with exceptional accuracy within a calibrated capture volume.

Motive 2.0’s new interface improves data organization for a more efficient workflow, providing users with more flexibility to categorize, search and manage recorded takes for more convenient post-processing work. Recorded data can be monitored using new custom graphs, providing analytics for items such as force plate data, marker trajectory data, rigid body orientation/position data and analog data collected by NI-DAQ devices. Motive 2.0 also supports OptiTrack’s gizmo toolset, which allows users to quickly and easily make changes to rigid body pivot points as well as segment size of skeleton assets.

Optimized for use with OptiTrack motion capture cameras, Motive 2.0 is now available for $999 for object tracking applications such as VR, drones and robotics, and $2,999 for tracking human movements in addition to rigid bodies.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
Blackmagic Cintel Scanner deployed on Channel 4 George Michael documentary
Gwyn Moxham of Headjar Productions
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that its Cintel Scanner was used to help digitize archived footage held on 16mm and 35mm film for new Channel 4 autobiographical documentary “George Michael: Freedom.”
 
Documenting the life of one of the most influential artists in modern history, the 90-minute film narrated by George Michael himself reveals candid details about everything from his ill-fated first love to his infamous court battle with Sony, which challenged the way the music industry approached the standard recording contract.
 
The documentary incorporates never before seen archive material alongside present-day interviews with the likes of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and James Corden. Tasked with bringing all of those different sources together in post initially was Headjar Productions’ Gwyn Moxham who completed the first assembly of the film.
 
“Our biggest headache was how we would bring together all of the different archived material so that we could mix that with recently acquired interviews shot on the URSA Mini 4.6K,” explained Moxham. “We were working with everything from Video 8 camcorder tapes and Betacam SP through to HDCAM and a variety of film stocks.”
 
He continued: “There were around 60,000 feet of rushes from the ‘Freedom! 90’ video alone! Not only that but we also uncovered reels of George performing on the FAITH tour as well as rehearsing for MTV unplugged, and we had to scan everything before we could sort through it and decided what was useful. Not only that but we also discovered a South Bank Show that George took part in around the time of ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ that was archived on 16mm film. There was a lot held on film to get through.”
 
Rather than using telecine to digitize the films, the team decided to use the Blackmagic Cintel Scanner to scan in both the 35mm and 16mm footage at a fraction of the cost. Moxham drew from his previous experience working with film as a projectionist early on in his career to help in that process.
 
“Of course, handling negatives made me a lot more nervous than prints ever did, but I needn’t have worried,” he said. “The Cintel scanner worked like a dream. It was straightforward to set up and very intuitive to use once plugged into our iMac. Even if you’ve never previously handled film stock it is very simple to operate.”
 
Using the Cintel Scanner, Moxham digitized more than 30,000 feet of final reels for the documentary in 4K, all in real time. Each shot was then compared to those in the original music video to ensure accuracy, and later, fully restored before the editing process was completed by Jerry Chater. “It was an incredible experience to have worked on this project not least because I got to see an industry-defining music video in Freedom! 90’ remastered in 4K,” concluded Moxham. “It truly was a sight to behold.”
 
The documentary was graded and finished in DaVinci Resolve Studio by London-based colorist Dan Moran of Coffee and TV.

  • Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017
Panavision brings Millennium DXL camera and large format lenses to Camerimage
Dan Sasaki, Panavision’s VP of optical engineering
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. -- 

Continuing 25 years of support, Panavision once again celebrates the art and craft of moving pictures with filmmakers at the Camerimage International Film Festival of Cinematography, which runs November 11-18 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. This year, Panavision hosts a masterclass with Oscar®-winner John Toll, ASC, and a workshop on large-format filmmaking.

