DEFINITION July 2022 - Newsletter


example. In a drama, you have shorter takes. Things are storyboarded, and there’s a lot less improv. When you choose LED volume, you have to take into account the type of content you are shooting. I always feel the tech should not drive the show; the show should drive the tech.” While long hours at sea and complex shooting methods were a necessity in this case, it paid off. It certainly allowed Our Flag Means Death to be created at all – that it was done in spectacular fashion came down to the expertise of creatives like Nicholson. He concludes with a broader look at the future of LED volume. “One day, we may do ICVFX exclusively with rendered images, or a much more viable hybrid fusion. But it isn’t about a camera test, purist philosophy or science experiment. It’s about real production. “Right now, you can order 2000 panels to your doorstep at a day’s notice, but who’s going to drive it? What’s the content? That’s the stumbling block for a lot of shows right now. All that work has to be done in pre-production. What was a green screen post-production workflow is now flipped around. Our assets not only had to be captured, but stitched,

series of 8K HyperDecks. Once we settled on a sequence everyone loved, the camera would repeat the same movements take after take. That meant we could switch to a linear workflow of the perfect rehearsal. We’d record on the multiple HyperDecks and – in sync – these distributed playback over the 20K wall. If a computer crashed, or the ship’s rigging blocked the tracking cameras, it wouldn’t affect the live wall.” FULL SAIL AHEAD As with any aspect of filmmaking, we’re entirely at the mercy of the technology at hand. The cutting edge has its appeal, but balancing that razor-thin line with a budget takes skill. “Production is interesting when you look at it as complex problem-solving,” Nicholson muses. “A lot of the mysterious technical arts, if you will, rely on engineering and hardware capability. If you stepped on-set and had rendered some beautiful water, but it only lasted ten seconds because that’s all your machines could put out, it’s no good. It doesn’t matter how appealing the solution, if it doesn’t fulfil the project’s needs. “We approached this Taika Waititi comedy differently than a drama, for

CUT DOWN TO SIZE The project launched with a large eight-camera array, providing full 360˚ coverage – but it was dropped in favour of the final set-up. Usability was factored against final delivery

stabilised, de-grained, distributed on a massive scale, then rehearsed. You have to make sure the director, DOP and other key parties have seen the material – it has to be worked into the creative pipeline. You wouldn’t build a physical set on the day principal photography begins. We’re building something here, too – it’s just much more complex.” Series one of Our Flag Means Death is on HBO Max in the US, coming to UK screens soon. A second series is in the pipeline

Did you know? Taika Waititi joins Rhys Darby again, after collaborating on Flight of the Conchords (2007), Radiradirah (2010), What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016).

DEEP WELL An absolutely stacked cast includes Kristian Nairn, best known as Hodor from Game of Thrones (far left), and a memorable guest turn from Will Arnett (far right)

35. JULY 2022

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