DI is a process often reserved for the top films involving days of film scanning and large budgets. Local Hero Post is focused on providing a DI solution for the independent filmmaker, offering high quality at prices more in line with the budget of an Indie film. In this week's fxpodcast, we discuss with owner Leandro Marini the approach Local Hero has taken to make this possible.
At the center of the workflow is Assimilate's Scratch which is used to organize, color correct and process the large amount of data required for a full length film. For a film project the process starts with a flat 4:4:4 transfer of the film to HDCAMSR. This is then conformed using the original Avid or Final Cut project and exported as DPX files.
Local Hero uses a process that is growing in independent film post, that of transferring the film log but only 1920x 1080 resolution. HD is not normally thought of as log footage and 2K is the normal size of a film scan, but by combining the two they get the latitude of film with the speed of realtime SR tape. As HD is 4:4:4, and 10 bit normally, it is easy enough to record log data to the deck instead of gamma corrected linear images. As discussed in the fxpodcast this week, this produces a much faster workflow. So open is the team with their clients, many find it an education. They return to set for their next projects able to speak confidently about what will or will not work in DI, as these filmmakers step up to bigger and bigger budgets.
For a digital workflow like Dalsa or Red, the files are similarly exported as DPX frames in log color space. These DPX files are then brought into Scratch for analysis to detect scenes. Scratch prefers to work in native DPX files over almost any other format. The only exception is that Scratch is also the only professional grading solution that can handle RED's native .r3d files directly and grade or edit .r3d files without needing to convert them to another format.
On material that comes in as a sequence, such as a FCP export, Local Hero have found that the algorithms in Scratch used to detect scenes is so accurate, as much as 98%, that it is more efficient to forgo using the EDL at this point and let Scratch find the scenes. Any errors in this process are easily corrected during the next phase, and owner Leandro Marini points out many EDLs have problems as issues to be solved. Scratch's scene detection works off sudden changes in luminance and can be adjusted or refined per project.
While Leandro says each project is different, he likes to spend around 14 days on a film, finding that to be a proper timeframe to give the creatives a comfortable time to craft a look. He points out that this is the final stretch, the last chance to tweak the film. DI is the last point in the film making process and as such Local Hero normally likes to even allocate some "play time" to try out a few things and experiment, as well as fix anything technical that may have sneaked through to the final DI.
After the project is graded as 2K or 4K DPX files, they are able to use Scratch to layoff an HDCAMSR master as well as any other deliverables. A number of film festivals screen digitally so this provides a finished tape for use for screening while having the finished DPX files ready creating a master sequence that can be turned over to the distributor once a deal is in place. Local Hero often asks the film maker which festivals they are attending and then makes recommendations on deliverables. While they fully prepare for a film out, the filmmaker takes a non-film version to film festivals and then makes a film out decision in partnership any distributor they may successfully hook up with. This avoids wasting money and allows for the extra feedback they get from the festival experience.
Assimilate produced a case study on Local Hero Post which can be found here.
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