Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Post Production Part 1

Every new movie or television production goes through the process of deciding about what technology to employ. Long ago it was a simple as “KEM, Moviola, or Steenbeck.” Now of course it is a lot more complicated. And every show is breaking new ground in some fashion.

Case in point: Transformers 2 (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen). It is still possible to edit major feature film releases with Meridien systems, but using the latest hardware and software from Avid provides several new benefits.

One of the important new abilities was to allow the director, Michael Bay, to have a full working Media Composer on his laptop. Editorial provides him with an up to date portable drive with all media and a current project which allows him to comment on scenes, and to clip favorite takes for the editors to work with.

Paul Rubell is one of five editors on the project. He was brought on during post, after he had finished Public Enemies for Michael Mann - editing on Meridien systems. Paul was re-editing several scenes but had difficulty getting the very busy director to view and comment on them. Finally, the director was given these new cuts on his laptop, and Paul was soon given the notes he needed to proceed.

The editorial set up for Transformers 2 is as follows: there are eight Avid Media Composers, each with 3.x software, each with Nitris DX hardware. Nitris was choosen to allow each system to output eight channels, instead of two with the Mojo. All systems, including the director’s, are Apple computers running OS X. Not every system, however, has the same MC software version.

According to first assistant editor Calvin Wimmer, the different versions of the 3.x software can’t do certain important things. His system, 3.0.6, can do a consolidation for sound editorial… but can’t do an EDL. So co-first assistant Todd Zongker has a later version which can do EDL’s… but not consolidations.

Each system has two large Cinema displays, outputs through an analog Mackie mixer.

The editors pull sub-clips from the larger movie to work on. Once the work is completed, that section is re-integrated in the movie. The editors are working on all parts of the movie as needed. One potential problem is by the time a sub-clip is ready to go back into the movie, someone has made a change in that section (update a VFX, make a picture change for the director). It takes communication to keep from blowing away each others work.

 Paul Rubell had gotten used to working with audio in three channels: a center mono channel for dialogue and effects, and a stereo pair for music and backgrounds. He set the first four channels of his timeline to be center mono, and the next 4 to be stereo left and right. This is how he edited Public Enemies. It allowed for a better representation of a mixed movie. On Transformers, the director needed to work with only two channels for his laptop, so the editors all worked in two output channels.

To be continued....

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Post Crew:
Editors Roger Barton, Joel Negron, Paul Rubell., A.C.E., Glen Scantlebury, Tom Muldoon
Co-First Assistants Calvin Wimmer, Todd Zongker
Apprentice Editor Kevin Stermer
Post Assistant Tommy Aagaard


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