Matthew Vaughn’s sequel to 2014’s Kingsman: Secret Service sees the cast join forces with the Southern charm of the American Statesman in their quest to save the world. With a total of 438 shots across a varied sixteen sequences, Framestore, led by VFX Supervisor Chris Lawrence, was proud to deliver a package of stunning VFX work for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, bringing ever more outlandish action and intrigue to the spy flick.
The Golden Circle
With a large number of sequences to tackle, Kingsman: The Golden Circle offered a variety of fun challenges for the team. ‘We worked across 438 shots, but they were short, broken-up pieces of work. Every time we started a new sequence we would face a new challenge’, says Fabio Zangla, CG Supervisor.
Reminiscent of the Roger Moore era of James Bond movies, the tone of the film allowed the creative studio to hark back to some ‘old school’ techniques, and dive into the world of the caper comedy. ‘Our work comprised old techniques within compositing that we probably hadn’t employed for a long time’, explains Chris Zeh, Compositing Supervisor. ‘Since this show was a little bit old school in its approach, we re-learnt a couple of techniques from back in the day.’ The team used R&D to create lens defects throughout the shots, adding flares and smudges to complete the desired look.
The film opens with an exciting, high-speed car chase through the streets of London, which sees three Jaguars chasing Eggsy’s (Taron Egerton) black cab. Stunt supervisor and second unit director Brad Allen was tasked with working through the action beats. ‘He’s an amazing guy who trained under Jackie Chan, he had a great approach to storytelling through stunts’, says Chris Lawrence, VFX Supervisor. ‘He would do twenty takes of a stunt, and if it didn’t capture the story beat that he needed, he’d do twenty more until he got it right.’ The planning and precision of Allen’s direction greatly helped the Framestore team when it came to mapping out their sequences in advance.
An Array rig setup was mounted on the taxi, which stitched together shots to create a 360° background which Framestore could then repurpose as a backplate for shots. However, this took some fine tuning; ‘We had seams between the cameras, and perspective-wise there were issues’, adds Zangla. ‘These included car tyres not sticking to the road, or the car looking too small in shots.’ Framestore had to work out how to bring this Array setup into the team’s pipeline. ‘We didn’t know how to ingest it’, admits Zangla. ‘We created a small team especially to work on bringing the elements together, from within ATD, lighting and compositing.’
As Eggsy’s taxi drives into Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, it transforms into a submarine. The wheels of the taxi pop out and turn to face forward; propellers and fins emerge; and some ballast tanks appear. ‘It was planned really well in the pre-vis and that helped us along each stage’, explains Zeh. Plates of the taxi going into the water from the location shoot transitioned into full CG as the car went underwater, with live-action Eggsy composited into the taxi. ‘It’s still set at night so we worked with the dark, murky water of the lake, which helped with integration’, adds Zangla.
In the last shot of the sequence, the taxi enters the secret Kingsman base, with the team transforming the taxi back into a normal-looking cab. Taron Egerton was in the taxi as the water drained out, in what was quite a dangerous stunt. ‘As the water level lowered in the live-action, we composited that with the CG taxi. And then as the water drained away, that wiped through to a live-action taxi – and Taron had to hold his breath until all the water drained out’, details Lawrence. ‘It was quite nerve-wracking!’
In an action-packed scene, characters Eggsy and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) head to an Italian ski resort in the Alps and board a cable car. Plate material was shot in Courmayeur, but there was a distinct lack of snow, which had to be rectified using matte painting. The background itself also had to be modified, which meant that up to 95% of the environment ended up being recreated in CG. ‘Mixing real mountains with CG mountains was tricky’, adds Zeh. ‘The photography of the mountains was pristine, mega clear and full of detail that we had to recreate seamlessly.’
The cable car spins slowly to afford passengers a 360-degree view of the mountainside, before it speeds up, out of control. ‘This was a FX-heavy sequence’, says Zangla. ‘There was snow spray, cable car destruction and a lot of rendering volumetric snow which can be a challenge – to get the look of it right, in its translucency and plausibility.’
When it came to the action, the camera angles were plotted and then taken through to pre-vis to further dramatise the sequence. ‘In a few shots, we played the cable car action a bit more violently than we’d been able to do on set’, explains Lawrence. ‘We had a very short period of time in which to do it, and we were all worried about it, but it just worked – I think because the lighting had been planned, and the previs didn’t get re-edited.’
As well as these large sequences, Framestore covered work across the Alpine building shootout, the Mountain Underground Base and a number of other diverse scenes. ‘With this show, we weren’t working within similar shots or environments’, says Zeh. ‘Every shot was a different piece, problem and solution which forced us to look at it with new eyes; but this of course, made it a great show to work on.’
Posted in: NewsNewsletterProduction & PostVFX
Ghiyath Matar sensed his life may be cut short. The 24 year old tailor had been following in the footsteps of his idols: Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., peacefully opposing the war that raged in Syria. In an effort to establish peace, Matar would pass out flowers to soldiers in his native Darayya, a suburb of Syria’s Damascus region. He shared this message to his friends before he was arrested by the government September 6, 2011: Remember me when you celebrate the fall of the regime. . . remember that I gave my soul and my blood for that moment. May God guide you on the road of peaceful struggle and grant you victory. Those words became a rally cry for the people of Syria when the lifeless body of Matar was returned to his family four days after his arrest, severely beaten, burned and shot.
Syrian native and an award-winning director of the internationally acclaimed documentary “The Citizen” Sam Kadi wanted to focus on the violent civil war that has raged in his homeland for nearly eight years, killing well over 220,000 people to date. As he searched for a means to highlight the origins of how the war started, he decided to avoid the sensationalism of graphic violence and destruction. Instead, he became influenced by the positive message Matar encouraged and chose to focus on the spirit of Matar that lives on in the young Syrian rebels.
“The real people, the real story is forgotten,” said Kadi on reflecting upon the fear many people have associated with Syrian rebels. “This is a simple story, going back to the roots. It highlights the young, outspoken Syrian society that is very smart and bright.”
Adds Kadi, “This film is not graphic but it is still tough to watch. You feel connected to these people. You feel the need to help.”
Kadi worked with DP Carl Balou on sections of the film that were shot in Turkey and the US. However, getting footage from Syria was a battle unto itself. No one is allowed into or out of the country, obviously posing a major roadblock in shooting interviews or b-roll. Kadi knew he had to recruit someone inside that could capture what he needed. Utilizing a network of roughly 3,000 activists he communicated with via resources such as skype and Facebook, he was connected to an amateur photographer who owned a camera and wanted to help.
Kadi and Balou set up a base in Turkey so they could be in the same time zone as their novice recruit. Their process began with instructing the activist on best practices for setting up lighting, arranging an interview and other shooting necessities via skype. Noting their recruit had an exceptional command of English, they shared articles on cinematography and interviewing to assist with the recruit’s crash course, and reviewed photos he was able to send them to ensure he had the basics of good lighting and set up. They encouraged him to find a few other individuals to assist him on days where interviews were shot, which Kadi directed remotely. The team would help with tasks such as disguising and redirecting wires and electrical sources: any form of filming is forbidden by the government. If the team was discovered, their gear would be confiscated and they would be subjected to severe consequences.
In addition to shooting in secret, the team also had to endure frequent bombings that disrupted their schedule. Kadi and Balou were often left in limbo during these prolonged periods, uncertain of the fate of their recruit. Fortunately, he routinely reconnected via skype once he safely could. With a schedule bloated by weeks of downtime encompassing several days of consecutive shooting, Kadi and Balou had to finish their Syria segment from Los Angeles.
After the interviews and footage were gathered, the next major hurdle was getting the data safely out of Syria. It could not be shipped out for the government would confiscate it. Likewise, they could not upload it for the resources in Syria couldn’t accommodate that function. With no safe solution at hand, Kadi and the recruits took a major risk. The footage was placed on multiple thumb drives that were taped to a young rebel’s body who agreed to smuggle them out. Once outside of Syria, he was able to ship the drives to Kadi.
After receiving and reviewing the footage, Kadi discovered an unexpected way the government foils anything recorded within Syria: there is a static signal emitted that places a persistent hum on all audio. The damage was widespread. Repairing the audio would require a budget far beyond Kadi’s means. Fortunately, he found a post facility that was willing to take on his case as a “pro-bono” exercise. The repair was a laborious effort that was accomplished by sifting through the Syrian footage frame by frame. The sound team also dropped the quality of the non-Syrian audio segments to ensure the film would have a consistent level that would not be jarring to an audience. While the audio caused great frustration, Kadi admits he’s glad he didn’t know about the issue in advance.
“If I had known, what would I have done?” said Kadi, aware the issue might have disbanded the shoot. “Maybe it is good I didn’t know, because I would have felt I would have had to fix it.”
