SEPTEMBER 2022 DEFINITIONMAGAZINE.COM
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W hen we all left IBC in 2019, it annual mega-fest was metronomic in its regularity; the second week in September blocked out in many a diary within the broadcast world. So, it’s genuinely exciting to see Amsterdam back on the roster, and a quick glance at the show’s floor plan confirms that many of the key players will be attending. Naturally, we have a guide in this issue for all those heading over. Of course, IBC isn’t the only industry mainstay taking place in September. The 74th Emmys will be announced on the 12th and, as always, offer the ideal opportunity to acknowledge the incredible talent we have among us. To throw Definition ’s hat into the ring, we’ve gone through the was unfathomable to think that the live event wouldn’t continue year in, year out. The RAI-based headline nominations and suggested which shows should win, based on camerawork alone. See if you agree with our verdicts. Beyond that, there’s much more to enjoy in this issue, with glimpses into the future of LED lighting and the production pipeline. Plus, inside stories on some of the latest shows and movies. Enjoy – I’ll see you again after IBC.
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Definition is published monthly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. Definition is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Definition that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted in sterling, euros and US dollars are street prices, without tax, where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.
Cover image The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power | © Ben Rothstein/Prime Video. Morfydd Clark as Galadriel. Show premieres September 2
PUBLISHING MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck
3. SEPTEMBER 2022
Industry 15 ’DAM BUSTERS
IBC is back! Here’s your guide
34 ALTERNATIVE EMMYS We pick the winners 43 WHAT NEXT FOR LED? Experts offer illuminating thoughts on the future Production 06 PERFECT PACHINKO
Apple TV+’s one-season wonder
25 THE FUTURE IS NOW!
How animated feature Rift could revolutionise production
64 MAGIC BULLET
The story of Bullet Train ’s VFX will stop you in your tracks
56 72 25
Gear 56 SUPPORTING ROLES
New ways to keep it steady
72 BLACKMAGIC PCC 6K G2 Pocket rocket tried and tested 80 SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS Master the science of LED lights 87 HEAD IN THE CLOUDS BMD’s collab cloud solution 95 CAMERA LISTINGS Start making a shopping list
5. SEPTEMBER 2022
(Not) Done by the book Pachinko challenges the viewer to invest early, and reap the benefits of a tale for generations
WORDS. Julian Mitchell
P achinko ’s showrunner and the adapter of the original book, Soo Hugh, didn’t want her creation to emulate something you might see on Masterpiece – with due respect to that channel. There, you can catch such British stalwarts as Downton Abbey and All Creatures Great and Small ; but Pachinko was more important than that. This was a show that promised to bring closure – or at least some objectivity – to what was left of the millions of Koreans that were forced into Japan during their annexation and colonial rule. Nearly half of them were brought over to become labourers. The majority returned at the end of World War II, and the rest became stateless. Min Jin Lee’s 2017 book of the same name had generational ambitions, tracking the descendants of Sunja, a young Korean girl, born into poverty on occupied land. We follow her life from when she left Korea to almost present-day Japan, with strands of her family’s lives enveloped in the tale.
The book was a huge hit in the US and chimed with that country’s Korean immigration past. But Soo Hugh looked beyond a single nation’s narrative, wanting a more universal story that all immigrants could relate to. THREE-LANGUAGE CHALLENGE For such a sweeping, epic tale, the production needed two sets of directors and executive producers: Kogonada and Justin Chon, who made four instalments each. Kogonada directed episodes 1, 2, 3 and the special 7 (more on this later), while Chon directed 4, 5, 6 and 8. Unfortunately, Japan couldn’t accommodate the production, due to restrictions enforced by Covid-19. But South Korea could – and Canada was chosen for everything else. Although the biggest difference was, again, due to the pandemic. All shooting happened consecutively in Korea, then Canada. That meant the episodic blocks wouldn’t follow one another, as all locations had to be shot in a linear fashion.
“Soo Hugh looked beyond a single nation’s narrative, wanting a more universal story that immigrants could relate to”
Did you know? Episode 7 is Hoffmeister’s
favourite. He calls it – with humility – his best work on the show.
WHAT CAME BEFORE Hoffmeister cites pillars of Japanese cinema like Yasujirō Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi as influences on the series
07. SEPTEMBER 2022
As for dealing with the shifting sands of different eras and three-language challenge, the idea was to show restraint. Captions would be coloured to identify them, and there wouldn’t be any colour grade device to place you in time. It was all about handing the audience some semblance of respect, to understand more as they became invested. However, the team’s initial idea was a tad left field. DOP Florian Hoffmeister explains how, in the end, Apple managed its expectations. “Kogonada and I started talking about how we were going to shoot, and saw an opportunity to stamp a look with a different use of subtitles. He came up with an idea that did away with the traditional means of letterboxing. Instead, he suggested: ‘Why don’t we push the picture up and double the space at the bottom, not unlike a Polaroid?’ “We could then put the subtitles in that black area, so they were part of a graphic composition and not just traditionally laid onto the picture. The image then might stand out differently.” As part of pre-production – and to prove the point – Kogonada and Hoffmeister shot some scenes with a couple of different lenses and stand-in actors. Inevitably, they started creating an aesthetic, looking to form an optimal way to tell such a huge, character-led story. “You start making something together,” Hoffmeister explains.