On Nov. 14 in the MCK, Panavision Day begins with the workshop, “The Beauty of 8K Large-Format” from 11am-1pm. Peter Deming, ASC recently wrapped production on The New Mutants, utilizing the Panavision Millennium DXL 8K camera and lenses to create stunning visuals for the next X-Men installment. A screening of The New Mutants trailer be will explored by Panavision’s VP of optical engineering Dan Sasaki, sr. VP of innovation Michael Cioni, and Light Iron supervising colorist Ian Vertovec. They will discuss the unique advantages of 8K capture, high-resolution creative control, and how ultra-high resolution is one of the best-kept secrets for producing even better imagery.

Toll, who is this year’s Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, will participate in a moderated conversation from 2-4:30pm. The two-time Oscar®-winner (Legends of the Fall, Braveheart) will discuss excerpts from his films, share anecdotes from the set, and answer questions from the audience.

At the Camerimage exhibition area in the Opera Nova, Panavision will have Millennium DXLs on display for festival attendees to get hands-on with the camera. The new HDR OLED Primo Viewfinder, the advanced PX-Pro color spectrum filter, and a selection of innovative large-format and anamorphic Panavision lenses also will be showcased alongside the Panavision System 65mm film camera used to shoot Murder on the Orient Express. The iconic tale of mystery aboard the legendary train, directed by Kenneth Branagh and shot by Haris Zambarloukos, ASC, GSC, will screen on the opening night of Camerimage.

Adjacent to the Panavision exhibit, the Light Iron Theater will screen DXL footage in HDR format; Panalux will demonstrate their new underwater light, the AmphiTube product range, which features a bi-color LED solution designed for both wet and dry environments; and LEE Filters, celebrating 50 years in business, will showcase their next-generation neutral density PanaND filters. Light Iron, Panalux and LEE Filters are in the Panavision family of companies.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017
RED to feature the new Monstro 8k VV sensor at Camerimage 
MONSTRO 8K VV sensor
IRVINE, Calif. -- 

RED Digital Cinema will showcase its new cinematic Full Frame sensor for WEAPON cameras, MONSTRO™ 8K VV,  at the 25th Camerimage International Film Festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland, from November 11-18.

The MONSTRO 8K VV sensor is an evolutionary step beyond the DRAGON 8K VV sensor with improvements in image quality including dynamic range and shadow detail. A WEAPON with MONSTRO 8K VV sensor offers Full Frame lens coverage, captures 8K full format motion at up to 60 fps, produces ultra-detailed 35.4 megapixel stills, and delivers incredibly fast data speeds — up to 300 MB/s.

Festival attendees visiting RED’s stand in the Opera Nova Main Foyer will have the opportunity to handle the company’s latest DSMC2® cameras, including WEAPON 8K VV, WEAPON 8K S35 and EPIC-W 8K S35. RED cameras will also be on display at Leica, Cooke, Zeiss, Angeniuex, Hawk and Panavision stands.

An official sponsor of Camerimage, RED will also host two seminars at the festival.  On Nov. 13, cinematographers Christopher Probst, ASC and Markus Förderer, BVK will discuss “The Future of Digital Formats.”  From music videos to feature films and original TV series, Probst and Förderer will share their process for evaluating tools, and approach to choosing a camera and lenses. Attendees will also learn how their progressive filmmaking, combined with the high resolution, large format and flexibility of RED cameras, helped to produce the desired results for their latest endeavors. The seminar will take place at 4:30 pm in the Miejskie Centrum Kultury (MCK).

On Nov. 15,  Light Iron colorist Ian Vertovec and RED’s Dan Duran will discuss RED’s “High Resolution Image Processing Pipeline.” Attendees will learn about the color science behind RED’s Image Processing Pipeline (IPP2), which offers a completely overhauled workflow experience featuring enhancements such as better management of challenging colors, an improved demosaicing algorithm, smoother highlight roll-off, and more.  Light Iron will also be featuring modern high resolution workflow, HDR, and its unique color grade used in the Netflix original series, GLOW. The seminar will take place at 4:45 pm in the Miejskie Centrum Kultury (MCK).

