"Courageous" Part Two: on-line

Steve Hullfish
By Steve Hullfish 10.24.11


The first part of this article dealt with the capture, transcode, preparation and off-line edit of the feature film, "Courageous," for which I was one of three editors. In this article I'll discuss the on-line process which primarily took place at PostWorks New York.

The main personnel involved with the on-line editing were Post production Supervisor, Clarke Gallivan, on-line editor George Bunce, colorist Scot Olive, and Joe Beirne, head of all things technical at PostWorks.

At first there was some discussion that the film would actually be finished using the ProRes 444 HQ files that had originally been generated on set from the RED R3D files, but discussions with colorist Scot Olive and Director of Photography, Bob Scott and director, Alex Kendrick led to the obviously preferable decision to re-conform the edit back to the R3D files.

imageWith that decision made, the first question was how to get the files to PostWorks in NY. With limited time to deliver, Post Supervisor Clarke Gallivan enlisted a Production Assistant to actually drive back to Albany, Georgia and load the RAID with the R3D footage into the back seat of his car and drive it to GroundZero Post in Nashville. At Groundzero, they used the Final Cut Pro sequence file to determine all of the R3D files that would be necessary to complete the on-line. They made copies of just those files from camera start to camera stop, and delivered them, along with some other ProRes materials, on a separate drive, back to PostWorks.

Most of the footage in the movie was sourced from R3D 4K files, but some special effects shots, including many in the big shootout at the end of the movie, and some car-mounted and hand-held Canon 5D Mark II footage, were only delivered as ProRes.

I actually shot two pickup shots in the movie with my personal 5D Mark II. One is a shot of a pickup truck driving to one of the central scenes in the movie at a bank. The other shot was one that we realized in the edit that had been missed. It was a close-up of a water bottle being tossed into a garbage can. Not glamorous, but it's kind of fun for me to know that the same camera I use on a daily basis to shoot my kids' baseball and soccer games was used to shoot scenes for a feature film! I believe that I used the Marvel's Cine picture style to give a neutral look for grading. I also have Steve Shaw's gamma looks for my 5D, but I didn't have them installed at the time.

imageAccording to Gallivan, some of the 5D shots were problematic. In one of the opening chase scenes, the 5Ds were used to supplement the footage from the RED. One scene in particular showed a white building with clapboard siding in the background that had severe moire on it in the background. After several attempts to fix the moir©, colorist Scott Olive ended up blowing out the highlights on the white building to mediate the effects of the 5D.

With the select R3D scene pulls delivered to PostWorks, editor Melissa Mason created an AAF file of the sequence using Final Cut Pro 7 and Automatic Duck to get the sequence to PostWorks' Quantel iQ edit system. According to on-line editor Bunce, from there it was actually pretty straightforward. The AAF sequence simply finds the proper R3D files and points to them on the media storage array. Bunce then checked the conformed R3D files against the ProRes version of the cut to make sure every shot and every edit point was identical.

imageThe great thing that Bunce likes about the shared system between his iQ and the colorist's Quantel Pablo system is that the R3D files are always "live" between the two systems, so the colorist has access to all of the bit depth and "RAW" qualities of the R3D files.

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