“For instance, we shot some close-ups and discovered it shouldn’t be too near. For us, a close-up looked at the shoulders and up, which some people might call a mid-shot. Then, when we really did close-ups, they would stand out more.” Ultimately, Apple was the arbiter of this quirky subtitles idea and reined it back. “They just feared it was a step too far,” comments Hoffmeister. SUBVERTING THE SERIES BIBLE But the die was cast. Kogonada and Hoffmeister were finding common
HISTORY LESSON Pachinko does not shy away from the more devastating narrative points – including the weight of Japanese colonialism and clashing cultures
“It was all about handing the audience some semblance of respect, to understand more as they became invested in the story”
TIMELINE The narrative begins in 1915 at occupied Busan, before jumping to New York in 1989. Again it shifts, this time to twenties-era Korea – all within the first episode
ground with their ideas for the look of the show. Episode 1 was theirs, and traditionally that means they would set the look for the rest of the season. But Hoffmeister felt this usual practice was too rigid for Pachinko and there should be room for a looser brief. “Normally, block one would set the look and block two continue with it. But I felt Justin Chon, as a filmmaker, is so different from Kogonada that there was definitely room for watering down this ‘series bible’. It would be far more interesting if the second block made decisions of their own, based on filmmaking preferences.” For instance, that would mean more handheld shooting for block two, where block one didn’t feel it was appropriate. Also, block one wouldn’t differentiate between the look of different places; oppression in Korea looked much like oppression in Japan, although there was an inherent time disparity. “Block two would look to separate them by using different lenses for distinct purposes,” Hoffmeister operates from a place of managing his own ego, as far as work goes. He quotes Polish cinematographer Sławomir Idziak, whom he studied under at film school. “I will always remember what he said: ‘Cinematography is only important in the first five minutes and the last five minutes. One sets you up; the other releases you into the night.’ In the middle, it’s all about the script, characters and performance. the DOP adds. EGO DEATH
CRITICS’ CHOICE Receiving rave reviews, the visual elements of the storytelling – from cinematography and costumes to locations – has been roundly praised. Along with Hoffmeister, Ante Cheng acted as DOP for two of the episodes
SPECIAL EPISODE In the penultimate chapter of Pachinko , episode 7, the production really flexed its muscles and, literally, went off script. In fact, the story of Hansu isn’t one that you’ll find in the book – this was a Soo Hugh invention. It featured megastar Lee Min-ho as Hansu, but was created as his origin story before his time in the main episodes of the show. The special episode was the last one shot in Korea before production moved to Canada, so the crew were ready for this complete change of story and shooting regime. “We were stepping out of the usual narrative and changing the filming rules as well.” These started with the adoption of a 4:3 aspect ratio and were followed by a new look – an almost
“You have to overcome your own ambitions at times – and really contemplate when to show something, or when it’s better to stand back as things develop. At certain moments, you don’t over-craft it.” In fact, Hoffmeister is almost challenging the audience to fill in the gaps. He doesn’t believe in disrespecting their intelligence, especially in this current world with mountainous levels of available content. “We shouldn’t think they’re stupid,” he concludes.
Did you know? Main character Sunja is played over different time periods by three different actresses – Yu-na, Min-ha Kim and Oscar-winning Yuh-jung Youn.
Did you know?
Pachinko is actually a pinball-like game popular in Japan. Book author Min Jin Lee saw the game as a metaphor for life – it is usually rigged, but people still play it.