Once complete, the film began circulating in the festival circuit in 2016, earning the Best Documentary – Foreign Award at the 2016 International Family Film Festival and the 2016 Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the ECU European Independent Film Festival Award. Currently, “Little Gandhi” is up for nomination consideration as the first Syrian entry in the 2018 Oscar race, despite a complete lack of support from the Syrian government.
Currently, Kadi’s Syrian cinematographer has a thank you “recognition” in the film. However, resources such as IMDB do not highlight his name, for fear of government retribution.
Posted in: NewsNewsletter
In 1974, film director Sidney Lumet brought famed suspense/crime writer Agatha Christie’s best-selling novel to the big screen, along with a big-name-cast that included Albert Finney (as detective Hercule Poirot), Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York. The film, Murder On The Orient Express, went on to receive six Oscar nominations at the 1975 Academy Awards, and earned a win for Ingrid Bergman as “Best Actress in a Supporting Role.”
In a 2017 remake, actor/director/producer Kenneth Branagh, along with 20th Century Fox, brings Christie’s suspenseful whodunit back to the big screen. This time, Branagh takes on multiple roles as lead actor (stepping in as Poirot), director and producer, and is joined by a stellar 21st century cast that includes Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe and Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley.
Working closely with Branagh to help bring the 140-page screenplay to the screen, was DP Haris Zambarloukos, composer Patrick Doyle and editor Mick Audsley.
Speaking from the UK exclusively with Post just days before the film’s opening, Audsley discussed the film, its challenges and working with a director, who is also the movie’s lead character.
The editing team of (L-R) Thora Woodward (first assistant editor), Mick Audsley, Pani Scott (associate editor), Sarah Bowden (assistant editor) and Julia Hewitt (editing assistant).
Posted in: EditingNewsNewsletterProduction & Post
Stuck on Sakaar but looking to get back to Asgard, Thor, Valkeryie and Banner steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships, the Commodore. In a high octane chase scene through the city, they escape Sakaar fighters and exit through a wormhole.
Digital Domain crafted visual effects for the Thor: Ragnarok sequence, overseen by overall visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison. Morrison and DD’s VFX supervisor Dave Hodgins explain how the exciting chase was pulled off.
Morrison: Taika really wanted to get across the feeling of a really intense manual transmission stick-shift car chase. He really wanted to do like the early George Miller stuff, and the late George Miller stuff too, but particularly we kept going back to the cameras mounted on the dash on the Interceptor like on the original Mad Max film. As if you’re actually feel the transmission being shifted all the time.
There’s also a subtext where it’s actually kind of a courtship dance, which I think is a kind of hysterical sub-note, which is when Thor sees Val and she slaps into the windscreen and then you get the, ‘Get inside!’, and she says, ‘In a minute!’ And then she runs off and does the supercool jump off the back of the ship and then lands on the other one, starts ripping the ship apart, then jumps onto the next one as it explodes and drops. Thor looks back and he’s definitely gone a big goo-goo eyed, and he’s like, ‘I probably should go back and help.’ It’s like courtship dance where they’re really just trying to impress each other a little bit, and it’s like two peacocks strutting their stuff, which I think is really quite sweet.
To film the scene, having an insane amount of wind was the only way we could do that. We still built all the spaceships, but they’re basically all just wooden stand-ins. We did it all in the car park actually out the back of the studio, and just really asked our special effects brothers and sisters to just bring all of the wind, please. The point was, if you’re in an open-top car and it’s going 30 miles an hour, you’ve got to shout. So if these people are actually standing on the top of a spaceship going at Mach 4, fine they’re Gods, but at least their hair’s got to be doing something, you know?
Hodgins: Some shots required 100% digi double and others were digi double hand-offs to the plate. In one shot, we went from Valkyrie digi-double to actor and back to digi double. In terms of animation, we ended up hand animating or roto-mating most shots. A couple of shots we used a Xsens MVN suit that let us capture a few reference moves without setting up a whole motion capture session.
The challenge for us was not about building a city per se, which we’ve done before, but building enough city to fly through at 500 mph. Our original city would only cover a couple hundred frames and we’d have to reset the camera. Asset-wise the city was a lot of work for lookdev and textures. The visual development for the city hadn’t been finalized when we started the sequence so we helped experiment with looks and color schemes for Sakaar. It was meant to be a very colorful city but we hadn’t defined if it was neon or pastel in its hues yet. On top of that, director Taika Waititi wanted the city to feel lived in but not industrial which steered our choice of windows, traffic and atmospherics.
The wastelands of Sakaar were much easier problem to solve. We populated these shots by procedural garbage scatter using a big library of debris and hero models. We created proxy mounds that would designate where these garbage piles would exist in our animation renders and these would be turned into fully detailed garbage stacks in Houdini. Then white water would be generated around the piles so they sat in the ocean surface nicely, with hero splash elements added when needed.
The destruction of ships and buildings were accomplished through our Houdini pipeline. Using gas sims for explosions and fluid sims for the splashes of ships crashing into water we straddled the line of realism and readability. With the ships flying at such high speeds some effects would become blurs and lose the detail that we wanted. Some smoke volumes needed to be bigger just to stay on screen long enough so there were various cheats taking place to carry out the story point in each shot.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterProduction & PostVFX
Adelaide, South Australia—Rising Sun Pictures (RSP), Australia’s premiere visual effects studio, produced more than 170 final visual effects shots for Thor: Ragnarok¸ the new film from Marvel Studios. Working under the supervision of Director Taika Waititi, production Visual Effects Supervisor Jake Morrison and production Visual Effects Producer Cyndi Ochs, RSP’s team spent more than 18 months helping to craft some of the film’s most memorable, creative and technically challenging scenes.
Highlights of RSP’s contributions include a sequence dubbed “Val’s Flashback” involving a furious battle between the film’s villain, Hela (Cate Blanchett), and an army of Valkyrie. The team also played a key role in “The Palace Battle”, an epic confrontation between Hela and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and in reimagining the Bifröst Bridge, a magical rainbow that links realms of the Norse cosmos. The project is especially noteworthy for the standout work of RSP’s expanded character animation department, who were tasked with creating photo-real horses, Valkyrie and skeleton soldiers, as well as other digital characters.
“We were honoured to be selected by Marvel Studios as a vendor on this film, and proud of the work that we delivered,” says Managing Director Tony Clark. “We have been systematically growing our human and technical resources, especially in character animation, to tackle complex, large-scale projects, while maintaining the artistry, craftsmanship and attention to detail that are hallmarks of RSP. The results are evident in Thor: Ragnarok.” Nearly 200 artists took part in the project for RSP.
Val’s Flashback, which plays out in artful slow motion under glittering light, describes a fatal encounter between Valkyrie warriors and Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death. The female warriors, riding winged steeds, emerge from portals in the sky only to be mercilessly struck down by Hela using her magical powers.
Led by Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Tom Wood, the RSP team began working on the scene in early 2016 during pre-production. Artists prepared 3D pre-visualisation encompassing every element of the sequence to serve as a guide for subsequent production and post.
Production was conducted on a soundstage in Queensland. Slow motion effects were achieved by capturing actor performances via a Phantom camera operating at 900 fps. The imagery was given a further surreal cast through the use of a rotating lighting system that bathed the scene in undulating patterns of light and shadow.
RSP On-Set Visual Effects, Concept and Pre-Vis Supervisor Adam Paschke headed an on-set team that gathered practical data and provided technical advice during the shoot. Production was followed by months of character animation, visual effects, 3D, matte painting and compositing at RSP’s Adelaide studio to produce the finished scenes.
RSP was a natural choice for the flashback scene due to its considerable expertise in slow motion visual effects. For the films X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, the studio provided the visual effects magic for several scenes demonstrating the hyper-speed abilities of the mutant Quicksilver. Thor: Ragnarok, however, takes slow motion into a new, and technically challenging, direction. “Taika and Jake conceived a fantastic scene,” notes Wood. “We pre-visualised their concept, attended the shoot and, as soon as editing was complete, went straight into production. The pre-vis broke the sequence into multiple layers, each of which was shot separately, and reassembled bit by bit in post.”
“The flashback sequence involved high-level creature animation and digital characters, as well as very detailed compositing, due to the unusual lighting effects,” adds Visual Effects Executive Producer Gill Howe. “It was also a challenge because it was a standalone piece, and a significant scene in the movie. It had to be unique, different, and something that had never been done before.”
Considerable attention went into the creation of the Valkyrie and horses. Often revealed in close up, the animated characters had to be photo-real. “We spent a lot of time in look development, making sure that their fur and feathers were right, and that the muscle system moved like a real horse,” explains Head of Creatures Tim Mackintosh. “If they had been monsters, we would have had more leeway, because monsters aren’t real, but everyone is familiar with horses. Although these were mythical, winged horses, audience members will have an idea for how they should look and move.”
