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S:19

TVLO G IC O NBOARD M ON I TOR

C I N E TA P E MEAS U R E C O N TR O L

A R R I M ATTE B OX M B - 1 8
2 K 1 2 BI T R G B 4 : 4: 4 / 4K R AW O U T P U T

C O D E X O N B OA R D S R E C O R D E R

CA N O N 1 5 . 5 - 4 7 M M C I N E ZO O M

I N T E R N A L N D F I LT E R S
CA N O N 4 K S U P ER 35 MM C MO S S EN S O R

P R E STON R E M OT E L E N S C O N T R O L SYST E M
A RRI RE A DY-TO - S H O OT K I T 1 5 M M STU D I O S U P P O RT

THE CINEMA EOS C500 PL


AS CONFIGURED BY THE CREW OF HUMAN VOICE

GO WHEREVER THE
2014 Canon U.S.A., Inc. All rights reserved. Canon and EOS are registered trademarks of Canon Inc. in the United States and may also be registered trademarks
or trademarks in other countries. All other products and brand names are registered trademarks, trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

EDOARDO PONTI

DIRECTOR

// RODRIGO PRIETO, ASC, AMC

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY

// ZORAN VESELIC

FIRST AC

Human Voice was born at the Tribeca Film Festival, where director

That was the first step of a journey that soon landed the duo in

Edoardo Ponti first met Rodrigo Prieto. The two clicked, and shortly

Rome with renowned AC, Zoran Veselic, and a Cinema EOS C500

thereafter, Ponti approached the celebrated cinematographer with

PL. With its dynamic range and 2K 12-bit color depth, the fully

a script for a 25-minute film written for Pontis mother, Sophia Loren.

configured camera provided the warm skin tones and detail the
team needed to bring this beautiful, romantic film to life.

S:11.125

CANON COLLABORATIONS

Collaboration is at the heart of the Canon Cinema EOS C500


PL, a camera designed for maximum compatibility with industry
standards. When configured with a 2K 12 bit recorder, EVF/
LCD, camera support, FIZ system, power distribution, and a
Canon 15.5-47mm Cine Zoom Lens, the EOS C500 PL enables
efficient workflow while providing the freedom to quickly
switch from studio mode to handheld. Its just one more way
Canon can help you bring your story to life.
Watch the Human Voice crew discuss this configuration at:
CINEMAEOS.USA.CANON.COM/C500CONFIGURED

STORY TAKES YOU

SERVING THE INDUSTRY SINCE 1986

VOL 29 NO. 1
CINESITE/BEANS

departments
4

EDITORS LETTER
Walter Mittys Secret VFX
By Marc Loftus

6
AMERICAN HUSTLE

FILMS
14

OSCAR PICKS
A look at 2013s top prospects for
editing, VFX, animation and more.

By Iain Blair
26

AUDIO FOR INDEPENDENT


FILMS

12

Lower-cost tools, in the right


hands, can help budget-strapped
indie projects.

SUBWAY/ZERO VFX

By Jennifer Walden

TELEVISION
20

VFX FOR COMMERCIALS


Post houses help marketers tell
stories and sell products.

By Christine Bunish

20

B U S I N E S S

THE BIG HOUSE

32

BUYING GEAR
The latest equipment sales
& installations

BITS & PIECES


Whats new in post production

SPECIAL REPORT
Canon debuts 4K monitor
By Ben Campanera

12

DIRECTORS CHAIR
David O. Russell American Hustle
By Iain Blair

36

POSTINGS
A graphic glimpse of some recent work

40

PRODUCTS
The latest in hardware & software

42

PEOPLE
Keeping tabs of the industrys movers
& shakers

46

REVIEW
Maxon Cinema 4D Studio Release 15
By Trevor M. Carlee

48

REVIEW
Chaos Groups V-Ray 3.0
By Toni Bratincevic

DAILY NEWS UPDATES

ON OUR COVER

WEB EXCLUSIVES
GETTING STARTED VFX producer
Richard Thwaites

26
This Month In
Framestore New York helped GE bring a famous DeLorean back
to life for a new spot that promotes the energy companys capabilities. The Future is Now is part of GEs Brilliant Machines
campaign and makes use of a real automobile as well as a photoreal CG model that is able to blast off into the nighttime sky
all thanks to GEs power. For more Commercial VFX highlights, turn to page 20.

Frozen advances CG snow


& ice
Gravity & Enders Game
Oscars: Animation & VFX
contenders

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

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editors note
Walter Mittys VFX Secrets

I
By
MARC LOFTUS
Senior Editor/
Director of Web
Content
mloftus@postmagazine.com

remember a couple of years ago, you would do a 400-shot movie and it was a huge
film, recalls VFX supervisor Guillaume Rocheron, who was part of the Oscar-winning
team that worked on The Life of Pi. You work on the blockbusters nowadays, and you
work on 1,200 shots pretty easily. And some go up to 1,500. Its a pretty significant number
of shots.
Rocheron recently supervised VFX for Twentieth Century Foxs The Secret Life of Walter
Mitty, which only has 700 visual effect shots. In it, Ben Stiller (who also directed the film)
stars as the lead character from the classic James Thurber story, escaping his mundane life
by slipping into fantastic daydreams of action and adventure.
Its quite a lot for a non visual effect-driven movie, notes Rocheron. What I found
interesting about Walter Mitty is, its not really a visual effects movie. The visual effects
are here to support story but its not about showing a lot of visual effects. Its an
everyday story.
Rocheron assembled a large team of VFX studios to meet the films needs. MPC was
one of them, he recalls. Framestore in NY and London did some work; Soho VFX in
Toronto did some work; Hydraulx in Vancouver and Los Angeles did some work; Rhythm
& Hues; Mr. X in New York; plus
other facilities that did smaller bits
and pieces.
One of the most challenging
visual effects takes place during the
films storm sequence. It is all
based on large simulations, and its
very difficult to art direct, he notes.
You need to find very specific timing and very specific timing controls. It requires a lot of computer
processing and a lot of artist time
to turn around different iterations.
Its something thats pretty complex
to put together.
Hydraulx handled much of the
fluid simulation. Ive done that before in The Life of Pi, with all the digital oceans, and its
something on its own that is a very complicated thing to solve. We had Framestore dealing
with the wider shots and vistas, and at some point Walter jumps into the water and the
camera goes into the ocean. Hydraulx, from that point on, tackled the close up water. That
involved less large-scale simulation, but more of a certain detail, and foam and sprays. It
was really about trying to find what was appropriate and spread out the work nicely.
Soho VFX handled the volcano eruption, which also presented challenges. We were
trying to simulate that plume of smoke that comes down onto the village and chases
Walters car as hes trying to escape, says Rocheron. It was a combination of creating that
big cloud chasing the car. At the same time, volcano smoke does not move that fast. If you
did get it to move fast, you can destroy the scale a little bit, so it took a lot of iterations
to find the right timing.
The fight scene between Walter and his nemesis Ted was yet another challenging
sequence. Its all about that cool surfing into the streets of Manhattan, notes Rocheron.
It involved creating digital doubles of the two main actors, but also tearing up the roads
and concrete-destruction effects.
Rocheron says his favorite sequence can be seen when Walter goes to Himalaya Mountains. It was a sequence that was done by Look Effects, he recalls. Its a virtual sequence
because it was all shot in Iceland a fantastic location with mountains, and they shot all
that beautiful, practical photography. For every shot, we replaced all the backdrops with digital mountains and reshaped the terrain to make it more high-altitude and on-top-of theworld landscapes. At end of day, theres pretty much visual effects in every single shot, but
when you watch it, it was filmed in a way that most people dont question it.

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

EDITORIAL
Marc Loftus
Senior Editor/Director of Web Content
(516) 376-1087
mloftus@postmagazine.com
Christine Bunish
Film& Video
IAIN BLAIR
Film
JENNIFER WALDEN
Audio
DanIEL Restuccio
West Coast Bureau
dansweb451@aol.com
BARRY GOCH
West Coast Blogger/Reporter
Michael Viggiano
Art Director
mviggiano@postmagazine.com

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THIS IS A MOVIE TO BRING HOME AND LIVE WITH, TO KICK AROUND IN YOUR HEAD AFTER IT HITS YOU IN THE HEART.

ITS DAMN NEAR PERFECT.


PETER TRAVERS

ANN HORNADAY

CLAUDIA PUIG

H
H
H
H
NEBRASKA IS A FILM OF

HHHH

MASTERFUL, MEANINGFUL AND POETIC.

RAW BEAUTY AND GREAT HUMANITY.


BRILLIANT, WISELY OBSERVED

BRUCE DERN DELIVERS THE

PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME.

AND WRYLY FUNNY

filmcomment
LARRY GROSS

NEBRASKA IS ALEXANDER PAYNES

BEST, MOST COMPLEX AND

DAVID EDELSTEIN

MOST SATISFYING

NEBRASKA IS A TRIUMPH.

WORK TO DATE.

JESSICA HERNDON

OUTFITTED WITH
DELICIOUS
WIT
.
JUNE SQUIBB IS UNFORGETTABLE.

CHRIS NASHAWATY

BRUCE DERN IS REMARKABLE


FROM BEGINNING TO END.
JOE MORGENSTERN

BY THE METRICS OF THE HEART,


NEBRASKA IS AS BIG AS IT IS

RICHARD ROEPER

IN ALEXANDER PAYNES

BEAUTIFUL
.
WILL FORTE PLAYS DAVID

AMERICAN MASTERPIECE,

BRUCE DERN IS NOTHING SHORT OF

WITH SOULFUL DELICACY.


MAGNIFICENT.
INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINATIONS

BEST FEATURE / BEST DIRECTOR - ALEXANDER PAYNE / BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY - BOB NELSON
BEST ACTOR - BRUCE DERN / BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - WILL FORTE / BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - JUNE SQUIBB

WINNER

BES T ACT OR
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
BRUCE DERN

WINNER

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD


PALM SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL
BRUCE DERN

DIRECTED BY

ALEXANDER PAYNE

WRITTEN BY

BOB NELSON

WINNER

BES T ACT OR
FT. LAUDERDALE FILM FESTIVAL
BRUCE DERN

Bits & Pieces


RIGHT
NOW

Cinesite challenges talent


with sci-fi short

ONDON Cinesite recently completed work


on an animated short that shows off its creature skills and the talents of its creative team.
The sci-fi themed spot is set on the moon, where
international astronauts encounter a large, strong and
scary alien creature.
The monster chases the astronauts, catching one at
a time and pounding them into the moons dusty surface. One astronaut seems to have escaped by hiding
behind a large rock formation. The monster is about to
leave, but the astronaut gives himself up when he
passes gas, alerting the monster to his presence. The
:50 spot closes with a product shot a fictitious can
of Haynes Baked Beans, which are high in fibre, but not
a smart diet for astronauts.
The project was written and directed by animator
Alvise Avati and marks Cinesites first venture into

SPORTS: The Boston Red Sox. I am a


huge sports fan and I dont try to hide it.
FILMS: I have always been passionate
about documentaries, going back to when
I first saw Hoop Dreams.
TV: Ninety percent of what I watch is
Apple TV: Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire,
Frontline, and ESPNs 30 for 30. Also, House
of Cards on Netflix.
Michael Daniels
Head of Post Production
Vice Media Group
Brooklyn, NY
www.vice.com

animated shorts. The studio is well known for its feature VFX work, including contributions to World War Z,
Skyfall, Iron Man 3 and many others. Recently, Cinesite
completed work on 300: Rise of an Empire, Jack Ryan,
Into The Storm and The Monuments Men.
Eamonn Butler served as producer on the project,
which began in May of 2013 and finished at the end of
October. The studio gathered photographic references
from various moon missions, and NASAs footage of
the moon landing. Richard Clarke served as VFX
supervisor. The dust simulations were created using
Houdini in a layered approach. Avati sculpted the
monster. Two rigs were used for the animation, with
Avati working on keyframe animation while Butler
simultaneously worked on the muscle rig with the
other. Changes were made in tandem, with muscle
controls added as required.

Man Made Music creates sonic IDs for A&E

EW YORK A&E Networks tapped Man Made Music (www.manmademusic.com), here, to create a
new sonic identity that matches its original content. The network is home to a range of popular
shows, including the off-beat Duck Dynasty and the creepy Bates Motel. Man Made Music was challenged
with reflecting the magnetism and unexpectedness of the networks programming across its entire family
of sonic deliverables.
Joel Beckerman and the team created a full-length rock anthem that incorporates some surprising elements, all to support A&Es Be Original theme. From the anthem, a sonic logo was also created. The
short-form expression of the sonic identity will show up in promotions, on the Web and in programming
breaks to help make viewers remember who is bringing them the breakthrough programming.
Man Made Musicwillapply the new sonic identity to promo IDs for all major A&E shows (Bad Ink, Bates
Motel, Duck Dynasty, Longmire, and Storage Wars).

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

Hollywoods most powerful color correction now


adds online editing and innovative on-set tools!
With over 50 amazing new features, DaVinci Resolve 10 now combines the worlds
most powerful color correction with new online editing, live grading from cameras
and new digital cinema file generation compatibility. Now you can edit, color
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Hollywoods most advanced color grading system, now with the power to manage
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Live Grading On-Set


More post production now starts on-set with lighting and other
aspects of the shoot verified with color correction. Now DaVinci
Resolve can grade live from your camera with the full creative
power of primaries, secondaries, power windows and even custom
curves! With dailies tools for grading, editing, sound syncing, managing media and
metadata, DaVinci Resolve 10 is now your complete on-set production solution!
Highest Quality Authoring

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Add emotion to your images with a massive toolset designed by
colorists for colorists! The innovative YRGB primaries and node
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images. With PowerWindows, RGB mixing, curve grading, blur, sharpen, mist,
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No other system supports more file formats and you can even
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Bits & Pieces


Previs house Baraboom
opens in Culver City

ULVER CITY, CA Baraboom Studios (www.baraboomstudios.com) has opened a new facility that
specializes in previsualization. The new Culver City-based studio launched with a small team of artists
in late 2013 and has plans to expand in 2014 with the hiring of additional staff and the addition of a
scanning and motion-capture stage.
Were very excited to have a home in Culver City thats convenient to our clients and provides a comfortable working environment for our talent, explains executive producer, Mike Pryor.
Founded in 2009 by animation director supervisor Pepe Valencia (pictured, lower left), Baraboom has provided previs services for a wide range of film, television and commercial projects over the years, including Summit Entertainments The Impossible and Universal Pictures Hop. It is currently working on a television series for
a major US network.
Valencia has more than 20 years of experience as an animator and animation director/supervisor. His background includes 11 years at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he served as animation supervisor on such films
as The Aviator, Peter Pan and Charlies Angels: Full Throttle. He also produced director layouts for Robert Zemeckis
on The Polar Express, Gil Kenan on Monster House and Brian Singer for Superman. After leaving SPI in 2007, he
joined Imagi Animation Studios and served as director of photography on the film Astro Boy.

Apple delivers new Mac Pro

UPERTINO, CA On Thursday,
December 19th, Apple began taking
orders for its new Mac Pro, the first of
which were delivered before the new year. I got
to see one up close recently, and my first impression was, Wow, its smaller than I expected.
The truth is, its 1/8th the size of past Mac Pro
towers. And the cylindrical-shaped workstation
is very quiet too. Apple reps say the new Mac
Pro runs at about 12dBs, which is comparable to
the noise made by the companys Mac Mini.
The success in keeping the new Mac Pro so
compact and quiet stems from its design footprint, which is essentially built around a cooling
fan. The thermal core consists of the units
CPU and 2 GPUs, which are arranged in a triangular fashion that allows heat to escape upwards
and through the top of the unit.
The new Mac Pro comes equipped with dual
AMD FirePro graphics cards. Buyers can choose
between the D300, D500 or D700 cards when
configuring their unit. Nvidia boards at this point
are not an option. Users can also choose
between Quad-Core or Six-Core configurations
with Intel Xeon E5 processors. Removable flash
storage is also available, ranging from 512GBs to
1TB. And for memory, users can chose between
12GBs or 16GBs of DDR3 ECC memory.
The new Mac Pro offers lots of expansion via
its ports. The unit features four USB 3 ports and
six Thunderbolt 2 ports (each offering 20gbps
throughput). HDMI connectivity allows for use
with 4K monitors. Two Ethernet ports and two
audio outputs round out the release. The latest

Post January 2014

WiFi and Bluetooth technology is also featured.


Apple notes that the Mac Pro is being manufactured here in the United States. Its chassis is
be being made in Tennessee
and final assembly takes
place in Austin, TX. In
addition, manufacturers
from 12 states are supplying components for
the workstation, further
supporting the Made in
America theme.
Coinciding with the
launch of the new Mac
Pro is an update to
Apples Final Cut Pro
editing software. Version
10.1 is now available as
a free upgrade. The
download marks the
10th release for the application over the past two-and-ahalf years, all of which have been free.
Final Cut Pro is still priced at $299.99, and the
latest enhancements are a direct response to
requests from the pro marketplace. Version 10.1
was designed to take advantage of the Mac Pros
new hardware, particularly the dual GPUs, which
support 4K and allow for rendering and playing
back VFX in realtime. Color grading and the retiming of footage also see significant improvements thanks to the new hardware.
Pricing for the new Mac Pro begins at
$2,999. By Marc Loftus

www.postmagazine.com

Commercial edit
house Friendshop
opens in NYC

EW YORK Editors Tim Wilson and


Ben Suenaga have left Go Robot!,
New York and opened a new editing
company with partner/managing director/
executive producer Melissa Mapes. Friendshop (212-520-3150) will operate as artists
in residence at Outpost Digital, while permanent offices are undergoing construction.
Wilson and Suenaga had each been on
staff at Go Robot! for more than a decade.
Wilsons credits include ad campaigns for HP,
Exxon, UPS, and Ikea, among others. Suenagas
many credits include spots for IBM, Starbucks,
AT&T and PowerAde. Mapes previously
served as EP and senior partner at Ogilvy,
New York, working with American Express,
UPS, Ikea and Stoli, among others.
We were always crazy about the idea of
building our own culture, one where collaboration and a sense of community are key,
explains Wilson. Weve had the pleasure of
working with some of the most talented and
creative minds in the industry, and were
excited to continue doing great work with
them in this kind of environment.
Ben, Tim and I have essentially grown up
together in this business, and have been relying
on each other as partners since our careers
began, Mapes adds. Were excited to officially
join forces. They can be reached via email at:
tim@friendshopedit.com, ben@friendshopedit.
com, or mapes@friendshopedit.com.

special report
Canon introduces DP-V3010 4K display

By Ben
Campanaro
VFX Compositing supervisor
LOS ANGELES
bengraphics@yahoo.com

Canon closes
the 4K
production loop
with a new
display.

