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14 2017 Dec

Cyber Security: The Buck Stops in the Boardroom

The growing threats of piracy and ransomware require a company-wide security strategy emanating from the top.

By Mathew Gilliat-Smith, CEO, Fortium

LONDON — Ever since the internet emerged as a public information gateway, thieves and pranksters have been working to exploit it for criminal gain. Today, cyber-crime is a billion-dollar industry. The perpetrators are no longer lone wolf hackers; they are multi-national cartels who reap mega-profits. They target companies large and small across all industries, inflicting devastating damage to their reputations and bottom lines.

Just last week, Uber disclosed that it paid hackers $100,000 to conceal a data breach affecting 57 million accounts, the latest in a string of scandals and legal problems for the world’s most highly valued start-up. The ride-hailing firm said it fired its chief security officer and deputy for their roles in the breach and the cover up.

Given the existential nature of the threat, it’s surprising to find that, according to a study by NCC Group, only 13 percent of CEOs are directly responsible for managing their company’s cyber risk. Many executives assume such things are the responsibility of IT staff. When hearing of a newswire report of a high-profile cyber-crime incident, they imagine “it can’t happen here.” Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber-crime, it can happen to any company and, sooner or later, almost certainly will.

To avoid becoming yet another victim, companies need to adopt strategies and procedures that reduce risk. And it must be a top-down approach. Lower-level staff often lack the decision making and budgetary authority to set company-wide policy believing, “That’s the board’s job.”

Board members have a real incentive for taking the lead in cyber security: they may be held personally accountable for a breach. Increasingly, governments and stockholders are demanding greater accountability for security issues, considering it an integral part of the directors’ code of conduct.

Uber’s woes followed the Equifax breach that compromised the security of 140 million Americans and was similarly kept quiet for months. There is a view that the three Equifax officers could face charges for selling stock, whether knowingly or not, before the breach was disclosed.

The WannaCry ransomware attack that appeared last May infected more than 230,000 computers worldwide. The subsequent Petya and Bad Rabbit ransomware attacks produced similar consequences. Information security firm Sophos claims “Thought WannaCry was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet” and forecasts that the perpetrators’ success will embolden others and ransomware will get much worse in 2018.  Criminals who write ransomware and other malicious software are now operating what amounts to profitable franchise businesses, selling their source code to others with criminal intent. They have no lack of buyers because cyber-crime pays. Some 40% of businesses admit to paying ‘affordable’ ransoms to avoid costly downtime and negative publicity.

Executives can avoid finding themselves in a similar position by assuming greater responsibility for security policy. In the entertainment industry, studios could limit the risk of piracy and ransomware by mandating stronger and more practical security protocols. They could, for example, make funding for each film or TV production contingent on having a line item of security expenditure for measures that will be enforced. Producers and directors, who often have autonomy in running their projects, would be required to make itemised security a part of the package.

To fully protect a computer, it would need to be disconnected, switched off, placed in metal box and locked in a room. That would make it safe, but also useless. Today’s media and entertainment industry is built on collaborative workflows across many external organizations and people, consequently with many inherent points of vulnerability. Services such as localization, sound and picture editing (often through freelancers), promotional marketing and distribution, are regularly undertaken by third parties, any one of whose workflows could potentially make a breach more likely.

While trust in the selection of the workflow partner is implicit, accidents happen and, as we seem to read every day, all companies are vulnerable to a breach. Think of a valet who parks your car. You trust the valet service but without a reliable lock and alarm system on your vehicle, you are increasing the risk of theft or damage while it’s in their care.

There are a range of practical measures that help reduce the risk of cybercrime within an organization. Among the most important is the education, training and awareness of employees, including executives and the board.

Encryption “at-rest” and “in-motion” have long been mandated by MPAA guidelines, but surprisingly they are not always employed. Encryption-at-rest, such as Fortium’s MediaSeal software, keeps data encrypted while it’s being worked on or stored. If protected files are accidentally distributed or hacked the content cannot be leaked.

Piracy, ransomware and other forms of cyber-crime are serious and growing problems and can potentially threaten a company’s continued viability. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has called cyber-crime “the greatest threat to every company in the world.” CEOs and board members therefore need to be cognizant of the threat, treat it seriously and understand that a rigorous, top-down security strategy can help reduce risk.