RSP also took great care in preparing Hela’s accoutrements, including her cape, the cowl she wears on her head, and her menacing antlers. Artists initially developed concepts for Hela’s costume for a trailer that screened at Comic Con in 2016 but continued to refine the look through later stages of production. “It was quite tricky,” recalls Head of Lighting/Look Development Shane Aherne. “We needed to remain consistent with the assets’ practical counterparts and with their representations in the original Marvel comics. But we also needed to accommodate Cate Blanchett’s performance and the action of the scene.”
RSP utilised digital characters to perform actions impossible for a human or to facilitate integration into the scene. This was especially important for characters that exhibited magical powers or super-human strength. In most instances, the character’s motion was derived from motion capture data from the actor. “Motion capture will get you 90 percent of the way there, but the rest has to be sculpted to the CG character,” notes Mackintosh. “It’s a labour-intensive process and one that requires artists with a lot of different skill sets.”
The Palace Fight depicts a confrontation between Hela and Thor that plays out over some 60 shots. Although live action elements were shot on a practical set, the production ultimately chose to have the entire background replaced with a 3D environment created by RSP. “We produced a palace that was much bigger and with a higher ceiling than was possible on any stage.” explains Wood. “It was more spread out and more opulent.”
In the finished scene, Thor is the only non-digital element. “Replacing the background in its entirety created its own challenges,” observes 2D Lead Jess Burnheim. “It meant that we had to extract Chris Hemsworth from the plate with no blue screen. We literally rotoscoped everything, including his hair. It was painstaking work.”
The Bifröst Bridge appears in another scene involving a pitched battle, this one pitting Hela against Thor and Loki. “The Bifröst has been seen in previous Marvel productions, but in Thor: Ragnarok it has a unique look because we’re inside it,” Burnheim explains. “We had old reference to work from, but we had to develop the effect further and create something that would work with the plate photography.”
“One thing that happens in the scene is that Thor is pushed into the side of the bridge and it shatters,” he adds. “That raised the question, what is it made of? Is it light? Is it physical? It took many iterations to get it to feel right.”
RSP also contributed to a scene featuring Hela’s troop of skeleton soldiers, which again involved the use of digital characters. Additionally, artists created a 3D version of Thor’s famous hammer for a scene where it is crushed by Hela.
Despite the project’s complexity, lengthy schedule, and growing shot list, the work proceeded smoothly. Mackintosh attributes that to the unique structure of RSP’s production pipeline. Its integration of animation, character development and compositing facilitates collaboration between departments and allows the studio to turn out iterations and finished work fast.
“Animation and creatures are separate entities at many studios, but we’ve unified the departments in a single smooth pipeline,” Mackintosh says. “When working to deliver shots, there is always a lot of back and forth between the teams, and we feel it’s vital to keep them working together.”
Howe notes that the cohesiveness of the RSP team (most senior artists have been with the studio for years) also promotes efficiency and delivers cost savings.
“As this was our first Marvel Studios show, we wanted to give it our best effort and ensure that everything we delivered was spectacular and exceeded expectations,” says Howe. “The results are a testament to the dedication and creativity of our artists, and the strength of our pipeline in managing photoreal creature animation; complex, interactive lighting and look development. It’s a big step forward for RSP.”
Rising Sun Pictures department heads included Senior VFX Supervisor Tom Wood, Executive Producer Gill Howe, DFX Supervisor Noah Vice, 2D Lead Noah Burnheim, VFX Supervisor Dennis Jones, Head of Creatures Tim Mackintosh, Head of Layout Damian Doenning, On-Set VFX/Concept/Pre-vis Adam Paschke and Head of Lighting/Look Development Shane Aherne.
About Rising Sun Pictures:
At Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) we create inspirational visual effects for major studios worldwide. Creating outstanding images is at the core of our existence. At the heart of our talented team, there is a diverse knowledge and skill-set, enabling a collaborative core where we can work together to solve problems and deliver great visuals to our clients. We have achieved some truly amazing visual effects work by providing innovative solutions to technically challenging work. We have the capacity and talent pool to scale to suit the needs of our clients. RSP has worked on over 100 films including Thor: Ragnarok, X-Men Harry Potter and Hunger Games franchises, Game of Thrones.
All Images © 2017 Marvel
Posted in: NewsNewsletterPress ReleaseVFX
On paper, Bear McCreary was an odd choice for first time feature director Danny Strong to pick as the composer for his film, “Rebel in the Rye.” Emmy-winning McCreary’s resume includes acclaimed scores for TV series such as “DaVinci’s Demons”, “Outlander”, “Black Sails” and “The Walking Dead.” At that time, McCreary only had one film score under his belt; the dance feature “Step Up 3D.” Strong was dubious that a composer whose roster featured zombies , the 1962 classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
It just so happened that Elmer Benrstein, an Oscar-winning composer who received an Oscar nom for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, was an early mentor to McCreary. Having the chance to share the emotionally complex scoring style he studied under the acclaimed composer was a dream come true. After his initial meeting with Strong, McCreary wrote a piece of music on spec and created a video of himself conducting an orchestra as it was performed to sway the leery director. McCreary followed up that effort by scoring a handful of scenes as a test run before he secured the job. Ultimately, the score that accompanied these scenes was used as temp tracks by the editors as they compiled the film, and the spec piece he first sent in is featured in the closing credits of the film.
“You don’t hear his influence in “Battlestar Galatica” or “The Walking Dead”, but I learned everything about creating an intimate score from him,” said McCreary. “I was put in an unique place. I was honored to work with Danny and able to write a score exploring character and drama that I learned from Bernstein.”
Written by Strong, “Rebel in the Rye” explores the nature of reclusive author, J.D. Salinger, a U.S. Staff Sergeant who served in five campaigns during WWII. After the success of his 1951 novel “Catcher in the Rye,” Salinger virtually disappeared from public view and died in 2010. McCreary worked closely with Strong for two months, discussing and exploring the emotional impact of an artist who went from a driving need to create to a struggle to create and the score’s role in exploring Salinger’s psyche.
“The film creates a version that peels back the layers,” said McCreary. “The score does the heavy lifting emotionally and lyrically.”
One method McCreary developed to represent Salinger’s creative state was by utilizing two pianos, placed on each side of the orchestra. Like flying fingers across a typewriter, each pianist performed unique arpeggiation that did’t overlap. This resulted in craft a harmonic performance that would be physically impossible to obtain by a single musician. As Salinger’s inner demons arise, the dual pianists played in a fractured style, with their playing first creating a result akin to broken glass then ultimately disappearing from the score.
McCreary also used minimal percussion throughout the score, however he did incorporate a light percussive element: the clicking of typewriter keys. McCreary made a recording of each key being punched and weaved these beats through the score. McCreary’s main use of percussion represented Salinger’s mentor, Will Burnett. Influenced by the training sequences of sports films, McCreary turned to percussive instruments from India for their intense and unusual sounds.
“The ethnic percussion was so outside the language off the score, it provided a jolt of electricity,” said McCreary.
Jazz also played a role in the score, representing Salinger’s time in New York and relationship with Oona O’Neill. A big band-inspired theme was worked into the film as the song performed in a club. In addition to arranging some other period-specific jazz that is heard drifting through bars during scenes featuring Salinger walking the streets of New York, McCreary also recorded a rendition of “Coming Through the Rock”, an old Scottish folk song. Referenced in “Catcher in the Rye”, McCreary’s version of the folk song is featured in an early montage scene in the film.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterSound
By Debra Kaufman
Starting out as a tape op in the machine room is a common first step for a career in post production. But the path to better jobs isn’t the same now as it was twenty years ago, and that fact is part of the rationale behind the grassroots organization Blue Collar Post Collective (BCPC), which offers community and support to today’s emerging post talent. “I like everyone to keep in mind that the people coming up today have very different experiences,” says BCPC president Kylee Peña. “There is no clear ladder to climb.”
Katie Hinsen and Janis Vogel were the first co-presidents of the officially launched BCPC, a group that originally organized as an informal get-together with other below-the-line post workers. They jokingly dubbed themselves the “blue collar workers,” and, over time, the get-togethers grew increasingly popular among other young people in post production. Hinsen and Vogel formalized the group, as the Blue Collar Post Collective, and achieved status as a 501(c)3 non-profit in April 2016.
Interested in opening another BCPC chapter in Los Angeles, Hinson and Vogel zeroed in on Peña, a workflow supervisor at Bling Digital, who they got to know through social media and her articles in Creative COW. “Katie and Janis wanted to expand into Los Angeles,” recalls Peña. “But they’d only do so if I would agree to start it and run it.” She formed a committee in April 2016, and the Los Angeles group officially launched in June.