fter teasing crowds at trade shows


for the past three years with glimpses of prototypes, Canon officially
announced its entrance into the high-end
hardware market with the DP-V3010 4K reference display. Post Magazine was invited to
the Canon Shimomaruko headquarters in
Tokyo, Japan, for an exclusive first look and
hands-on demonstration of the display.
The DP-V3010 is a big step for Canon.
Growing from its legendary history as a
leader in lens manufacturing and the launch of
its EOS Cinema line in 2010 (most recently
used on Ron Howards Rush and the indie hit
Blue is the Warmest Color), the company is
now serving its customers 4K digital cinema
hardware that spans from input to output.
While rewarding those who stick to the
Canon brand with an optimized workflow
from lensing to the color bay, the display has
enough brand-agnostic features to cater to
anyone working in high-end, on-set monitoring, editorial, VFX and motion graphics, photo
editing, and color correction. As the industry
evolves to a 4K standard, the DP-V3010
marks Canons intent to take the reference
display throne away from Dolbys 1080p
PRM-4220.
Ideally paired with footage from Canons
flagship EOS C500 4K camera, the DP-V3010
is a 30-inch, IPS LCD display with a resolution
of 4,096-by-2,560. This yields a 10.5 megapixel image area in a 16:10 aspect ratio, well
suited for viewing 4K video with the extra
vertical space for a menu and task bar. With
some marketing campaigns focusing on pixel
density over the last few years, the Canon
display scores a 161.01 pixels per inch measurement. Compare that to 52.45 on the
Dolby, 94.34 on the HP DreamColor, or
108.79 on Apples Thunderbolt Display. Seeing really is
believing for just how beautifully detailed, smooth and
natural 4K imagery can
appear when compressed to
a desktop-sized screen.
I sat down with Canons
Shinichi Yamato, chief of display products, and Hideyuki
Komatsu, general manager of
display products, at the
Canon headquarters. Though
not quite ready to release specifics, the
Canon executives were proud to say that the
reference display has been engineered completely from scratch: a new image processor,

new imaging algorithms, and a new LCD


panel and backlight design. They also alluded
to an internal feedback loop designed into
the display, which enables it to automatically
adjust itself to maintain consistent imagery
throughout the products lifespan.
The DP-V3010 can receive 4K signals over
3G-SDI or DisplayPort in frame rates ranging
from 24 to 60p. It is DCI-compliant, with a
contrast ratio of 2000:1. All color processing

layout: unintentionally tilting the monitor, or


getting fingerprints on the screen.
Navigating through the on-screen menus
on the Canon display was slightly more sluggish than one may be used to, and the lack of
physical weight to the controller bar and its
dials make it feel a little on the cheap side.
With 10 programmable buttons, Canon
missed an opportunity to include the customizable LED displays often seen on Wacom

Canon sees its new DP-V3010 as a 4K monitoring solution for anyone shooting with its EOS C500 4K
cinema camera.

is calculated internally in 18-bit color space


before being presented in 10-bit, on-screen.
The display supports ACESproxy output for
monitoring from the Canon EOS C500, and
includes presets for linearizing Canon Log
footage also coming from the C300. A USB
2.0 port on the display allows for the import
of ASC .CDL LUTs, and exporting any modified .CDL or other settings presets chosen on
the display to share with the rest of your
team. Additional 1D and 3D LUT formats are
said to be supported natively, but at press
time, a comprehensive list was still pending.
The display also has an Ethernet port,
which connects to the included controller bar,
a separate interface with buttons for video
selection, menu navigation, 10 programmable
functions, and dials for color adjustment.
While its always hard to give up desk real
estate, I like having this interface separate
from the monitor housing. Canons design
avoids the problems Ive run into while working on an HP DreamColor for the past few
years with the standard buttons-on-bezel
www.postmagazine.com

tablets for labeling each function. As it stands,


the controller bar lends itself to the all-toocommon covering with post-it notes and
hand-scrawled letters to remember what
each preset is configured for. Nonetheless, the
functionality is there to cater to DPs on-set,
who can install their own LUTs in advance,
quickly toggle them on and off while shooting,
and create new LUTs on the fly and export
them for dailies all without touching a PC.
These refinements can be made anytime,
even when viewing with the preset color settings from ACESproxy.
At the Japan press unveiling, Canon positioned two DP-V3010 units in their new digital cinema studio, flanking a synced 4K Christie
CP4220 DLP projection on a 250-inch Stewart SnoMatte Filmscreen, all calibrated with a
Minolta CA-310 color analyzer. Comparing
some beautiful 4K EOS C500 footage of
European landscapes and Victorian-era models, the displays appeared to be a spot-on
match to the projection in terms of luminance
range, hue, and saturation. The visible detail in
Post January 2014

special report

The InterBee Convention


gave pros in the Asian
market a chance to see the
new DP-V3010 up close.

10

the darkest of shadow areas was also remarkably similar, though the actual black level on
the projection appeared slightly washed out
compared to the strong, dense blacks seen on
the displays.
Any concerns from the lack of movement
in the first demo footage were squelched at
the InterBEE Convention in Tokyo the next
morning, when Mr. Komatsu and the lead
engineers of the display were happy to switch
on some Formula 1 racing footage at Posts
request. None of the tearing, streaking, or
other motion artifacts that can plague many
LCDs were apparent. Motion blur looked
completely smooth and natural to the photography. Its simply beautiful to look at.
The busy Canon booth at InterBEE showcased a trio of DP-V3010s with identical looking imagery. Mr. Komatsu was proud to say
these were straight out of the box, without
any additional work to get them to visually
match a testament to Canons rigorous
in-house quality checks for uniformity. While
this can help with transparency from one
office location to another, and even allow for
the sharing of monitor settings throughout a
facility, Im surprised that Canon is currently
not planning to involve themselves in the calibration of the displays once they are installed
on site?
The 30-inch display has an 89 degree viewing angle horizontally as well as vertically offcenter, while still maintaining uniform color.
This will come into play during those unannounced visits from directors or VFX supervi-

Post January 2014

sors, as four or five sets of eyes can stare at


an artists desk and each of them will be
presented with the same imagery. Canon likes
to note that the display could be a space- and
money-saver by eliminating a studios need for
a large-screen review theater. While this may

exactly what theyre creating. Especially when


working on darkly-lit plates, adding supersubtle effects like cold breath enhancements
requires a display that wont introduce banding at any range of the color space. This
removing of any rose-colored glasses opens
up communication between artists and
streamlines post production, allowing for less
time spent on logistics and more time spent
on creativity.The Canon DP-V3010 is going to
be the monitor that every artist, whether
theyre working in 2K or 4K, is going to want
on their desk. So of course there has to be a
catch, right?
The price at launch in the first quarter of
2014 will be $40,000. While this puts the
DP-V3010 directly in line with the competition from Dolby, its also nearly double the
cost of what a filmmaker would spend on the
4K C500 camera housing to shoot their
movie. This pricing strategy will greatly limit its
audience to the highest level of productions:
more screening rooms, less artist bullpens.
After the phenomenal success of the DSLR
put high-quality filmmaking within the grasp of
the common man, Im surprised that Canon is
not also offering a more affordable alternative
as their entry into the display market? Needless to say, Im anxious to see how the
DP-V3010 is received next year, and what
Canon has next up their sleeve.

The Canon Shimomaruko headquarters in Tokyo.

be true in the practical sense of image accuracy, best of luck trying to sell that concept to
directors or producers who are used to
lounging in posh screening rooms.
As a VFX compositing supervisor myself,
Ive felt the pains of struggling to work on a
display that simply cant show the artist

www.postmagazine.com

Ben Campanaro is an Emmy award-nominated VFX compositing supervisor based in Los


Angeles. His list of works include televisions
Sleepy Hollow and Terra Nova, and the features Spring Breakers and Mission: Impossible
4 Ghost Protocol. He can be reached by
email at: bengraphics@yahoo.com.

PA S
GU R EE
IL AM IT
DS OU
.C N
OM T
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO JONAH HILL MARGOT ROBBIE
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY
KYLE CHANDLER ROB REINER
JON BERNTHAL JON FAVREAU AND JEAN DUJARDIN

BEST PICTURE
MARTIN SCORSESE
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO
RIZA AZIZ
JOEY McFARLAND
EMMA TILLINGER KOSKOFF

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

BEST DIRECTOR

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

JAMES SABAT
TOM FLEISCHMAN, C.A.S.

MARTIN SCORSESE

RODRIGO PRIETO, ASC, AMC

BEST SOUND EDITING

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

BEST FILM EDITING

PHILIP STOCKTON
EUGENE GEARTY

TERENCE WINTER

MARGOT ROBBIE

THELMA SCHOONMAKER, A.C.E.

BEST ACTOR

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO

BOB SHAW
ELLEN CHRISTIANSEN

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR


JONAH HILL
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY

BEST COSTUME DESIGN


SANDY POWELL

BEST SOUND MIXING

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING


MINDY HALL
MICHAEL KRISTON
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
ROB LEGATO
JOE FARRELL

POST AD

directors chair
David O. Russell American Hustle

H
By
Iain Blair

Shot on film,
this feature has
over 600 VFX.

American Hustle was


cut on an Avid.

12

OLLYWOOD Director/writer
David O. Russell, who made his
directorial debut with 1994s dark
comedy Spanking the Monkey, has since
amassed a small but diverse body of work
that includes the Gulf War thriller Three Kings,
the existential comedy I Heart Huckabees, and
the sports drama The Fighter, which earned
him Oscar Best Picture and Best Director
nominations. He repeated those nominations
with 2012s Silver Linings Playbook, a hit drama
about bipolar disorder.
His new film, American Hustle, is a fictionalized version of the real-life 70s political corruption scandal known as Abscam, which
once again stars Silver Linings Oscar-winner
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, along
with Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Louis
C.K. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post,
Russell talks about making the film, the challenges involved, and his love of post.
POST: What do you look for in a project and
what made you choose this one?
DAVID O. RUSSELL: I always look for
amazing characters who I find are fascinating,
charming, flawed, romantic and in trouble.
Those are the key elements I look for. And
they have a very specific world theyre in, as in
The Fighter and Silver Linings. Theyre a sort of
community, and theyre having to reinvent
themselves. So theyre in trouble of some
kind, but their world also has some enchantment in it that they love. Theres love and
passion and compassion in it. And then there
must be a sizeable theme, and in this one its
not just about conning people, but reinvention. When Christian Bale and I first discussed
this, we were both struck by the notion of his
characters passion and the attention to detail
like a theater director or artist. And then
theres the larger question of what roles and
identities everyone plays everyday, the narratives they use to get through life. And everyone has to have one you believe in, or youre
a bit adrift.
POST: Do you see this and those two previous films as related?
RUSSELL: Completely. For me, this is the
third part of a trio of films that all my works
been leading up to. I feel all the others were
like preparation for this.
POST: You mention community. You seem
to have this repertory company of actors you
love to use Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley
Cooper.
RUSSELL: I love that idea of working with

Post January 2014

the same team on both sides of the camera,


and having that continuity.
POST: What sort of film did you set out to
make?
RUSSELL: Its the same aim, the same voice,
the same song if you will, as my last two films.You
go into the humanity, and what comes can be
heartbreaking and inspiring and also funny
and not even intentionally. It just comes naturally
from the flavor of the characters.
POST: What were the main technical challenges of pulling all this together and how tough
was the shoot?
RUSSELL: It was pretty tough. On each of
these last three films, its been about briskness.

deal for me in production to get a reliable


monitor, as Im always standing next to the
Steadicam and moving through the scenes
with a very large cast the largest Ive ever
had. So we searched until we found this predigital monitor that turned out to be the most
reliable for the image.
POST: Did you shoot film or digital?
RUSSELL: Film, and DP Linus Sandgren
shot the very last stock of Fuji film. And thats
very sad to me, as I love Fuji stock. There was
talk about going digital, and Im a romantic and
a little superstitious, and I love shooting film.
And Ive been told by a lot of people in post
that even though cameras like the Alexa are

Director Russell on-set (right): We do very few takes, so everyone has to hit it right and just jump in.

You must come from instinct, and we developed a team and a style of working. We shoot
nearly every frame with Steadicam sometimes using two and thats because its
unobtrusive and moves fluidly through the
compositions and spaces. We had Geoffrey
Haley on The Fighter and again on this with
Greg Lindstrom, so two operators this time
who traded off. And we used the briskness as
an asset, and it makes us come from instinct
and passion and intensity. We do very few
takes, so everyone has to hit it right and just
jump in. And that gives us a lot of energy.
Theres no time to really over-think it or second-guess yourself too much. But we still have
to make choices do we play the scenes
hot, medium or cool? So the actors get a
chance to explore. In terms of the video tap,
I dont do the video village ever, so it was a big

www.postmagazine.com

pretty amazing, they still cant quite match the


richness and depth of film, and often you end
up spending more time lighting for digital. We
tend to roll the mags 10-minute, 20-minute mags on the Steadicam and the very
fact that we all know were burning film and
its going to end adds to the immediacy and
intensity of the process.
POST: Do you like the post process?
RUSSELL: I love it. We have this great post
team headed by [editor] Jay Cassidy and a
great way of working. We have a rhythm thats
very creative. We get into [it] quite slowly with
the material. I dont like to look at a rough
assembly, so we tend to cut it in sequences.
Sometimes theres a sequence that has been
assembled and Jay will say, Lets take a look and
it does come in handy, but in this case, we had
such a short shoot just 40 days and we

had one of the shortest posts Ive ever had,


which was added pressure.
POST: The film was edited by Jay Cassidy
and Crispin Struthers, who were Oscar nominated for Silver Linings Playbook. Tell us about
that relationship and how it worked?
RUSSELL: Jay was actually assisted by
Crispin, who also worked on my last two
films, and Alan Baumgarten. Jay didnt visit the
set and edited in Santa Monica. He can
explain how it works. (See sidebar)
POST: How many visual effects shots are
there in the film?
RUSSELL: We used a surprisingly large
amount over 600 for two reasons; First,
the characters wear sunglasses a lot, so there
were a lot of pesky reflections from the fill
lights that we constantly had to get rid of.
Then, we also had to do quite a few period
adjustments, such as with cars on the street,
and backgrounds. We also ran into a situation
with the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan thats
under construction right now, so we had to
do a lot of work with existing plates to
remove all the scaffolding.
POST: Who did them and how did you
approach them?
RUSSELL: We realized that the best way
to deal with them was for us to create our
own in-house team, headed by Jay. So we then
combined that with various vendors for specific visual effects. We used Zero VFX in Boston, and Lola in Santa Monica did a lot of

Olympus Sound provided


audio post for the film.
Efilm handled the DI.

make up and hair effects, and Crafty Apes also


did some shots.
POST: Can you talk about the importance of
music and sound to you as a filmmaker?
RUSSELL: I cant over-emphasize just
how important sound design and music are
to me. The environment of sound from scene
to scene and moment to moment is very
specific, and we create enormous layers of
sound. There are different kinds of silences, or
dog barks in neighborhoods when theres
chaos, and I like to use ambience to actually
create enormous tension that you can then
suck out of the room, which we do in a very
dramatic way right at the start of the film. We
did a lot of interesting things in the mix to

Editor Jay Cassidy


I met David through dailies on Silver Linings, and as I was hired after they began
shooting it, I never actually even met him until post, as he was shooting in Philadelphia and I was in Santa Monica. But I heard a lot of talk about his methods, and how
he runs these long takes with re-sets. So you hear a lot of discussion in between the
takes, and its a very interesting way to meet a director as I felt as though I was on
the set. I felt like he was giving me instructions at the same time.
After I began working on this last March, Crispin came on a month later, and
then Alan came on a couple of weeks after that. We broke the film down into different segments and then each of us really focused on those segments through all of
the post. Because there was so much material, that way of handling it just made the
most sense. Certain scenes did go back and forth between us, but we kept it pretty
consistent in terms of each of us dealing with specific segments.
We cut on Avid at Tribeca West and it was great place to work and Michael
Mann was down the hall, Oliver Stone was next door, and they were also doing Hunger Games there. So Jennifer was back and forth. And we only really finished cutting
and post at the end of November.

layer in sounds to create moments of energy


at the start and end of scenes, when something momentous is about to happen. So as
two characters end a conversation and you
leave the room and go outside, we used
sounds that dont necessarily belong to either
environment, to make a dramatic point.
POST: Where did you mix?
RUSSELL: In the cutting room a lot, and
then we went to Olympus Sound, which is
John and Nancy Ross mixing stage, where we
also did the last two movies. Myron Nettinga
mixed all the effects with John, whos our
supervising sound editor and also a part of
our team. We get into a rhythm of doing
mixes at screenings for ourselves, and its a set
up where everyones involved. Jennifer, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner will come, and
they all give notes and Ill take notes from
anyone to help advance the final film.
POST: The DI must have been vital. How did
that process help?
RUSSELL: Its extremely important. We
did it at Efilm and you have to watch your
dailies very carefully or they move sideways at
the 11th hour which happens with the mix
too. For the most part we loved the look of
the dailies, but you have to mother them and
preserve the look. I love rich color, I love redness in peoples faces. I do not like things to
feel cool. So with Jay and colorist Yvan Lucas,
we sit there and go over it all frame by frame.
POST: Whats next?
RUSSELL: This is the fastest Ive ever
made two films, as we were prepping this
while still finishing Silver Linings. So that was a
first for me, and I marvel at filmmakers like
The Coens and Woody Allen, who never
seem to slow down. I need to take a break
now and figure out whats next.

www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

13

By Iain Blair

n terms of Oscar-worthy films, 2013 followed the usual release pattern; the first eight or nine
months of the year saw a handful of potential contenders, including Fruitvale Station, The Great
Gatsby, Lee Daniels The Butler, Mud and Blue Jasmine, but its in the final stretch where the studios
stack up serious projects (along with a few more light-hearted movies) such as Nebraska, 12 Years
A Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Mandela; Long Walk To Freedom, Lone Survivor, The Wolf of Wall Street,
The Book Thief, American Hustle, All Is Lost, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, Her, Philomena, Labor
Day, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks. Will
Oscar as usual turn a blind eye to earlier releases in favor of the year-end releases? Impossible to
tell, but with all that in mind, we now look into our crystal ball and present our annual top picks
list of likely nominees.

