Grading Desk

Peter is not only an amazing director to work with, he's also a great friend.  He's been helping us recently by fabricating our grading desk and sent along some pictures of the progress.  The desk will be 12 feet wide, and we will put two of our 4K 3d Mistika color DI systems.  Both operators will be able to work concurrently on the same project in the same theater.  

2K and 4K optical low pass filters

2K Optical Low Pass Filter for Sony F55
The 2K optical low pass filter is placed on top of the sensor.  
The original announcement about these filters can be found on Sony's F55 community forum, but the new filter makes it possible to have one camera capable of full-sensor 4K as well as full sensor 2K.  Many cameras resort to "windowing' the sensor by using a smaller portion of the sensor, which changes the effective field of view of the camera and makes what was formerly a wide angle lenses suddenly a narrower lens.  In order to use the entire sensor, it's necessary to change the optics.  The camera ships with a 4K optical low-pass filter that's optimized for 4K imagery, and recently Sony introduced an optional 2K optical low pass filter that's likewise optimized for 2K imagery.  There's some interesting technical reasons that Allistar Champman delves into, but importantly, there's an optical solution that's easy to swap in and out when changing the F55 from a 4K camera to a 2K camera.  Additionally, the 2K optical filter can lend a softer 4K image if desired.

Current WorleyWorks capabilities

Our motion capture system is especially well suited to real time applications, as each marker is uniquely identifiable to the camera system, so there is no possibility of marker swapping.  Marker swapping occurs in reflective, passive marker systems because the camera system has to make a decision at every frame about which marker is which based on an initial assignment; sometimes the decision can be wrong, especially when markers come into close proximity to each other, such as crossing arms or if performers touch. 
Additionally, our motion capture system can send a live stream of data to Unity for driving character animation and is very portable. 

We have high-frame-rate stereo-3d camera systems and high-frame-rate stereo-3d post capability . Our advanced stereoscopic 3d system is designed to be the front end of a complete high-frame-rate solution utilizing  Stereolab's PURE Stereo 3d analyzer with live analysis and rig correction enabling the use of zoom lenses and fast initial alignment after changing prime lenses.  We use matched Cooke primes, global shutter f55s, and Aladin MK2 motorization on Stereotec Light Weight rigs. 

SGO and their post-production Mistika system will be delivered and integrated into our facility during the next few weeks providing stereoscopic 3d grading, finishing and delivery.  SGO Mistika is best known from its use at Park Road Post where it is central to their high-frame-rate of The Hobbit. This system will be using the Barco DP-4Kp, a 4K post production projector.  

We feature specialty lighting appropriate for high speed filming with HMI ballasts that operate at 1000Hz.  Central to this is our Briese 220 Daylight 4K HMI high speed (1000 Hz) light system.  Additionally we offer 4K/2K Arri M40 and 1.8K Arri M18 high speed (1000 Hz) kits.

We have great experience in pulling highly saturated keys with our combination of camera, raw recording, green screen material and green screen lighting that in accordance with the recommendations found in the ASC manual.  This includes screens from Composite Components and Kino Flo fluorescent fixtures with Kino Flo's chroma green tubes.  
We utilize an interesting collection of analogue and digital microphones.  We've found the digital microphones are a big improvement over what's commonly used in production.

SGO Mistika

We started by building stereoscopic 3d systems utilizing Stereolab's PURE Stereo 3d analyzer with live analysis and rig correction enabling the use of zoom lenses and fast initial alignment after changing prime lenses.  Next we added matched Cooke primes, global shutter f55s, and Aladin MK2 motorization on Stereotec Light Weight rigs.
Now, we continue expanding our ability along with yet another company that is rapidly innovating and changing their field, SGO.  SGO and their post-production Mistika system will be delivered and integrated into our facility providing stereoscopic 3d grading, finishing and delivery.  SGO Mistika is best known from its use at Park Road Post on The Hobbit, as well as recent films such as The Great Gatsby and Star Trek into Darkness.

Here comes the Barco DP4K-P

Editing stereoscopic footage is often performed in 2d.  
This is how we started, and after reading about the editorial process that was used for Life of Pi we decided we needed to be editing in 3d.  We purchased 3d reference monitors.   Now, we're going big screen with the acquisition of a Barco DP4k-P.  This is a 4K post production projector made by Barco, a Danish company known for high quality displays and theatrical projectors that has an accurate, wide color gamut that's ideal for critical color decisions.  We're also outfitting this projector with the RealD passive 3d system.

Sony released new firmware for our F55 cameras that enables 240 frames per second 2K, full frame acquisition.  There is no windowing that occurs, so the field of view is unchanged, regardless of frame rates, and since the sensor is Super 35 mm size our Cooke lenses are ideal.  This means that high frame rates can be accomplished at wide angles.
The F55 isn't a high speed camera system like the Phantom, and that's great for a lot of high speed requirements.  The most obvious is that the 2K is being recorded directly to disk, and not to a memory buffer that is triggered to write to disk.  This means it's just another frame rate choice, and not an onset workflow issue.  The new frame rates available with this firmware are 120, 180, 240 and 24.  Previously 24p was 23.98p.
The high speed option has been promised since the cameras were first release, but concurrent with the camera's firmware upgrade is the release of RAW viewer 2.0 which delivers ProRes export and the integration of Tangent Wave panels to control the software color wheels.  This is amazing!  Working with the Raw can be a data challenge, one that we're equipped for, but not all of our clients are.  While we're investing in infrastructure to meet this challenge, it's because we work with these files every day.  The F55 records editorially friendly XAVC or MPEG2 proxies, but being able to do some Primary grading in the Raw viewer and then convert to ProRes or SR gives the camera department, Directors and DPs a  way to communicate their color decisions, as well as a practical way to handle challenging lighting situations that can only be handled by capturing the sensor's full dynamic range.
It's an exciting time to be acquiring digitally, and to be working with such amazing tools.