Peña, who has done research and given presentations on gender and equality, and lifestyle issues in post production, notes that no other groups focus exclusively on emerging talent in post production. “We see that careers are made for people in the first five years,” she explains. “A lot of the groups that do exist have barriers to entry: they cost money or they meet at times of the day when people are working. A lot of our members in Los Angeles work the swing shift or graveyard shift when these events happen, and they can’t go and network.” In contrast, the Blue Collar Post Collective in Los Angeles holds its events on Saturdays.
The Blue Collar Post Collective has a healthy presence online; its Facebook page has almost 5,000 members, with membership in the hundreds in Los Angeles and New York. Noting that women and people of color face additional barriers to success in post production, Peña says the Los Angeles group is a very diverse group, with near gender parity. BCPC also just had its first meeting in London, with Peña and Vogel in attendance. “We’re currently investigating what it would take to have a full-on group there,” she says. “We definitely encourage people in BCPC to have their own unofficial meet-ups. We’re all volunteers and all work full-time in post.” BCPC is growing judiciously, notes Peña, careful that each chapter shares the values of the core organization.
Being a member of the Blue Collar Post Collective offers numerous benefits, including a very active Facebook page, where members are encouraged to be “respectful, inclusive and supportive.” “One of the biggest benefits is the community you have access to,” says Peña. Monthly meet-ups are very well attended, and Los Angeles also offers a Stitch-and-Bitch meet-up for conversation and crafts. Upcoming events found on the group’s Facebook page include a New York conversation with “O.J.: Made in America” sound mixer Keith Hodne and a Los Angeles talk on “Finding Success in Unscripted TV.” Peña says the Facebook groups’ administrators also post an online discussion topic each week. “We don’t have super-strict rules, but we ask everyone to conduct themselves as if they are in person,” she says. “So our Facebook group is a very pleasant place to be, and a lot is going on.”
Another benefit is a financial aid program providing accessibility for early-stage career members to attend professional events. “This was created when a young man Katie was working with was invited to present a paper at a conference, but couldn’t afford to travel there,” says Peña. “That was a huge, career-changing thing he couldn’t do.” Since then, the BCPC has sponsored several members to several conferences and professional events. Recently, BCPC enabled a member from Indiana to attend EditFest in Los Angeles, where she also sat in with editors and colorists during her time here.
Group members act as a network and support for each other in numerous ways. One member recently relied on the network to apply and get a job as an assistant editor on a feature film, and BCPC vice president of the Los Angeles group Chris Visser, who mentors students at his former Wisconsin university, asked if Salazar could provide a PA job for one of his newly graduated mentees. “She was able to come to Los Angeles with a job, a community of people her age, and mentors,” says Peña. “At every single meet-up, I meet people who just moved here, and coming to the BCPC meet-up is the first thing they do.”
The post production communities in New York and Los Angeles have already supported the Blue Collar Post Collective in several ways, by providing tickets to events and special deals on gear. Peña encourages more of these kinds of donations, as well as money to help the group keep supplying financial aid (80 percent of the revenue goes to the scholarship program). But she stresses that the most useful action that post production companies and facilities can offer is jobs, that helps BCPC in their mission of supporting emerging talent. “Young people coming up have a lot of expertise,” says Peña. “There’s a lot to learn from them, so grant them opportunities to show that and make the industry more inclusive.”
Source: HPA Newline
Posted in: Industry NewsNewsNewsletter
Much like the royal subjects of his new film Victoria & Abdul and his 2006 offering, The Queen (which won him his second Oscar nomination), British director Stephen Frears has long been considered a national treasure. Of course, the truth is that he’s an international treasure.
The director, now 76 years old, has had a long and prolific career that spans some five decades and that has embraced a wide variety of styles, themes and genres. He cut his teeth at the BBC, where he honed his abilities to work with tight budgets and schedules. He made his name in TV drama, working almost exclusively for the small screen in the first 15 years of his career.
In the mid-1980s, Frears turned to the cinema, shooting The Hit, which starred Terence Stamp, John Hurt and Tim Roth. The following year he made My Beautiful Laundrette for Channel 4, which crossed over to big screen audiences and altered the course of his career.
Since then, he’s made big Hollywood studio pictures, such as the Oscar-nominated Florence Foster Jenkins, The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons, as well as Mary Reilly and Hero. But he’s probably as well-known for smaller, grittier vehicles, such as the Oscar-nominated Philomena, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Cheri, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity, Prick Up Your Ears and Snapper, films that provided a rich palette for Frears to explore stories with a strong social and political conscience.
His latest film, Victoria & Abdul, is a drama (spiced with a good dash of comedy) about the unlikely but real-life relationship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her Muslim Indian servant Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal).
Read the full interview at postPerspective
Posted in: NewsNewsletterProduction & Post
(Los Angeles, CA) – The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) has announced nominees in the creative categories for the 2017 HPA Awards. Considered the standard-bearer for excellence and innovation in an industry embracing an expanding array of groundbreaking technologies and creativity, the HPA Awards honor creative achievement and artistic excellence. Receiving a record breaking number of entrants this year, the HPA Awards creative categories recognize the outstanding work done by individuals and teams who bring compelling content to a global audience.
Launched in 2006, the HPA Awards recognize outstanding achievement in editing, sound, visual effects and color grading for work in television, commercials, and feature films. The winners of the 12th Annual HPA Awards will be announced at a gala ceremony on 16 November 2017 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA.
The 2017 HPA Award nominees are:
Outstanding Color Grading – Feature Film
“The Birth of a Nation”
Steven J. Scott // Technicolor – Hollywood
“Ghost in the Shell”
Michael Hatzer // Technicolor – Hollywood
Natasha Leonnet // EFILM
Steven J. Scott // Technicolor – Hollywood
“Beauty and the Beast”
Stefan Sonnenfeld // Company 3
Michael Hatzer // Technicolor – Hollywood
Outstanding Color Grading – Television
“The Last Tycoon – Burying the Boy Genius”
Timothy Vincent // Technicolor – Hollywood
“Game of Thrones – Dragonstone”
Joe Finley // Chainsaw
“Genius – Einstein: Chapter 1”
Pankaj Bajpai // Encore Hollywood
“The Crown – Smoke and Mirrors”
Asa Shoul // Molinare
“The Man in the High Castle – Detonation”
Roy Vasich // Technicolor
Outstanding Color Grading – Commercial
Land O’ Lakes – “The Farmer”
Billy Gabor // Company 3
Pennzoil – “JOYRIDE Tundra”
Dave Hussey // Company 3
Jose Cuervo – “Last Days”
Tom Poole // Company 3
Nedbank – “The Tale of a Note”
Sofie Borup // Company 3
Squarespace – “John’s Journey”
Tom Poole // Company 3
Outstanding Editing – Feature Film
Lee Smith, ACE
“The Ivory Game”
Alexandre de Franceschi
Outstanding Editing – Television
“Game of Thrones – Stormborn”
Tim Porter, ACE
“Stranger Things – Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers”
“Game of Thrones – The Queen’s Justice”
“Narcos – Al Fin Cayo!”