BEST PICTURE/BEST DIRECTOR/EDITING & SOUND


Looking like an Oscar certainty, 12 Years A Slave, based on a true story, is a harrowing tale of a free
black man whos kidnapped and forced into slavery in the 1840s. To keep his ensemble film looking
as authentic as possible, British director Steve McQueen, who called his shoot as hard as it looks,
decided to shoot in Louisiana at four old plantations near New Orleans. DP Sean Bobbitt, who also
shot McQueens Shame and Hunger, used Arri cameras and the production benefited from the states
aggressive tax breaks, which reportedly kept the budget under $25 million. It was edited by Joe
Walker, who cut Shame and Hunger, and who reports the film was shot through Cooke S4 lenses
onto 4-perf 35mm, full frame, cropped to 2:35 in the cutting room. The film was processed and
transferred to digital by a local lab, CineWorks.
We had a very simple set up, with Unity connecting an Avid in my room (running Version 5.5.3.3)
and another in my assistants, he notes. For the Avid media we chose DNxHD 115, which looked
great even in the enormous theatres where we had test screenings. We managed to sidestep
picture conforms for these, deriving the images direct from Avid. For some of the earlier production
screenings we used a Blackmagic HyperDeck Shuttle 2, which uses a solid state drive to connect via
HDSDI direct to the 2K projector and avoids tape decks and DCPs.
Walker reports that McQueen shoots very economically we stored no more than 6TBs of
media. My assistant Javier Marcheselli used Nuke to finesse temp VFX and I used a fair amount of

Director Alfonso Cuaron says


complex shoots like the one
for Gravity are the new norm
in filmmaking.

www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

15

OSCAR PICKS
12 Years a Slave went for
authenticity, shooting in
Louisiana during the heat
of summer.

audio software on my laptop, such as Metasynth a great tool for looping atmospheres or extending the length of a chord.
Everyone said its crazy to film in Louisiana in
July, it gets hot. And there we were, well into
August. That translates to the screen. Solomon is constantly engaged in gruelling physical labour and sweat pours from him in gallons. Everyone was eaten alive by insects. Kirk
Francis, our sound recordist, stayed behind
after the shoot to capture the sound of cicadas at different times of the day. They make
an incredible noise in the evenings, a kind of
circular buzz-saw pattern. Its deafening
technically loud enough to cause permanent
hearing loss. We used those recordings in the
sequence where Solomon is left dangling
from a noose in the middle of Fords plantation, and they build like a music cue during
the section where Michael Fassbenders
character, Epps, discovers his fields have been
devastated by cotton worm. My background
was as a composer and sound editor, so I
spend a ridiculous amount of time finessing
these things. There are a lot of long takes in
Steves films, but they never feel slow. Theres
a carefully-managed tension. By not cutting,
the audience has no choice but to invest in
what they are watching, there are no safety
ropes, no hand-holding. Its kind to the actors,
and it has the wonderful side benefit for me
that when the cuts do come, the rhythm is
crystal clear, and I can make a huge impact
with them.
As McQueen now lives in Amsterdam,
16

Post January 2014

the team moved their gear there for 10


weeks of fine cutting. Returning to the
States, they moved first to New Orleans
and then to Los Angeles for screenings and
post work, including Hans Zimmers score
and Leslie Shatzs sound mix at Wildfire
Studios. The film was scanned with Arri
scanners and color timed at Company 3 by
Tom Poole on DaVinci Resolve.
In such acclaimed films as The Departed
(which won him the Oscar), Gangs of New
York, Casino and Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese
has examined the morally-corrupt lifestyles
of the rich and infamous the made men
and gangsters that ran criminal empires and
built Las Vegas while destroying the lives of
anyone who got in the way. So maybe it
was just a matter of time before he
switched his attention to the machinations
of stock brokers another group fond of
big numbers, sharp suits and the challenges
of walking a very thin line between legal
and illegal business.
The Wolf of Wall Street, his aptly-named
new film and dark comedy was shot by
Mexican DP Rodrigo Prieto, whose credits
include Argo, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,
Babel, Alexander and Brokeback Mountain (for
which he won an Oscar nomination).The DP
states that, contrary to some published
reports, the film was not an all-digital shoot.
Our original plan was to shoot digitally,
he admits, but Marty preferred the look of
film, especially on the close ups. But because
the film also uses quite a lot of visual effects,

www.postmagazine.com

and VFX supervisor Robert Legato had


already budgeted all the effects for digital
capture, the all-film plan was adjusted. It
was far simpler for Rob to pull the keys and
greenscreen, and change anything he had to
in the edit without rescanning the negative if
we stayed digital for the VFX, says Prieto. So
then we decided to shoot all the VFX scenes
and the greenscreen scenes in particular
with the Alexa. And once wed decided
that, I just thought, lets use the Alexa for
what its so good at night scenes and lowlight situations.
The DP and director settled on a hybrid
approach, the same thing I did on Argo, says
Prieto; 80 percent of The Wolf of Wall Street
was shot on film, and 20 percent was shot
digitally, reports the DP. For the digital work
he shot with the Alexa Studio. In terms of the
digital workflow, the DP used a Codex Digital recorder to record the ArriRaw files,
which gives you the most latitude, and used
LUTs with the DIT, to emulate film print
stock, he explains. The team also worked
closely on the look with Deluxe in New York,
where the film was finished at Efilm with
colorist Yvan Lucas, Prietos regular colorist
and collaborator since Alexander. The film
was cut by Scorseses longtime editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Philip Stockton was
the supervising sound editor.
When British director Paul Greengrass,
whose credits include the Oscar-winning The
Bourne Ultimatum, United 93 and Green Zone,
teamed up with two-time Oscar-winner Tom

Hanks to make Captain Phillips, a rippedfrom-the-headlines emotional thriller about


four Somali pirates who hijacked a US container ship in 2009 and then held the captain
(played by Hanks) hostage as they tried to
negotiate a huge ransom, it quickly racked up
early Oscar buzz. Its easy to see why, as the
film combines action, drama, suspense and
fine performances from Hanks and the firsttime Somali actors.
Shot by DP Barry Ackroyd, who also
lensed United 93 and Green Zone, the film
presented huge challenges says Greengrass,
including, shooting at sea with real ships,
which is harder than you ever imagine. Locations included Malta, Morocco, Massachusetts, Virginia and the UK, and the team spent
over 60 days at sea and got great help from
the US Navy, he says. Everyone said, shoot
it in the big tank in Malta, but I knew we had
to shoot on the real ocean or itd look hopelessly inauthentic. And you know youre at
sea when you watch this.
Post was done mostly in London, with
Double Negative and VFX supervisor Charlie Noble handling most of the visual effects
(along with some shots by Nvizible and
Proof). Editor Chris Rouse cut in LA at first
while Greengrass shot and later moved to
London and cut the rest there. Sound was
done at De Lane Lea in London with supervising sound editor Oliver Tarney, who did
United 93 and Green Zone with Greengrass.
Then they finished up post back in LA on the

Sony lot.
All Is Lost, starring Oscar-winner Robert
Redford, is another sea yarn, but of a very
different kind. Redford plays a nameless, lone
sailor in the Indian Ocean who discovers his
sailboat is sinking. The film was directed by
J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) and needed two
DPs Margin Calls Frank DeMarco and
underwater expert Peter Zuccarini (Life of
Pi) to handle all the water scenes shot at
Baja Studios famous tank (Titanic, Pearl Harbor). VFX were done by Spin VFX and the DI
was done with colorist Chris Wallace on an
Autodesk Lustre at Deluxe in Toronto. Pete
Beaudreau was the editor and and threetime Oscar winner Richard Hymns was the
sound editor and Steve Boeddeker was the
sound designer and supervising sound editor
on the almost wordless movie. If any film
deserves Oscar attention for its sound work,
this is the one.
Over the past 15 years, since his 1996
feature debut Citizen Ruth, director/writer
Alexander Payne has created a small but
potent body of work including Sideways
(which won him the 05 Oscar and Golden
Globe for Best Screenplay), About Schmidt,
Election and The Descendants (which won
him a writing Oscar). His new film, Nebraska,
which is already getting a lot of Oscar buzz,
is in B&W, and was edited by his longtime
editor Kevin Tent, who edited The Descendants, Sideways and About Schmidt.
Hes edited all of my projects since 95

and its a great relationship, says Payne, who


calls the post process, my favorite part of
the whole film. Writing is necessary but painful, directing is exhilarating but exhausting
and you have all those egos to massage.
Post is where cinema really happens, where
montages unique to cinema among the arts
come alive.
Also looking likely to get Oscar attention
is Saving Mr. Banks, which details the in-fighting between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and
Mary Poppins author PL Travers (Emma
Thompson) after all, it has a lot that
appeals to Oscar voters; its a period piece, a
true story, and all about Hollywood itself.
Plus it has two Oscar-fave actors, although
Hanks may have to fight his Captain Phillips
character for a nomination. Directed by John
Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), it was edited
by Mark Livolsi and features VFX by Luma
Pictures. Jon Johnson was the supervising
sound editor.
Oscar fave Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind
won him Oscars for Best Director and Best
Picture) didnt get the hit he deserved with
Rush, the real-life story of the 1976 Formula
One season and the dramatic rivalry
between British driver James Hunt (played
by Liam Hemsworth) and reigning world
champion Austrian racer Niki Lauda (Daniel
Bruhl). But the film deserves consideration
for its spectacular visuals, courtesy of DP
Anthony Dod Mantle, Danny Boyles go-to
DP who won the Oscar for Slumdog Million-

Director David O.
Russell shot the 70s
era American Hustle
on film.

www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

17

OSCAR PICKS

The Hobbit: The Desolation


of Smaug and Star Trek Into
Darkness are two films
with notable VFX.

18

aire, and impressive editing and sound work.


The film was impressively edited by Howards longtime collaborators Dan Hanley and
Mike Hill, who won the Oscar for Apollo 13,
and sound was crucial to the film, as you
hear those cars before you ever see them,
notes Howard. And Danny Hambrook, our
sound designer, recorded lots of the historic
cars and built up all these tracks, and in post
helped design the engine sounds, and that
made a world of difference. A lot of the F1
fans can tell the engines apart, so I wanted it
to be right.
Over the course of a long and storied
film, TV and stage career that began in the
80s, Ralph Fiennes has established himself
as an actors actor, a consummate professional equally at home playing gravitas and
drama The English Patient (for which he
received a Best Actor Oscar nom), The
Constant Gardner, The Reader, Quiz Show
campy adventure (The Avengers) romantic comedy (Maid in Manhattan) action
(Skyfall) and even an animated musical
(The Prince of Egypt).
Like any actor, I like variety, he notes
dryly. But Fiennes, who has always excelled
above all at playing morally bankrupt villains,

bore him a son). The project, written by Abi


Morgan (The Iron Lady), reunites its star with
The English Patients Kristin Scott Thomas
(she plays Mrs. Ternan) and was another
labor of love for Fiennes.
Dickens was a very complicated man,
which I like, and while trying to direct and act
at the same time isnt easy, portraying his
exhaustive energy and love of organizing
amateur dramatics and so on came in very
useful, as it paralleled what I had to do, says
Fiennes, who shot the film largely on location
in England and posted it in London. He notes
that shooting period pieces isnt easy, even if
you find the original Dickens locations, as so
much has been changed.To help remove any
traces of 21st Century technology and signage, Fiennes teamed with Molinare VFX and
One Of Us.
And Mandela; Long Walk To Freedom
deser ves Oscar attention, with its
inspired take on the late 95-year-old
Nobel Peace Prize winners momentous
life, directed with both lyrical grace and
urgent ferocity by Justin Chadwick (The
Other Boleyn Girl). The small-budget indie,
shot entirely in South Africa, was a labor
of love for all involved.

effects shots, with over 1,100 done at Sony


Imageworks (and another 400 done by Luma
Pictures, Digiscope, Evil Eye, Method, Reliance,
Third Floor and With A Twist). The senior
visual effects supervisor was Scott Stokdyk,
who worked with Oz director Sam Raimi on
all three Spider-Man films (he won the Oscar
for Spider-Man 2), and the Imageworks team
included digital effects supervisors Francisco
DeJesus and Peter Nofz, animation supervisor
Troy Saliba, 3D visual effects supervisor Scott
Willman and senior visual effects producer
Diana Ibanez. The goal was to create a highlystylized environment for the land of Oz and
bring to life the CG characters that accompany Oz (James Franco) on his journey,
including Finley the monkey and China Girl, as
well as the characters and creatures that
surprise them along the way. These included
thousands of flying Baboons, with three
unique hero Baboons, digital crowds in the
land of Oz, including countryside and city
crowds, and CG creatures, include attacking
snapdragons, horses, various insects, butterflies, birds, flying fish, wooden horses, lions,
squirrels, and river fairies.
In addition, the team created many CG
environments, including the Kansas Circus

both small-time mobsters (In Bruges) and


larger-than-life, indelible incarnations of evil
(Amon Goeth in Schindlers List, Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter franchise), is now
making a name for himself as a director. Hes
always been attracted to darker material and
morally conflicted, tragic characters, tackling
the title role in his 2010 passion project, an
updated version of Shakespeares Coriolanus, which also marked his directorial debut.
His second film as director, The Invisible
Woman, also deals with themes of conflict
and loss in its story of a young actress, Ellen
Ternan (Felicity Jones), who in the 1880s met
the famous and famously energetic and
controlling Charles Dickens (Fiennes) and
became his secret mistress (she reportedly

VISUAL EFFECTS & POST


WORKFLOW
Visual effects have come a very long way
in the past decade or two, and Oscar has
usually voted like any fanboy and gone for
the truly spectacular in this category. And
the past year certainly saw plenty of spectacular VFX in such global blockbusters
and a few box office disappointments as
Iron Man 3, The Hobbit: The Desolation of
Smaug, Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, Oz The
Great and Powerful, Pacific Rim, Oblivion, Thor:
The Dark World, The Lone Ranger, Star Trek Into
Darkness, Gravity, World War Z, The Great
Gatsby and The Wolverine.
Oz The Great and Powerful was another
huge global hit and boasted over 1,500 visual

environment, panoramics of the land of Oz,


huge water environments with lots of closeup water interaction, the Emerald Citys main
gates, boulevard, central square, back gate,
back alley, bell tower, palace, dais, vaulted corridor, Throne Room, Room of Resplendence,
balcony and bridge digital sets, and huge aerials of the city. Also created were the Yellow
Brick Road countryside environments, China
Town a town made of porcelain plates,
teacups and teapots, the Haunted Forest, the
graveyard and ruins, and Glindas castle and
village. Featured FX animation included magic
effects for the witches, Glindas magic bubbles, Theodoras fire tornado, the hot air balloon destruction during the Oz hologram
show, and various fireballs, explosions and

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

smoke effects.
The big challenges were bringing a unique
look to every environment, and life to all the
characters, reports Stokdyk, who says the
process took over a year. The team used
Arnold renderers and Katana lighting packages,
along with Maya as a base for all the character
work, and Houdini for most of the effects
work, he adds. Summing up, he says that the
VFX work, was even more difficult than the
stuff we did on the Spider-Man films, because it
was all done on stage with a very classic stagelit look, while the Spider-Man films were all
grounded in New York locations.
Aussie VFX house Rising Sun Pictures
worked on three of the years most successful releases Gravity, The Great Gatsby and
The Wolverine. The Great Gatsby may seem
like an unlikely candidate for 3D, but it suited
director Baz Luhrmanns spectacular vision
for his reworking of the famous F. Scott
Fitzgerald story. Shot on Red Epic-Xs, the film
also had an unorthodox approach to post
and its VFX, with DIT Brook Willard working
with data manager Steve Freebairn and the
productions in-house VFX department to
manage the workflow.
Star Trek Into Darkness, shot by DP Daniel
Mindel, whose credits include Mission Impossible 3 and Domino, featured hundreds of
stunning VFX shots, created by an army of
artists and technicians at Pixomondo, Stereo
D, ILM, Halon Entertainment, Atomic Fiction
and Kelvin Optical. The DI was done by Stefan Sonnenfeld at Company 3.
Another army of artists and technicians at
Weta Digital, Scanline VFX, Digital Domain,
Stereo D, Method Studios, Trixter, The
Embassy, Framestore, Fuel VFX, The Third
Floor and Cinesite labored over the VFX in
Iron Man 3, while MPC, Cinesite, Prime Focus
World and ILM helped bring the zombies to
life in another global blockbuster, World War
Z. And many of the same houses Weta,
MPC, Scanline and Double Negative, along
with Gentle Giant Studios and Legend 3D,
helped make Superman fly again in Man of
Steel. And busy Weta was the sole VFX
house on The Hobbit.
3D may have taken some knocks recently,
but two high-profile films Gravity and The
Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug proved
that if you use the 3D correctly, audiences
will come. To create the stunning photorealism of Gravity, which looks like the frontrunner, acclaimed Mexican director Alfonso
Cuaron assembled a behind-the-scenes team
that included multiple Oscar-nominated
director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki
(Children of Men, The New World), editor Mark
Sanger (VFX editor on Children of Men) and

Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor


Tim Webber (The Dark Knight). You have to
design in 3D from the very start if youre
going to do it properly, he says. When you
dont, you dont exploit all the possibilities
and its usually lame and visually jarring. And
often projection isnt very good either. Here,
we created a 3D experience from start to
finish, which is totally different and the right
way to use 3D.
Post production was also front and center
from the very start of the 3D hit thriller. We
actually needed to complete post before we
even started pre production, reports Cuaron. We had to do very precise animation
for the whole film, with perfect lighting and
rendering. Then some of the rendering started every scenes prep work. And even
though the director started on post work
early for such VFX-driven films as franchise
blockbuster Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
Azkaban, he admits that front-loading post
production and VFX (all done at Londonbased Framestore) onto a complex shoot
like Gravity is the new normal. Id never gone
through a post experience like this before,
he states. It was totally unconventional. It
was also quite scary, because we developed
all the technology and had these prototypes,
and it was all theoretical. It wasnt until we
had all the final rendering maybe three
years into the process that we finally
knew that the theory worked.
Its no exaggeration to say that the film is
one big VFX shot. Theres not one frame
without VFX, reports Cuaron. Some are
incredibly complicated, and some are less so.
Tim, the DP and myself conceptually created
all the technology to do it, and Tim is a genius
not just with technology, but hes also an
artist. So Tim was very involved right from
the start through the four-plus years, creating
the technology and figuring out just how to
achieve every moment we aimed for. So he
was on the set and also working with the
actors, to make sure it all went smoothly,
because the lighting dictated the technology

and vice versa. And in addition to Framestore


he brought in Rising Sun Pictures and Nhance
to do some shots. The DI was crucial and
the last big link in the whole chain, he adds.
Emmanuels worked for so long with Steve
Scott at Technicolor in LA and Steve came to
London to work on it for a while, and then
we completed it in LA
Writer/director/producer Peter Jackson
and his team, including senior VFX supervisor
Joe Letteri, returned to Middle-earth for The
Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second
of the 3D trilogy set 60 years before the
Lord of the Rings blockbusters (see Posts
exclusive interview with Letteri in the Dec
2012 issue). Letteri, whose credits include
The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the
Unicorn, Man of Steel, Rise of the Planet of the
Apes and X-Men: The Last Stand, reports that
post was all done at Weta Digital, with over
2,000 shots and an 800-strong VFX crew
over a two year period. Basically, on films like
these you start post on Day 1 as theres so
much involved, he notes. Editing was once
again done by Jabez Olssen.
While Gravity and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, may be an extreme example,
all films with a heavy VFX component now
routinely start post at the same time as pre
production. Director Justin Lin, whos been
driving the Fast & Furious mega-franchise
since 2006s Tokyo Drift, and whos become
the go-to car-chase and car-stunt filmmaker
of his generation, did exactly that with his
Fast & Furious 6, the latest blockbuster episode of the long-running action franchise.
Ask him how early he had to integrate post
into the shoot, and he notes, Right from the
start of the entire project. The post aspect
was crucial and we integrated that very early
on. Right after storyboard I went to pre-vis,
so I immediately get the editors on to start
cutting it, as I need everyone to be on the
same page.
While The Lone Ranger re-teamed uber-

www.postmagazine.com

The Wolf of Wall Street was


mainly shot on film, but
relied on Arris Alexa for
VFX and night scenes.

continued on page 45

Post January 2014

19

vfx
MPC created VFX for this Xbox One
spot promoting the Ryse: Son of Rome
videogame.