SHAPESHIFTING The show plays around with aspect ratio, switching from widescreen 2:1 to a boxy 4:3 for the special episode
hand-coloured black & white aesthetic, developed by colourist Tom Poole of Company 3. The episode ostensibly tells the story of Hansu, who was trying to get to the US in search of his fortune, but soon turns into the devastating story of the 1923 earthquake that hit Yokohama. Director Kogonada – a proponent of the use of form – was keen to direct it with its new shape, bringing Hoffmeister with him, who wasn’t slated to shoot at all. Bringing in such a boxed aspect ratio would again ask a lot of the audience; they had to imagine what else was going on in the frame, having had the luxury of a widescreen view before. “It’s almost like looking through a keyhole,” comments Hoffmeister. “There were certain rules we had to adhere to with the rest of the show, but here we could step out of that.” BIGGER CAN BE BETTER For all episodes apart from 7, Hoffmeister and Kogonada had decided to shoot in widescreen at around 2:1 aspect ratio. The idea stemmed from this sense of space mixed with ideas on close-ups, leading to the use of large format cameras and “There were certain rules we had to adhere to, but here we could step out of that”
lenses. His experience with large format became an opportunity to keep this idea of space – and have a feeling of intimacy at the same time. “With large format cameras, the field of view is slightly bigger, due to the larger sensor. To me, even if some people dispute this mathematically, I think it’s a format that enables you to depict space while being close to characters. So, on large format I can use a 40mm lens – which is a nice close-up lens, but has roughly the field of view of a 32mm. He chose Sony Venice cameras and Panavision Panaspeeds for optics. “We tested a few lenses, but wanted something that had a very pleasing roll-off in terms of out-of-focus areas. Also, we didn’t want something with a very strong period feel,
so it shouldn’t interfere. Almost as if the glass is the layer through which you see. You want it to be clear, but with a hint of romanticism.” Pachinko almost harks back to saga genre storytelling, like Rich Man, Poor Man or Winds of War . It’s the televisual equivalent to the big holiday novel. But if you watch it, you’re in for a treat, especially if your immigration story still needs resolving. The one and only season of Pachinko is available on Apple TV+. Hoffmeister’s most recent project, Todd Field’s Tár , is premiering in competition at this year’s Venice Film Festival. He is currently in pre-production in Iceland for the new season of HBO’s True Detective
13. SEPTEMBER 2022
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come in three strengths: 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2. Black Supermist and Clear Supermist both use a 3D matrix of metallic particles, to diffuse bright light while retaining overall definition. Soft Gold, meanwhile, offers a slight warming effect with subtle diffusion, perfect for period films with a more vintage feel. Soft Silver provides the same diffusion and light bloom as Soft Gold, but with a cooler look – ideal for automotive work and sci-fi. Finally, Soft White is a pearlescent filter reminiscent of the effect of single- coated optics, with more pronounced highlight blooming and lower contrast. All the new diffusion filters launch at £99, with the holder kit costing £165.
CROSSING THE AISLE Marrying the twin halves of the camera community – stills and film – is not always an easy feat, but this new tech has the versatility to bridge the gap
IBC PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
IBC is back at the RAI Amsterdam after a Covid-enforced sabbatical. Here’s what to expect... and which stands to look out for! ’Dam busters
WORDS. Roger Payne
Y ep, IBC is back, and it’s on a out remains to be seen – we’ll have a full report next month – but it’s great to get one of the mainstays of the broadcast calendar back in our diaries. So, what’s on? A fair bit, as you’d expect. Naturally, you can scour the halls for the latest groundbreaking products, services and technologies from a huge variety of brands, but IBC is much more than that. Pay for the high-level, two-day IBC Conference, which hosts the most influential minds in the industry and covers all key areas. Hear from keynote speakers – including Alexandra Hussenot mission to deliver the new normal in the most engaging way. Quite how different the show will turn
and Pierre Matelart – while learning from in-depth panel discussions and diving into technical paper presentations. If you’d rather keep cash in your pocket, there are plenty of free-to-attend events, including the Changemaker Programme, Innovation Stage and Showcase Theatre. Each offers sessions from trailblazing organisations. Should all of this get a bit too much, regular IBC-goers will be delighted to hear that the Beach is back. There, you can relax away from the show floor and reunite with colleagues over a drink. TAKE TO THE HALLS If you’ve ever been to IBC, you’ll know it’s not the place to debut a pair of shoes.