Matthew V. Colonna, Trevor Baker
“Westworld – The Original”
Stephen Semel, ACE, Marc Jozefowicz
“Game of Thrones – Dragonstone”
Outstanding Editing – Commercial
Nespresso – “Comin’ Home”
Chris Franklin // Big Sky Edit
Bonafont – “Choices”
Doobie White // Therapy Studios
Optum – “Heroes”
Chris Franklin // Big Sky Edit
SEAT – “Moments”
Doobie White // Therapy Studios
Outstanding Sound – Feature Film
“Fate of the Furious”
Peter Brown, Mark Stoeckinger, Paul Aulicino, Steve Robinson, Bobbi Banks // Formosa Group
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Addison Teague, Dave Acord, Chris Boyes, Lora Hirschberg // Skywalker Sound
Alan Murray, Bub Asman, John Reitz, Tom Ozanich // Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services
“John Wick: Chapter 2”
Mark Stoeckinger, Alan Rankin, Andy Koyama, Martyn Zub, Gabe Serano // Formosa Group
Shannon Mills, Tom Johnson, Juan Peralta, Dan Laurie // Skywalker Sound
Outstanding Sound – Television
“Underground – Soldier”
Larry Goeb, Mark Linden, Tara Paul // Sony Pictures Post
“Stranger Things – Chapter 8: The Upside Down”
Craig Henigham // FOX
Joe Barnett, Adam Jenkins, Jordan Wilby, Tiffany Griffith // Technicolor – Hollywood
“Game of Thrones – The Spoils of War”
Tim Kimmel, MPSE, Paula Fairfield, Mathew Waters, CAS, Onnalee Blank, CAS, Bradley C. Katona, Paul Bercovitch // Formosa Group
“The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble”
Pete Horner // Skywalker Sound
Dimitri Tisseyre // Envelope Music + Sound
Dennis Hamlin // Hamlin Sound
“American Gods – The Bone Orchard”
Bradley North, Joseph DeAngelis, Kenneth Kobett, David Werntz, Tiffany S. Griffith // Technicolor
Outstanding Sound – Commercial
Honda – “Up”
Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson, Jack Hallett // Factory
Sian Rogers // SIREN
Virgin Media – “This Is Fibre”
Anthony Moore // Factory
Kia – “Hero’s Journey”
Nathan Dubin // Margarita Mix Santa Monica
SEAT – “Moments”
Doobie White // Therapy Studios
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – “We’re the Superhumans”
Anthony Moore // Factory
Outstanding Visual Effects – Feature Film
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”
Gary Brozenich, Sheldon Stopsack, Patrick Ledda, Richard Clegg, Richard Little // MPC
“War for the Planet of the Apes”
Dan Lemmon, Anders Langlands, Luke Millar, Erik Winquist, Daniel Barrett // Weta Digital
“Beauty and the Beast”
Kyle McCulloch, Glen Pratt, Richard Hoover, Dale Newton, Neil Weatherley // Framestore
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Guy Williams, Kevin Andrew Smith, Charles Tait, Daniel Macarin, David Clayton // Weta Digital
“Ghost in the Shell”
Guillaume Rocheron, Axel Bonami, Arundi Asregadoo, Pier Lefebvre, Ruslan Borysov // MPC
Outstanding Visual Effects – Television
“Black Sails – XXIX”
Yafei Wu, Nicklas Andersson, David Wahlberg // Important Looking Pirates
Martin Lippman // Rodeo
“The Crown – Windsor”
Ben Turner, Tom Debenham, Oliver Cubbage, Lionel Heath, Charlie Bennett // One of Us
“Taboo – Episode One”
Henry Badgett, Nic Birmingham, Simon Rowe, Alexander Kirichenko, Finlay Duncan // BlueBolt VFX
“Ripper Street – Occurrence Reports”
Ed Bruce, Nicholas Murphy, Denny Cahill, Piotr Swigut, Mark Pinheiro // Screen Scene
“Westworld – The Bicameral Mind”
Jay Worth // Deep Water FX
Bobo Skipper, Gustav Ahren, Jens Tenland // Important Looking Pirates
Paul Ghezzo // COSA VFX
Outstanding Visual Effects – Commercial
Walmart – “Lost & Found”
Morgan MacCuish, Michael Ralla, Aron Hjartarson, Todd Herman // Framestore
Honda – “Keep the Peace”
Laurent Ledru, Georgia Tribuiani, Justin Booth-Clibborn, Ellen Turner // Psyop
Nespresso – “Comin’ Home”
Martin Lazaro, Murray Butler, Nick Fraser, Callum McKevney // Framestore
Kia – “Hero’s Journey”
Robert Sethi, Chris Knight, Tom Graham, Jason Bergman // The Mill
Walmart – “The Gift”
Mike Warner, Kurt Lawson, Charles Trippe, Robby Geis // ZERO VFX
Recipients of several special awards have been previously announced by the HPA. Larry Chernoff has been named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Winners of the coveted Engineering Excellence Award include Colorfront Engine by Colorfront, Dolby Vision Post Production Tools by Dolby, Mistika VR by SGO, and the WEAPON 8K Vista Vision by RED Digital Cinema. These special awards will be bestowed at the HPA Awards gala.
The HPA Awards gala ceremony is expected to be a sold-out affair and early ticket purchase is encouraged. Tickets for the HPA Awards are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.hpaawards.net. For all inquiries and sponsorship information, call the HPA at +1 (818) 273-7482 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the HPA Awards and the Hollywood Professional Association can be found at www.hpaonline.com. Title Sponsor Blackmagic Design; Foundation Members AVID, Company 3, Deluxe, Dolby, EFilm, and Encore; Platinum Sponsors IMAX and Sohonet; Engineering Excellence Sponsor HGST; Bronze Sponsor Sony Post Production Facilities; and Supporting Sponsor Fuse FX are among the sponsors of the 2017 HPA Awards.
About the HPA® Awards
The HPA Awards were created to foster awareness and recognize the achievements of the individuals and companies that have contributed to groundbreaking technologies and creative excellence within the professional media content industry, and build involvement in the Hollywood Professional Assciation. The HPA is a partner of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®). Information about the HPA Awards is available at www.hpaonline.com. The HPA Awards will be presented with generous support from Foundation Members and sponsors.
About the Hollywood Professional Association
Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) serves the professional community of businesses and individuals who provide expertise, support, tools and the infrastructure for the creation and finishing of motion pictures, television, commercials, digital media and other dynamic media content. Through its partnership with the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®), the leader in the advancement of the art, science and craft of the image, sound, and metadata ecosystem, the HPA continues to extend its support of the community it represents. Information about the HPA is available at www.hpaonline.com.
Posted in: NewsNewsletter
NEW YORK—The Deuce, the new drama from HBO and Executive Producers David Simon and George Pelecanos, is set in 1970s New York City where prostitution and crime were rampant, and the modern adult entertainment industry was just coming into its own. Bold, brash and visually intoxicating, the series finished natively in High Dynamic Range (HDR) at Technicolor PostWorks New York. Colorist Sam Daley collaborated with Director of Photography Vanja Černjul, ASC, in mastering seven episodes from the show’s debut season, after having similarly teamed with Cinematographer Pepe Avila del Pino on the pilot.
With characters that include porn stars and prostitutes, The Deuce reveals a city that’s a mix of glitz and sleaze. Dive bars and grimy bus depots exist alongside the pulsating, neon-illuminated environs of Times Square. In approaching this world, Černjul says he drew inspiration from such classic films as Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver, but took a different approach in recreating the look of the city and the era where they were set.
“I wanted our 1970s New York to look as real as possible,” he explains. “I was intimately familiar with a lot of films that were shot in New York at that time—it was probably the most amazing period in American cinema—but I didn’t want to simulate the period lighting style. I wanted to make it seem as though we were actually in the 1970s, capturing that world with modern technology. I wanted to erase the media filter that we have when we watch those classic films.”
Černjul chose to work with Panasonic’s VariCam 35 for principal photography as its super35mm MOS sensor minimized the need for artificial lighting. “I wanted a shooting style with the greatest mobility,” he says. “We needed to move quickly as we sometimes were shooting two or three locations in a day. The sensor of the VariCam helped with that as it allowed us to work with available light. If we walked into a restaurant that was lit by candlelight, we could shoot it like that.”
During pre-production, Černjul worked with Daley on camera tests to establish a preliminary look. For the sake of consistency, they chose an image texture similar to what had been established in the pilot. “For the pilot, Pepe and I created a film-print emulation LUT,” recalls Daley. “It gave the digital photography the feel of a dye-based motion picture print. To complement that, we used Livegrain, which generates a filmic grain pattern based on the unique exposure of each scene.
“For the series, Vanja and I modified the LUT to accommodate the VariCam. We again used Livegrain, but we did so a bit more aggressively. VariCam captures a very clean image and we wanted something a bit grittier.”
The decision to finish in HDR also occurred as the show moved from pilot to series. Although the show will initially air in standard dynamic range, the HDR masters promise an enhanced viewing experience when the technology reaches more households.
Daley notes that, even as the show moved to an HDR workflow, they continued to employ the LUT they developed when they were expecting a conventional HD finish as the lighting and other creative decisions had been based on that look. “We treated the existing LUT like a film print being remastered in HDR,” Daley says. “We embraced the brightness of the new format, but we exercised restraint. The look pops where it needs to, but doesn’t distract from the story.”
“It was a challenge to match the HDR color space to the color space that we had prepped for,” adds Černjul. “We had to redo the process we went through in pre-production. It took some experimentation to get it right.”
Daley says that the extra time and effort proved worthwhile and are evident in the results. “The colors are like characters,” he observes. “We have a lot of dark, grainy, contrasty images, but there is real beauty in the period hues, even when they are slightly askew. They provide a glimmer of optimism in an otherwise bleak world. People who get to see the HDR version are in for a treat. The scenes on 42nd Street, with the marquees, neon and flashing lights… it’s like you’re looking through a window into 1971.”
Černjul was similarly impressed with the quality of the HDR master and with how smoothly the process was managed by Daley and Technicolor PostWorks. “It’s very important to me to have a good rapport with the colorist,” he says. “I worked closely with Sam throughout production and we learned a lot together about the HDR format. I hope we can do it again very soon.”
About Technicolor PostWorks New York
Technicolor PostWorks New York is the East Coast’s most comprehensive digital motion picture and post-production facility, employing an exceptional team of creative artists, engineers and project managers to serve our clients through the film and TV finishing process.
Technicolor PostWorks New York offers one complete source for every post requirement, including in-context digital dailies, film imaging and restoration, collaborative non-linear editorial and HD/UHD broadcast finishing, 4K digital cinema, global content lifecycle support, and comprehensive film and TV sound services on nine mix stages.
