I've just returned from Los Angeles where we were invited to screen a teaser from our upcoming short Best If Used By. We all felt that this was an amazing opportunity, but honestly I had some doubts about whether we were going to manage to get something done in time. The last thing we wanted to do was let down Brian Henderson after his very generous invitation. Resolute, we set our minds to it with the mantra "No Sleep till Brooklyn" set firmly in our collective cerebral cortex.
Here were the challenges:
No problem ;)
- The film was to be cut by our director, Aemilia, who was in the middle of moving to L.A.
- The edit was to be graded by myself on Resolve, in Chicago.
- The sound mix was in process.
- The grade had to get over to Aemilia as a 4k render that would be dropped back into her timeline with the newly mixed soundtrack.
- We then had to render that all out to a 4k ProRes and get everything over to RED in time to make sure that it all worked.
Here was our process:
That should all work pretty smoothly, right? It didn't. It didn't all work. Not as smoothly as we'd hoped. The software end of things was flawless, but… our first render was the wrong res. It needed to be 3840x2160 to work on the quad SDI projector. Oops! Our computer in L.A. began to falter while rendering and we started running out of time. It was 3:00 a.m. wednesday morning. I'd been up 23 hours and we didn't have a new render yet. After grabbing a meager three hours of sleep, we got back to it and struggled futilely for a few hours to complete a render. Exhausted, massively freaking out and still missing our sound mix, we placed a nervous call to Brian to beg some time on one of their Mac Pros. There was a bit of silence on the other end, then finally, "Yeah… yeah. We can… I think we can do that." Salvation! Mind you, we still had to get 300gb of footage onto an external drive, our eSATA had crapped out and we were reduced to a FW 800 transfer. ARRRRRRRGGHHHHH!!!!
- We did a really intensive one light session on my system in RC-X Pro to nail the looks.
- I transcoded dailies for Aemilia to take to LA.
- She cut those in Premier and emailed her project file to me.
- I opened it up, relinked the footage and exported an XML.
- Brought the XML into Resolve, conformed to R3Ds, loaded looks from RMDs, graded then rendered out 4k ProRes clips.
- Brought everything back into Premier, copied over the audio and saved the new sequence.
- Jumped on a plane with hard drive in hand.
Eventually Ed, our unshakeable producer, and myself made a mad dash over to RED Studios with the files. Brian hooked us up with one of their carts and gave us the concerned-Tim-Gunn look.
Make it work, people!
At this point I have to give huge props to Mike Kanfer from Adobe for streamlining our render settings (and correcting our project size to match the projector)! We were beyond lucky that he happened to be there.
The sound mix was emailed to us at RED. We got everything lined up on the new Mac. People began filtering in for the open house, the render was good to go with an E.T.A. of 49 minutes on the progress bar. With a smile, a sigh of relief and the belief that everything was gonna be just fine I grabbed my credit card and headed over to the RED Store. :)
It was just incredible screening at RED Studios on their 40 ft. screen in 4k resolution during the open house. To say it was a bit daunting to have our footage follow trailers from The Hobbit, Prometheus, Spiderman and Underworld is a massive understatement. And, of course, Ted made us get up in front of the couple hundred people attending to talk about the project, which was just a little unnerving.
But then we got to see our footage.
Oh my freaking god!
You have no idea how good your work can look until you've seen it projected in 4k! It was such a powerful moment. Seeing something that I shot two months ago on a screen that was wider than my house filled me at once with awe for the medium and pride in what we had achieved. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my career. I think I became immediately addicted to shooting for the big screen.
God help me.
So, from Aemilia, Ed and Chris to Brian, Ted and everyone at RED… a huge THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!
That was crazy and terrible and indescribably wonderful. Now I'm going to kick back, enjoy the extra leg room of the exit row and focus intently on a string of bloody marys as the pilot chases the eastern horizon.