LIGHT THE WAY The Arri Orbiter fresnel’s zoom can be controlled locally or remotely
It’s easy to cover many miles as you move between halls, making sure you take in all the stands. However, if you’d like to streamline your visit, we’re happy to offer some suggestions. Hall 12 should be your main point of focus, with companies showcasing lighting, lenses, grip and more. The Arri stand (F18 and F21) is sure to be a highlight, giving you the ideal opportunity to view the latest and greatest the company has to offer. Don’t miss a chance to get the low-down on the Alexa 35, complete with the first new Arri sensor for well over a decade. You can also see the recent addition to its Orbiter range – the fresnel lens, which offers a 15-65° zoom – along with the Trinity 2 and Artemis 2 supports. A stone’s throw from the Arri stand is optical giant Zeiss (G36), where Supreme Primes are bound to take centre stage. The most recent addition, the Supreme Prime 15mm T1.8, completed the family, which now comprises 14 optics, covering focal lengths from 15 to 200mm. If VFX is more your bag, then the company’s CinCraft Mapper will appeal. The digital service announced earlier this year
Keep an eye out for… BirdDog
Hall 6, stand A19 BirdDog is returning to IBC 2022 to demonstrate its comprehensive family of NDI-based devices for broadcasters, live event producers, post-production facilities and the corporate enterprise. Executives from BirdDog will be on hand to unveil new products and cloud-based NDI workflow solutions. BirdDog is a global video technology company that enhances the quality, speed and flexibility of video through a range of solutions, augmented with NDI. This enables video-compatible products to communicate, deliver and receive high-
definition video over a computer network. This footage will be both frame-accurate and suitable for switching in any live production environment. birddog.tv
15. SEPTEMBER 2022
INDUSTRY. IBC PREVIEW
provides frame-accurate lens distortion and shading data for the VFX industry. This is essential for digital compositing and matchmoving, in order to achieve a cinematic result that is as realistic and precise as possible. From the Zeiss stand, you won’t have to move far to see the lighting experts at
“When visiting Euro Cine Expo, we were impressed by the diminutive HydraPanel”
Astera (G43). The company provides a broad range of LED solutions, including tubes, pixel bars, individual lights of varying strengths, controllers and more. When visiting Euro Cine Expo, we were impressed by the diminutive HydraPanel – a battery-powered unit that pushes out an impressive 1300 lumens across the full spectrum, thanks to the Titan LED Engine. The panels can be used individually or in a group of up to four, and offer further flexibility thanks to six modifiers, IP65 waterproofing and both wired and wireless DMX. Rounding off Hall 12’s highlights is Vocas (D25), which provides a wide range
of accessories, including matte boxes, rig items and follow focus systems – alongside brand-specific add-ons for the likes of Sony, Arri, Red and Canon. The company’s five-axis dioptre holder is a particularly neat item for those who like to experiment. Using different dioptres like the strip, letterbox or split field allows users to create interesting results at the same time as varied focus effects. The holder allows any 138mm dioptre and, due to its flexible cuff, will fit any lens perfectly. Next door, Hall 11 presents another rich seam of relevant exhibitors, including Canon, Red, MRMC and
FOR COMPLEX SHOTS Zeiss CinCraft Mapper provides frame-accurate lens data – pushing forward VFX tech
IBC PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
Hall 11, stand D25 Atomos The Melbourne-based company – synonymous with on-camera monitor/recorders – has gone on to incorporate large format recorders and cloud-connected devices in its impressive, innovative portfolio. Its latest Connect technology adds a whole new world of simplified and streamlined production – all via the cloud. Camera-to-cloud significantly speeds up content creation, by reducing the time it takes to get from acquisition to post-production. There’s no waiting for hard drives to be shipped, or files to be copied. Proxy files are uploaded directly to the cloud from the camera, so editors and remote stakeholders can start working immediately. Atomos has developed new file- transfer technology, so the upload of proxy file starts as soon as the camera begins recording. The only requirement is an internet connection. atomos.com Keep an eye out for…
Keep an eye out for…
Hall 12, stand C25 IDX will be providing power to the people with its broad range of battery solutions. Highlights include the Imicro, Cue-H, Duo-C and flagship IPL ranges. Imicro combines small size with a high draw of 14A; D-Tap options are available for both output and charging (via D-Tap 2). The cost-effective Cue-H range now has four capacities, all offering D-Tap output. Making the most of advances in cell technology, the Cue-H90 manages to pack 90Wh of power into the same space as the old Cue-D75, reducing weight and size, but not capacity. Cue-H135 and 180 use the
Duo-C98P goes from empty to full in only 130 minutes. Finally, the IPL range is ideal for those who want uninterrupted high draw. idxtek.com
same-size shell as the old 95, increasing power-to-space ratio. Duo-CP adds versatility with USB PD. This connector offers 5, 9, 12, 15 and 20v output at a 60W delivery. When charging,
17. SEPTEMBER 2022
IBC PREVIEW INDUSTRY.
Keep an eye out for… Roe Visual Hall 7, stand C11 Roe Visual will display products and technologies tailored for broadcast and film applications, reflecting its extensive growth in this area of the market. Bringing a range of products well-suited for broadcast applications, the company aims to visualise the added value of LED screens for broadcast and film. New products will include the Ruby 1.9BV2: a high-performance, broadcast-grade HD-LED panel. Designed for film studios and virtual production applications, it offers cutting-edge design. Roe Visual will use this innovative LED panel within daily GhostFrame demonstrations, along with partners AGS and Megapixel VR. This tech allows users to create a broadcast studio where you can provide the presenter with autocue, instruction markers and visible eye contact with a reporter. At the same time, viewers only see the studio image. Alternatively, it’s possible to shoot a virtual background, where each take automatically has the green screen recorded simultaneously, shoot different perspectives in one take, or set up hidden tracking without the need for physical markers. roevisual.com
STAYING SAFE Seagate Technology offers a range of innovative storage solutions to hold your data securely
wash. Quasar Science, meanwhile, offers lighting solutions for virtual production, along with kits that light everything from actors to environments. After you’ve spent some time at the Beach, head over to Hall 7 and make sure you tick Blackmagic, Teradek and Adobe off your list. Also catch Seagate Technology (B05) – a global leader in data management for more than 40 years. Learn about its full portfolio of storage solutions for content creation, editing and distribution. Use the power of efficient workflows, cost-effective solutions and scalable media collaborations with Lyve Cloud. Or take control of data transfer workflows in private-, public- or hybrid- cloud environments with Lyve Mobile. Of course, while you’re at the show, be on the lookout for Team Definition – you’ll be able to spot us with our logoed shirts. We’re there for the duration, so come over and say hello!