For more information, visit http://www.technicolorpwny.com
Posted in: NewsNewsletterPress ReleaseProduction & Post
GARDENA, Calif.—The Joe Lewis Company recently helped Universal Pictures celebrate The Mummy Day in a very big way. The event production company designed, built and installed a seven-ton, 84-foot tall sarcophagus at the Hollywood and Highland Gateway in Los Angeles. The structure was unveiled at the premiere of the studio’s summer blockbuster The Mummy in an event attended by the film’s star, Tom Cruise, director Alex Kurtzman, co-stars Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella and Jake Johnson, and hundreds of movie fans. The sarcophagus was the largest-ever structure erected at the Hollywood site.
Producing large-scale, one-of-a-kind activations and events is The Joe Lewis Company’s stock in trade. The company has provided event production services for virtually every major awards show, motion picture studio, television network and professional sports organization in the United States including the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star Game, the Special Olympics, the Grammy Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the CMT Music Awards, the BET Awards, AEG and Madison Square Garden. “We’ve been fortunate to participate in a lot of events that are big, memorable and have never been done before,” says company founder Joe Lewis. “We do exciting stuff really well.”
Already the industry leader in the awards show and sports arenas, JLC is expanding into new realms. The company recently hired Adam Atkins to head a new experiential division focused on consumer facing branded events and strategic experiences. Also joining the company is Mary Pat Kasravi who will lead a team centering on premieres, parties and press events.
For many companies, spending on experiential and branded events now exceeds spending on traditional advertising, notes Lewis. “Adam and Mary Pat bring tons of experience and strong relationships in those markets,” he says. “They will help us grow our presence and work with clients to produce memorable events that are successful and unique.”
Atkins brings more than 15 years of expertise in branded experiences, most recently as Vice President/Group Director at experiential marketing agency Ignition. His many accomplishments include overseeing Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Olympic Torch Relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Kasravi’s background includes 21 years at Entertainment Lighting Services (ELS) where she produced scores of movie and television premieres, including recent events for Game of Thrones and Fifty Shades Darker. Also joining JLC as part of Kasravi’s team are account executive Grace Cornejo and technical director Kevin McKinney.
JLC is unique among event management companies in its ability to deliver integrated creative, production and management services. It operates out of more than 50,000 square feet of production facilities in Gardena, California. Where other event specialists rely on subcontractors, JLC offers a seamless, all-inclusive solution. Its creative team is led by Creative Director Ed Coco and it has a dedicated staff of designers, draftsmen and producers, as well as a full-service graphics print department, scene shop and full rentals division.
The result, says Lewis, is greater efficiency, qualitative and creative consistency, and a buck-stops-here mentality. “We’re a group of very skilled and passionate people; if you don’t love your work, you don’t last with us,” he explains. “We work in all spaces—sports, broadcast, corporate—at a very high level. People rely on us because we know what it takes to get the job done.”
For The Mummy premiere, JLC’s team of designers and fabricators constructed the giant sarcophagus at its Gardena facility in the space of just a few weeks. Three separate independent engineering firms vetted the finished piece for structural integrity. It then took some 18 tractor trailers to haul the components to the Hollywood site and over 300 hours to set it up in place.
Erecting a structure as tall as a three-story building in the middle of a Hollywood on virtually a moment’s notice might seem like a tall order, but it’s business as usual for JLC. “We had a very tight timeline to get it designed, built, approved by the engineers and the city, and erected in place—but we never cut corners,” says company founder Joe Lewis. “For us, the exciting part is that we were able to deliver what we promised. The marketing team at Universal Pictures challenged us, and we exceeded their expectations.”
Mary Pat Kasravi
About The Joe Lewis Company
The Joe Lewis Company is a comprehensive event production, design, build and execution company dedicated to creating unforgettable live event experiences that bring audiences together and brands to life. The company provides full-service production, design, build and execution for face-to-face events in the live, branded, media, sports, social and broadcast industries. Its clients include Oscars, Grammys, the NBA, BET Networks, Billboard Music Awards, Comcast, ESPN, MTV, NBC, CBS, ABC, Turner, TNT, the WB, Universal Pictures, Red Bull and VH1.
Posted in: Industry NewsNewsPress Release
ShareGrid has made the life of cinematographers a whole lot easier. In the company’s earliest days, they collaborated with Duclos Lenses and Old Fast Glass to put together a test of 40 vintage lenses, calling it “The Ultimate Vintage Lens Test.” Their results had just reached the ShareGrid audience when discussions began to take shape for their next massive undertaking.
“Ever since our last test, we knew we wanted to make another one, and we were pretty sure it would be anamorphic glass,” said Brent Barbano, co-founder of Sharegrid.
One hundred thirty 4K videos later, “The Ultimate Anamorphic Lens Test” is now available to the public. The test was co-produced by ShareGrid and Old Fast Glass along with key team members Barbano (executive producer), Mark LaFleur (director), Kyle Stryker (DP), Nick Ferreiro (post supervisor/editor) and Matthew Duclos (contributor/consultant). The lens test team recruited 29 crew members who worked over the lens tests’ three-day shoot. With utmost dedication and care, they gathered the results of 42 different lenses. Here are a few other stats to blow your mind: there were 518 tests conducted in total broken down over 131 main tests, 131 color chart tests, 131 focus tests, 47 distortion tests and 78 projection tests.
The thirteen brands were reviewed in the test. There were ten prime lens with varying focal lengths including Arri/Zeiss Master Anamorphic (35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm), Atlas Lens Co. Orion Series Anamorphic (65mm), Cineovision Anamorphic (25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm), Cooke Anamorphic / iSpecial Flare (32mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm), Elite Anamorphic (24.5mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm) Hawk V-Life Vintage 74 Anamorphic (28mm, 55mm, 80mm, 110mm), Kowa Cine Prominar Anamorhic (32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm), Lomo Round-Front Anamorphic (35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm), Panavision Auto-Panata Anamorphic (40mm, 50mm, 75mm) and Todd AO High-Speed Anamorphic (35mm, 55mm, 75mm). There were two zoom lens manufacturers: Angenieux Optimo 44-440mm T4.5 AS-2 Anamorphic Zoom (44mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm) and P+S Technik 35.70mm T3.2 Cinemascope Zoom (35mm, 50mm, 70mm). There was also one anamorphic Adapter manufacturer tested: the Iscorama pre-36 Anamorphic Lens Adapter with Nikon AI (50mm, 85mm, 105mm)
“Anamorphic is a very popular choice for DPs, but I still find that there are many cinematographers that aren’t aware of the choices and how widely different they are from one another,” said LaFleur. “Even more than spherical lenses, these lenses are radically different from set to set, lens to lens within a set and even T stop to T stop.”
In addition to the lens test videos, viewers may also find some education videos on the ShareGrid page. These include a page dedicated to learning the basics of anamorphic: https://learn.sharegrid.com/what-is-anamorphic and a flare chart video: https://learn.sharegrid.com/sharegrid-lens-test-flare-chart
To obtain The Ultimate Anamorphic Lens Test, please see the links below:
4x Video Comparison Player (200 videos)
Released Tuesday, August 29th, the test is already securing fans in the esteemed cinematography community. Greig Fraser, ASC, Oscar nominee and winner of the 2016 CameraImage Golden Frog and ASC’s Outstanding Cinematography in a Theatrical Release for “Lion” found the test a massive time saver. He felt the test captured “the bigger picture”, allowing him more time to finesse details.
“I’m about to shoot on film. I don’t have the luxury of seeing immediate high res digital results of the different T stops,” said Fraser. “When I do my own more refined tests, I can compare my results to the results (The Ultimate Anamorphic Lens Test) got shooting digitally.”
Posted in: BusinessNewsNewsletterProduction and PostTools
LOS ANGELES – The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Photo Gallery will re-open with a public debut on September 9 from 4 – 9 pm at the historic ASC clubhouse in Hollywood. The exhibit will feature an entirely new collection of still photographs by nine members of the organization, curated by Paris Chong, manager of Leica Gallery LA. It will remain open to the public, by appointment, during weekdays from 11 am – 4 pm. To attend the opening night or visit the exhibit, contact email@example.com.
The ASC Photo Gallery is designed to showcase the artistic achievements of the organization’s members, which consist of 375 award-winning cinematographers from around the globe. The first exhibit opened in March to much success, prompting future editions.
“Still photography is the personal expression of the artist’s voice for many of our members,” notes Lieberman, Chairman of the ASC Photo Gallery Committee. “Images have inspired thousands of cinematographers over the decades, and we hope to encourage others by sharing our works of art so we may continue to fund outreach programs that influence the next generation of filmmakers.”