 

14 2017 Dec

Avid’s New Video-over-IP Interface Delivers More Flexible and Efficient Connectivity

Avid Artist | DNxIP enables broadcasters and large post-production facilities to benefit from the flexibility and efficiency of video-over-IP

Burlington, MA  – Avid® (Nasdaq: AVID), a leading global media technology provider for the creation, distribution and monetization of media assets for global media organizations, enterprise users and individual creative professionals, unveiled Avid Artist™ | DNxIP, the latest addition to the Avid I/O family of hardware interfaces. Part of Avid’s commitment to offering the most comprehensive tools and workflow solutions to create, distribute and optimize media, the new portable interface enables broadcasters and large post-production facilities to connect their entire studios over IP for greater flexibility and efficiency.

Built in partnership with AJA and powered by MediaCentral®, the industry’s most open, tightly integrated and efficient platform designed for media, Avid Artist | DNxIP is a Thunderbolt™ 3 equipped I/O device that enables the transfer of SMPTE standard HD video over 10 GigE IP networks, with high-quality local monitoring over 3G-SDI and HDMI 2.0. The highly portable desktop box eliminates the challenges of managing physical resources associated with legacy video routing over SDI and gives customers more flexibility in how they route video within their facilities.

“The increased agility and efficiency of IP workflows is a must have for content creators and broadcasters in today’s competitive climate,” said Alan Hoff, VP of Market Solutions for Avid. “We’ve collaborated with AJA on the newest addition to our Avid Artist product line, Avid Artist DNxIP, which offers broadcasters and post-production facilities a portable yet powerful video interface for IP workflows.”

“DNxIP is the next evolution of our development efforts with Avid, a trusted technology partner. We’re excited to be teaming up with them again on a next-generation hardware option that meets the needs of professional IP workflows,” said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems.

Availability

Avid Artist | DNxIP will be available Q1 2018. For more information, visit www.avid.com.

14 2017 Dec

The S.P.A.A.C.E. Program Shot with Ursa Mini Pros and Edited With Davinci Resolve Studio

Fremont, CA – Blackmagic Design recently announced that Director, Editor, Colorist and Post Supervisor Alex Ferrari used Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro digital film cameras and DaVinci Resolve Studio to shoot, edit, grade and finish the streaming series “The S.P.A.A.C.E. Program.”

“The Scientific Pop and Also Cultural Explorations Program” aka “The S.P.A.A.C.E. Program” is a new streaming series from Nerdist and Legendary Digital Networks available on the Alpha streaming platform. The eight-episode series blends together science and pop culture by visiting different fictional planets and realms, such as Tatooine, Krypton, Arrakis and Westeros, and examining them through a scientific lens. Host Kyle Hill and his robot assistant AI visit a different place from pop culture each episode and break down the big scientific questions, such as what is it really like to live on a planet with two suns or what makes a White Walker a White Walker.

Led by Ferrari, the series was shot using two URSA Mini Pros. “We only had four days to shoot all eight episodes, so it was a very fast-paced shoot,” Ferrari explained. “We decided to shoot with the URSA Mini Pros because we knew they’d be reliable and fast, and they’d get us the cinematic look we were going for. You can take them straight out of the box and they’re ready to go with no fuss. The menu and operating system is intuitive and easy to use, so you don’t waste any time while shooting, and having the timecode on the side was helpful. Reliability can be a rarity, so the fact that we could count on them when we were in the heat of battle really made a difference.”

“We shot everything in a practical spaceship set that showed the cockpit, hallway and war room,” Ferrari continued. “All the windows were green screen, and we created outer space and the surrounding worlds in post. Being able to cleanly pull keys was crucial, and the camera’s sensors made it easy. We shot the whole series in 4.6K ProRes, which gave us a lot of latitude in post.”

DaVinci Resolve Studio was used on set by the DIT and then in post by Ferrari for the series’ full editing, grading and finishing.

