September 1, 2010
By Contributed by Geoffrey Cannaby
Today I’m going to talk about RoadRunner Network’s Globe Telecom Project, aptly known as Not Just, because as usual, this project is not just your standard commercial; it’s a VFX-heavy commercial with all shots on chroma and a tight deadline. The offline was done in Final Cut Pro and the Online was finished in the Quantel eQ with grading on the DaVinci Resolve. So in tight projects like these, it’s really key as a post house to have all the machines working together seamlessly without having to convert fi les at any stage and that’s exactly what we’ve done here at RoadRunner. Now this project was completely filmed on the Red Camera and it seems that the industry is torn up in this digital revolution with many similar cameras hitting the market, all with different workfl ows and formats. So about a year ago when I joined RoadRunner, I started working with operations manager Joseph Cruel on creating a standard workflow for these cameras; and after months of R&D, we found one. Finding that, we found that it would be possible to actually start editing as soon as we get the footage without converting or digitising, just simply transfer the media and begin editing, which brought us to the next conclusion we could edit on set, and if we can edit on set then we can comp, pull keys and even colour grade. That’s when we came up with The RoadRunner Imaging Specialists, a team of multitalented individuals who have skills in cinematography, editing, compositing and effects, data management and extensive camera knowledge. We are able to take these skills on set with production to give consultancy on the camera; let the director and the DOP see the raw footage and allow them to make more informed calls on lighting and cinematography. We also back up all of the project’s media and even cut a rough sequence edit of the project right there on set. For VFX heavy shoots, we can even do rough comps and tracks to test the director’s shots. We basically bring post production one step closer, giving you more assurance on set. The Globe project utilised the RoadRunner Imaging Specialist Service, and I was there member on set. The shoot went very smooth and I would like to think that was down to having us there. I was constantly working with the director and DOP checking shots doing rough comps. The director and I were able to achieve an edit by the end of day 2 shoot, which was presented to the agency and client on set. So when we left the shoot, everyone was confi dent that all the scenes were covered and the project was going well. For short timelines, it’s important we have all the machines talking to each other without converting formats and that’s what we did for this project. We kept a full data workflow, which made it fast and kept us to the maximum quality throughout the process. We went out of Final Cut after the offline and gave the selected shots to VFX to start working on the RAW files already. We then sent an EDL to the Resolve so it can be graded. After grading, we sent the graded footage to VFX to finish the effects and comps and then everything was sent to the Quantel for finishing. The Resolve was able to bring in the RED Cam material native, which helped us save time from converting files and gave us a faster output of the material. We purchased one of the first versions of the Resolve when it came out and we have now had four or more software and hardware upgrades since. The latest that we have, version 6.2, enables us to handle the RED Cam, Arri D21 and many other formats natively. The main strength of the system is that it can take in many differnt file types without converting and then dump out straight to HD or Betacam tapes. The Resolve also gives us a chance to grade in-context and easily go back and forward to each shot unlike the traditional grading where sometimes a lot of time is spent searching for the shots. In addition, the high-powered tools such as the object tracker helps save time by tracking power windows to certain objects in the scene. The beauty of the workflow is that we didn’t buy any fancy add-ons for any of our equipment. We utilised the functions of the equipment. It’s really great how our machines integrate together allowing us to work with all these different formats. The best part, a lot of these are found within the help sections and manuals of the machines plus the constant updates given by Final Cut, Quantel and Resolve are keeping them on top of the latest formats. The main challenge in this project was achieving the standard of effects in the time given, which was why we were on set for this. While on set, I was able to talk to the director and get to know what he’s looking for. VFX was able to give me previs effects before the shoot; so while I was there, they shot a scene, I did a rough comp with the previs effects and then during breaks or off time, I pulled the director over and he gave me comments regarding the effects. This was really helpful because by the time the shoot finished, I had a good idea of what the director wanted; and then, I communicated this to the team with approved offline examples. Plus, we’re able to build a great relationship with the director and his team, keeping us in tune with what they needed. Geoffrey Cannaby is digital imaging specialist and senior editor for RoadRunner Network. Before joining RoadRunner, Cannaby was broadcast manager for Royal Caribbean’s RCTV.