The ASC members participating in this new show include Antonio Calvache (Queen Sugar, Little Children), Richard Crudo (Justified, American Pie), Fred Elmes (The Night Of, Blue Velvet), Denis Lenoir (Still Alice, Uprising), Charlie Lieberman (My So-Called Life, Heroes), Karl Walter Lindenlaub (Suits, Houdini), Suki Medencevic (Stuck in the Middle, The Pixar Story), Steven Poster (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales), and Robert Primes (Felicity, My Antonia).
Each cinematographer contributed five photos. The 45 images on display are printed, framed and available for purchase. The limited-edition prints are numbered, signed and certified. Unlimited Edition Box Sets will also be available. Proceeds fund the nonprofit organization’s educational initiatives. Purchases will also be offered online via the ASC Store, where some photos from the March exhibit are still available.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323) 969-4333.
About the ASC
The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the art of filmmaking. Since its charter in 1919, the ASC has been committed to educating aspiring filmmakers and others about the art and craft of cinematography. For additional information about the ASC, visit www.theasc.com, or join American Cinematographer on Facebook, Twitter (@AmericanCine) and Instagram (@the_asc).
Posted in: CinematographyNewsNewsletterPress Release
Los Angeles, CA – International Oscar-winning creative studio Framestore is showing its cross-platform capabilities yet again by bringing the powerful Marvel character Hulk to life on both film and commercial platforms. The Film team in London and Integrated Advertising team in Los Angeles collaborated on the latest CG characterization of Hulk for upcoming Marvel Studios releases and Renault’s commercial ‘Renault Kwid.’
“We’ve honed a very tight transition pipeline for film characters into other platforms,’ says Creative Director Ben West. ‘The ability to utilize detailed assets with complex rigs ensures we’re meeting the cinematic standard demanded for Marvel projects.”
Shot in São Paulo by Smuggler Director Jonathan Gurvit, the ‘Renault Kwid’ adventure begins as a man imagines what the Hulk would do as news breaks that a satellite is falling towards Earth. Framestore artists brought Hulk to life with his signature leaps and bounds taking him to the top of the Banco Banespa building before smashing the explosive satellite mid-sky.
Famous for his incredible level of superhuman physical ability, Framestore worked to exaggerate Hulk’s strenuous muscle and facial detail. The teams worked closely together to enhance the amount of detail needed in his muscles, including in the rig, muscular weight in animation, textural displacements of veins, lighting art direction to enhance angles, and shot-specific muscle sculpting to refine even further. Other subtle yet essential details of Hulk include peach fuzz on the body, facial stubble and sweat stems.
“Animating characters requires an intimate level of experience and understanding of performance,’ continues West. ‘Each character has signature qualities but it’s the detail and nuance that brings them to life. Having worked with characters like Hulk over an extended period for film projects, we had a strong foundation to build upon in this regard.”
The details of city destruction further accentuate the Hulk’s weight. Framestore enhanced the cityscape of São Paolo to make sure the central Banespa building was in frame as a constant reminder of the imminent fiery satellite. “These are the projects our artists live and breathe for. We understand the genre and play to its strengths by bringing characters to the screen in a very visceral way,” states West.
The commercial is airing domestically in Brazil across TV and cinema. Framestore collaborated directly with Marvel and their Disney partners in Brazil to create the commercial. Ad agency Neogama concepted the commercial. Other recent Film and Integrated Advertising collaborations by Framestore include ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ film and virtual reality experience, as well as Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 film, commercial campaign and amusement park ride.
Director, Partnerships – Marvel Partnerships Chris Lisciandro
Promotions Project Manager – Marvel Partnerships Greg Gustin
Franchise Promotional Partnerships – Marvel Studios Adam Davis
Production Company Smuggler
Director Jonathan Gurvit
Visual Effects Framestore
Creative Director Ben West
VFX Producer Morgan MacCuish
CG Supervisor Kevin Baker
Shoot Supervisor David Hulin
VFX Supervisor James Healy
Animation Lead Shayne Ryan
Animator Kevin Rooney, Jessie Wang, Xavier Coton, Stew Burris, Evan Harbuck
FX Lead Nate Usiak
FX Michelle Lee, Arrev Chantikian, Viviana Mora
Lighting Lead Yuo Tengara
Lighter Jon Tojek, Isaiah Palmer, Dustin Colson, John Cook
Compositing Lead JD Yepes
Compositor Tim Gutierrez, Josh Guillaume, Alex Unruh, Alejandro Villabon, Kingsley Rothwell
Generalist Soren Barton, Yayu Chen, Mel Wong, Joel Durham, Rob Garcia
Look Dev & Groom Jessica Groom
Rigging Lead Wade Ryer
Cameras & Tracking Sean Dollins, Todd Herman
Concept Art Daniel Demirdjian
VFX Editor Humberto Reynaga
VFX Assistant Editor Jake Keller, Alexandra Wysota
VFX Coordinator Jose Alvarado
Colourist Beau Leon
Colour Assistant Jonah Braun, Weiyi Ang
Framestore is an Oscar-winning creative studio that uses innovative talent and technology to create hi-end images for every platform. Framestore partners with clients ranging from Hollywood studios through to advertisers, ad agencies, production companies and video game developers. In addition to being recognised for its globally celebrated visual effects, Framestore has more recently made its name as an innovator in the digital space by focusing on the immersive engagement potential of interactive visual effects.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterProduction & PostVFX
When an evil sect threatens to destroy New York City, it’s up to The Defenders to put aside their personal struggles and come to the metropolis’ rescue – and it was up to the Technicolor team to put a unique stamp on each of these troubled but heroic characters by creating their clear and distinct sound signatures.
Most of these Marvel heroes are well known to Technicolor, as the team handled the sound for individual series revolving around the Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist characters – then made a smooth transition of sounds they had created for them to the new project. But as these solitary figures came together in The Defenders, along with the character of Jessica Jones, it was also important to differentiate their unique situations and motivations as they learned to unite toward a common goal.
How did the Technicolor Sound team achieve this? The stomping ground for each character covers a different area of Manhattan, so as the team mixed for the various New York neighborhoods – for example, Hell’s Kitchen for Daredevil – they were able to creatively use background noises and sounds in the environment as another way to create signatures for each of the heroes.
“There are hand-to-hand combat sequences that involve all of the characters and a challenge was how to articulate the action, not just a wall of sound. So the team would focus on specific moments in the fight, creating a clear, immersive experience for the viewer.”
The Defenders was mixed at Technicolor’s Seward facility in Hollywood, with editorial done at nearby Technicolor at Paramount. The Technicolor sound team returning to the Marvel Universe included Sound Re-Recording Mixers Adam Jenkins and Joe Barnett; Supervising Sound Editor Lauren Stephens; Sound Effects Editor Jordan Wilby; Dialogue Editor Christian Buenaventura; and ADR Mixer Judah Getz.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterProduction & PostSound
On July 14th, 20th Century Fox released War for the Planet of the Apes, the follow up to 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which was once again directed by Matt Reeves. The film marks the third in the rebooted franchise (2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was directed by Rupert Wyatt), and centers around the now mature Caesar, who continues to serve as the apes’ leader. While their colony struggles to coexist with humans, they appear to be gaining an upper hand, as the humans face extinction due to a rapidly spreading, deadly virus.
Editor William Hoy also returned to work on the new release, continuing his collaboration with Reeves. Hoy’s vast credits include Dances With Wolves, both Fantastic Four films, 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and American Cinema Editors.
“In this particular picture, almost the entire production called for visual effects,” Hoy explains. “It was dedicated to the performance and characters, which was a real plus for me. That’s what we wanted most out of it. The character and emotional character of the apes and the humans.”
Hoy, who has cut a number of Fox features, was acquainted with a number of people surrounding the project, and has developed a trust with the director. “On the first film, you have to learn to trust each other, and on this film it was a real pleasure to work with him,” says the editor. “We’ve become really good friends and that’s something that’s valuable that I take away from the picture, too.”
Read the full story at Post Magazine.
Posted in: EditingNewsNewsletter
CULVER CITY, CALIF.— Baby Driver, the critically-acclaimed new film from TriStar Pictures and Writer/Director Edgar Wright, centers on a young getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who suffers from tinnitus, a medical condition that causes him to hear a constant ringing in his ears. He copes with the problem by listening to music at high volume through earbuds. For much of the film, the audience experiences the action from Baby’s perspective. So, they hear the music that he hears (including tracks by Beck, Dave Brubeck and the Beach Boys) while the action around him happens in perfect sync.
The task of creating Baby’s aural landscape presented unique challenges and opportunities for the film’s sound team led by Julian Slater, who acted as Sound Designer, Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer. Slater and his crew produced hundreds of customized sound effects and carefully choreographed each one to fit perfectly with the action on screen and the groove flowing into Baby’s ears.