“Be on the lookout for Team Definition – you’ll be able to spot us with our logoed shirts. Come and say hello!” – home of SmallHD, Wooden Camera and Anton/Bauer. If this issue’s round table on the future of LED lighting (page 43) has you excited, be sure to see what Litepanels and Quasar Science have to show. From Litepanels, the Gemini 2x1 Hard is a must-see: brighter than any other panel of its size, yet lighter than its peers, with the flexibility to switch from a 20° beam of hard white light to 100° soft Aputure. When you’ve taken those stands in, make a beeline for Videndum (C40)
Keep an eye out for…
Hall 12, stand G44
Samyang is a specialist glass manufacturer, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary of lens innovation and craftsmanship. Samyang Optics’ range is specially designed to deliver a superior optical and tactile experience, allowing creatives to concentrate on the pure essence of cinematography. Samyang introduced the premier Xeen brand in 2015, with the intention of
which stands for ‘compact and flexible’ – and the premium Xeen Meister and Anamorphic lenses. xeenglobal.com
developing a prime lens family that would meet the trend for smaller and lighter filming equipment. Since then, the line-up has been extended to include Xeen CF –
19. SEPTEMBER 2022
Industry briefings The latest news, views and hot tips from the world of video production
XR STUDIOS SET UP FLAGSHIP LA FACILITY XR Studios is expanding, with the opening of its new flagship location in the autumn: the XR Studios Hollywood campus. at the historic Eastman Kodak building – a treasured landmark in Hollywood history. Here, XR Studios has a screening
gatherings, including presentations, panels, product releases, screenings, cocktail hours, meet and greets. The unified goal here is to share ideas and further the education and development of entertainment technology. XR Studios is known for steadfast commitment to pushing the boundaries of XR, AR, MR and VP. The expansion of its presence marks a pivotal moment for the future of virtual production workflow, establishing a long-term, permanent home for extended reality technology. xrstudios.live
room, entertainment facilities, office spaces for partners – and much more! Trusted collaborators include Megapixel VR, an innovative technology partner that provides deep integration with its Helios LED Processing Platform, allowing amazing colour and image controls for projects and clients. With offices already occupied, XR Studios Hollywood is set to open to the public for community events and
This state-of-the-art facility is located in the heart of LA, and will be a collaborative space for creative teams to work together on innovative, bleeding-edge productions. It includes a two-studio set-up, allowing flexibility and modularity, so large-scale productions and small projects alike can use the immersive technology space to deliver an efficient workflow. The XR Studios Hollywood campus also includes a co-working section located
Velvet scoops Cine Gear award Spain-based LED manufacturer Velvet won the lighting technology gong at the recent Cine Gear Technical Awards 2022, for its Cyc range. These units are asymmetric cyclorama and wash RGBW fixtures designed to wash backgrounds evenly, not only creating homogeneous
colour, but also horizontal gradient effects thanks to multiple light engines. Further features include an adjustable vertical beam angle, powerful output, wireless connectivity and a silent, fanless operation. velvetlight.tv
21. SEPTEMBER 2022
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NEW WAY TO DATA Why data management is now critical to success for the media industry – and how moving quickly is key Nir Elron, global director, Lyve Cloud
to be moved from one setting to another, quickly and securely. For some production houses, the old ways of managing data might still work – on-site storage for shoots, and network attached storage (NAS) to safely back- up at a central location for later use or archiving. But for many, this set-up is not only no longer viable for the quantities of data they’re dealing with, it’s potentially hazardous if disaster strikes. For example, take Channel 4’s continued challenges following a fire, which knocked out several of its on-site data storage systems. Digitally native upstarts like Amazon, Netflix and YouTube have an inherent advantage, as they started out with cloud-native infrastructure on which to build media and entertainment platforms. While they are at the cutting edge of managing, securing and distributing media and entertainment data, many of the more established businesses are playing catch-up when it comes to using the cloud effectively. Upgrading to more modern data management workflows can not only improve collaboration and safety, but also unlock new opportunities through better business insights. ENHANCED WORKFLOWS The cornerstone of a good digital media workflow is data mobility. In a world where we’re producing more data than ever, the issue isn’t whether we have enough space to store it all; it’s getting that data moving to where it’s needed fast enough. The optimal workflow would see crews at the edge of the ‘data network’ continue to use solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drive (HDD)-based storage solutions to capture the raw footage, but then leverage a combination of modular media storage and cloud-based storage to facilitate easier data sharing across
