Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Post Part 2 /2

As the film is mixed, the mixed stems come from the stage at Sony and are dropped into the working master sequence. The same is true of VFX in progress. Each iteration of a VFX is layered on top of the last in the timeline.

Dailies were telecined at Company 3 to HD, then encoded into Avid’s DNxHD 36. Initially the post crew wondered if they should work at the higher quality compression, 115. But the need to accommodate a laptop meant they would work with the smaller file size.

Audio is encoded at 48k, 24 bit, and is sunk during telecine. Only one channel is transferred to the dailies, but the full production audio from Diva is loaded into the system if needed. Very little MC color correction of the original dailies is done. Dailies are moved to the cutting room via hard drive, giving them a tapeless workflow.

One oddity is although they are working in MFX media, the assistants are converting the audio to OMF media for the sound department. Calvin reported AAF exports having caused the Avid to crash, so OMF was chosen.

MFX media has created a fair amount of confusion in the industry. Some sound departments say they can’t work with it. Picture departments aren’t especially aware of the advantages (if any) of MXF, and an AAF transfer.

The system has 16 terrabytes of storage, holding about 1.25 million feet of film. The director carries a Micronet raid array as a portable hard drive for media.

As the picture has gotten closer to its final form, the assistants have been ordering scans of the picture for the final DI. Three types of film are being used, 4 perf 35mm, 8 perf 35 mm, and 15 perf 65mm, and each are scanned at a different resolution.

Although the framing of the movie is 2.40, Cinemascope wide screen, the 65mm film is being integrated to give a full frame Imax experience. Some scenes wil show entirely in Imax. Some scenes have a mix. After going to a theater to screen a mixture of 2.40 and Imax, it was decided that mixing the two didn’t hurt the visual experience.

Calvin Wimmer’s previous Avid show with editor Roger Barton was Speedracer, which he called the ‘worst case scenario. The software was super crashy.’ Transformers has had only a small degree of problems. Paul Rubell reports there is slowness in opening some windows (dissolve tool) in his MC, but the software has been very reliable, crashing only one time he could remember.

The biggest change for Paul was moving from 14:1 compression to HD. “The first hour is amazing” to watch, but “then it feels normal.”

Editors Roger Barton and Joel Negron use a few of Avid’s effects, but the director is very keen that they not change the images he shot. They’ve composited temp greenscreens, split screens, and animates. None of the editors were aware of the new Avid software, Avid FX.

One frustration expressed by the crew is that the audio levels in their tracks didn’t translate properly to the sound editorial department. Key frames went across, but audio gain changes in clips could clip or distort. It was also frustrating for Calvin that colored clips, a great way of keeping a timeline organized, would not translate to sound.

A more common complaint in editorial departments is why Media Composer and Pro Tools, owned by the same company, and the defacto standard in feature film post, don’t work together better.

To work on the extensive VFX, a highspeed T3 line was installed in the cutting room. It runs at 44.7 Mb/s, or what Calvin calls “the foo foo lingo for ‘really fast internet’”. It allows direct, instant, and secure communication between ILM and the cutting room. A two way conference is set up. Each side can see the other. And ILM can show the latest shots in part of the screen for evaluation.

Another interesting technology in the workflow is iChat. Editorial is using it for all types of purposes: sending updated cuts, getting sound effects from sound editorial, or music from music editorial, or to update the director’s laptop.

But the most impressive piece of technology in the whole post facility was for Cal Wimmer: a work bench with a motorized height adjustment. At the flip of a switch, he can work sitting down or standing up with the bench height adjusted to his liking.

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


Blogger Matthew said...

As a first year film school student (going for editor), this is a VERY interesting read. We don't see these modern workflows in class, for example the use of iChat to communicate or update certain things. Maybe it's because i'm in belgium, and movie business isn't as big as it deserves to be here :)
I'd be very interested to read more stories like this, and am going to share this blog with my mentor to (hopefully) let other people enjoy these articles as well.

4:21 AM  

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