“The whole movie is orchestrated to whatever Baby is listening to at the moment,” Slater explains. “Gunfights are in time with the music. Car chases are cut in sync. Police sirens, barking dogs, speeding trains are at tempo. Much of it is pitched and syncopated so that the music and sound design work as one.”
The novel sound concept is introduced in the film’s opening moments. “The first thing you see is the studio logo,” Slater notes. “The sound from it transforms into a tinnitus ringing, which in turn becomes the braking sound of a car. It is in the same key as the first music cue (Bellbottoms by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), so it all flows.”
Soon after comes a tracking shot covering more than 3 minutes. Baby is gamboling along a downtown street listening to Bob & Earl’s Harlem Shuffle. “Edgar shot the scene in time to the music,” recalls Slater. “We added car alarms, jack hammers, traffic.” The audio effect is mirrored by the visuals as song lyrics, written into posters and graffiti, appear on cue.
Slater did the sound work at Goldcrest Films in London and was assisted by, among others , FX Editors Jeremy Price and Martin Cantwell and Dialogue/ADR Supervisor Dan Morgan. They spent months finessing and fine-tuning the sound effects and the mix. The biggest challenge, he says, was to keep it feeling light and fresh. “The tinnitus Baby suffers from increases in volume the more stressed he gets through the movie,” Slater observes. “The tinnitus, itself, changes depending on the environment and the incoming piece of music he is listening to.”
The result is a film soundtrack unlike any other. “The credit goes to Edgar Wright,” Slater says. “He had been developing this idea for years and he constructed the template that we followed. I’m extremely lucky to work with a filmmaker like Edgar who is committed to projects that are both bold and original!”
Baby Driver is in theaters now. #BabyDriver
About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE’s Motion Picture Group includes film labels Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterPress ReleaseSound
Saddington Baynes are well-known for pushing the boundaries of technical innovation in the creative industry, establishing an R&D arm known as SBLabs to showcase this in-house ability. The purpose of SBLabs is to train artists and perfect technical discipline in preparation for commercial projects. The resulting videos range from celebrating London Pride with CG paint, to replicating Gangnam Style through motion capture:
Love is Love – Created using FLIP Fluid Solver, with viscosity and customised colour mixing. The centerpiece statue was simulated using 3D photo scans, before being rendered with Arnold.
VFX Dancers – Procedurally generated geometry, particle simulations and fur were created with shaders, driven by custom attributes, and then attached to motion capture. The results were rendered with Mantra.
Gangnam Style – A combination of motion capture and cloth simulation, using Flipbook (a player in Houdini that creates a sped up render).
‘InflataSean’ – A human replica generated by processing data from full-body scans. Simulations were then applied to produce an inflation effect. The results were rendered in Mantra/Arnold.
Each video allows the artists at SBLabs to indulge in a bit of hands on training, to develop their skills in a fun way. The projects are also about self-expression – a chance for artists to exercise creativity and imagination, such as teasing their colleague Sean by turning him into a blow up doll.
Although no ground-breaking technology was used, SBLabs gives artists a chance to experiment with existing tools in innovative ways. A full reel combing each experiment can be found here.
About Saddington Baynes
Saddington Baynes is a leading creative production agency that has produced premium imagery for advertising agencies and brand clients for 25 years, working on projects as diverse as automotive, FMCG and pharma.
Saddington Baynes’ mission is to create sensational imagery that moves people and inspires brand devotion, delivering memorable experiences through emotion and engagement. The original pioneers of digital retouching in 1991 – and one of the first post production studios to harness the potential of CGI in-house – Saddington Baynes today creates award-winning visual content for the advertising industry in the UK, USA and across Europe. Innovation is a key part of this, which is why Saddington developed its Engagement Insights® service – an entirely new way to measure the emotional impact of imagery.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterPress ReleaseVFX
Growing up in Munich, Mathias Herndl, AAC, spent his school days absorbing the history of Germany. He was particularly interested in the genius known as Albert Einstein. Now a celebrated cinematographer, Herndl was excited to read the script to “Genius”, National Geographic’s series exploring the life of Einstein. He quickly discovered there was a lot more to the man than what he studied as a youth.
“I saw I knew nothing, especially in his personal life,” said Herndl. “He had great passion. He was curious and inspired by the nature that surrounded him.”
“Genius” provided Herndl the opportunity to shoot everything from beautiful expanses of nature in every season, to tender moments of affection to the brutality of the Third Reich. Herndl’s first matter at hand in prepping to shoot “Genius” was securing his camera of choice that could capture diverse set-ups beautifully: the Arri Alexa. To his surprise, the producers and executives at National Geographic readily agreed, informing him they entrusted his artistic preferences. Through the course of shooting he used the Alexa CS and mini cameras. Noting there were two distinct phases of Einstein’s life that were explored, Herndl used two different lens packages to create mild distinctions. To capture the scenes of Einstein as a young man, Herndl used the Vantage One T1 lenses. Noting the T1s are “simply built and beautiful lenses,” he liked the softer quality and rounding around the edges they created. For Einstein’s later years, Herndl used Arri master lenses for their sharp focus that offers no curving or breathing.
“Both lenses have shallow aperture and a shallow depth of field,” said Herndl. “They helped with the two time lines.”
Shooting style also offered a visual distinction. Covering Einstein’s youthful bohemian, flirtatious and rebellious behaviors, Herndl went with more kinetic, hand-held work. For the segments in the 40s and rise of the Third Reich, Herndl chose a more stationary, sharp, classic shooting style.
The lighting in “Genius” comes primarily through practical sources, Herndl did have an opportunity to be creative in its usage, particularly with dark interiors. Just as Einstein was venturing into unexplored territories with his theories, he wanted viewers to share that enthusiasm and “not be afraid of the dark.” Herndl used light flares and elements of over-exposure to create aspects of texture to a scene.
“Light draws attention. I was interested in breaking and bending the light,” said Herndl.
A sense of color shifts also helped break up the two main phases of Einstein’s life explored in “Genius.” Working with a colorist, Herndl crafted a more tonal, cayenne -based quality to Einstein’s younger years. He focused on keeping yellow in the highlights. For the period of the 40s, the color is more denaturized. Reds and purples had been introduced into symbolize a sense of danger as the Nazi occupation loomed. Herndl also captured wide-open spaces during this period to further push the factor of pressure and dread.
The task of portraying historical fact was always paramount on the set. Working against a “fair but demanding” timeline, Herndl found there was little room for second guessing shots. However, every member of the crew did always invest time in ensuring every aspect of what they were capturing, from picture vehicles to the books that were burned in Nazi fires were 100% accurate. Herndl’s focus in shooting some of the more horrific actions of the Nazi regime was to always keep the needs of the script and the character’s at the forefront.
In addition to learning much more about Einstein, Herndl also had his first experience of shooting with three cameras in “Genius.” Ron Howard, serving as a producer and director of some episodes requested the third be running at all times. Fortunately, Herndl had an experienced crew that he’d worked with previously on another shoot in Prague. He also had his wife/camera operator, Karel Fairaisl, and several A Camera and focus pullers from the US that he’s come to rely on that helped efficiently and expertly ensure smooth set ups. Ultimately, he found great benefits in the three camera set up.
“It added and extra bit of flavor you normally don’t get in a TV series, such as an actor’s hands playing with a pipe on the table,” said Herndl.
Herndl also recently shot ABC’s stunning crime series, “Motive,” starring Tommy Flanagan and Lauren Holly, as well as FOX’s sci-fi mystery series “Wayward Pines,” starring Toby Jones, Hope Davis and Shannyn Sossamon.
Posted in: CinematographyNewsNewsletter
It took more than 70 years for DC Comics’ Wonder Woman to get her own live-action feature film, but director Patty Jenkins and Warner Bros. have finally brought the comic book hero to the big screen, just in time for summer!
Gal Gadot stars in the title role of Wonder Woman, a film that explores the superhero’s origins and follows the story of Diana, princess of the Amazons. When a pilot crashes on her home island of Themyscira and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight ‘a war to end all wars,’ discovering her full powers and true destiny in the process.
“The time is absolutely right to bring Wonder Woman to movie audiences,” says Jenkins. “Fans have been waiting a long time for this, but I believe people outside the fandom are ready for a Wonder Woman movie, too. Superheroes have played a role in many people’s lives; it’s that fantasy of ‘What would it be like if I was that powerful and that great, and I could go on that exciting journey and do heroic things?’”
Joining Jenkins behind the camera were director of photography Matthew Jensen (Chronicle, Fantastic Four, HBO’s Game of Thrones), Oscar-winning editor Martin Walsh (Chicago, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), composer Rupert Gregson-Williams (Hacksaw Ridge, The Legend of Tarzan), re-recording mixer Chris Burdon (see related article that follows) and two-time Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer (Life of Pi, The Golden Compass).
Read the full story at Post Magazine.
Posted in: NewsNewsletterProduction & PostVFX