LET’S FACE IT: the media and entertainment industry have a big data challenge. A high- definition film shoot today can generate as much as 2TB of data per hour – and that needs to be captured, stored and moved to different locations through the post-production and commercial release process. Factor in ever-increasing video capture resolutions and lingering Covid-19 restrictions in many parts of the world, and it’s no surprise many businesses in the industry are finding data management an increasingly difficult task. The good news is the media industry is far from alone. The market intelligence firm IDC has estimated that the sum of data generated globally by 2025 is set to accelerate exponentially to 175 zettabytes (or 175 billion terabytes). IDC also says that more than two thirds of data stored is not readily searchable or available for access after initial use, and that by 2025, 65% of data created by the media and entertainment industry will require security protection. Where does this leave the media industry? While the need to make the most of these ballooning banks of data might seem obvious, where to start and what types of technologies to consider isn’t. The good news is that whatever your media workflow, there are technologies and ways of working that can help turn a data headache into commercial opportunity. A QUESTION OF LEGACY From raw footage on set to the final files after editing, every stage of the modern production process involves data. Sheer quantities are growing year by year, as resolutions increase, visual effects become more ambitious in scope and streaming services green-light more projects. The pandemic has complicated the picture, with remote work meaning more data needs
“Upgrading to more modern data management workflows can not only improve collaboration and safety, but also unlock new opportunities through better business insights”
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business decisions. The media industry is doing this too, with companies like Netflix basing green-light decisions on viewership figures in a much more granular way. Implementing an enhanced data management workflow won’t automatically make this happen, but it does mean it’s possible. By processing, analysing, labelling and archiving production data properly, businesses will be able to track over- and underperforming content more effectively, bring more engaging content to market, and ultimately attract more advertising revenue. Digital media consumers have been spoilt for choice over the past 18 months, and the stakes have never been higher. Ultimately, you can’t produce, broadcast or market
approach, including enhanced flexibility, efficiency and safety. For example, storing raw production footage in the cloud means editors are able to access it remotely as and when it’s uploaded, rather than days or weeks after production. This means faster production cycles, and less chance data will be lost or destroyed while stored in a single location. This system also enables Covid-19 compliance where required. NEW HORIZONS From marketing to healthcare, more organisations are using data to inform
Visit Seagate stand 7.B05 at IBC. To learn more about Seagate solutions for M&E industry data management challenges, visit www.seagate.com/solutions/industry/ media-and-entertainment/
23. SEPTEMBER 2022
Bridging Unreal Engine and DaVinci Resolve, director Haz Dulull broke the mould with new feature film Rift. Its exciting workflow is more efficient, supremely collaborative and carries pure transmedia potential
WORDS. Lee Renwick / IMAGES. Hazimation
H ow does a big-budget, live-action script become a multiplatform animated offering, created by a crew of just a dozen? Introduce one global pandemic, let the creative mind of a director loose in a powerful game engine, add one editing platform utilised from end-to-end and you’re on the right track. This is the origin of Rift . While it’s a shame to miss out on the multiverse- hopping thriller as it was originally intended, the final result is undeniably exciting. Not least for its innovative means of creation. Helmed by Haz Dulull
– seasoned director and co-founder of Hazimation – the film’s reimagined workflow might be seen as a small-scale success story for larger things to come. Relying on cutting-edge tools and valuing creativity over cash, Rift is very much a sign of the times. “When the pandemic hit and live action was put on hold, I asked myself how I could keep telling stories,” Dulull begins. “I called my producing partner, Paula Crickard, and said we should make an animated film. It takes years to develop a solid script, so we looked in our vault. Rift was always meant to be the kind
PLAYING WITH FIRE Not only a feature film project, Rift used its Unreal Engine roots to grow into a video game, too (top)
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“We achieved so much in those early stages. It wasn’t really pre-production at all – it felt like we were making the movie already”
seeing dailies for a script he was still working on and having his mind blown. But that’s the beauty of the game engine. We could take rough assets, block stuff around, start experimenting and finding the film’s language, all between Unreal and Resolve.” As production evolved, the team discovered all the required building blocks were in place like never before. In a truly iterative process, pre-vis shots created for script development could be updated with more and more detail. “It’s a very agile way of working. We didn’t have to wait for one thing to finish before moving on to the next, which is how traditional animated film works. You do a storyboard, animatic, layout and lighting – then go into animation. If you want to go back and change anything, it’s very expensive. In our case, the CG artist was constantly updating the characters. We achieved so much in those early stages. It wasn’t really pre-production at all – it felt like we were making the movie already.” REIMAGINED TRADITIONS “Our whole Resolve and Unreal combination really came into its own during the edit,” Dulull explains. “A