Prepping for a couple of green screen projects, and after reading the American Society of Cinematographers' 10th annual Manual, we're outfitting ourselves with an enhanced green screen package.
First, we're using Composite Components fabric and paint.  After such a huge endorsement by the ASC for this fabric over other options, it's in the kit.
Next, we're using KinoFlo light banks, and their 525nm Green lamps.  KinoFlo has great guidance on using their kits to achieve separation of colors and even lighting.
Finally, I'm modeling out the lighting in Houdini, using their physically based rendering engine and accurate measurements.
Oh, not quite finally, there's the camera.  We're using our new Sony F55 cameras, Cooke lenses and recording to 16 bit linear 4K raw.  It's going to be clean.

shooting 4k's easy, but dealing with 4k in post isn't

Now that we've started shooting in 4K we're experiencing data-deluge.  It's awesome!  66 minutes of 4k raw is 512GB (24p).  In stereo this is doubled.  When it's demosaiced, it's huge.  Storage that used to suffice for 2k compressed raw is suddenly tiny and slow.  Moving files across 10Gb ethernet using windows file sharing is disappointing.  What to do?

Here's the network topology that we're implementing as part of our solution.  

It seems like most people in the media/entertainment world are using Quantum Storenext, and maybe we will too, but 1st we're going to try using portions of the Openstack storage filesystem. Specifically we'll try Gluster File System with the Cinder Plug-in.  Hopefully this will allow block-level, shared access amongst our editing and color workstations.  

During the design of this, we considered using our existing 10Gb ethernet, but I'm so tired of waiting for files to move across networks and dealing with slow drives, so we're opting for 56 Gb FDR infiniband as the backbone of the network.  The disk arrays, once the system's installed and ready to run will be populated with these new Crucial 960 GB SSD drives, if they ever ship.

Zooming in 3d

We can zoom in 3d!
Thanks to the integration of Stereotec's Lightweigt beam spliiter with internally integrated 3d alignment motorization, Stereolab's PURE stereo alignment system and Chrosziel's Aladin MKII, we're able to zoom in 3d!  That is, we can zoom in 3d without mis-alignment.  This system also allows us to quickly change lenses and reduces human error that might occur during alignment.  It's much easier to acquire aligned imagery than to fix it in post.
two sony f55 cameras handheld on StereoTec's lightweigt rig
Handheld, motorized beamsplitter can be automatically aligned while zooming, continuously correcting image alignment.

Shooting 3D feature films as quickly as 2D

When shooting on-set, it’s critical to minimize interruptions that disrupt the creative process.  Directors and talent are accustomed to and have adapted to the interruptions necessary for modern film making, but anything that slows the process is creatively and financially expensive.  STEREOTEC acknowledges the importance of keeping a 3D production shooting at the same pace as a 2D feature and delivers the tools that make it possible without the loss of quality inherent in 2D to 3D conversions, or the much larger post-production cost of such conversions.  Now that shooting in 3D is no more complicated than in 2D, native 3D productions become the economical choice that also provides superior quality.
An example was the recent Paramount production HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS: "We were originally planning to shoot only three scenes in 3D and convert the rest. When we saw how quickly we could move, I pushed to shoot as much as possible in 3D, and the finished film turned out to be about 50% native...The producers backed me all the way when they realized we’d get all the setups we wanted and still make our days”, says DoP Michael Bonvillain.

Just bought company tickets to Peter Jackson's The Hobbit in High Frame Rate 3d.  Having experimented with High Frame Rate 3d, I'm very enthused to see it in Imax 3d.  We just completed filming some 24p 3d for MTV Films, and I kept thinking about 48p.  Mr. Jackson's choosing 48 fps as it's twice the current "standard" theatrical frame rate of 24p, and will be easy to provide for both the High Frame Rate release and the standard release.  He's writing about his experiments with 48p and the reasons for his decision to go forward with this format on his facebook page.
In the world of 3d, often our goal is to minimize viewer fatigue and discomfort - to match color, focus, alignment and avoid lens flare and specularity, as these introduce discrepancies in what one eye see versus the other eye, and is unnatural in our world.  The DP, Director of Photography, I was working with last week's feeling is that he's heard this all before during the transition to HD, and all of the engineering advice proved to be less important than artistic intent, and was best ignored, or at least given little consideration relative to the artistic perspective.  Reports from journalists who saw a short screening of Mr. Jackson's High Frame Rate 3d disagree with Mr. Jackson, and compare is to being on set as opposed to seeing it onscreen.  I've also been noticing a back-lash of sorts in the industry against 3d, and merit given to the, "you know, you don't have to film in 3d, you can do it in post", from the same people who advocate practical camera effects over doing it in post.   
Stereoscopic filming, "3d", is still in its infancy, and lots of the 3d films I see are produced with a 2d mentality and fail in 3d, and occasionally there's a film that showcases what's possible.  Highest hopes for The Hobbit, Mr. Jackson.  

In addition to the Arri High Speed HMI lights we recently added to our rental inventory, we're excited to announce the arrival of a Briese focus 220 High Speed (1000 Hz) 4K HMI.  If you're looking to shoot people in high speed (greater than 75 frames per second that's possieble with regular "flicker free" ballasts), this is the light.  We learned the hard way that the Briese Tungsten 5K is actually 4 filaments, so at high speeds there's significant flickering, not to mention how hot it is to be in front of tungsten lights.  Like the Arri High Speed HMIs, the "flicker free" technology is in the  ballasts, and instead of being flicker free up to 75 Hz, like most ballasts, our Arri and Briese ballasts run flicker free at 1000 Hz.

Get in touch with us if you'd like to know more.