20

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

For C

Post houses help marketers tell


stories and sell products.
By Christine Bunish

An iconic DeLorean updated,

a popular board game introduced in a new


form, a smartphone that proves invaluable in a movie-style adventure, a sports legend who takes a
quirky look at his record, a hero in an epic tale for the 21st century, and a truck with a classic western
heritage. All take center stage in the latest crop of commercials where VFX help tell a diverse range
of stories for an array of marketers.
GE
It was Back to the Future for the latest spot in GEs Brilliant Machines campaign about connecting big machines, big data and people to impact various industries the latest being power. The new
spot from BBDO/NY, called The Future is Now, features the time-traveling DeLorean automobile from
the iconic Michael J. Fox film and a voiceover by Marty McFly himself. David Gordon Green directed
the spot for Chelsea Pictures/NY.
Visual effects by Framestores New York (www.framestore.com) studio help deliver the message,
which begins with one of the actual DeLoreans used in the film trilogy riding into a parking lot with
the night cityscape of Manhattan in the background. A gull-wing door lifts and Marty emerges (viewers only see his sneakers) citing how technology has advanced to the point where GE has supercharged turbines that help power entire cities. As he recharges the vehicle, a CG fly-through showcases the turbines that comprise a GE power plant and illuminate cities like New York. When the flux
capacitor glows, the DeLorean levitates, rotates its tires to a horizontal position and flies out of the
parking lot in a flash of lightning.
The DeLorean is very precious. Only one person was allowed to drive it, and we had to cover it
with protective film on the second day of the shoot because of the on-set effects like dry-ice smoke,
says Framestore lead technical director, Andy Rowan-Robinson. A lot of effects elements were shot
practically for the opening sequence.
The parking lot at MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey home of the upcoming Super
Bowl served as the exterior set. Background plates of the cityscape were shot in Long Island City,
New York. The live-action footage was captured on an Arri Alexa by DP Simon Duggan.
Framestores design department was tasked with crafting the extensive turbine fly-though. Were
a relatively new department within Framestore; we opened about 18 months ago, says senior design
director Marc Smith. The challenge for the turbine sequence was the seven-day turnaround and the
creative problem solving and iterations required in that time. You needed to be nimble and fast; our
Cinema 4D and After Effects tools talk to each other quite naturally for a pretty seamless process.
The team attempted to access specs and CAD drawings of actual turbines, but ended up modeling
them from scratch, referencing factory footage of the devices, which are the size of a bus. Elements
were built and rendered in Maxon Cinema 4D, compiled in Autodesk Flame and graded in Adobe
After Effects, where lens flares and opticals were added.
The beautiful aerial map of the lights of New York City was created with Red Giants Trapcode
Particular 2 and Form 2. We played with the flickering and with the light spread across the city, Smith
says. The spread of lights almost looked sinister at first like an explosion or something. So we
spent some time dressing it and making it look more positive. Red Giants Magic Bullet Looks and
some in-software curves in After Effects were the grading tools.

Commercials
www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

21

vfx for commercials

Reel FX created fullydetailed Transformers for


this new Monopoly
Empire commercial.

22

Framestores CG team crafted the levitating car shot at the end of the spot. The actual
DeLorean was mounted on a forklift to give
some distance from the car to the blacktop
when the door was slammed and the car
begins to rise. We painted out the fork lift
arms, replaced the background, tracked in
CG tires, animated the wheels to spin and
added the blue energy bar, explains RowanRobinson. We augmented a subtle move on
the lift off that gives sort of a wobble to the
suspension and tires, which help sell the
whole thing.
The last shot of the car flying away is
entirely CG. There was no DeLorean model

three- to four-week timetable. Mike McGee


served as VFX supervisor.
We were all pretty excited to work on
this spot, says Rowan-Robinson. Certain
things are iconic, and the DeLorean is one of
them. We grew up watching these movies.

accurate enough for our needs so we took


measurements of the car on-set and lots of
pictures to reconstruct it with Agisofts PhotoScan photogrammetry software, he says.
Maya was the modeling, animation and lighting tool; The Foundrys Mari the texturing
tool; and Solid Angles Arnold the renderer.
Photogrammetry was really useful for
the texturing, shading and lighting; we took
HDR references of the blue headlights and
added volumetric lighting. The design department created the crackling electrical effects
in a homage to the film.
Framestore also added reflections on the
ground to give a sense of where the car is
located in space and twinkled the lights of
the cityscape to give a bit of life to the
background, says Rowan-Robinson.
Everyone on the Framestore CG and
design department teams worked concurrently; composting with Autodesk Flame
brought it all together in an insanely fast

agency in Dallas and New York, young people


gather in a stunning, glass-walled apartment
to play the fast-paced Empire, where they
compete to own the worlds top brands.
When a player lands on a brand square, he
or she enters the world of that popular
brand, enjoying the big-screen games of
Xbox, joining Transformers in a heated battle,
and shopping a dream closet of gear from
Beats by Dr. Dre. A stylized, animated city of
skyscrapers bearing bright neon billboards
opens and closes the message.
Reel FX founder Dale Carman, who directed the spot and served as executive creative
director, says the brief for the commercial
was typical for Uproar and Hasbro: to show
a lot of action in 30 seconds. With all the
license partners for Empire Xbox, Transformers, Beats by Dr. Dre there were a lot
of cooks in the kitchen and a lot of approvals
required. In a situation like that it can be difficult to keep the creative train on the tracks.

Post January 2014

MONOPOLY EMPIRE
While Dallas-based Reel FX (www.reelfx.
com) is quick not to take credit for Hasbros
new Monopoly Empire flying off the shelves,
the studios animation and VFX for the liveaction :30 spot certainly amped up interest
in the new board game.
In the commercial from the Uproar!

www.postmagazine.com

One of the things that helped Carman


steer the train was Reel FXs ability to turnkey the project from live-action production
to creative editorial, VFX and animation,
online finishing, color and audio. DP Kevin
Althans, who shot the live action with a Red
Epic, also served as VFX supervisor and later
led the team that extracted mattes ensuring
a smooth compositing process.
Carman likes to previs every job and
showed an animatic of the spot that the client enjoyed during prepro. Although he
expected to shoot the apartment sequence
on a greenscreen set, he lucked out when
the executive producer of the live action,
Steve Johnson, found a new loft in downtown Dallas with an incredible view eliminating the need for digital matte paintings or
photogrammetry.
Reel FX built out and stocked the Beats
closet from scratch, getting approval from
the marketer on-set as they selected outfits
and headphones in colors that popped in the
white shop.
Creating the environment for the Xbox
world was a bit more challenging since no
working units or games were available at the
time of the shoot. Reel FX crafted a greenscreen set for the big screens, obtained a
special Xbox One to photograph on-set,
then showed generic game footage to the
young people to prompt an enthusiastic
response. We needed to get a performance
from the kids showing them having fun and
playing with full-body capture interactivity
while nothing was happening, Carman
explains. Real Xbox footage was composited
into the big screens with The Foundrys Nuke
as soon as material became available.
Reel FXs animation skills came to the fore
in the Transformers sequence, where one of
the Empire players lands in the enormous
hand of Optimus Prime. When the client
asks for Optimus Prime holding a kid with
maybe Bumblebee in the background, it
sounds really simple, says Carman. But they
needed it in three weeks, and Optimus
Prime had to look equivalent to ILMs animation in the Michael Bay film. The Transformers
had to be fully realized with all the detail you
expect, and we did them almost completely
from scratch using Autodesk Maya and
Chaos Groups V-Ray for rendering.
The flying sequence through the stylized,
neon-filled CG city that opens and closes the
spot was inspired by package art and was
created with Maya.
Reel FX used Avid Media Composer for
creative editing, Autodesk Inferno for online
and Autodesk Lustre for color grading. Bou-

jou handled camera match moving. We tend


to nit-pixel, so were always pushing tools,
Carman reports. Sound design and mixing
was done in Avid Pro Tools. Gary Banks was
the executive producer for post, James Rowell VFX supervisor, Chas Naylor CG lead
artist and Quan Tran editor.
Everybody has remarked that the
Empire spot is one of the best weve done,
says Carman. The experience we created

fully embraced Empire, got people excited


about the new game and helped sell it.
VERIZON
The Verizon Wireless commercial for
Motorolas Droid Maxx phone looks like a
trailer for the latest quirky Edward Norton
movie. The actor stars in the :90 spot that
encompasses a bizarre 48-hours in which he
wakes up in a morgue then recalls finding a

wallet, meeting a girl, tangling with her boyfriends thugs, swallowing a key, crashing an
airplane and winning a ferret from a Russian
mobster in a game of Connect Four.
While A Lot Can Happen in 48 Hours,
directed by MJZs Matthijs van Heijningen for
agency Mcgarrybowen, isnt effects driven,
The Mill LA (www.themill.com) provided the
VFX that enhance Nortons crazy journey
and showcase how the Droid phone comes

Framestore made a familiar


DeLorean fly once again,
this time for GE.

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Post January 2014

23

vfx for commercials

Lucky Posts Seth Olsen


and Sai Selvarajan
collaborated on this Ram
truck spot, which has a
Texas theme.

to his aid in many tight spots.


We had a very quick turnaround for a
commercial of this scope and length, and
there was a fair amount of VFX work in it,
says Chris Knight, creative director at The Mill
LA. The shoot finished on Tuesday, they
edited for a couple of days, conformed on
Friday and we delivered on Monday night. So
we had to make sure we had our team
2D artists on Flame and Nuke, Maya and
Houdini animators, Photoshop matte painters positioned to get the work done.
Knight was on-set for the five-day shoot at
Sony Studios; Ventura, California; downtown
LA; and Chinatown. VFX help the story
along, but everything was shot so wonderfully I mean Edward Norton is Edward
Norton: His casting brought the filmic scope
they wanted for this commercial.
Van Heijningen and DP Alwin Kuchler
used an Arri Alexa camera with anamorphic
lenses to capture the action. Knight notes
that to save time, The Mill began its VFX
work on raw plates. They didnt grade until
Saturday. We received all the graded plates
as well as LUTs for each shot from Company
3 Sunday morning. We could apply the LUTs
to the raw passes of the shots we had been
working on to match their grade.
The biggest VFX sequence in the spot
involves Norton emergency piloting a private plane and getting instant flying lessons
via his Droid phone. The Mill modeled and
animated the jet from scratch; its seen in a
wide shot plummeting to earth with a highresolution matte painting for background
and CG clouds filling the foreground and
midground.
The plane interior was shot at Sony Studios; The Mill added clouds to a light blue
cyc outside Nortons cockpit window repli24

Post January 2014

cating the sky. The company also composited the Droid phone, mounted on the dashboard, over a photo of a yellow lined pad so
the phones screen would pop from the
instrument panel. The Mill handled the
phones screen shots throughout the spot; in
the cockpit the Droids flying instructor
quickly tutors Norton on the basics the
company added shake to the screen to
simulate the vibrating camera rig used to
shoot the interior.
Despite help from the Droid, Norton
crash lands the plane, which is glimpsed in a
field as our hero is eyed by a menacing hillbilly and his goat. The Mill composited the
crashed CG plane into the location shot and
used a matte painting to add rubble and
debris. We went from the idea of the plane
landing safely with no pyro or smoke to having the plane crash its nose into the ground
and adding the damage, Knight explains.
The Mill also supplied a glowing screen for
an underwater sequence in which Nortons
hand (actually a prosthetic) valiantly holds
the phone above the water line as hes
chased through the night by men with
torches and dogs. They kept the phone
turned on in the prosthetic hand to give us a
good sense of how to light and reflect the
new screen in the water when we comped
it in, says Knight.
The Mill cleaned up the Chinatown alley
shot to give the impression that the pack of
dogs chasing Norton came out of an actual
restaurant kitchen, where they were not
allowed. The company gave an extra golden
glow to the key around the girls neck
which ultimately ends up in Nortons stomach. They comped his stomach X-ray onto
his Droid screen, added a hospital wall
extension and comped a bank vault door

www.postmagazine.com

into a shot that reveals the safe deposit box


opened by the key.
The final body bag-drop shot which
presumably leads to Norton waking up in the
morgue was photographed at night with a
dummy in the plastic bag, downtown LA in
the background and practical dust and smoke
in the midground. It took some trial and error
to nail the shot, but Knight says, You always
want to get as much in-camera as you can,
even if youre not facing a time crunch.
At The Mill, Felix Urquiza, Blake Guest,
Matt Bohnert and Ashraf Ghoniem were the
3D artists; Knight, Margolit Steiner, Daniel
Thuresson, Chris Payne, Jake Maymudes and
Tara DeMarco were the 2D artists; Andy
Wheater was the matte painter; and Byron
Slaybaugh did the motion graphics. The
clouds created in Houdini were rendered in
Side Effects Mantra; the plane created in
Maya was rendered in Arnold.
SUBWAY
What better way to introduce soccer
legend Pele as the newest member of the
Subway team than with a visual approximation of his achievements on the pitch?
In a spot from MMB Boston and featuring
visual effects by Bostons Zero VFX (www.
zerovfx.com), Pele sits on a white chair on a
white platform against a white cyc as a
samba begins to play. The voiceover welcomes him to Subway as the camera pulls
back and a black-and-white patterned soccer
ball falls from the ceiling.Its quickly joined by
another, and another, until the screen is full of
bouncing balls, and Pele does some finger
math as he muses about his 1,282 lifetime
goals. Wait! Make that 1,283 goals one
more soccer ball drops and bounces onto
the platform. Pele catches it and playfully
heads it off stage.
Sticklers for accuracy take note: There
really arent 1,283 soccer balls falling from
the ceiling or Pele would have been buried
under their volume.But the masses of tumbling and bouncing balls hint at Peles incredible career, and their rhythmic choreography
lends a fun Brazilian carnival atmosphere to
the scene.
The ad agencys creative vision was to
have Pele surrounded by the passel of soccer
balls. It was up to director Brad Parker of
Bob Industries and Zero VFX to create the
world - some in studio and some digitally.
As the cut evolved, the agency creatives
wanted to change the tempo and crescendo
of the soccer balls, so we kept a couple of
[practical] hero balls and added more CG
balls, which were more sculptable for timing

and positioning, and could be placed specifically where they were needed, explains
Zero VFX co-founder, Brian Drewes.
While CG bouncing balls arent on the
difficulty level of, say, simulating fur, Drewes
notes that they all have a slightly different
rotation at the beginning and when they hit
the ground.We hand animated some important ones and built some simulations for the
right gravity, rotation and momentum to get
the feeling of natural variations. The Zero
team worked very closely with the agency
creatives to experiment with the timing of
the crescendo of the soccer ball drops.
Sean Devereaux was Zeros VFX supervisor and Mark Rienzo the on-site supervisor for the spot. HDRs taken on-set were
used by animators to dial-in the lighting and
accurately match depth of field. The practical balls served as a reference for the way
they should look that was one of the
reasons I opted to keep some balls live,
says Drewes.
In an effort to make the CG balls photoreal, the practical balls also acted as a texture
reference.The animators actually crafted the
full number of soccer balls to match Peles

scale it down to 2K in compositing, says


Drewes. The extra resolution allows us to
add an extra level of depth and gives a better
look overall.
Additional VFX included rebuilding most
of the white platform with a matte painting
since the real balls landing at Peles feet
spoiled the aesthetic of the shot. Artists also
rotoscoped his chair and added slight touches of reflections in the chrome legs.
Zero tapped Maya for all the CG, Nuke
for most of the compositing and V-Ray for
rendering. The spot was color graded and
finished in Autodesk Smoke.

lifetime goals but found that more than a


thousand bouncing CG balls looked like they
were menacing the sports legend. So they
cut back to a number that seemed like a lot
but could maintain a good tempo over the
duration of the spot, Drewes explains.
The animators had a scratch track to work
with so they could sense the overall tone and
progression of the spot when they began to
choreograph the bouncing balls. When we
saw the first hero ball make impact, we started the crescendo, says Drewes.The majority
of the iterations concerned timing with the
voiceover and the editors cut.We were able
to do a lot of quick iterations because we use
all cloud rendering, offered by our sister company Zync, and could scale up our renderfarm
as needed.
Zero rendered the CG at 4K resolution.Whenever we get a chance well render at two-times resolution for CG then

international production company Smuggler


shot the campaign in Sofia, Bulgaria.
MPC LAs VFX creative director Paul
OShea met Beletic through a feature development project at Disney and knew the
director shared his goal of making sure we
had as heavy a photographic base to the
visual effects as possible; we attempted to
get as much in-camera as we could. MPC
LA VFX supervisor Ryan Knowles directed
the 2nd unit in Bulgaria, OShea points out.
Although a lot of the crowds were Massivegenerated, there was also a healthy amount
of real people doing stunts, which made
everything more convincing.
The spot, which Beletic paced like a
trailer, follows hero Marius from fighting in
the woods and combating a minotaur on a
craggy cliff to scoring gladiatorial triumphs in
the arena and engaging hordes of warring
barbarians sacking Rome.

XBOX
The :60 spot launching Xbox One game
Ryse: Son of Rome offers a new take on game
promos: Instead of repurposing video game
cinematics, the commercial reimagines the
sword-and-sandal epic in live action
enhanced with VFX by MPC LA (www.
moving-picture.com).
San Francisco-based agency Twofifteenmccann devised the campaign, which includes
four short films featuring the games central
character, Marius. Director Brian Beletic of

MPC LA used CG and 2D elements to


transform a quite picturesque Bulgarian
forest into a battle-scarred and denuded
clearing with blackened soil peppered with
smoke and embers, says OShea. For the
minotaurs rocky lair, an actual mountain location combined with a fantastic matte painting by Rocco Gioffre, whose credits include
Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade
Runner, and sky replacement footage shot in
Montana. MPC LA also replaced a prop rubber axe head to give the illusion of reflective
metal and performed head replacement to
propel the decapitated monsters head in the
right direction.
An aerial view of the Roman arena was all
CG; it was crafted in conjunction with production designer David Lee who helped us
with the look and details, says OShea. During the gladiatorial combat, particulate dust
was added to the air and extras in the stands
were tiled and extended in CG with photographic elements and Massive building out
the rest of the spectators.
The warring barbarians sequence followed some of the styling of the game,
notes OShea. Actors were shot fighting

hand-to-hand on a greenscreen-backed staircase. Massive combat agents were generated


to fill the enormous CG architectural environment, which seems to stretch to infinity. A
pair of enormous golden doors leading to
the palace was inspired by the reliefs on
Trajans Column. Gioffre created a matte
painting of Rome burning seen over the
shoulder of the emperor in the last shot.
Maya was the chief animation tool, with
CG compositing in Nuke, sweetening and
finishing in Flame and compositing support
from Flames Flare support station. Massive
software generated the battle agents and
crowds and Side Effects Houdini the atmospherics. V-Ray performed the CG rendering,
and Mantra rendered the Houdini elements.
Color grading, shared by Mark Gethin
and Ricky Gausis running FilmLights Base-

www.postmagazine.com

The Mills VFX work


enhances this Verizon spot
promoting Motorolas Droid
Maxx and featuring actor
Edward Norton.

continued on page 47

Post January 2014

25

Audi
26

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

dio

Lower-cost tools, in
the right hands, can
help budget-strapped
indie projects.
By Jennifer Walden

for Independent Films

udio tools are more powerful, and more affordable, than they were even five years
ago. Theyre pretty much available to anyone. Tech savvy young directors can cut and
edit their own projects before they head into post production. They can build their
own sound design, or clean up dialog tracks. With that said, do these audio tools help
improve the quality of independent films that are working with tight budgets and tight
schedules? These four audio pros talk about their recent work on independent films, and weigh in on
the topic of audio post technology and its impact on the indie film industry.

Silver Sound created original


music and sound design, as
well as mixed The Big House.