of live-action movie you make when Hollywood throws a tower of money at you, but we realised it would make for an amazing animated feature, so brought on Stavros Pamballis to polish it into the screenplay we needed. “I was using Unreal Engine for pre-vis, but started pushing it so far that it began looking like a full-on film. I stopped and asked myself, why aren’t more people working this way? Bigger studios have a fairly rigid pipeline, but I was working on a laptop, getting incredible lighting, animation and camera movement in a real-time game engine. It was a complete light-bulb moment.” Before long, Dulull and a handful of collaborators were in pre-production, analysing sections of the script and visualising ideas. Unusually, none of these steps took place in a physical space. “I was pulling headers and scene descriptions into Resolve, for a paper edit. It took on a very editorial approach, because I could bring in the rough renders from Unreal,” Dulull continues. “My timeline made it seem we were much later in production; it was like some kind of animated comic. We could see the pacing and get a sense of it all, and that really helped. It’s funny, I remember Stavros
NEVER TOO LATE In what would be an extremely costly move within a traditional pipeline, Rift’s final aesthetic was still undergoing changes more than a year into production
mood and realise another shot is needed. Working in Unreal, you can go in, move the camera and hit render – all at a very minimal cost. “Traditional animation movies render in what are called passes: there might be as many as 20. Those get composited, then rendered out as a single shot for editing. In our case, everything in an Unreal Engine frame is final pixels. The minute I hit render, what I see on that screen goes into a 4K EXR file, then into Resolve. And it’s updated automatically: I never needed to do any transcoding on Rift . We didn’t have countless versions of each EXR file, we’d just version them up. It’s possible to go back and look at details from the previous edits that way. It all requires a shift in mindset, but once you’re in it, you can achieve so much.” Beyond a much faster turnaround and what was undoubtedly a better film by virtue of a unified vision, one of the greatest draws of this new-found approach for Dulull was keeping the creative talents of his team focused on their respective areas of expertise. “All these amazing artists were feeding work into a centralised hub –
lot of people working in Unreal Engine are game developers or CG artists, who don’t have much need for editorial. But when you’re finely combing through a 90-minute feature film, you can’t really do that in a game engine. You still need to rely on the traditional way of editing, with a linear pipeline.” Even here, a more interwoven collaboration was being fostered. There was no need for Dulull, who edited the film himself, to wait for finalised material before cutting. This shift away from old paradigms was one he relished. “Every week, we were delivering dailies, which were getting better and better over time. Not just shots, but full sequences. Next time around, I’ll hire a dedicated editor and have them involved right from the start,” the director muses. “That means they help shape the film while it’s happening in real time. They can ask for another shot with an alternate angle, to get the coverage needed, and I can give it to them. In live action, that’s impossible. You can’t even get away with it in conventional animation – once the lighting pass comes in, for example. An editor might see a lit scene, absorb the
ROUGH CUT Unreal Engine renders were pulled into DaVinci Resolve as part of an unorthodox editorial workflow – with assets seamlessly updated as production went on (above) SET IN MOTION Actor and movement specialist Ace Ruele works with director Haz Dulull on Rift (below)
Unreal Engine. I could pull it all together and feed it back to them for even more refinement. In this workflow, if I wanted to experiment with small details, like the way the lens looked, I’d do that myself. That meant everyone else could focus on their artistry, not their director’s desire to move a tree three pixels to the left,” he laughs. “The crew was very small. We started with three, then went to five, then ramped up to 12. So the value of
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“We only nailed the art style 100% in April this year. If this was a conventional movie, finalising the look 13 months in would have been a big no-no”
DIGITAL COPY To reap the greatest reward from the available budget, an Xsens inertia suit and gloves by Manus were used for all of Rift’s mocap work (right) FINE-TUNING Building on mocap performance, Dulull and crew used a range of software and custom-built Unreal Engine tools to refine character looks and movements (below) my team was high. If they’re an amazing character animator, or excellent lighting artists, I wanted them to focus on doing what they do best.” SHAPING A LOOK Perhaps the most impactful factor in animation is art style. For many viewers, it transcends voice performance, editing and narrative itself. As revolutionary as Rift ’s creation was, some age-old factors never change. In fact, above and beyond all technical barriers, establishing the aesthetic proved Dulull’s greatest hurdle. “When we started doing our first animated projects in Unreal, we found they looked very cool, but they felt like video game cinematics. That was the feedback when I showed early tests to
simulated that elsewhere. We also did a lot of 2D effects on top of Unreal renders, once they’d been pulled into Resolve. Controlled details like bullet hits can be tricky in a real-time platform.” To the envy of animators and directors alike, the ability to update completed content with ease provided the crew with genuine freedom of choice. Decisions that would typically have to be locked in well on schedule could be taken to the wire. “We actually only nailed the art style 100% in April this year,” Dulull continues. “If this was a conventional movie, finalising the look 13 months into production would have been a big no-no. Obviously, we had to go back and re-render all the shots, but that was a very minimal time investment.
