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Wednesday, 04 July 2012 23:25

Postproduction Facilities Embrace the Future

Written by  Dyana Carmella
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Postproduction facilities understand the importance of establishing a good workflow and utilizing a talented creative team and technical experts. As technical advances steadily evolve, post houses must consistently adapt in order to cater to the needs of each client. And with the cost of digital cameras becoming more affordable with so many options available, content creators can shoot footage with an array of devices in different formats. P3 Update found several post houses that are successfully embracing a changing technical world while nurturing the distinct visions of individual filmmakers.

In A Place Post

Located in Los Angeles, In A Place Post works on music videos for top artists, such as the All-American Rejects, Justin Bieber, Noel Gallagher and the recent Keane video “Disconnected,” as well as commercials for clients like Red Bull, Nescafé and Yahoo. The staff also works on narrative projects, including the new film La Petite Mort, directed by Alex Prager and shot by Cinematographer Matthew Libatique, ASC.post_posthouses_inaplacepost_large

“In A Place Post is quite unique in the way we work with our clients,” says Director of Operations Dominique Martinez. “As a boutique facility, there is one-on-one collaboration throughout the entire process. Visitors pass a waterfall and koi pond as they enter the studio and are welcome to eat lunch by the bonsai trees. Between the talent of our colorists and staff and the high-end technology, we like to think of ourselves as the ‘Chateau Marmont’ of post facilities.”

Martinez notices that today’s post facilities are changing due to their clients’ expectation of a much quicker turnaround. This requires that a lot more work needs to be done in one room — and In A Place Post is up to the task. “We are happy to be able to adapt to this much quicker way of thinking,” says Martinez. “With a [Quantel] Pablo platform, we have the flexibility to trim a shot in session, create text on the fly, color correct 5K files, perform beauty work and much more all on one system. It is nice to be able to do all that and more on one system and in one session.”


Cinelicious, located on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, specializes in digital intermediates, color grading, visual effects and archival film remastering. “Technology has brought much of the work that used to require a post facility to be done in-house or on set,” says Cinelicious Founder Paul Korver. “Many post companies that have not foreseen this change and responded quickly to it have gone out of business or are struggling to stay in business. Since Cinelicious came up during the sea change from film-to-digital acquisition, the transition to tapeless workflows, and the falling costs of equipment, we were able to ‘grow smart’ and actually thrive in the new economy.”
The company’s workflow has always been tapeless, and the staff can bring their color and VFX talent on set via mobile “take-out” services. Cinelicious also offers DI clients a few offline edit bays running Avid and Apple Final Cut, and its main software toolset for online and finishing jobs includes Autodesk Flame and Smoke, 4K-capable Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, Adobe After Effects and Pixel Farm PFClean (for film restoration). Additionally, there’s a 4K DLP DI theater with true 4K projection and a 24-foot Steward Solid reference screen. “We’ve chosen to support motion-picture film at such a high level, offering in-house 4K HDR, pin-registered film scanning from 35mm and 16mm with our brand new [Digital Film Technology] SCANITY DI and archival-optimized film scanner,” says Korver. “We even have a [DFT] Spirit that can do Super 8mm in HD.”


post_posthouses_splice1From a historic building in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, Minn., Splice divides its work between national commercial spots (for clients like Best Buy, Allianz Life Insurance and Mayo Clinic), primetime TV specials (such as “The Mystery of Easter Island” for National Geographic/NOVA) and films (including the IMAX documentary short Space Junk 3D and the Tribeca Film Festival darling Stuck Between Stations). “It’s all about the format of the day; big, shared storage and enough bandwidth to move a ton of data quickly,” says Postproduction Supervisor Carl Jacobs. “Digital cameras are expanding what is possible on shrinking budgets, yet film is still a great canvas. The thing is we don't care what you shoot. Everything becomes digital files that offer flexible workflow benefits that harness the power of software tools at our fingertips.”

Jacobs notes that one of today’s challenges is the need to wrangle lots of data while still being able to find it quickly. “Our technical foundation is all about asset management now,” he explains. “Splice is building on our shared storage infrastructure to do this in a custom manner for each client, allowing local, remote and mobile access.” According to Jacobs, Splice prides itself on the ability to have any workstation patched to any screen as well as to multiple workstation-capable suites, shared media storage and the open sharing atmosphere. “Everything we do is centered around bringing the right mix of talent to bear on every project,” says Jacobs. “We work very hard to deploy sophisticated technology in such a way that it fades into the background and lets the skills of our artists and operators be what clients remember.”

Chop House Post

Housed in Santa Monica, Chop House Post is working on a range of projects, like commercial campaigns for Simmons Beautyrest and California Raisins, and just wrapped a trailer for Incognito Pictures, the new indie division of Legendary Films. “All of our systems are built around a ‘flex’ model,” says Creative Director Stephen Hens. “Any tower in the facility is set up to boot up whatever application is needed for the task at hand.” post_posthouse_cinelicious_lobby

Hens sees how technology is rapidly changing the postproduction business in 2012. “What started as a raindrop is now an ocean of options,” says Hen, quoting a company blog post by Chop House CTO T.J. Ryan. “I am talking about asset management software and media server solutions. The number of options for these is just too long to list, but the important thing is more options means lower prices. It is the same thing that is happening with everything in the industry.”

“If you are a small company growing your artist, this is great news,” said Ryan while attending the 2012 NAB Show. “If you’re a large company carrying loans on millions [of dollars’] worth of equipment, it is a scary time. I fit into the small-company profile, so I leave NAB with a big smile on my face.” Hens shares the same viewpoint. “Because we are a creative post house with extensive services capable of providing all aspects of finishing, it allows us to offer a broad palette,” explains Hens. “We can provide high-end motion graphic, compositing, color correction [and more].” And if that’s not impressive enough, Chop House Post promotes eco-conscious practices and takes pride in being a green company in a non-green industry.

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