“Using DaVinci Resolve Studio on set allowed us to organize and synch everything in real-time. At the end of the shoot, we easily exported everything and went right into editing,” said Ferrari. “By keeping everything in the ecosystem, I was able to directly edit the entire series in native 4.6K ProRes without having to transcode to a smaller proxy file. Doing everything soup to nuts in DaVinci Resolve Studio saved us a lot of time that would have been spent roundtripping.

“Moreover, it’s allowed me to evolve my editing process so color is intertwined rather than a separate function. As I edit and select shots, I can easily jump from the Edit Page to the Color Page to see if I can save a shot that might be too blown out or too dark. I can work on the lighting in real-time to see if I can make the shot work, which is invaluable in the creative process. Using DaVinci Resolve Studio, I can make editorial decisions based on what I know I can make work in color, rather than just hoping something will work down the line or scrapping what might be the best take because it initially seems unusable.”

When grading the series, Ferrari was inspired by the planets and realms Hill and AI visited. “We wanted the series to look cohesive from episode to episode, but we also wanted each to have its own look that mirrors the land we’re visiting. For example, the episode on LV-426 is more cold and desaturated. I used a greenish overtone for the episode with the Borg, whereas I used a very warm palette for King Kai’s planet in the Dragon Ball Z episode. Since each place the series visited has such a strong look already associated with it, we wanted to play homage to that,” Ferrari concluded.

12 2017 Dec

Testronic Expands Burbank Facility to Offer Additional 4K Technology

QC and Testing Service Adds Infrastructure, Hardware and Personnel

TestronicBURBANK, Calif. – Testronic, the leader in quality control (QC), localization services and compliance, has expanded mastering operations in its Burbank headquarters. The facility upgrade offering greater resolution, higher standards and accurate review capabilities for high frame rate and native 4K content. Along with the upgraded infrastructure and new hardware, are a number of new personnel hires.

“This is all part of our continued effort to provide cutting-edge services for the industry as it experiences exponential growth in distribution platforms such as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix and Hulu,” says Jason Gish, senior VP Film & Television for Testronic. “The growth in these platforms and evolving formats is a key motivator to more fully develop and expand our mastering business line. We have put our considerable experience and resources forth to be part of the evolution of these formats.”

“We have upgraded four mastering bays: two HD rooms and two 4K rooms,” explains Gish. “Adapting our 4K bays for HDR is critical to serving the growing needs of our customers’ content. We use the high-end Sony BVM-X300 4K Master Monitor as part of our optimal viewing environment.”

TestronicThe 4K rooms also include the Tektronix rasterizer, Omnitek scope, custom Windows 4K workstations, and a GIC DVP player, which supports the Digital Video Prime file-based workflow platform. Testronic supports all file types and packaging (DCP, IMF, AS-02, DPX, TIFF Sequence, ProRes, J2K), delivering real time encoding, decoding, spatial transformation, and color processing. Testronic has been vetting GIC’s DVP IMF creator capabilities for IMF packaging, validation and transcoding from IMF packages – as streaming content providers, broadcasters and studios are moving towards file standards like IMF, the DVP offers unique insight into file QC capabilities, with an ability to shape these results to needs of the customer.

Mastering bays also feature new Sony and LG OLED video monitors and professional audio monitoring with powered 7.1 surround speakers. Dolby Atmos sound is also available, to offer customers a range of options for maximum flexibility.

The HD bays feature Mac workstations running Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as Linux workstations. Each room features quad 12G cabling, enabling 48G capabilities. “As the hardware and software advances, we’re futureproofing all of the rooms to the greatest degree possible,” adds Gish.

Master QC Technicians Luis Barajas and Nick Meraz recently joined the mastering department in its expansion. “Both Luis and Nick have had long mastering careers and bring extensive knowledge to Testronic,” said Gish.

Simultaneous with rebuilding and expanding the mastering department, Testronic has launched an R&D department headed by Technical Operations Manager Mike Kurzhal. “The R&D team will create and implement solutions for projects as we move forward. This is an essential role to our commitment of remaining cutting edge and exploring options to continually improve our systems and processes” Gish explained.

“We spend a substantial amount of time and energy learning and analyzing the industry,” notes Gish. “In a time of dynamic change, it’s challenging to know exactly what might be coming, but we continue to upgrade and innovate to stay ahead of the competition and deliver the best services for our clients.”