12 Years a slave
Leslie Shatz, partner at Wildfire Post Production Studios, was the sound designer and re-recording
mixer for music and dialog on 12 Years a Slave. Wildfire Post Production Studios (www.wildfirepost.
com) is a full service post facility in Los Angeles. They offer picture and audio post services for the
film industry. Recent films include Olympus Has Fallen, Promised Land, Warm Bodies, and The Expendables 2. 12 Years a Slave has been getting a lot of attention recently, with talks of a possible Oscar
nomination for Best Picture. The film already has a slew of nominations on the indie film circuit for
best picture. 12 Years a Slave is set in pre-Civil War America. It tells the story of Solomon Northup,
born a free man in New York state, he was kidnaped and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations
in Louisiana before being released.
The main character, Northup (renamed Platt by his master) experiences two different worlds, one
as a violinist in the north, playing for genteel society in an urban environment, and the other as a slave
in the rural south. The contrasts in the environments are noted in the sound. Shatz, who created the
sound design, says, Sound marks these two different experiences very definitely. The film begins in
Saratoga, New York, in what would be considered an urban setting for the time, with horses and carts,
and people on the streets. When we get to the south its all cicadas. Cicadas are a principal player in
the orchestra of the sound. Cicadas are like a tapestry that is woven throughout scenes that happen
when hes a slave.
For sound design, the challenge was to do less, not more. Shatz says, You usually dont win points
by saying you took out sound rather than put in sound. There is that fear of showing up and someone
saying, Really, thats all you did?
After meeting with director Steve McQueen, Shatz knew the sound design needed a naturalistic,
restrained approach. I say naturalistic but theres nothing natural about making films. Its all tricks and
levers and people manipulating things. Our goal is to try and create the best indication of what nature
was like at that time and try not to overdo it. The minute you go just one little step too far, people
are knocked out of the experience. Then theyre not submerged in the environment of the film like

www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

27

Audio for Independent Films

Wildfires Leslie Shatz


handled a range of services
for 12 Years A Slave.

they need to be to really go all the way with


the movie.
Shatz was also the re-recording mixer for
the music and dialog in the film. He gave his
sound design to re-recording mixer Ryan
Collins, who was his collaborator on the mix.
Shatz says, If the other mixer feels something in the sound design is lousy, then theyll
get rid of it and I wont have to feel like Im
killing my child. I let somebody else do that.
The presence of non-period sounds, more
specifically, traffic noise, was one challenge
during the mix. Shatz made sure that no traffic noise or horn honks could be heard in the
soundtrack, because those would pull the
audience out of the experience.
Theres a lot of traffic, and sounds that
youd definitely identify as being from modern day, says Shatz. Traffic noise is broadband. It goes throughout the whole audio
spectrum and its really hard to get rid of.
Sometimes the way you have to get rid of it
can really mar the soundtrack and mar the
dialog. You can make it sound really gated or
pinched or ugly. You have to be very mindful
of going too far.
Whenever Shatz processes the dialog, or
any sound, he goes to a point where he
thinks it sounds good and then he backs off
a bit. He says, The point at which it sounds
good at that moment, I know Ill come back
to later and feel that Ive gone too far. Thats
also how Shatz approaches the sound design.
28

Post January 2014

He forces himself to take off at least one


layer of sound. Thats my discipline, he says.
Even though I dont believe it at that
moment, the next time I see it Ill know that
Ive gone too far.
Shatz has a general suspicion of too much
technology. He says, Its like MSG. When you
eat food with MSG, it tastes really good while
youre eating it but then you regret it afterwards. I have the same suspicion of too much
technology in the process. It all has its place,
but there [are] no miracles. You cant just
push a button and then all of a sudden the
soundtrack is beautiful.
To clean up the dialog tracks, Shatz starts
with the volume control. He finds that to be
the most reliable, and essential tool. Next,
Shatz likes to use EQ to notch out the problem areas. For example, he used the EQ III
7-band EQ in Pro Tools to notch out cicadas
that were recorded on the dialog track. He
found the cicadas were usually in the 8k to
10k range.
We had a particular problem with cicadas,
he notes. Even though we added them as part
of the soundtrack, in some places they were
insanely loud and changing from cut to cut.
Shatz found the cicadas were very faithful to
certain frequencies, but it was never only one
frequency. After notching out a narrow frequency band, the cicada problem would be
better, but not completely gone, so hed find
another one. You just keep going and [all of a]

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sudden there wouldnt be any high-end left in


the dialog, but youll have gotten rid of all the
cicadas. You have to compromise.
Another tool Shatz found useful is Clip
Gain, found in Pro Tools 10 and higher. He
feels that nowadays the vogue on-set is to
record really low, around -25dB. Before Clip
Gain, you could get to +12dB with automation, after that youd need to process the
tracks with an Audio Suite plug-in like Normalize, for example. With Clip Gain, you can
quickly raise the overall level into a range
where it can be mixed using faders.
You can use Clip Gain for the first 90
percent, but the final 10 percent to one percent, you need something very connected to
the human expression. I always feel like its
the final one percent that really transforms
the mix and makes it shine.
Shatz mixes on a Harrison MPC 4D console, a tool he finds amazing. Theres so
much visual feedback, he says. Its all right
there, every channel at your fingertips. You
dont have to call things up to a certain section. Its a big console. Its a real console. I may
be one of the few people left who prefers a
real mixing console.
While Shatz may be wary of technology
at times, he does feel that it can be a benefit
for indie films. I feel that, in the past, independent films were marked by bad sound. Like,
in order to make an independent film, you
had to have bad sound.

Shatz always reminds directors who


embark on independent movies to make
sure the person recording on-set does a
really good job. He says, You dont want to
be just another one of those independent
films with crappy sound. The tools are
becoming more powerful, and the ability to
work with great complexity in a small
amount of time keeps growing.There is a real
renaissance in sound. It used to be that movies needed a big budget in order to have
really great soundtracks. Now, some of the
smaller movies that Ive worked on are the
ones capturing the attention of the young
directors. Those are soundtracks that were
made with very small means but are still very
complex. Im really happy to see films going
in that direction.

sound hyper-real; he wanted all the sounds of


the crowds, and the atmospheres, and everything, so the audience watching it would feel
as if they were experiencing it live.
As far as documentaries go, this was a big
sound design job. Bayman compares the
process to designing sound for animation. He
says, There were no pre-existing sound
effects to work with and we were creating
this world from scratch.There was dialog and
commentary with the archival footage, but all
the close-up bike and crowd sounds were
created afterwards.
Roden notes that, when the footage was
shot, it was all recorded in mono. Even if they
had access to anything shot during the actual
race, it wasnt going to have a big, cinematic
sound. We were always going to have to
re-create it and take what was recorded on
the day and enhance it to put it in a cinematic 5.1 world, says Roden.
Many of the bicycle sounds were recorded from the same models of bikes that Pantani rode. Bayman and his audio team took
several bikes to the English countryside outside of London and recorded them using
DPA 4061 lavaliere mics. They attached the
lav mics all over the bikes to capture closeups sounds. They also used two boom mics,

a Neumann KMR81 and a Schoeps CMIT5,


to capture pass-bys.
We got some great sounds of the tire on
the road by building this strange contraption
that was a long wooden stick attached to the
handlebars, Bayman says. A lav mic was
attached to that so the mic was about three
inches from the actual road. We got this
amazing sound of the wheel on the roads.
The bike sounds in the film are a combination of modern bikes, and the bikes of Pantanis time, that were recorded on location as
well as in a Foley pit.
In addition to individual bike sounds, Bayman and his crew also recorded bike passbys during the Tour of Britain. They were able
to get the sound of a large group of cyclists
riding by, which is something they could
never re-create in the Foley pit.
We ended up sitting by this country lane
outside London for a couple of hours waiting
for the cyclists to pass, and the recording was
over in a matter of 50 seconds, Bayman says.
This mass of cyclists went past and we
recorded it. It is a really amazing sound.
Bayman recorded everything at 96kHz,
knowing that theyd need to manipulate the
sounds later to fit the slow motion sections.
There is a lot of slow-mo in the film, so

Goldcrests Bayman (top)


and Roden (bottom)
collaborated on the doc,
Pantani: The Accidental
Death of a Cyclist.

Pantani: The Accidental


Death of a Cyclist
Antony Bayman, sound designer and rerecording mixer, and Jamie Roden, dialog editor and re-recording mixer at Goldcrest Post
London, recently completed work on the
documentary Pantani: The Accidental Death of
a Cyclist. Goldcrest Post London (www.goldcrestfilms.com/post_london) is a full service
post facility that provides picture and audio
POST Jan 2014.pdf
1
1/3/2014
5:03:04 PM
post services for the TV, film, and
gaming industries. This past year,
their audio team has won several
awards, including an Oscar for
their work on Les Miserables, and
a BAFTA Craft Award for Sound
on the TV series The Hollow Crown:
Richard II.
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include Adjustable Gamma, Full Range and
Bayman notes the film uses an
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and on-set tools like Waveform and Vector
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Post January 2014

29

Audio for Independent Films


you need the big dub stages for the final mix,
to get that theatrical feel, but a lot of the
work can be done in the smaller rooms,
which is great economically.
Roden adds that more work is shifting
from the mix stage to the edit room. He
does a lot of prep work, as well as pre-mixing. I do think the tools that we have, and at
the prices theyre at they really are affordable to just about everyone can help
lower budget independent projects achieve a
big cinema, post production house type feel.
Roden adds a word of caution. I do strongly
believe that you need the experience to use
those plug-ins. Its very easy to get it wrong
and make it sound awful. Its great that people can afford to do this, but you really need
the experience to be able to do it. Bayman
agrees, The technology is great only if you
know how to use it.

Heard City, which often


works on spots, handled
the majority of the audio
post on the indie film,
Low Down.

30

there was a lot of slowing down and manipulating the bike sounds we recorded to make
it right, he notes.
To re-create the crowd sounds, Bayman
and his audio team recorded loop group sessions with Italian and French actors. He
notes, Some of the guys who came for the
loop group had actually been to some Italian
bicycling races, like the Giro dItalia, so they
knew what it sounded like.
The loop group added the necessary
detail to crowds. To beef up the crowds, Bayman used a combination of library sounds
and sounds he recorded over the years from
outdoor sporting events. To cut through the
busy track, the loop group actors had to
really shout. The film has a really terrific
score that is very dynamic, and with all the
bike sounds and commentary, the main thing
was to have a really loud, projected crowd
that would cut through, says Bayman. The
loop group did a brilliant job and it really
enhanced this film.
Roden, the dialog editor on the film, notes
that the editor created the films narrative
from clips taken from multilingual broadcasts
from hours, weeks, days, and even different
races to build the story. The recordings are
noisy, with traffic, helicopters, generators, and
other sounds plaguing the commentators
dialog. Cutting between these clips created
continuity issues.
Keeping all those clips as a consistent,
coherent sentence was paramount, Roden
says. We used a combination of EQ and
dynamics to get it all sounding similar, and
clean, and at the same volume.
Lastly, Roden turned to restoration plug-

Post January 2014

ins. He used the Waves Restoration plug-ins,


and the iZotope RX3. Its all about moderation because we dont want to destroy the
quality of whats there, he says. Bit by bit we
had to tidy it up, and using those things, we
tried to build a coherent sentence like it was
said in that flow, in that context.
Bayman mixed the film in 5.1 using an
Avid ICON digital console and working in
Pro Tools 10. He also did a mix for TV. He
mixed both virtually, with no outboard gear.
Since he did a lot of the sound design, prep
work, and pre-mixing in Pro Tools 10, the film
was in a good place for the final mix in Theater 3 at Goldcrest Post in London. It was a
very easy transition going into Theater 3,
says Bayman. All the plug-ins that I used
were still there. Doing a lot of the pre-mixing
in my studio made the whole process a lot
sleeker, which is really beneficial because we
didnt have a lot of time.
Advances in audio post technology are
streamlining the transition between editorial
and final mix. Doing the sound design, or
editing and pre-mixing dialog in Pro Tools 10
for example, and then using that same system, plug-ins, and 5.1 surround speaker setup on the dub stage saves a lot of time, notes
Bayman. For a project like this, by the time I
got onto the dub stage, the films was already
in a good shape, he says. The dialog cleanup
was done, and for the more technical things,
like reverbs and EQs, you can go a lot further
with them than you actually could a number
of years ago. It gives you a chance to focus
more on the creative aspects, like music mixing, and balancing the sounds, when you get
into the bigger studio. I still strongly feel that

www.postmagazine.com

The Big House, Send


Cory Choy, founding member of Silver
Sound, is a big fan of short films. Short films
are very exciting for sound, says Choy,
because youre creating this whole world so
quickly and you have to make your choices
with the sonic palette. Each sound really has
to count. Silver Sound (www.silversound.us)
is a New York City audio post production
studio that also provides location sound services.Their audio post services include sound
design, original music, ADR, Foley, VO recording and editing, and final mix for film,TV, radio,
and mulitmedia. Theyve worked with clients
such as MTV, HBO, NBC, Facebook, Bungie
and PBS.
Silver Sound recently completed the
audio post for independent short film, The
Big House, directed by Musa Syeed. Syeed
won an Audience Award at Sundance last
year for his film Valley of Saints. Silver Sound
created original music and sound design for
The Big House. They also did the final mix.
The Big House is told from the perspective
of a child in Yemen, who finds the key to a
mansion. He explores inside, jumps on the
beds, and plays around before getting chased
out. Syeed had very specific direction for the
music, notes Choy. He didnt want the music
to feel stereotypically Middle Eastern, like, lets
play some sitar now, which is what Americans
think of when they think of the Middle East.
He wanted something that actually felt a little
bit more western, and more subtle.
Choy worked with composer Luke Allen
to come up with a guitar- and piano-based
score. They kept the music light in accordance with Syeeds direction. He wanted the
soundtrack to have a vastness without mak-

ing it feel deliberately unreal, recalls Choy.


Musa wanted everything to feel real. All of
our Foley work is subdued and mixed into
the ambience. The music is pretty subdued.
We are just focused on the sound of the boy
himself, and when we go to his POV, we lose
the sounds of him and accentuate the
sounds of the house.
The Big House is set in rural Yemen. All the
walla and natural sounds in the sound design
came from production recordings that Choy
had captured for a documentary hed done
in Yemen. Often when dealing with foreign
languages, its easy for sound designers to use
things that arent in the same language, but
may have a similar sound. If the audience isnt
from the area, then chances are they wont
know the difference.
Whats nice about this film is that it will
actually play pretty well in Yemen if we
wanted it to because I was able to take the
production sound, from the places in Yemen
that I had actually gone to, and layer them
into the sound design, Choy says.
Instead of replacing all the noisy production sounds with Foley, Choy cleaned up the
tracks using a combination of the iZotope
RX3 plug-in and the EQuality plug-in by
DMG Audio. Choy cleaned and mixed the
film in Reaper, a DAW created by Cockos.
He says, We wanted to have that natural
feel so we didnt want to have Foley where
it wasnt necessary. Often we were cleaning
up things in production that were a little
dirty and then manipulating them instead of
doing straight up Foley.
Silver Sound did the production sound,
sound design, and mix on another short film,
Send, directed by Peter Vack. Send tells the
story of young lovers separated for the summer. The girl uses social media to see what
the boy is doing at summer camp. She
decides to send him a selfie, which he then
forwards to his friends. It shows just how fast
things can move around the world via the
Internet and how kids and teenagers are
dealing with that today.
For sound design, director Vack wanted to
use a palette of sounds that were less contemporary. Choy built a library of sounds
using cathode ray tubes, televisions, the
mechanics of a DVD player, and other
sounds of electronics from the late 80s and
early 90s. Choy gives an example of a scene
where the girl decides to take a picture of
herself to send to the boy. When the girl
drops her pants onto the floor, when it hits,
instead of it being a normal Foley, we use the
sound of a cathode ray tube adjusting itself.
When she decides to actually hit send on the

phone, its not what youd normally hear


from an iPhone, but more like the mechanics
of a DVD player.
Recording the production sound for the
film was a huge benefit during the audio post
process. First, the sound was really well
recorded, so there wasnt much work needed on the dialog in post. Second, Choy was
able to work closely with the production
sound mixer to find alternate takes or other
production sounds quickly. The biggest challenge for the mix on Send was deciding what
to take out of the soundtrack. Part of the
design is that not every noise the girl makes
can be heard, says Choy. Its about this girl
being alienated, so when she doesnt have a
presence sonically, it kind of makes her more
removed from the scene emotionally. It was
fun deciding with Peter where and what to
emphasize.
You dont always have control over the
production recording, as Choy had with
Send, and sometimes you have to make the
best of the dialog youre given. While audio
tools are really powerful, and there are things
you can quite easily do with spectral editing
that you wouldnt have thought possible
before, Choy feels that audio tools can often
do more damage than good.
There has been an abuse of those tools,
where people take the de-noise and crank it
to 11, says Choy. There is a tendency now
to over process the dialog.
There may be more audio tools available,
but Choy cautions against using a tool just
because its there. Instead, he says, audio
tools should only be used when its necessary. Traditional cutting, editing, and leveling
can really solve a problem. Sometimes I even
find myself going for a tool. I noticed that
people usually jump to a large hammer denoise, or try to spectral edit the problem,
when really they should be looking for an
alternate take.
In the indie film world, with low budgets
and less time for post production, Choy
believes that technology wont save a film
thats poorly made. More than anything else,
you have to ask yourself if a project is
doomed to be a big mess for you because
the client is asking for too much, he says. If
youre going to put your name on it, you
want to be proud of the work you are doing,
so I think a lot of it comes down to project
selection.
Low Down
Keith Reynaud, partner at Heard City, and
re-recording mixer Cory Melious recently
mixed the independent film Low Down.

Heard City (www.heardcity.com) is an audio


post facility in New York City. They offer
audio services for the advertising, film, and
television industries. Their work includes top
spots for McDonalds, IBM, Dewars, HBO
and Google.
Low Down follows the life of bebop pianist
Joe Albany, as told through the eyes of his
daughter Amy Jo Albany. Pianist Albany struggles with addiction, relationships, and his
career. The film is in competition at the Sundance Film Festival this month. According to
managing director Gloria Pitagorsky, Heard
City mixed four films for this years Sundance
festival, three of which are in competition.
Reynaud, who typically mixes broadcast
commercials, was chosen by picture editor
Michael Saia and director Jeff Preiss to mix
Low Down. Reynaud has a long history with
Saia and Preiss. He says, My very first job in
advertising, 14 years ago, was with Michael
and Jeff. Michael cut the spot and Jeff directed the spot.
Mixing a feature film is an entirely different
process from mixing commercials, notes
Reynaud. I learned so much about myself as
a person, and what I do for a living while
working on this film. The process is entirely
different. There are more people involved.
You are more allowed to be part of the
creative process. As for the amount of work,
its like hundreds of :30 commercials all
packed into one.
Heard City did the majority of the audio
post work on Low Down. Though they did

www.postmagazine.com

Silver Sounds sound


design for Send is used
to alienate characters
and emotions.

continued on page 47

Post January 2014

31

Buying

Gear

The latest sales and installations.

Navigation Films is now


equipped with TerraBlock
24D for 2K and 4K post.

Navigation Films adds TerraBlock to workflow


DUBAI, UAE Navigation Films co-owner and managing director Mike Charlton moved to Dubai in 2003 to launch a local facility for Atlas
Television a UK-based video kit rental house. Over the next seven years, an increasing demand for production and post in the region
prompted him to launch sister company, Navigation Films. Since its debut in 2010, Navigation Films has handled projects for oil and gas companies, airlines, corporations, government agencies and documentary filmmakers. To help manage an influx of 4K projects, the company
recently invested in Facilis TerraBlock 24D (http://facilis.com), which offers 24TBs of shared storage space.
Charltons team of editors worked with Wecom Global to find a suitable solution. It had to be reputable, future-proof and able to seamlessly handle 2K and 4K projects.
TerraBlock had a proven track record for being a solid system and wed only heard great things about it, says Charlton. It was also scalable, which would allow us to build upon it in the future. Additionally, a surge in 4K project inquiries made 4K compatibility a top priority for
us. We knew TerraBlock could handle the massive volumes of high-res material that 4K requires.
Since installing TerraBlock, the Navigation Films crew has come to rely extensively on the system. The team shoots on a variety of camera
brands, including releases from Red, Arri, Sony, Canon and Blackmagic. Footage is ingested into a TerraBlock 24D thats connected via 1 Gbit
Ethernet to two Mac Pro workstations running Avid Media Composer, Apple Final Cut Pro 7 and Adobe Creative Cloud.
One of Navigation Films latest projects was a corporate promo for Dnata, a large air travel service in the Middle East. The project was
captured in HD and 4K using a Sony F55 camera. Tapping the speed and bandwidth of the TerraBlock, the crew was able to handle several
hours of high-res material.
32

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

The Look adds Pablo Rio


LONDON Picture post house The Look (www.thelooklondon.
com) has purchased a Quantel Pablo Rio color correction and
finishing system. The Pablo Rio will operate alongside The Looks
two existing Pablo systems and Neo control panel, allowing
projects to be shared across all three systems.
The Look is known for its work on leading British dramas,
including Last Tango in Halifax and The Fades. Recently, the facility
has worked on dramas that include Top Boy, Quirke and Whitechapel, as well as on two BFI funded feature films, commercials
for Audi and Renault, and sponsorship work for BSkyB.
The addition of Pablo Rio 4K is going to make a huge difference to all our clients and our workflow, says The Looks
owner and senior colorist, Thomas Urbye. I love the Neo panel,
and believe it to be the best-designed and fastest panel on the
market, and with the power of the new Pablo Rio working with
our existing Pablos, we can take on the most demanding of
projects, whether that be artistically or through technical
challenges.