  • Monday, Nov. 6, 2017
David Cohen named VP of marketing for Grass Valley
David Cohen

David Cohen has become VP of marketing for Grass Valley, a Belden Brand. His new role includes responsibility for marketing communications and product marketing, where he will focus on driving demand for Grass Valley’s products and solutions, promoting the Grass Valley brand and developing go-to-market strategy.
 
Cohen is known for his six years in various marketing positions of increasing responsibility for Grass Valley and other companies. Most recently he was in charge of product marketing and related activities as sr. director of market development for Grass Valley. He has worked in the media technology industry for 14 years and has a deep understanding of the technology and trends that drive the market.

  • Monday, Nov. 6, 2017
Animated TV series "ZAFARI" uses Shotgun to streamline production
A scene from "ZAFARI"
LOS ANGELES -- 

Animals are magically born with the skin of other animals in a secret valley at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro in NBCUniversal DreamWorks’ new animated series ZAFARI. Currently in production and set to debut this November, the series features 52 eleven-minute episodes that follow the adventures of Zoomba, an elephant born with zebra stripes, and his sidekick Quincy. ZAFARI creator, supervising director and executive producer David Dozoretz is producing the series in collaboration with CG animation and VFX studio Digital Dimension. Based in Montreal, Digital Dimension is home to a 160-person crew and a pipeline built on Shotgun Software for production tracking and review.

Digital Dimension introduced Shotgun in its workflow as it began work on the series. “When handling a large volume of high-quality shots for a project like ZAFARI, there’s an added layer of complexity that demands greater productivity, and we knew Shotgun could help us. It’s given us a collaborative hub where we can visualize, associate and index, and also ensure that dependencies, assets, shots, sequences, tasks and the like are tracked,” shared Digital Dimension CTO Pierre Blaizeau. “We’re a strong believer that Shotgun should hold all production information, so we’ve put it on top of everything to ensure it triggers and manages our processes and data.”

Since making the leap to Shotgun, Digital Dimension has integrated it with other tools in its pipeline, which currently includes Autodesk Maya, Deadline, Houdini, Redshift, Substance, Unreal Engine and V-Ray. “We’re always looking at how we can refine our workflow with new tools that enable us to work more efficiently and ensure our applications naturally talk to each other. Shotgun has made all the difference compared to our old workflow, which felt disorganized and disconnected,” Blaizeau explained. 

Dozoretz, an early pioneer and longtime advocate of digital collaboration toolsets, even before platforms like Shotgun existed, encouraged Digital Dimension’s move to Shotgun. “I’m a huge believer in digital network communications tools like Shotgun for shot management. It’s especially important for a show like ZAFARI where we’re handling 120-150 shots per episode, and episodes totaling nearly ten hours of content.” 

Between writing and voice recording; layout; blocking; animation, polish and lip sync; and effects and rendering, ZAFARI episodes take up to six weeks to complete, with five episodes often in production simultaneously. At the end of the 18-month production, Digital Dimension will have delivered more than nine and a half hours of animation--the equivalent of five feature films. With 22 episodes already under its belt, the studio has already completed 3,080 shots comprising 18 characters with 35 different variations, 50 locations and more than 200 props.

Shotgun helps Dozoretz and Digital Dimension monitor the evolution of assets, and track the production’s overall progress. “I love Shotgun. I can keep track of everything and get notes back to the production team, before they even submit shots to me; that’s invaluable on a tight schedule. It also gives me a sense of the big picture, so I know if we’re headed in the right direction,” said Dozoretz. “Shotgun not only keeps me on top of what’s happening procedurally, but just looking at its media page and seeing all the amazing work that’s coming in can cheer me up on a rough day.”