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12 2017 Dec

Industry Loses Talented Artist with Passing of Randy Beveridge

The Hollywood professional industry lost a wonderful, creative talent with the passing of Randy Beveridge, who spent sixteen years as Senior Colorist at Level 3 and Encore, where he applied his unique eye for color and his exemplary skills, most recently to such high-profile shows as American Crime, Kevin Can Wait and Lucifer. Everybody at the company misses Randy’s special personality and unmistakable presence and sends their deepest condolences to Randy’s wife, Brenda, and his children, Zack, Zoe, Matthew and Kylee.

Randy served as a staff sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and then as a cryogenic engineer before embarking on his two-decades-long career in post-production. His powerful presence will be missed throughout the entire post community. A gofundme page has been set up here.

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20 2017 Nov

The HPA Awards: A Glittering Night Honoring Our Own

By Christine Purse, Chair, HPA Awards Committee

The 12th annual HPA Awards took place last week, an event that pulled the community together and raised a toast to our friends and colleagues. Sold out once again, this year’s HPA Awards were the biggest to date in every metric: submissions, ticket sales, volunteers, ads, and sponsorship. We are dedicated to making sure that the stature of the awards continues to grow because the contributions made by those who enter are worthy of every honor possible. You make the vision a reality; it’s your work that makes this industry compelling.

As one of the original members of the HPA Awards Committee, it’s a great feeling to see the awards embraced for what they are:  a night where we raise a glass to those brilliant, talented people and companies behind the work that was submitted and honored.  Sound teams, engineers, colorists, visual effects artists, editors, visionaries, and even astronauts got a moment in the sun this year, thanks to the work of the amazing community that is HPA.

It’s been mentioned before, but it’s important to note that our entries have grown at an incredible rate.  Hundreds of top-notch programs, movies and spots were submitted, easily passing every previous benchmark.  While that made the vetting and judging process very strenuous, it brought a level of excellence to the show that continues to grow.

Take a look at the nominees and winners.

There are many people and companies who make a sold-out event happen, but there is also a lot of love required.  Love of the community, love of the work, love of talent and ingenuity. That is what the HPA is really all about. To say that this is one of the greatest communities in the world to work in is no exaggeration. The HPA community is a constant inspiration.

We hope that you liked the design upgrade to the show on our 12th year at the Skirball.  Stay tuned for changes to the show in the coming year.  We want it to be even bigger and better!

My personal thanks to this committee that has been together for so long. It’s a true honor to work with you all:  Dayna McCallum, Linda Rosner, Carolyn Giardina, Mark Chiolis, Bob Coleman, Leon Silverman, Seth Hallen, Anthony Magliocca, Ken Fuller, Joachim Zell. Thanks also to the real power behind the event, the incredible HPA team:  Alicia Rock, Mimi Rossi, and Max Ma––as well as to our SMPTE colleague, the invaluable Sally D’Amato.  To our talented producers at Homerun Entertainment, Barry Gribbon and Lynn Jordan, we love being on this journey with you, you’re the best.

Special thanks to Seth Hallen for your leadership and invaluable perspective, and Barbara Lange for being an amazing and trusted guide light.

Thank you to all who attended, supported, entered, volunteered, presented, sponsored, or won.  See you next November!

20 2017 Nov

NET Highlights Interactive Tech Conversation

By Debra Kaufman

IMF, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence… these are just some of the topics that will be discussed at the Nov. 28 HPA NET (Networking, Education, Technology) luncheon and gathering to be held at the Beverly Garland hotel in North Hollywood. “NET is a way for people to understand what the trends are with technology and how it applies to their businesses and daily lives,” says NET co-chair Eliot Sakhartov, who is a Microsoft technology strategist. “If you’re an editor or colorist, you probably already know about HDR, but you don’t know what’s going on with machine learning or artificial intelligence or other parts of the business that will eventually affect you.”

NET was born out of SCRG (the Sales Career Resource Group), founded in 2008 as a way for sales and marketing people to understand technology. Those meetings featured a single topic, explored by panelists and led by a moderator. “The idea is that we would evaluate the topics more from a commercial perspective,” says HPA president Seth Hallen, senior vice president of business development and strategy at Pixelogic Media who was a co-chair of SCRG and is now a member of the NET committee. “We didn’t go too deeply in the technical side.” During those years, SCRG addressed 4K, tapeless workflows and stereoscopic capture among other timely topics.