Medusa opens, offers


audio training
YOUNGSTOWN, OH Medusa Recording Institute,
which opened its doors to students this month, has made
an Audient ASP8024 mixing console (www.audient.com)
the centerpiece of its studio, which also takes in commercial work. Medusa is the brainchild of Will Ferraro and
offers fast-track audio and recording courses that prepare
students for entry-level positions in the audio industry.
The schools 16,000 square feet of space comprises four
control rooms that are designed for high-end recording.
The rooms were designed to be classroom friendly for
instruction, and to enable real-life experience to train audioengineers and those seeking skills needed to enter the
music industry, notes Ferraro. I was searching for a maintenance free, sonically clean, analog recording console.

Will Ferraro and


Medusas new
Audient console.

The new desk was supplied by Full Compass and will


help students learn signal flow. Its mic pre amps are clean
and transparent, with plenty of headroom, says Ferraro,
adding, the EQ section is very sweet, and the two bus
compression is awesome. The console is interfaced with
an Endless Analog CLASP system. Recording is to a vintage Studer 24-track two-inch tape machine. The digital
audio workstation of choice is ProTools|HDX.

Studio Post Kopic brings Mistika


to Montreal
MONTREAL Studio Post Kopic (www.studiopost-kopic.com) has significantly expanded its
services with the recent purchase of an SGO
Mistika DI post production system. The boutique specializes in the creation of 2D and stereoscopic 3D content, and is headed by editor
Alain Baril and digital artist Nicolas Fournier.
Baril is a veteran editor with over 25 years of
experience. Hes worked on feature-length films,
big brand commercials, TV series, documentaries and shorts. Recently, Baril ventured into
work with stereo cameras for a different
perspective.
We made the decision to include the
world-class Mistika technology to serve our
creative clients with a reliable, flexible high-end
state-of-the-art post solution, says Baril. We
are delighted to be the first company in Montral to own [a Mistika]. We see Mistika as the Studio Post Kopics digital artist
key that opens doors to new opportunities and Nicolas Fournier.
exciting high-profile projects. Mistika has effectively influenced and enhanced our current business model to enable us to become more
competitive with budget spend allocated on the screenand not on the overheads, which
makes a significant difference to our profit margins.
Studio Post Kopic has worked on a range of projects. Current work includes the film
Stealing Alice, which was directed and produced by artist Marc Sguin. OutSideIn is another
short Stereo 3D film directed and produced by Newfoundland filmmaker Anne Troake. The
film is an up close and personal look at the dancing human body in natural environments.
Production employed S3D micro-rigs.
www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

33

Dell powers Academy of Art


University
SAN FRANCISCO The Academy of Art University (www.academyart.edu) is
relying on Dell (www.dell.com) technology to prepare students for careers in
innovation. Dell PowerEdge servers, Precision workstations, OptiPlex desktops,
and XPS and Latitude laptops are used by students, faculty and administrative
staff at the University, which offers curriculum across more than 20 academic and
professional disciplines.
The Academy of Art University currently uses dozens of Dell PowerEdge
R910 and PowerEdge R820 servers to power its on-site and online campuses,
and more than 1,200 Precision T7600, T7500 and T3500 tower workstations
across its Architecture, Animation, Fashion, Interior Architecture, Industrial
Design, Game Design, and Landscape Architecture programs.

Dolbys Atmos makes inroads


in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR Multiplex cinema operator Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC)
is the first to install the Dolby Atmos sound platform in Malaysia. Atmos improves
the sound experience by giving filmmakers the creative freedom to easily place
or move sounds anywhere in the theatre.
The White Storm, directed by Hong Kongs Benny Chan, and starring Hong
Kong actors Louis Koo and Ching Wan Lau, was the first Dolby Atmos film to be
showcased at GSC 1 Utama Hall 3 in mid December.
We are honored to be collaborating with Malaysias leading exhibitor, Golden
Screen Cinemas, on this inaugural launch to bring the impressive Dolby Atmos
audio experience to moviegoers in Malaysia, notes Leong Yan Yoong, regional
director, South East Asia, Dolby Laboratories. Golden Screen Cinema audiences
will feel as if they are in the passenger seat during the high-impact chase scenes
while experiencing The White Storm in Dolby Atmos.
The Atmos format is seeing steady adoption by major studios, filmmakers, and
exhibitors around the world. In December, both Warner Bros. The Hobbit: The
Desolation of Smaug and Twentieth Century Foxs The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
were released in the format.

The professional art and design world is witnessing a revolution in technology, and this is an incredible opportunity for students to launch their careers and
be part of the contemporary workforce, notes Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of
the Academy of Art University. Our ability to provide a unique educational
experience to these aspiring artists and designers hinges on our integration in
the classroom of the best technology.
The workstations are being used in both studio and lab settings.

Stereo D goes big with Quantel


Pablo Rio
BURBANK, CA Stereo D (www.stereodllc.com) is using Quantel gear as the backbone of
its 2D to 3D conversion business. The studio converted 13 big-budget features in recent
months, and recently added three Pablo Rio color correction and finishing systems in order
to complete 3D conversion and post production for the sci-fi action movie, Pacific Rim, which
was directed by Guillermo Del Toro.
Stereo D was formed in 2009, and in 2011, was acquired by Deluxe Entertainment Services Inc. It continues to provide end-to-end 3D production services for feature films, television productions and commercials. The company is home to 1,000 employees, who are split
between its 70,000 square foot headquarters in Burbank; its newly opened studio in London;
and a facility in Pune, India
Stereo D first purchased Quantel systems in 2010, choosing an iQ online finishing and DI
system for post on Gullivers Travels and The Green Hornet. It later added multiple Pablo 4K
systems to its workflow.
Quantel [was] the only company able to provide us with systems that could play 2K and
3D reliably and in-sync; we were able to do things that our competition couldnt, explains
executive vice president and chief creative officer, Aaron Parry. No one could do conforming, editorial, color correction and deliverables all in one box.
34

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

Sony Pictures installs


Harrison MPC5/Xrange
CULVER CITY, CA Sony Pictures Studios (www.sonypicturesstudios.com) has installed a new Harrison MPC5/Xrange system
with MC - 64 wide monitoring and Object++ 3D panning
software. The console will be used to support wide-format and
object-based immersive sound formats such as Dolby Atmos and
Auro3D.
The new MPC5/Xrange system provides 1,230 channels of
DSP processing to accommodate the wide variety of specific
processing requirements for immersive sound feature film mixing.
The MPC5/Xrange provides the latest MC - 64 Wide Monitoring Matrix and Object++ 3D panning system, which can treat the
incoming channels as objects placed in a virtual space. Using
Harrisons ESP waveform technology, objects appear and disappear along with the regions on the DAW screen, allowing mixers
to anticipate sounds and see their placements in the room.
The new MPC5/Xrange includes advanced new panning features, such as direct Ethernet control of the Dolby Atmos RMU,
as well as various wide format panning modes that include multiple levels of height. The system also consolidates the capabilities
of multiple mix formats, and puts them in the users hand via
motorized joystick.
Instead of using a different workflow involving a mix of
Atmos, Auro3D, and ProTools panning plug-ins, we prefer a single
workflow that generates multiple mix formats using a consistent
framework, explains Paul Massey, sound director and re-recording mixer at Sony Pictures. The console software will handle the
details, so we can focus on the artistic effects we are trying to
achieve. This is going to allow us to work more efficiently while
maintaining the consistency of creative decisions made in the
original mix throughout all formats.

Chain Camera Pictures adds


Small Tree storage
LOS ANGELES Documentary
director Kirby Dick (http://kirbydick.
com), whos been nominated for
both Oscar and Emmy Awards,
recently selected Small Trees TitaniumZ-8 shared storage system for
installation at his Chain Camera
Pictures in LA. Dick is best known
for his work on This Film is Not Yet
Rated, The Invisible War and Twist of
Faith. In addition to the TitaniumZ-8
(www.small-tree.com) in the edit suite at Chain Camera Pictures, Dick also purchased
another Small Tree system for installation at his office nearby
The TitaniumZ-8 is built on an operating system that was designed to be easy to
use, feature-rich and reliable, while also performing at a high level. Small Tree offers an
eight-drive system with 2TB drives or up to an 80-drive system with 4TB drives. Both
Small Tree systems used by Dick and Chain Camera Pictures offer 32TBs of storage
and are configured to accommodate 6 GbE clients.
We were using an older RAID system for storage and were in desperate need of an
upgrade, Dick recalls. Prior to installing the Small Tree systems, we were duplicating media
and creating up to 3TBs of hard drive backups each week. Now, with the server-based
solution, we dont have to do that, which is far more efficient for me and my team.
The TitaniumZ-8 is flexible and allows users to work across multiple protocols (AFP,
SMB, NFS and iSCSI) and platforms, including Adobe Creative Suite, Avid Media Composer, Avid Pro Tools, Apple Final Cut Pro 7 and Apple Final Cut Pro X. The team had
been working with Final Cut 7, but is currently shifting to Adobe Premiere. In addition
to its flexibility, the TitaniumZ-8s scalability played an important part in the decision to
purchase this solution. With the Small Tree appliances, I know that well be able to add
to our current configuration easily and cost-effectively, says Dick.

OneTV employs Grass


Valleys GV Stratus
HONG KONG OneTV, a new 24/7 television station that delivers news,
sports and entertainment to millions of viewers across Hong Kong,
recently deployed Grass Valleys GV Stratus nonlinear media production
tools, marking the first to use them in the region.
The station is using Grass Valleys (www.grassvalley.com) Edius Elite
multi-format nonlinear editing software, K2 Summit 3G production client,
and K2 SAN storage solution. Together, these technologies allow OneTV
to deliver around the clock programming to multiple platforms, including
smartphones and tablets.
With GV Stratus, OneTV is equipped with an efficient and complete set
of tools for ingest, editing, content aggregation, logging, transfer and playout.
Compatibility with the Media Object Server (MOS) protocol allows it to
interface with and take programming instructions from most newsroom
computer systems.
Running a TV station 24/7 is a paramount task and when news breaks
in Hong Kong, we needed a tool that enables us to quickly turnaround new
content production, deliver it first, and across multiple platforms, explains
Lo Wing Fai, Oliver, president of OneTV. We opted for a solution from
Grass Valley that will help facilitate a create once, publish everywhere
consolidated workflow. Now, we can take advantage of a seamless work
environment that gives us control over the entire spectrum of our content
creation and distribution lifecycle.

Stormy Weather
on Super 35mm and HD

StormStock
The worlds premier storm footage library.
(817) 276-9500
www.stormstock.com
www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

35

postings
PemberlEy Online

Parchment Paper

ONDON LipSync Post (www.lipsyncpost.co.uk)


provided grading, online editing, sound, VFX and
titles for BBC Ones three-part drama Death Comes To
Pemberley, which is based on PD James acclaimed
sequel to the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. The drama was produced by Origin Pictures for
BBC One, and aired in late December.
The photography had to rely on a lot of natural light
due to rigging restrictions in period locations and
stately homes. Selective grading by senior colorist Stu-

HICAGO Sonixphere (www.sonixphere.com) partnered with Havas Worldwide Chicago to createan exciting-yetcharming:30 holiday spot for Reynolds Parchment Paper. The studio recorded a live orchestra for the spot in which
an animated heroine, made out of parchment paper, comes to the rescue of holiday cookies.
Pepper, the all-white origami character, sees cookies about to be baked without the non-stick paper. She climbs the
refrigerator and springs off a toasted to arrive in time to save the cookies before they go into the oven sliding a piece
of Reynolds Parchment Paper between them and the cooking tray.
The score for Pepper Parchment uses carefully plotted cues to heighten the action. Real strings and horns add a layer of
warmth and reality to the spot. The session required a large recording room, so the team tapped CRC in Chicago.
Laika in Portland, OR, handled the animation. Michael Corrigan and Steve Miller cut the spot. Rex Carter handled
Flame work.
Todd Beee at Made in Chicago created the commercials original sound design.

Grudge Match

OS ANGELES Look Effects (www.lookfx.com) recently


produced visual effects for Grudge Match, the new Warner Bros. feature starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone. Directed by Peter Segal, Grudge Match tells the story
of two aging boxing rivals who are coaxed out of retirement
to fight one final bout, 30 years after their last match.
Because the fight sequences were shot in an empty New
Orleans arena, Looks primary job was to create the crowd of
10,000 boxing fans. VFX supervisor Everett Burrell says the
team had just one day on-set to work with the 300 extras.
The entire crowd was created using real people. There were
no digital extras. Extras were repositioned throughout the
arena, shot and composited to create the large crowd.

How Cities Work

ONDON BTV Post (www.btvpost.com) provided full post production for the TV
series How Cities Work, which was commissioned by Discovery. Produced by
Electric Sky Productions and filmed in Stereo 3D, How Cities Work visits London,
New York, Barcelona, Las Vegas, Berlin, San Francisco and many other iconic cities.
The program looks at the technological achievements, planning and engineering
feats that make life in these cities possible and pleasurable for the masses.
BTV Post colorists and online editors Ian Grey and George Dutton completed the
picture post for the five-episode series. BTV Posts dubbing mixer Jon Gray handled
sound for the show, which was mixed in 5.1. According to post supervisor Chris Gallani, rushes were couriered from location to the studio around-the-clock for immediate ingest. The series made use of a range of cameras, including the Sony TD-300.
Media was transferred via BTV Posts fast data connection for online and mastering
in Mistika and Avid editing suites. The deliverables were managed using Eclipse,
BTV Posts digital media management platform.
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art Fyvie helped enhance or shade parts of the image


that would ordinarily have been lit on-set. The drama
also features flashbacks of a previous incident, remembered from several characters points of view. Fyvie
added subtle nuances such as glows, highlights and
desaturations that would help the audience know
where they were in the story.
Re-recording mixer Rob Hughes worked hard to
bring a feeling of a working home to Pemberley, with
details such as distantly-heard servants and passing
conversations. Many Foley tracks were recorded on
location, augmented by recordings shot in a 15th century music shop in Surrey. The VFX work also needed to
maintain the reality of a period production. Key shots
included the compositing of a period cottage into a
riverside location, and bringing exterior shots of Pemberley to life by adding the glow from a single light
source shining through windows.

postings
Holiday Spirit

Magic Truck

EW YORK The New York office of Minneapolis, MNs HiFi Project (www.hifiproject.com) recently collaborated
closely with The Acme Idea Company on a new, holiday commercial for Duracell. The Magic Truck features an
antique pick-up truck driving slowly through a snowy town. As it passes different store displays, the toys in the windows
come to life. The imagery reinforces how Duracell has teamed up with Hasbro to power toys donates to Toys for Tots this
holiday season.
HiFi, along with creative director Scott Kulok and art director Eric Weigeshoff of Acme Idea and director Marcus Nispel of Tool, created the campaign. HiFi Project provided the original score for the :30 spot, subtly implementing Duracells
three-tone chime while maintaining the magic of the holiday season.
According to HiFi Project partner/EP Jack Bradley, lead composer Garth Neustadter articulated the vision that the
Acme team and Nispel wanted, using live orchestral warmth, but with a contemporary twist.
Laura Milstein of Union cut the spot and Company 3 handled VFX. Joe OConnell at Blast Audio handled the mix.

Worlds Fair

HICAGO Filmworkers (www.filmworkers.com) helped agency DDB,


here, recapture the thrills experienced by visitors to Chicagos 1893
Worlds Fair in a new ad campaign for The Field Museum. The campaign
promotes the Museums current exhibit, which marks the 120th anniversary
of the Fair. It features artifacts from the landmark event.
In Ferris Wheel, a boy is shown on the Fairs famous ride, looking out
across the exposition grounds. See what he saw! states the
voiceover, The wonders of the 1893 Worlds Fair. In the Electricity
Sweeps spot, a woman gazes at a large dynamo, her hair stands on end
as an electrical arc buzzes.
Filmworkerss Rob Churchill directed the spots, which made use of
costumed actors. The backgrounds were constructed from historical
stills and CG elements. Churchill used a series of archival photos to
create the expo grounds. Virtual camera movement created the illusion
that the boy is rising in the air. CG flags were added to the background.

The Musketeers

ONDON Hackenbacker (www.hackenbacker.com) has completed full audio post


production for The Musketeers, a new 10-part series for BBC One. The series is a contemporary take on Alexandre Dumas classic tale of The Three Musketeers and was
created and written by Adrian Hodges.
The Musketeers stars Luke Pasqualino as DArtagnan, a skilled fighter from rural Gascony who is on a mission to right the wrong of his fathers death. When he reaches the
lawless streets of 17th century Paris, he meets Athos, Aramis and Porthos, the Three
Musketeers, played by Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera and Howard Charles.
Hackenbackers founder Nigel Heath served as re-recording mixer for the series, which
is presented in 10 one-hour episodes. The program features a score created by Murray
Gold at Air Studios.
38

Post January 2014

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EW YORK Grand Large Inc. (www.grandlarge.tv) recently produced two warm holiday
spots for Kohls via agency Peterson Milla Hooks. In
Special Delivery, a young girl gets into the Christmas spirit by delivering gifts to friends and neighbors using a slingshot from the second story of her
Victorian home. She is surprised herself when the
young boy next door sends her a gift using a remote
controlled helicopter.
In Surprise, a young couple quickly decorates an
apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone. When finished, they sit and wait for their elderly neighbor to
return home, catching her reaction to the beautiful
lights and trimmings.
In order to ensure an authentic feel, both spots

were shot in a historically preserved neighborhood


at the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles.
Gaysorn Thavat directed the :30 commercials and
Pixel Farm handled visual effects, which included
adding snow to several scenes. For Special Delivery, the fireplace scene, with a present falling down
the chimney, was added in post. Backgrounds and
landscapes were also replaced. And the final
RChelicopter shot was captured against a greenscreen. Its spinning rotors were created in CG and
added in post as well.
Brett Astorat Channel Z handled editorial for
the project. Kurt Angellserved asVFX supervisorand Tom Jacobsen was producerfor Pixel Farm.
Grand Large credits included EP Steve Horton, producer Rachel Curl and DP Tobias Schliessler.

