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•July 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Never ones to miss an opportunity for pageantry, Hungarians have already memorialized Sixteen19’s “The Borgias” Avid setup in relief.

Sixteen19 recently teamed with Colorfront in Budapest to provide Post services for “The Borgias,” a Showtime series by creator Neil Jordan based on a dynastic Italian family.  Using their increasingly popular Onset Dailies (OSD) software, Colorfront is providing dailies for the show, while Sixteen19 is providing Avids and support.  Both companies look forward to teaming on more projects.

Dailies are being processed at Colorfront’s state-of-the-art Post facilty in Budapest, while editorial is housed at the surprisingly modern Korda studios in Etyek. 

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Korda Studios.

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Sixteen19 is a major OSD fan and customer, having used it to provide on-location dailies for its own list of high profile feature film and television projects.

Director of Mobile Services for Sixteen19, Chad Andrews, took a break from producing dailies on the feature film “Gambit” to setup the editorial at Korda.  His first time to Hungary, we was charmed by the rich history, grandeous architecture and stoic residents.  Chad had the opportunity to spend time with the Colorfront staff, including owners Mark and Aron Jaszberenyi, and walked away impressed by his four days in Budapest.

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“In many ways being in Budapest feels like you’re rooted in the past, but then Korda and especially Colorfront are two of the most modern feature film venues in existence.  We mesh with Colorfront because we both walk on the leading edge.  Mobile dailies are taking hold throughout the States and Europe and as we continue to use OSD as a cornerstone of our mobile dailies unit.”

 

 

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Pain & Solutions for Digital Post

•March 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

At SIXTEEN19, we consider ourselves pretty good entrepreneurs.  Good entrepreneurs identify a pain and study it day and night, from all angles, devising and offering a solution that has maximum value to those experiencing that pain.

It is always easiest to market a solution to a problem when the problem is easily expressed and understood and the solution is highly specific:  “You need to get that sharp piece of metal with the flat head into that piece of wood?  Here, this is called a hammer…”  The need for a hammer will be greatest amongst those that have spent the last week trying to pound nails in with rocks or their hand. 

Within the Digital Post industry, there are an endless array of solutions for specific problems.  But we at SIXTEEN19 specialize in management of over-arching workflow pipelines.  The truth is that our product is less easy to express or understand than many.

So what is the current pain in Digital Post Production and how are we strategically poised to address it?

As Digital Post solutions go mobile, the pain is the inability to manage quality and consistency across all shows.  Currently, each production has its own challenges and ad hoc solutions that make it nearly impossible to manage content to standard.  The ill effects of operating without standards are felt in both soft and hard costs:  Soft costs being lack of migration of critical creative decisions (such as color) across departments and inability to collaborate fluidly from a central data repository; while hard costs include long, painful conforms and problem archives.

So what is the ideal solution?  We at SIXTEEN19 are developing a platform that allows for all digital elements to be housed in a robust metadata-rich data repository.  This platform will be able to automate ingestion of any element from any camera or recording device, along with all associated metadata created by multiple sources and professionals.  From there, the platform will manage pipelines to process and share each element as it passes through the factory of professionals in varying departments and back again.  An example would be an original camera file debayered and pushed through a secure Internet connection to a VFX house, along with all metadata and LUTs.  As that shot is worked on, the status of that shot along with all versioning and added metadata can be updated in the master database, such that when shots are delivered the shot itself and the current metadata ripple into current cuts.  From there, metadata and original elements can be easily accessed for finish and distribution.

As entrepreneurs, it is vital to understand our own pains in terms of how we market our solution.

It can be frustrating when you know you have the better mouse trap, because it takes time for the industry to come around.  Solutions are subject to the real world, such as learning curves, budgeting conventions, internal politics, sales cycles and more. Most disruptive products go through a chain of adoption from pioneers to the market-at-large.  Pioneers are willing to work with entrepreneurs to customize solutions whereas the market-at-large requires multiple referrals and success stories.  Trying to force the market-at-large to adopt before it is ready is the cause of most startup failures.

 

Chief amongst the challenges at SIXTEEN19 is the simple fact that most industries must fully experience the pain before the need for an over-arching solution is pressing.