friends within the industry, too,” he says. “Established looks are specific. There are newer productions with very lifelike CGI or classic 2D animations. When we spoke to distributors, they told us if we stylise and find a look that’s so unique it becomes its own thing, that’ll work.” Examining Rift ’s timescale is rather surprising – but so is everything else about it. Pre-production began in October 2020, official production kicked off in January 2021, with the picture being finalised for distribution this month. In another interesting circumnavigation of the traditional pipeline, Dulull used Resolve’s capabilities to experiment with early grading and adding unique visuals. “We used the watercolour plug-in to see what kind of looks we could get, then
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CROSSING OVER A true transmedia offering, many assets were shared between feature film and video game
“In settling on something final, we looked to many reference points and employed a lot of trial and error. There were moments where I tried shaders, my head of CG tried some, then our other artists tried their own. Finally, it was a case of loving what we’d done with hair in one option, eyes in another and clothing in a third. We combined a lot of ideas – and finding that final style was a collaborative effort, for sure.” PLAYER, READY? Although not unheard of, completing more than one deliverable simultaneously is a rare feat. In addition to the upcoming feature, Rift is currently being developed as a third-person shooter. It seems only logical, considering Unreal Engine’s
“I went back to the ideas thrown out during script development and realised there was so much potential in our multi-branch narrative”
in our multi-branch narrative that couldn’t fit within a 90-minute film. Essentially, all we did was take the assets, migrate them into our game project, then work some code. It became a pure transmedia project.” Today, multiplatform media itself is not remotely uncommon. It’s utilising the arduous work of creative teams between these distinct offerings that’s much more infrequent – and what a loss it is. Of all the benefits that may be taken from Hazimation’s innovative approach, this could be the most promising. As we hurtle towards a metaverse world in which mediums look likely to merge, how fantastical might content be if created in wholly collaborative ways? Not just between filmmaking departments, as is the case with Rift , but experts from multiple industries. Returning, for now, to the subject of film production, Dulull’s succinct summary speaks volumes. “This changes the way movies are being made. But really, viewers don’t care how it’s done – they only want to see the best results.”
original application, but it was not a light creative decision for Dulull. “We never intended to make a video game. The idea came when running film sequences as a game to capture elements we didn’t want to animate, like vehicle suspensions during a car chase,” the director explains. “We realised what was possible, but wanted to have a good reason for it. I went back to all the ideas thrown out during script development and realised there was so much potential
A BETTER WAY With Unreal Engine’s rendering, the multiple passes of a traditional animation weren’t required, improving speed of production and allowing different creative teams to work simultaneously
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With a strong optical heritage in filmmaking, Fujifilm wants that legacy to cross into cameras. And thanks to the new X-H2S, it’s taken a huge step forward
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From broadcaster to owner-operator, Fujifilm offers a lens to realise your creative vision. The X-H2S is directly compatible with MK zooms, with two currently available – the 18- 55mm and 50-135mm. Both feature a constant T2.9 aperture. MKs are notable for providing an outstanding optical performance, minimal breathing, along with fully manual focus, zoom and iris control. The weight and dimensions of both lenses are identical, to speed up changes. Plus, they each feature 200° focus rotation for highly accurate focusing. Those working with larger format sensors, meanwhile, could save time and money by switching to Premista zooms, which come in three flavours – 19-45mm T2.9, 28-100mm T2.9 and 80-250mmT2.9-3.5. Available in PL mount, these optics do the job of multiple primes, while still delivering exceptional quality and tight suppression of flare and ghosting.
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of connections, the X-H2S is the first Fujifilm camera to feature a full-sized HDMI Type-A port, plus it has a USB-C port, along with 3.5mm microphone and headphone sockets. It’s great as a stills camera – perfect for behind-the-scenes shots, or to remember locations, lighting set-ups and more. In summary, overlook the X-H2S at your peril. Its feature set, durability and optical options open up fresh possibilities in moviemaking. Whether you consider it for an entire production or use it to realise new creativity, it’s got the poise to deliver.
UNDER ANY CONDITIONS The X-H2S offers improved autofocus and subject tracking, in an attractive size
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