The March issue of Post once again offers


in-depth coverage of all aspects of post and
digital production, with a special focus on
these topics:
DigiTal inTerMeDiaTes - On- and near-set
solutions
PrevisualizaTiOn - Planning vFX at the
early stages
auDiO FOr gaMes - Creating original
soundtracks that entertain
ISSUE DATE MARCH
Ad close: JANUARY 24th
Materials due: FEBRUARY 14th
CONTACT US ABOUT PRINT & ONLINE
ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES:

Mari Kohn

818.291.1153 | mkohn@postmagazine.com

GARY RHODES

631.274.9530 | grhodes@postmagazine.com

Lisa Black

818-660-5828 | lblack@copcomm.com

sTOrage suPPleMenT - Posts annual


round up
sOunD library OFFerings - The latest in
production music and sound effects
The world of post production is large,
but Post Magazine brings it to you in a
comprehensive and easy-to-read format.

w w w.p o st mag azi ne.com


L A SAL ES OF F ICE | 80 0. 2 80.6 446 | 6 2 0 W. Elk Avenue, G lendale, CA 91 204

products
Soundness refines audio restoration tool

AUSALITO, CA Soundness (www.soundness-llc.com) recently


introduced Version 3 of its SoundSoap audio noise reduction software. The app is available on the Mac App Store, in the video category.
SoundSoap 3 solves audio noise problems in videos and audio files,
including unwanted hiss and background noises, clicks, pops, crackles,
electrical hum, and
rumble. The latest version adds several new
features, new user
interface, and 64-bit
compatibility.
SoundSoap 3 works
as a standalone application and is well suited to serve as a companion to iMovie, Final
Cut Pro X, GarageBand, iPhoto, Premiere
and Skype. The new
UI includes an
improved high-resolution Wash Window that
allows users to visualize the before and
after results of the
noise reduction processing. Earlier versions required two to three seconds of isolated material to use the Learn
Noise feature. SoundSoap 3 has been improved to allow learning from any
length portion of the media, for as long as the Learn Noise button is
pressed.
Pricing is $79.95 and system requirements include Mac OS 10.9 or
later. The standalone version reads all major video and audio file formats,
including QuickTime, H.264, CAF, DV, WAV and AIFF.
SoundSoap 3 is also available for Audio Unit, VST, and RTAS format
audio plug-ins for $149.

Case improves iPad for filmmaking

AN MARINO, CA iOgrapher (www.iographer.com) is now


shipping its new filmmaking case for the Apple iPad 3 and 4.
Priced at $70 and available directly through the iOgrapher Website,
the new iOgrapher is constructed from high-quality, extremely tough
polycarbonate/ABS, making it well suited for a range of professional
and consumer users.
Two handles help turn an iPad into a mini, hand-held rig, greatly
reducing shaky footage thats common when using mobile devices.
Filmmakers can also add 37mm lenses to its lens mount area for
wide angle, fisheye, macro or close up shots. And lighting and audio
gear can be incorporated thanks to three accessory shoes on the
top of the case. The bottom of the case allows for mounting an iPad
to any standard tripod, monopod, or portable dolly.
iOgrapher also offers a version for the iPad Mini, which is priced at
$65. The companys cases come in black, white, red, pink and blue.

Thinkbox updates particle renderer

OS ANGELES Thinkbox Software recently released Krakatoa MY


2.3, the latest version of its high-volume particle renderer for
Autodesk Maya. Additions to the software include an intuitive Magma
node-based toolkit for channeling particles, among other UI and performance improvements. The launch coincides with the availability of
Krakatoa MX 2.3, an update to the Autodesk 3DS Max version of the
plug-in, giving users identical functionality across both applications.
CPU-based and multi-threaded, Krakatoa overcomes the memory
and system limitations of host applications by providing a pipeline for
acquiring, caching, transforming, modifying, shading and rendering billions of particles at fast speeds. Key features for the new release include
full Magma support, higher particle counts, PRT Surfacing, and
advanced shadowing. Thinkbox (www.thinkboxsoftware.com) is offering
a 15-day evaluation license for those who want to try it out.

40

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NetApp grows storage family

UNNYVALE, CA NetApp (www.netapp.com) recently released Version 8.1 of the Data ONTAP operating system, which allows broadcast
and post production operations to scale out a single storage cluster to 24
nodes. Since each node provides roughly five times the capacity of the
leading scale-out NAS system, a NetApp cluster can now scale out to
many petabytes. In addition, NetApp clusters offer non-disruptive operation and upgrades. Controllers are virtualized from the RAID arrays, allowing capacity upgrades, content rebalancing, and controller upgrades to
take place during operation.
The NetApp E-Series modular storage systems, which offer suitable
bandwidth for 2K, 4K, S3D, and HFR workflows, have added a storage
resiliency scheme called Dynamic Disk Pools. DDP spreads data, spare
capacity, and protection information across a pool of drives to facilitate
data rebuilds of up to 8x the speed of traditional RAID storage devices.
During these shortened rebuilds, the system performs at up to 97 percent
of its normal performance. NetApp also recently entered the all-flash array
market with the EF540 storage array.

Shotgun expands review


& approval tool

OS ANGELES Shotgun Software recently announce details


for two releases: 5.2 (December) and 5.3 (February). The
releases significantly expand Shotguns review and approval tools
with a new Media App and an integrated Client Review Site.
The Shotgun Media App enhances project collaboration with an
artist-friendly, studio-wide media library that allows anyone working
on a project to add media, create playlists, view and annotate

Cakewalks improves video in Sonar app

OSTON Cakewalk (www.cakewal.com) has released a free update


for its Sonar X3d. The release covers all three versions of the Sonar
family (X3, X3 Studio, and X3 Producer).
Priced at $99, Sonar X3 is a value-oriented release. Sonar X3 Studio is
priced at $199 and is targeted at advanced home and project studios.
Cakewalks Sonar X3 Producer costs $499 and is designed to meet the
demands of professionals who require a program with the versatility to
handle any kind of project.
X3d is the fourth patch to be released since the launch back in September. The release includes numerous fixes and improvements requested by
the user community. X3d includes support for more industry standard
video formats using Microsofts Media Foundation video engine. Additional
benefits include improved video playback quality and performance, support for HD content, support for high color spaces with full fidelity and
enhanced full-screen playback, and more efficient video acceleration.

images or movies, and share media from any Web browser. Users
can drag and drop one or more files into the browser to immediately upload them to the project. Automatic transcoding is performed for all media and thumbnails for playback in the browser.
Users can create quick playlists by using drag and drop editing
tools. Playlists can then be shared with anyone working on the
project. The UI has also been made darker for enhanced viewing.
The Client Review Site in the upcoming 5.3 release provides
one-click publishing of any playlist to a simple and secure Website
designed specifically for client presentations. External clients get
simple tools to review media and provide feedback with notes and
annotations.

HP debuts new all-in-one workstation

ALO ALTO, CA At the CES show in Las Vegas this month, HP (www.hp.com)
unveiled the Z1 G2, a new 27-inch all-in-one workstation with touch capability.
The Z1 G2 is the second-generation all-in-one workstation from HP and incorporates a 27-inch diagonal display with Windows 8 Touch and Intel Thunderbolt 2
capabilities.
HP says the Z1 line is designed for pros that demand high-performance and
sleek-looking products that are serviceable and easy-to-use. The new Z1 features Intel integrated HD Graphics, 4th Generation Intel Xeon and Core processors, ECC memory, and RAID storage options. Additionally, the HP Z1
features the latest Nvidia mobile Quadro GPUs. Like all HP Z Workstations,
the Z1 G2 has been tested and certified for professional applications.
HPs Z1 G2 workstation includes dualtone, front-facing speakers and DTS Studio
Sound Audio. HP hopes to deliver the new all-in-one later this month.

www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

41

people

SpitZ

EDElStEin

RoSEnBlooM

42

SArAH SPiTz
Bostons Zero VFX has expanded its management team with the appointment of Sarah
Spitz as executive producer. In her new role,
Spitz will help to expand the studios global
commercial business. She will also oversee content production for the companys existing client base. Spitz began her career at McCannErickson NY in 1996 with a position in the
broadcast production department. Following
McCann, she spent five years at BBDO NY. In
2003, she left New York and joined Arnold
Worldwide, Boston, where she was most
recently a VP/executive producer.
DAviD EDElSTEiN, DANNy
roSENBlooM
Creative strategic design agency Eyeball in NYC
has added David Edelstein as managing director, broadcast, and Danny Rosenbloom as
managing director, commercials. Each brings
more than 20 years of experience in corporate
strategy, sales and production management. Edelstein is a veteran producer whose background
includes work in broadcast design, promo production and commercials. He comes from Click
3X, where he was managing director for more
than four years. Prior to Click 3X, he helped
launch Nth Degree Creative Group.
Rosenbloom was most recently the managing
director of Brand New School, where he was
also a partner and previously, executive producer. During this time, he was instrumental in
guiding the companys transition from a design
and animation studio into an integrated production company, working in all media and across
offices in Los Angeles, New York and London.

Post January 2014

www.postmagazine.com

Ben Arons

pERSiCHEtti

VEnnE

Ben Arons

BUCHSBAUM

STEPHEN BUCHSBAUM
Veteran post industry executive Stephen
Buchsbaum has been appointed president
and COO of 2G Digital, which specializes in
file-based mastering and distribution. Buchsbaum most recently served as a production and
post consultant, and managing partner at Traveling Light Partners, an independent film and
television production company. Previously, he
served for six years as president of The Post
Group and CEO of its affiliates, Lighting Media
and iO Film.
In his new role, he will oversee operations,
direct sales and marketing, and lead strategic
planning for the company. Immediately, Buschbaums focus will be on broadening the companys sales outreach and accelerating its on-going
growth plans, which include both an expansion of
its Burbank facility and the establishment of an
outpost on the East Coast.

ZEiGlER

MAURiot

JoHN PErSiCHETTi
In a continuing effort to build its post services
for feature films, Chainsaw in Hollywood has
hired John persichetti as senior DI colorist.
Persichetti brings more than 20 years of experience as a feature film colorist, having most
recently worked at Colorworks, Sony Pictures
Entertainments digital intermediate facility. His
credits there included This Is the End, The Amazing Spider-Man, 21 Jump Street and Hotel Transylvania. At Chainsaw, Persichetti will operate out
of the companys new, 4K digital intermediate
theater. His first project will be A Haunted House
2 for Wayan Bros. Entertainment.
DAN vENNE, KriSTy zEiglEr
Man Made Music, which specializes in sonic
branding, has expanded its creative and brand
partnership departments with the promotion of
Dan Venne to VP, supervising producer, and the
hiring of Kristy Zeigler as manager of brand
partnerships & music strategy at the company in
NYC. Venne joined the team in 2008, and by
2012, was promoted to senior producer. Most
recently, he oversaw the expansion of AT&Ts
micro-catalogue and played a key role in the
rebranding of Univision. Zeigler will help evangelize the company, its vision, and its approach to
telling stories with music and sound in the entertainment space. She will also cultivate relationships, with an eye toward A&R, to attract likeminded composers and artists. She was previously with The Music Playground/The Lodge.
TylEr ANDErSoN
Integrated production company, Acne, which
has a US office in LA, has added senior art director tyler Andersen to its roster. A versatile
talent tuned to the latest digital and 3D technologies, Anderson brings a range of experience
across diverse brands and platforms. His credits
include concept-to-completion work on the
comedy-horror feature Butterfinger the 13th for
Nestle; reconstruction of the Tron Legacy franchise Website in 3D; all UX/UI across iOS,
Android and responsive Web for Yahoo Fantasy
Sports Quarterback Challenge; and a central role
in Craftsmans Screw*D reality show and Hondas Good Reasons campaign.
WAlTEr MAUrioT
Paris-based nightshift has added senior editor
Walter Mauriot to their team of creativetalent. He will be available through Nightshifts
offices in Paris, Los Angeles and New York. Mauriot first discovered his love for editing as an
assistant at Bandits in 1997. He later freelanced
and brought his editorial eye to numerous proj-

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people
ects produced by Wanda Productions, Partizan,
Midi-Minuit, Premire Heure and Iconoclast. In
addition to spot work and music videos, he is
one of two editors that cut Logorama, the2010
Oscar winner for Best Animation Short Film. His
Nightshift debut was the music video for Pharrell
Williams Happy.

HORNE

HUPKE

Irven

BEVERLEY HORNE
LipSync Post in London has appointed Beverley Horne to the newly-created role of head of
TV post.. She joins the studio from ITV, where
she post supervised a number of dramas over
the last seven years, including Agatha Christie:
Poirot, four seasons of Inspector Lewis, and The
Prisoner. In her new role she will be responsible
for overseeing all post work on television
dramas.
CASEY HUPKE
Casey Hupke has joined Culver City, CA-based
visual effects house Zoic Studios as art director
for the companys commercial and games division. He brings nearly a decade of experience as
a VFX designer/animator in the commercial
space, having worked with studios that include
Motion Theory/Mirada, Logan, The Famous
Group and Imaginary Forces.
Hupke has a unique visual style thats often
characterized by computational particle physics.
His background is in computer science, and his
aesthetic has a distinct applied math influence.
Hupke is skilled at compositing, design, and Cinema 4D animation. His work can be seen in
campaigns IBM, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Exxon, Cisco
and Buick.
Danny Irven
ERA Ltd., a broadcast and IT solutions provider,
has appointment Danny Irven technical sales
consultant. Based at the companys offices in
London, Irven will be responsible for selling ERAs
portfolio of solutions and services into the
broadcast, media and creative markets. With
more than 17 years of sales and operational
experience within the M&E industries, Irven
brings a wealth of specialist software, hardware
and solutions expertise to ERA.Prior to joining
the company, he worked at Bluegfx, where his
knowledge of 3D, computer graphics and VFX
saw him deliver solutions to customers across a
wide array of creative sectors.

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44

Post January 2014

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Ribeiro

JANNEAU

Luis Ribeiro
Whitehouse Post, which has offices in New
York, LA, Chicago and London, has added Luis
Ribeiro to its team as new business developer,
covering editorial, visual effects and design. Ribeiro
is the founder of global consultancy Ambassador
Digital Group and the US consultant for FilmBrazil. He has forged relationships with key players
across the global advertising industry. A Brazilian
native, Ribeiro will seek to expand Whitehouses
businesses nationally and internationally, and will
serve as an instrument in extending the Whitehouse brand into Latin America and the growing
US multicultural market. Prior to joining Whitehouses LA office, Ribeiro was VP of Beasts Latin
division. He was also managing director of Speedshape, and VP of business development at Method Studios and Company 3.
PIERRE JANNEAU
Santa Monica-based creative agency 180LA has
hired Pierre Janneau as creative director, a
new position designed to oversee the Adidas
account. The France native joins the company by
way of Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, where he
served as group creative director for Nike, Electronic Arts (EA), ESPN, and General Electric
(GE Middle East). This is Janneaus first time
working in the United States.
DAVID LEES
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems in
Buena Park, CA, has appointed David Lees to
the position of Nuage district manager, effective
immediately. Lees has been with the company
since 2002 and has held various positions within
the professional audio & combo division as a
Steinberg and Hi-Tech district manager in the midAtlantic region, as well as the keyboard division.
Prior to joining Yamaha, Lees worked for EMU
Systems and ProSound. He will relocate from
Delaware to Southern California in early 2014.

LEES

CRAIG RICE
Creative editorial and video production house
Bongo Post in Sacramento, CA, has added
Craig Rice to its roster. A director and editor,
Rice joins the team from Yahoo!, where he handled editorial and color work on the music Web
series Crash Concerts, Ram Country and Maximum Performance. His resume also includes
work on branded content.

tions Mail Agreement Number 40017597. Printed in the U.S.A. Copyright 2014 POST, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this
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Glendale, California 91204.

O S C A R
[ Cont.from 19 ] producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director
Gore Verbinski and shape-shifting Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp (who also bonded with the
director on the 2011 Oscar-winner Rango), it didnt get
much love at the box office. But the impressive VFX, by
ILM, MPC, Hydraulx, Lola and Gentle Giant among others, might get an Oscar nod. And the hybrid movie it
was a combination of film (about 70 percent) and digital (30 percent) has some interesting post angles.
Dailies were scanned immediately into 4K and were
also graded by Company 3 who did the DI. It was a
great set up, as we had the look we wanted generated
in camera, and that was then carried on throughout
our dailies and into post and the telecine, says DP
Bojan Bazelli. And it was the same thing with our digital
dailies. Wed shoot our digital files, make a copy on-set
to be safe, and then the original drives would be sent
by courier to Company 3 where theyd copy it again
and grade it. The team used a Codex Digital recorder
to record the ArriRaw files, which the DP says has the
most latitude of all the options.
Rush may get attention for its spectacular visual
effects, courtesy of Double Negative. Howard worked
closely with VFX supervisor Jody Johnson, and reports
that Rush used, about 700 VFX shots in the end, of
varying types. A lot were just brush strokes and rig
removal stuff, but we also had our big moments where
cars are crashing and then things where its just too
dangerous and too expensive and unpredictable to try
and do any other way except with VFX. So I couldnt
have made this film and have it look the way it does
with all the visual effects.
Like Rush, writer/director Neill Blomkamps second
film, Elysium, was a box office disappointment, but it
deserves Oscar attention for its VFX. Image Engine in
Vancouver, who did all the aliens in Blomkamps District
9, did all the VFX for Elysium 870 which is a lot, but
not that much compared to Pacific Rim or The Hobbit
or Avatar, where youre talking thousands of VFX, notes
the director. Image Engine are so good at integrating
characters over live action performance. Its rotomation, so the animators copy the essence of the actor,
and then do the background restoration where they
paint him out. The really difficult VFX was creating the
Torus space station. With both my films I have a very
particular way in which the VFX work, which is that I
try to give the VFX artists as much of a leg up as I can
meaning very clear light direction with sunlight,
everything is embedded in the camera, the actor is
there for reference so you can replace him, he adds.
And with Elysium, most of the film is like that, but then
suddenly youre cutting to a 100 percent digital render
of the manicured inside of the space station, and that
was very challenging to do.
TechnicolorPostWorks New York provided conform and digital intermediate color grading for Lee
Daniels The Butler. Daniels is a longtime client of the
facility which provided similar services for Daniels films
Precious and The Paperboy. Inside Llewyn Davis, shot on
35mm by Bruno Delbonnel, is the latest film from
directors Joel and Ethan Coen, and Technicolor-PostWorks provided an advanced dailies workflow and final
color grading under the guidance of Technicolor super-

P I C K S

World War Z is but one film from


2013 that took a hybrid
approach, using live action and
animated techniques.

vising digital colorist Peter Doyle.


ANIMATION
Its also been another strong year for animated features, both creatively and at the box office, with several
likely contenders, including Cloudy with a Chance of
Meatballs 2, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, The
Croods, Epic, The Smurfs 2, Frozen, Turbo, Planes, Free Birds
and Wind Rises, likely the last film from Japanese master
Hayao Miyazaki.
For The Croods writer/directors Kirk DeMicco and
Chris Sanders, the big challenge was bringing a prehistoric world to life. Neither of us realized just how
much work was involved, as everything from a leaf to a
rock had to be built and surfaced, reports Sanders.
We had no shortcuts, and there are no structures
its all the natural world. It took the team of 300 artists
over four years to complete the task, says DeMicco,
and they used every tool at our disposal, from oldschool matte painting to the latest technology.
For the sequels and prequels Cloudy with a
Chance of Meatballs 2, Monsters University, Despicable
Me 2, The Smurfs 2 the big challenge was keeping the
magic fresh. Youre faced with a real dilemma audiences want the familiarity of the same characters, but
at the same time, they dont want just a repeat of the
first film, acknowledges Pixars Dan Scanlon, director of
Monsters University.
Scanlon worked with a team of 200 for nearly five
years on Monsters University. Youre always aware of
the pressure to do better than the original, he adds.
And its really tough as those characters were specifically designed to tell one story, which has now been
told. So you have to design a whole new story and
journey, and also make sure that theres a new emotional change. It cant be the same as the first movie,
and sequels often fall into that trap.
Indeed, critically and financially successful movie sequels
are notoriously hard to pull off, and in the world of animation, for every inspired Toy Story 2 success, there are plenty
that have crashed and burned (Cars 2). Revisiting characters and their worlds and keeping them fresh is a
tricky balancing act, even for Pixar.