In our case, the better mousetrap requires a retooling of traditional budgets and in some case the inclusion of a new breed of professionals, such as onset colorist and dailies producer.  

Currently, there is a push amongst studios and production companies to look towards smaller picture budgetary savings.  New digital technology is cheap and powerful compared to old iron, and it is natural to seek to maximize the cost benefits – because you can!  Doing so, however, may be penny-wise-pound-foolish.

The truth is, it is an excellent investment to spend money during production to optimize metadata and manage a standardized pipeline. 

The simple fact is that for most productions that are trying to push files quickly from set to editorial, they are creating future problems that not only cost substantially down the road, but can threaten release and make it exceedingly difficult to restore for future use.  It is difficult to quantify these risks during production, because the ill effects are usually not felt for many months as files are passed between departments and conformed.  Arduous, expensive conforms are the norm for productions that dabble with ad hoc set-to-editorial solutions, and lack of platform standards in the increasingly horizontal market for mobile Post make it exceedingly difficult for studios to be proactive about these problems. 


Contrast this to SIXTEEN19’s set-to-finish management of Dreamworks Studio’s Fright Night (in conjunction with Company3.)  Adding a dailies producing layer and custom pipeline and database support made what would have been a difficult 3D show with numerous challenges introduced by multiple camera sources (RED, SI2K, even some consumer 2D HD) into a highly streamlined, easily conformed success with dailies of a quality that rival any lab, anywhere.

We believe that the short-term savings in Post budgets will not offset the long-term costs and risks associated with ad hoc.  We expect early adopting customers to see the value in introducing managed pipelines that optimize workflows and produce maximum collaboration and rock-solid workflows.

As entrepreneurs we realize that our solution may only be considered by most of the market after the full brunt of the pain has been realized.  When the film history books look back on Digital Post in 2011, it may well be labeled “The Era of Pain.”  But – out of that era will emerge the solutions that will serve as the backbone for standardized metadata workflows for the next 100 years. 

Stories as Data

•March 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This was a good year at the South-by-Southwest conference to augment knowledge about the current state of 3D science and emerging camera technologies, amongst other topics.  I was particularly impressed by the $16,000 Sony PMW-F3 1080p camcorder, which is yet another digital product that comes closer to promising professional production quality to the People. 

The good news is the future will allow filmmakers to be extraordinarily innovative.  The bad news is, innovation will likely distract from the already fragile art of storytelling.

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I’ve worked on the technical end of film Post Production for 16 years now.  During that time, I’ve often been conflicted because I am not sure that technology always enhances the art of storytelling, which is near and dear to me.  So it was with a bit of a grain of salt that I soaked in the predominate theme at this year’s South-by-Southwest conference this week:  Stories are data.

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On the surface, you’d think I would be thrilled by the industry coming around to this view:  At SIXTEEN19, I am involved daily in the evolution of next-generation Post Production platforms that focus on collaboration through pipeline and metadata management.  These are inevitable and essential aspects of making great-looking films cheaper and with greater collaboration.  What we are creating is a great facilitator for forward-thinking filmmakers and promises the unrivaled ability to access, share and collaborate between departments. 

But will this alone lead to better story telling? 

There is a new term out there that is becoming ubiquitous and it is “Transmedia Storytelling.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love it when artists get innovative.  When filmmakers made “Blair Witch” and it used the weaknesses of a cheap camera as a strength, I was duly impressed!  So was the audience.

…But this didn’t mean that every film shot with camcorders and jerky camera moves worked – and we were inundated by these for years.

I sat in on a panel this week for a play about a long-distance relationship that takes place between Austin and London:  “You Wouldn’t Know Him, He Lives in Austin/You Wouldn’t Know Her, She Lives in London”

http://www.austinchronicle.com/arts/2011-03-11/you-wouldnt-know-her-she-lives-in-london-you-wouldnt-know-him-he-lives-in-texas/

That play has a live audience in London with the lead actress, a live audience in Austin with the lead actor in Austin – and an audience on Skype. 