SCRG began to evolve, first by changing the format to roundtables. “The roundtable idea was similar to the breakfast roundtables at the HPA Tech Retreat,” says Hallen. “But the other difference is that everyone would get up and change tables at least once.” The new format quickly became popular; about 125 people attended the last NET event.

The last piece of the evolution came with the change of the committee’s name. “We decided SCRG was the world’s worst acronym,” says Hallen. “We wanted to rebrand it, and we came up with NET.” Sakhartov adds that the three words that make up the NET acronym are a spot-on description of what the group does. “You walk in the door and you’ll find 12 different subjects,” he says. “This is an open, free environment for two-way 360-degree conversations.”

Topics are divided into three categories: creation, workflow and disruption. “By committee, we try to keep it consistent,” says Sakhartov. “We find subjects in each of those three areas that we think are relevant today. And then we go out and try to find subject matter experts in those fields. Or sometimes people come to us with ideas, and we love for that to happen.” For example, he says, a digital dailies company that is using data to make dailies smarter came to NET and asked to host a table. “Amazon and Google want to get involved, but we’ve had startups as well,” he says. “We want people to give us ideas and talk about what they’re doing.”

The November 28 NET meeting will also be the first to have attracted sponsors: Dell/EMC and Smart Stack. “We’re excited to have these two companies join us,” says Hallen. “The HPA is always dedicated to bringing value to the community and the industry, and this is another way we can do that.”

The event will feature several intriguing topics: Sony Pictures executive Greg Geier and Disney executive Ryan Kido will give attendees an update on IMF and what to expect in 2018. Microsoft’s principal audio designer Jeanne Parson will talk about “VoiceFont” and its role in artificial intelligence, and Max Bronstein, Media and Strategy Lead at Po.et, will moderate discussion on blockchain, security and media distribution. MPC Creative executive producer Matt Winkel will lead conversation on augmented reality as a tool for art direction, and Gearhouse Broadcast managing director Marc Genin will address unscripted live acquisition. Technicolor executive Daryll Strauss and 5th Kind chief executive Steve Cronan will lead discussion on artificial intelligence in post, and Netflix manager of post production Justin Holt will focus on unscripted live post workflow and delivery. Pixelogic CTO Raja Sahi and SDI CTO Scott Rose will moderate conversation on machine learning/artificial intelligence in localization. Keycode Media president Mike Cavanaugh will look at content creation and production for college sports and Prime Focus Technologies president Patrick Macdonald-King will address artificial intelligence and dailies.

NET’s new format works well for attendees facing such a rich list of topics. Sakhartov reports that the Nov. 28 event will allow them to sit at three tables for 20 minutes each. He also notes that staying at the same table for the entire hour will also yield an interesting result. “Every single conversation will be different,” he promises. “You can sit there for 20 minutes, but if you come back, it’ll be a new conversation.”

Sakhartov also stresses that NET is not only for the community but by the community. “If you have ideas for sessions or think of things we’re missing, please send that information to us,” he says. “We’d love to be able to cover it in the next round.”

20 2017 Nov

Anti-Piracy Tools Help Hollywood Sustain Its Love Affair with DVD Screeners

Los Angeles— For most of the country, the arrival of fall means cooler temperatures and leaves turning colors, but in Hollywood, it marks the official start of awards season and with it the annual deluge of Academy screeners.

An Oscar nomination, or better yet, a win, can have a big impact on a film’s box office performance and so studios are keen to ensure their films are seen by the right people, including Academy and guild members, movie critics and awards show journalists. Exposure is especially important for films that haven’t been widely released but are expected to be prime contenders at the Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globes and other major awards competitions. To generate support for those titles, studios may host special screenings or make films available for viewing online through private streaming outlets. But the most popular way to get pre-released films into the hands of award competition voters is via screeners, individual DVD copies of films sent directly to their homes.