Splitting his time between LA and Montreal, Dozoretz relies on Shotgun’s mobile app when travelling, and continues to uncover new uses. “I’m always looking at the Shotgun app on my phone to review everything that’s coming in; it’s proving helpful in ways I never of thought of,” he shared. “I was recently on a call with a toy company, discussing a ZAFARI character that is going to be created. I saw in Shotgun that Digital Dimension had just finished a new render test of that character, so I was able to tell them with confidence that I’d have an updated asset to them by the end of the day.”

Blaizeau and team plan to expand Shotgun integration even more deeply for future projects and seasons of ZAFARI. “We want to create components and modules that are elegantly integrated into Shotgun so we have greater flexibility to manage the incomes and outcomes of projects,” shared Blaizeau. “And we’ve used Unreal Engine to implement a real-time production process for ZAFARI, so we’re looking into building tighter Shotgun hooks to accommodate that workflow as well.”

Having experienced Unreal and Shotgun working together in production, Dozoretz is enthusiastic about the creative potential of this new way of working. “Digital technology is becoming more non-linear and on the current trajectory, we’ll get to a point where you’ll be able to consider the lighting in the shot while you’re working on animation--something not typically done in traditional pipelines. For example, using Shotgun with Unreal, I could view two versions of the same shot--one an animation, and right next to it a lighting or effects test. You still have to use your imagination to plug them together, but the gaps you have to make as a creative are starting to get smaller, allowing us to focus our imagination on conjuring up wild things like zebra-striped elephants.”

  • Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Cinematographers play key role in Tech Emmy win for Fujinon Cine Zooms
During Fujinon Day Atlanta, Bill Wages, ASC (r), gives feedback on FUJINON Cabrios with Radames Gonzalez from Arri Rental in lens projection room.
WAYNE, NJ -- 

The Optical Devices Division of FUJIFILM has been awarded  an Engineering Emmy® for its FUJINON “4K Cine Zoom Lenses providing imagery in television” by the Television Academy, and will receive the honor at the Academy’s October 25 Engineering Awards ceremony at Loews Hollywood Hotel. The introduction of FUJINON’s Cabrio and Premier series of cinema zoom lenses brought about the ability to cover Super 35mm imagers and efficiently shoot the full gamut of television production without sacrificing image quality.

“The willingness of some of the top cinematographers and their rental houses to test, explore and provide feedback about our lenses is an integral part of this Emmy win,” states Thomas Fletcher, director of sales, FUJIFILM Optical Devices Division. “They’re a very loyal group, devoted to their lens choice. To test a new cinema lens is not something that’s considered lightly. Winning an honor as prestigious as an Emmy is an affirmation of Fujifilm’s dedication to the art and craft of cinematography. We thank the Academy for their recognition of our work and for the support we’ve received from the cinematography community.”

In fact, two cinematographers won Creative Arts Emmys this year using FUJINON cine zooms: David Miller, ASC, for Veep won Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half Hour) honors; and Donald A. Morgan, ASC, was awarded an Emmy for The Ranch in the Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series category.

Others who’ve embraced the new FUJINON zoom lenses include three-time ASC Award winner William Wages, ASC (Burn Notice, Containment, Revolution, Sun Records). For Wages, the FUJINON Cabrio 19-90 and 85-300mm zooms have “changed the way I shoot.”  Wages added: “With their speed alone, they’re virtually the only lenses I’m using. The optical quality, small size and speed are unequaled. The combination of these two lenses are ideal for television production.” Wages is an ASC recipient of the Career Achievement in Television honor. 

This marks the sixth Engineering Emmy award granted to Fujifilm and Fujinon. Past awards include:

  • “Development of the new high-speed color negative film A250 Color Negative Film” in 1982
  • “Developments in Metal Tape Technology” in 1990
  • “Implementation in Lens Technology to Achieve Compatibility with CCD sensors” in 1996
  • “Lens technology developments for solid state imagers cameras in high definition formats” in 2005
  • The world's first autofocus system, "Precision Focus," in 2009