In the above examples, story is enhanced by the technical choices – just as some (but certainly not all!) movies are enhanced by 3D.  In the play, the Skype audience participates by chatting along and asking the leads questions.  Great idea, the audience is engage and part of the story!  Why do I suspect this trend will see some brilliant uses in the upcoming years – but far, far more rampant abuse?  Will CSI-Nova Scotia be an interactive Skype experience on DIRECTV?

Meanwhile, in a panel led by Intel Futurist Brain David Johnson, whose job it is to help design chips that are ideal for uses five years from now, it became clear that content will increasingly be integrated with social networking interaction and multiple screens.  I cannot help but wonder if all of the changes are good for the audience?  I imagine throngs of people on islands of niche content Tweeting away on their keyboards as they watch an ever-decaying plethora of glitzy, window-baked-in gloss that make MTV videos look like Bergman films.  This isn’t a middle-aged man’s attempt to bark at the evolution of “kids these days” – it’s more of a recognition that evolution is not as perfect and linear as Darwin made it seem.  With the rapidity in the technology development and its permanent affect on our relationship with the world, natural selection leads to lighting quick adaption – as if we all decided to go surfing one morning and came back with flippers. 

As someone who has specialized in non-linear editing solutions for most of his career, it is a dark secret embedded in my psyche that almost all of my favorite movies were made before they existed, when story was the thing.


Believe me, the ability to create and share digital production elements is going supernova.  Soon, you will be able to not only edit your film from a centralized metadata-minded database, you will be able to funnel your content through a platform that can integrate with high-functioning Web-sites and demographic-specific distribution platforms.  The market for cheap, highly geared content will open up, which is great for home-baked storytellers  But can the integrity of story withstand the distracted, low attention-span nature of the coming mediums?  I think the answer will be “sometimes.”

I wonder if in a decade we don’t see a rebellion back to film and Moviolas and the craftsmanship of patient storytelling. 

Time will tell. 

On the Docket at SXSW

•March 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

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Just putting together my schedule.  Plenty of films I want to sneak in, but the panels are the thing.

These aren’t all of the panels I’ll attend, but they are a few that I’m excited about.  I’ll make sure to blog and Tweet as I go.

New Tools for Filmmakers: Virtually Augmented 3.0 Reality

About collaborative filmmaking in the cloud.  Promising. 

Crafting the Footage: Editing Your Film

One panelists is Sandra Adair, whom I’ve worked with more than once and love.  Looking forward to catching up!

Inside Sony’s F3: Affordable 35mm PL Mount Camcorder

Enough said, that’s right in my wheelhouse and I’m excited about this new camera. 

The Nitty Gritty on 3D

This has Keith Collea on it, who is one of my favorite Stereographers.  (You know you may be a geek when you have a favorite Stereographer.)  Met Keith at last year’s panel and he’s been a great resource.

The State of 3D in Cinema and Home

We at Sixteen19 are proud of our 3D expertise.

Cinematic Production with DSLRs

The Ultimate Backup – Keeping Media Alive

Both of the above tie in with the workflow tools we are building for digital capture and archive.

And The Last Broadcast: Entertainment is Social – What’s Next?

That’s one where a futurist from Intel blows our minds with where entertainment technology will be in 2020.  Cool.

Fright Night 3D Post Workflow Postcast

•January 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I was interviewed for a very well produced Podcast series on fxguide.com, about the Post workflow SIXTEEN19 managed for Fright Night.

The Podcast includes about a half-and-hour discussion of the nuts & bolts behind that workflow, and discusses future considerations and improvements we are developing.

http://www.fxguide.com/therc/the-rc-80-2/

White Paper on Fright Night

•January 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I was asked to be a bit cagey about what project I was working on in Albuquerque, but I prepared a White Paper on it called “End-to-End Workflow and Recommendations Following Digital Shoot for Fright Night.”  For those who pay even casual attention, it should be pretty obvious that that project was the remake of the 1985 vampire bite-’em-up “Fright Night.”  The 2011 version was shot on RED ONE in 3D.

If you would like a copy of the White Paper, please feel free to email me at c.andrews@sixteen19.com

We are one of a very select group of companies that has actually carried off a 3D RED shoot flawlessly.  We gained plenty of insight along the way and share both our observations and future recommendations in the White Paper.