Despite their pervasive use, DVD screeners are controversial. While they come with stern warnings against sharing or tampering with the discs, screeners have in the past been blamed as sources of piracy. When in 2016, pirated copies of best picture nominees turned up on file-sharing sites it led to renewed calls for digital screeners.

But this past year, piracy wasn’t as big a problem. Fortium CEO Mathew Gilliat-Smith, whose company makes a variety of security tools used to safeguard pre-released entertainment content, says that studios have taken larger steps to stifle illegal copying. He notes that his company’s DVD content protection software Patronus was used in the production of screeners for seventy Oscar-hopeful films last season and, according to newswire accounts, not one English-language movie screener copy appeared online during the festive period. “That included Oscar winners Hacksaw Ridge, Fences, Sing, La La Land, Fantastic Beasts, and Manchester By Sea” he says.

PatronusFortium employs a team of programmers who are constantly updating the Patronus software to keep pirates at bay. “It’s a cat and mouse game between our team and the ripping programs,” he observes. “We’ll make an algorithm that frustrates them, then they will make their own routine to overcome it. We generally have a three to four-month lead time on them. By the time the discs begin to circulate in the public domain, we’re already onto our next update.” Gilliat-Smith adds that the lead time is especially important regarding screeners. By the time pirates can subvert a disc’s copy protection, the title has already been in theaters.

DVD screeners are likely to remain part of studios’ Oscar push for the simple reason that they are very popular. Many Academy members prefer them to private theater screenings or streaming services. “It would seem that some members are not easily persuaded to switch to online screening,” Gilliat-Smith says. “They treasure their screeners and must find it easier and more convenient to pop a disc into a player and watch on their TV rather than to figure out how to get a link to a file to playback via a device.”

DVD manufacturers are currently busy filling studio orders for DVD screeners for their 2018 Oscar hopefuls, and many are using Patronus to ensure that the content doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. “DVD screeners remain a valid option,” says Gilliat-Smith. “There’s a misconception that all screeners leak but, in fact, they don’t. There are obviously no guarantees with any protection, but the security Fortium aims to provide is strong. If we have another year with no leaks in the festive period then Patronus will have contributed to a successful season for the studios.”

 

17 2017 Nov

New Zealand’s Department of Post Installs DaVinci Resolve Studio and Resolve Mini Panels for HDR

Blackmagic Design recently announced that New Zealand’s Department of Post is using DaVinci Resolve Studio, DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panels and DaVinci Resolve Mini Panels as part of the leading HDR post production workflow in Australia and New Zealand.

Department of Post is one of the most influential post production houses in Australia and New Zealand, and provides end-to-end post production services, including DIT, editorial, online, finishing, color and audio for film and television productions, both local and international. Recently, they have focused on opening up New Zealand’s first fully HDR compliant post workflow to a wider range of productions, using DaVinci Resolve Studio as one of the core components. By demystifying HDR standards, and making it accessible to productions of every budget and scale, they hope to encourage more productions to produce world-class content in UHD HDR for the international market.

The facility has a DCI compliant DI theater, which includes DaVinci Resolve Studio and a DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, a television grading suite with DaVinci Resolve Studio seats and DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel for 4K HDR post, and five seats of DaVinci Resolve Studio for the company’s near-set DIT department.

Katie Hinsen, Department of Post’s Head of Operations, describes the company’s HDR workflow, “Depending on the distributor, our HDR workflow can change. Generally speaking, our dailies and DIT department will process footage for editorial, and we will screen dailies in full HDR to help guide the cinematographers. This is very helpful for our clients, especially since HDR is still new enough that many directors of photography have limited experience with the nuances of extended dynamic range and colors.”

Once production wraps and editorial is done, media is conformed in DaVinci Resolve Studio and graded to the HDR standard required.

“Resolve has the added intelligence of scaled scopes for HDR, and all the color management EOTF’s we need. After the grade, we are able to export whatever high-resolution DSM format we require for mastering, straight out of the Resolve to our deliverables mastering team. We then use Resolve’s collaborative workflow to pass the timeline to our assistant colorist/finishing artist for the SDR trim pass. Once again, it’s DaVinci Resolve’s excellent color management which makes this far less complicated than other systems, as it has the ability to more intelligently switch between color spaces.”