Similarly, for Kris Pearn and Cody Cameron, the


returning directors of the 2009 surprise hit Cloudy with
a Chance of Meatballs, the big challenge facing Cloudy 2
was not to repeat ourselves in both the types of jokes
and the character stories, says Pearn. On the plus side,
the team didnt have to sell the concept this time out.
The studio had a lot of reservations about Cloudy 1 as
it was so Muppetty and cartoony with this whole crazy
world, he recalls. We spent a year out of the four-year
process just trying to convince them itd work. The
team also decided to flip the originals disaster movie
genre. This time we went for the monster movie,
which gave us all this new energy, and took the sentient
food idea which made the least sense in the first film
and ran with it, explains Pearn.
So far so good. But what about the use of animation
in such features as Gravity, Oz The Great and Powerful,
Iron Man 3 and World War Z and what do these
strikingly diverse films all have in common? Despite
their very different artistic visions, subject matter and
tone, theyre all part of one of the hottest trends in
Hollywood the hybrid production that seamlessly
blends live-action and animation techniques, enabling
their creators to boldly go where no filmmaker has yet
gone. But while this hybrid approach is golden at the
box office, the increasing blurring of the lines between
live action and animation is also calling into question
what exactly constitutes an animated film these days.
Gravity is obviously not cartoony in the way that
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Monsters University
and Despicable Me 2 are, but Cuaron happily describes
his four-year labor of love as, like making an animated
movie. Says Sanders, I feel that today, live action films
are finally catching up in a lot of ways with where animation was born. Animated films have always had these
incredibly fanciful realms.
Adds Oz The Great and Powerfuls senior VFX supervisor Scott Stokdyk, Were now creating in VFX the
virtual equivalent of the entire live action production
and its a trend thatll keep growing.... So yes, its getting harder and harder to define exactly what an animated film is now.
Audiences will have to stay tuned.

review
Maxon Cinema 4D Studio Release 15

By TReVoR
M. CaRlee
Post Producer
Los Angeles
tmcarlee@gmail.com

Close integration
with After Effects
made it time to
try the new
Cinema 4D.

Powerful type tools and


the Team Render feature
are valuable to pros
working in small shops.

46

I didnt want to just figure out what the


light version of Cinema 4D was capable of. I
wanted to attack 3D modeling/animation full
force. So I dove into Cinema 4D and never
looked back.
I started with Cinema 4D Studio Release
15, and while I am a huge fan of Blender and
what theyre doing, this software is everything
I could ever need and want from a 3D program. After quickly running through some
tutorials on Lynda.com, I was easily able to
navigate through the program. Then came the
new features.

Post January 2014

TYPOGRAPHY
Until now I had been using Video Copilots
Element 3D plug-in in After Effects to create
really great looking 3D text. However, it does
have its limitations, such as a lack of raytracing.
Ive never gone out of After Effects to create
3D text because I like having control of the
style of the text constantly throughout the

VITal STaTS

ve been working with visual effects for a


little more than a decade and am always
looking for ways to extend my pallet. I
started out with After Effects 5.0 back in
2001. It was pretty bare bones but so much
more capable than most other programs at
the time.
I star ted out using After Effects for personal use, but as the years passed, I star ted
to take on more and more projects that
required VFX or graphics. Eventually, there
came a time where I needed to branch out
into the (booming radio voice) Third
Dimension!
I was able to fake 3D for a while in After
Effects with plug-ins like Shatter, where you
can essentially make a layer not shatter and
just use the extrude tool. Obviously it was
very finicky and not nearly as polished as what
an actual 3D modeling/animating program
would provide. Anyway, I eventually started
turning to 3D programs to create simple 3D
elements that I would animate around. I had
some friends with Maya for a while and then
I discovered Blender (a free 3D animation
program). Then the game changed when
Adobe included Cineware and Cinema 4D
Lite with their latest cloud-based subscription
of After Effects. Now was the time to make
the jump.

animation process. Well, in Cinema 4D, there


is now the ability to adjust kerning, tracking,
scale (both horizontal and vertical or
both) and baseline shift for individual characters. You can do this by adjusting the numerical properties for each setting or, if you click
the Show 3D GUI checkbox, you can get
your hands dirty with the actual letters in the
viewer. This is my preference.
This feature alone adds so much value to
this software as most of the visual effects
required of me involve 3D text. I can now easily and confidently step into Cinema 4D, design
my text, animate it and import it into After
Effects through Cineware. Its super easy. The
only downside is that you cant directly animate the individual properties, but hopefully
that will be added in a future update.
While Ill still use Element 3D for quick
mockups and those Make an amazing 3D
animation of all of these words in the next
hour requests, Cinema 4D is where Ill be
spending my time when I want it to look truly
unique and perfect.
RENDERING
One of the truly great new features is
Team Render. While I am only a one-man
shop, I do have a number of computers
hanging about, and to be able to pull render
power from all of my available machines for
one project is really great. It even works
across a network of Macs and PCs. The
software also comes with the ability to only
install the Team Render Client on other
machines so you dont need a bunch of

www.postmagazine.com

computers up and running with a full version of Cinema 4D to do this.


Additionally, I was very pleased to see the
option to limit the number of render threads
to be used during Team Render in case I
needed to use one of my machines while
rendering out a big project.
Team Render uses Bonjour to discover
MANUFACTURER: Maxon
PRODUCT: Cinema 4D Studio
Release 15
PRICE: $3,695
WEBSITE: www.maxon.net
Team Render
Camera Crane
improved bevel and slide tools

the machines around you that are available.


However, if youd prefer not to use Bonjour,
you can manually enter IP addresses and
ports for each machine you want to add. I
personally loved the ease of using the Bonjour method as all of my machines (except
the PC) just showed up instantly in the Team
Render settings. For my PC, I just had to
enter the IP and Port, and it was permanently
a part of my group.
Also, Ambient Occlusion renders faster in
this new version with single frames as it now
shares samples with the Irradiance Cache.
Something else thats really great is the fact
that theres now a cache for Ambient Occlusion so your future renders are much faster.
MODEL TOOLS
The new and improved bevel and slide
tools really stand out. Being able to have complete control over the bevel points, edges and
polygons in the 3D GUI was a very welcome
addition. You can also click the limit checkbox to prevent overlapping geometry (something Ive always struggled with) to make for
some beautiful modeling.
SCULTPING
I havent really gotten my hands dirty with
sculpting in a 3D program yet, but I could see
myself getting into it with the new additions
Maxon has added to this release. You can
sculpt on very low poly models if needed. I
think Im going to get more into sculpting now
that it seems more rounded. It could be great
for creating little imperfections in my scenes.

V F X

A FEW OTHER THINGS


Theres a new Camera Crane option in the
Camera menu that places an entire camera
crane rig into your scene. You can control the
angle and length of the base, arm, head and
camera. The crane is positioned on a tripod
that you can animate or position. You can also
animate the base along a spline to act as a
dolly. Being able to have a custom crane with
a smooth track for a dolly system kind of
blew my mind.
Some might ask, Why would I need a
crane when I can do the same animations
with a regular camera? My answer: Time. You
can quickly draw a Bezier Spline, link the base
of the crane to it and set the target of your
camera to whatever you want it to focus on.
Then you just animate the position and adjust
accordingly. Its super fast and matches the
motion of an actual crane and dolly.
Another new feature that might just be a
little unsung hero is the Texture Manager. You
can view a full list of all of your textures with
the ability to sort and filter. The best part
about this new feature is the ability to relink
missing textures quickly. You can just highlight
the missing textures, select relink from the
menu and navigate to where the textures are
stored. Done. Its that easy and super fast.
And last but certainly not least is the new
Grass Grower. You can put grass on anything
and fully customize it to your liking. From
color to length to density, its incredibly easy
and fast to add and make changes. You simply
click Grow Grass and boom instant grassification. Maxons Cineversity Website even
has an Instant Grassification tutorial.
Ive spent countless days using the CC Hair
plug-in in After Effects to create grass for my
visual effects, but no more. With Cineware
and Grow Grass, I can now quickly make
believable grass in a matter of seconds and
bring it into my After Effects project. Its odd
how many times Ive actually had to make
grass. Really.
IN THE END
Im definitely adding this stellar software to
my toolbox. It has the refinement Ive needed
in my 3D animations and all of these new
features make it even easier and more efficient to work with.
If youve never touched a 3D program,
Id highly suggest downloading the demo
version of Cinema 4D and seeing what its
all about. You wont be able to keep the
money in your wallet.

F O R

C O M M E R C I A L S

[ Cont.from 25 ] light system at MPC LA, was especially


critical for sequences shot in the hard light of Bulgaria,
notes OShea. In the woods each pass of armor got a
separate grade making it more heroic and bluer while
keeping the reds of Mariuss helmet plume and blanket
through to the arena sequence where we pushed the
grade a lot further. Some shots genuinely look like classical paintings.
The four-month shoot and post effort required MPC
LA to coordinate its studios worldwide. MPC Bangalore
handled plate preparation and tracking; MPC NY assembled a team for one of the short films; and MPC London
contributed resources for matte painting.
We spread the load across the different time zones
to achieve a lot in a short space of time, says OShea.
Our infrastructure is mirrored in each office a legacy
from our features department which makes communication a lot easier.
The finished Xbox spot stands out for its scope and
the amount of detail we put into Mariuss world, he
reports. We had top talent working on it Brian
(Beletic) has exceptionally-high standards, and if you can
make him happy youre definitely on the right track.
RAM
Ram is known for its attention-getting spots peppered
with VFX but Details, tailored to the south Texas region,
takes a design-oriented approach for the brands Laramie
Longhorn Truck. At Dallas-based Lucky Post (www.luckypost.com), editor/designer Sai Selvarajan and motion
graphics artist and designer Seth Olson partnered to
create a vintage animated map that highlights the provenance of the vehicles high-end features, from leather

A U D I O

sewn with the soul of the West to wood thats felt the bite
of barbed wire. The spot, from The Richards Group/Dallas,
is graphically elegant to match the trucks luxury theme.
The agency brought the duo visual elements used in
previous print campaigns and delivered a script that gave
them the flexibility to pull an array of elements together
to take the truck on an animated journey across Texas.
Its a very unique truck commercial, says Selvarajan.
The map is a cool way to show how high-end the Laramie is by emphasizing its luxury features. It looks very
different from a spot that just shows off the sheet metal.
Selvarajan and Olson combined the burnished, parchment-style map of Texas with animated lines, which actually represent old cattle driving trails. They integrated
illustrations, icons and stills using an ink-wash technique
that directs the flow of the message across the map.
To create the ink washes, Olson dropped ink into
water and captured, often in slow-motion, how it flowed
through the water. Then I brought that footage into
After Effects where I could rotate the direction and retime the speed of the ink washes and use them to reveal
each individual layer of the map, he explains.
Olson also developed a cross-hatching technique
using procedural layering to give line shading and contour
to the elements and unifying the disparate pieces. He
used Illustrator to create Old West icons a gun, fence
post, and barbed wire to enhance the Texas motif.
Undulating lines in the Gulf simulate waves. Vintagestyle
typography was crafted in Photoshop.
Selvarajan cut the spot in Final Cut Pro; he performed
color grading and did sound design in FCP too. Scottie
Richardson used Pro Tools to enhance the sound design
and perform the final mix.

F O R

[ Cont.from 31 ] farm out some of the work, they oversaw


the entire audio post process, from edit to mix. Much of
the sound design was already well established by picture
editor Saia and director Preiss. Those guys had the film
in a really great place sonically and wanted to explore
audio post options on how to make it more cinematic,
more lush, more full, and more detailed, Reynaud recalls.
Joe Albanys music is a huge part of the story, and the
soundtrack is filled with source music and source material
from the mid-70s, the time period in which the film takes
place. For Reynaud, thats the real highlight of the film. He
notes that there is a radio or a TV on in most of the
scenes. According to Reynaud, all of that source material
was edited and captured by Saia and Preiss. A lot of the
material they got the rights to, and that was the majority
of the music in this film. Music runs throughout the entire
film; its playing in peoples apartments, playing on little
radios, and playing on record players.
For any of the source material that they couldnt get
the rights to, the sound was re-created by loop groups.
Reynaud liked the challenge of working with director
Preiss, who is very particular and specific on how he hears
things. For example, even if a record company gave Preiss
the highest-quality remaster of a track used in the film,
Preiss would often opt to use the original vinyl recording
because that actual record is playing in the scene.
There are several instances of that, Reynaud says,

I N D I E S

where we went back to the actual vinyl and captured, digitized, and used that in the film rather than the most recent
mastering. Reynaud used filtering and panning to put the
music into the scene. Every little second of that films music,
and music placement in the room, and in the environment
in the scene, was well thought out and well executed.
The film was mixed in 5.1 using Pro Tools 10. Heard
City had six weeks to complete the audio post. Reynaud
notes that this project was so large they had to buy additional hardware just to play back all 390 tracks. Its a
monster of a project and its not a blockbuster film, he
notes. Its not a shoot em up film. There are no explosions in the film, I will say that much. But, its very lush and
full of subtle sound.
Reynaud often used Audio Eases Speakerphone plugin on this film. Its a wonderful plug-in, says Reynaud, but
it will definitely crash your machine. Its a love-hate relationship with that plug-in.
Improvements in audio post technology dont necessarily improve the quality of independent films, believes
Reynaud, though the accessibility of the technology may
facilitate better audio post processes in the hands of the
right talent. At the end of the day, youre still trying to find
that talent to operate the machine, whether it be post
audio, or colorist, or an editor. I think the equipment helps
but it really comes down to experience and talent. The
gear in the right hands can be an advantage.

www.postmagazine.com

Post January 2014

47

review
Chaos Groups V-Ray 3.0

O
By Toni
Bratincevic
3D Artist
Newport Beach, CA
www.interstation3d.com

V-Rays evolution
includes a
simplified UI.

I created this image


while testing the new
V-Ray 3.0.

48

ne of the most innovative, fast and


stable raytracers today, V-Ray has
become a synonym for quality. Its
responsible for popularizing and pushing what
was once a slow and not production-ready
algorithm (raytracing) into one of the most
popular ways of delivering high-quality renders
today. Although Version 2.4 was everything
one could have wished for, with Version 3.0
just around the corner, Chaos Group continues on a trajectory of delivering upgrades to
one of the best raytracing engines.
While introducing some new features,
V-Ray 3.0 also delivers a simplified workflow
and focuses on optimizing and improving its
own raytracing core. One of the most important new features is the introduction of the
new progressive render engine. Users now
have the ability to choose between old image
samplers (DMC, Adaptive Subdivision, Fixed),
which were all based on bucket rendering, and
the new progressive renderer, which refines
the image until it reaches a certain time or
quality limit. In V-Ray RT users were limited to
brute force global illumination, which can
sometimes lead to slow render times. With
the new progressive renderer, users can have
a choice of (for example) using Irradiance
cache and Lightcache as global illumination
engines, delivering much faster results while
still having the ability of seeing the whole
image refining as it is rendering.
In addition to this, raytracing speed is
improved, especially in cases where brute
force global illumination is used. Optimizations were done on the V-Ray raytracing core,
with additional choice to use the embree
raytracer, which can speed up rendering with
specific scenes.
As in any production pipeline, rerendering
and tweaking shaders, textures and lighting
requires constant rerendering, sometimes
even 100 times before getting a satisfying
result. In the old V-Ray, pros usually used rectangular selection over a rendered image to set
borders for rerendering, but in V-Ray 3.0, with
the introduction of image masks, this workflow
becomes much more efficient. As a mask,
users can decide to use selected objects, layers, textures or define a custom objects
include/exclude list. Assuming that you have
already done a test render of the whole scene,
by selecting one object in your viewport and
setting Render Mask to Selected, clicking render again will tell V-Ray to only rerender the
area of the image covered by the selected
object, while leaving old render intact.

Post January 2014

Support for Alembic file format, OSL shaders, deep images and Open EXR 2.0 are very
important steps for popularizing V-Ray in high
end movie work. Deep images store information for all individual image samples taken during rendering, including their depth values, and
allow more correct post processing effects like
DOF and motion blur without getting artifacts
specific to old image formats. With support for
OSL shaders, users are given flexibility to
extend V-Ray shading horizons, making it even
more powerful and a good choice for high-end
production where it is common practice to
write specialized shaders.
In combination with the Alembic format,
new VRMat functionality will help close connectivity gaps between 3D apps. V-Ray VRMat
materials defined in 3DS Max can be exported and merged into Maya without any additional scripts or apps. In time, this will open up
the possibility of creating a library of materials
that are application independent and can be
imported into any available V-Ray platform.
The user interface has been simplified for
new users. There is a choice now of Basic,
Advanced and Expert UI, which allows users
with different levels of experience to modify
and simplify the UI based on their needs. In
Basic UI, only important options are exposed,
which for artists new to V-Ray, can be a big
plus in dealing with the complexity of a new
render engine.
Hair rendering is one of the most complex
situations to solve when using raytracing render engines since it includes a lot of thin
strands of hair requiring many samples to get
satisfying and noise free result. With old image
sampling methods, like the V-Ray Adaptive
subdivision sampler, resolving noise in hair
could have led to very long render times. To
solve these problems the Adaptive DMC
sampler was a much better and faster choice,
and with hair shading optimizations and faster
raytracing in V-Ray 3.0, hair rendering speed is
noticeably improved, sometimes delivering
renders three times faster than Version 2.4.
In V-Ray 2.4, the subsurface shader was
limited to screen space density estimation of
subsurface samples, which sometimes led to
an unstable subsurface solution manifested
as flickering. V-Ray 3.0, however, addresses
these issues and allows users to decide
between three different ways of calculating a
subsurface effect. The old method is still
there, but two new methods are introduced.
The first one is a fully raytraced SSS effect,
which produces the best result you can get

www.postmagazine.com

VITAL STATS
MANUFACTURER: Chaos Group
PRODUCT: V-Ray 3.0
WEBSITE: www.chaosgroup.com
PRICE: V-Ray 3.0 for 3DS Max user
license plus one Render Node: $1,050;
Single V-Ray Render Node: $350
stable with improved speed
simplified UI for new users

but takes more time to render. Since it is


brute force, there is no prepass and the
solution cant be saved for reuse. This brute
force method is becoming extremely popular even in high-end production because of
very predictable results. Object method is
based on a fixed number of samples and is
not camera view dependent as in the prepass method, which means as an object
moves away from the camera it will keep the
same number of samples, reducing flickering
in many situations.
Managing data when using V-Ray distributed rendering can sometimes lead to unexpected results and problems like missing textures and unresolved paths, but with V-Ray 3.0
these issues are completely resolved by allowing nodes in a distributed rendering network
to collect all data needed for rendering locally.
In local networks, with relatively slow speeds,
this can lead to some speed improvements
because some files are copied and stored
locally instead of on a network.
Although there are a lot of new features in
V-Ray 3.0, most of them are evolutionary
steps over Version 2.4. As expected, Chaos
Group did an amazing job again, but it is up to
users in the end to decide if it is an update
worth upgrading to. I know for sure that the
progressive image sampler alone made my
workflow much faster, efficient and more fun,
and considering how many free upgrades
V-Ray 2.x got from 2.0 to 2.4 version, I am
sure 3.0 will be a great investment for many
of us.

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