Since they provide post production for many international films, commercials and TV shows, Department of Post also had to build an HDR workflow that deals with all HDR standards, to deliver in HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG.

“Resolve color management makes this seamless, taking the complication out of the post finishing process across three fundamentally different color science workflows,” Hinsen continued. “We use Resolve on all of the HDR projects we do! Resolve has fantastic color management and is an integral part of our end-to-end HDR workflow. Resolve is also used for most of our finishing projects. We believe that every production, regardless of budget or scope, should have equal access to the best tools and technology the world has to offer, so we use Resolve across web series, commercials, television and feature films. We even used Resolve recently on portions of an AR-integrated live broadcast.”

One of the most recent additions to the Department of Post’s workflow are DaVinci Resolve Mini Panels. “We love using the Resolve panels, both the large and the Mini Panel. The Mini Panel has really improved our high-end TV grading. We’re looking to add some Resolve Micro Panels for our dailies colorists in DIT,” she said.

While international productions are now regularly finishing in HDR, Department of Post is helping local productions with their first move into HDR, and opening their doors to New Zealand’s cinematographers and post production freelancers for training on HDR workflows.

“We want to help ensure that our local productions are consistently world-class, so we open our doors to give the production community the tools and exposure to HDR material, so that they can produce the best work possible,” said Hinsen. “It’s all about enabling our creative community to tell unique Australian and New Zealand stories to the world.”

17 2017 Nov

Micro Cinema Cameras Help Capture Web Series for MegaBots’ Giant Fighting Robots

Blackmagic Design recently announced that its Micro Cinema Cameras and URSA Mini 4.6K digital film camera were used by DP Scott Sorensen to help chronicle a web series for the US-based robotics company MegaBots, Inc. MegaBots uses cutting-edge robotics technology to create giant 16-foot-tall, internally-piloted humanoid robots.

Two years ago, MegaBots challenged Japanese robotics company Suidobashi Heavy Industry to a giant robot duel, and the Japanese team accepted the challenge. In the first episode of the web series, MegaBots determined that its existing Mk. II robot would be unsuited for melee combat and decided that rather than modify the existing robot, it would be better to build a new robot from the ground up. As such, the MegaBots’ web series documented the R&D, testing and eventual creation of an entirely new robot called Eagle Prime. The series culminated in the Giant Robot Duel between MegaBots’ Eagle Prime and Suidobashi’s Kuratas.

“MegaBots has a strong following online. People really want to see the giant fighting robots of science fiction duking it out in real life. The goal of the web series was to show the audience a bit of what it takes to bring these machines to life,” said Sorensen. “At the beginning of the series, we sat down and outlined the major milestones of the build. Whenever a new part of the robot came online, we’d come in with a small crew and document the process. Each time the MegaBots team brought up a system of the robot, it was the first time the collected parts had been utilized in that way. In the event of a failure, we had to be prepared to document every possible outcome. That being the case, it was key that we had an arsenal of cameras to cover each event in 360 degrees.”

To capture every possible angle, Sorensen relied on six Micro Cinema Cameras for their compact size, expansion port and filmic look. “My primary reason for choosing the Micro Cinema Cameras was their expansion port. I knew that eventually, I would be rigging cameras inside the robots’ cockpits. With the expansion port on the cameras, I was able to roll and cut the cameras remotely via an RC plane transmitter and keep them charged via AC power provided by the robot,” he noted.

An URSA Mini 4.6K was also used several times throughout the shoot as a secondary over-cranked camera. “For several of the tests we filmed, I’d have the URSA Mini 4.6K recording slow motion, while I operated one of the Micro Cinema Cameras on a gimbal,” explained Sorensen.

Sorensen also used Blackmagic Design’s MultiView 4, SmartView 4K monitor and numerous Micro Converters HDMI to SDI as part of his workflow. During the duel, each robot was rigged with a series of Micro Cinema Cameras which were fed into the Micro Converters HDMI to SDI, which then went into two MultiView 4s. The MultiView 4s in turn fed to a wireless video solution that transmitted the split screen image to the SmartView 4K in the video village so Sorensen could confirm each camera responded to the remote triggering system. The remote camera triggering system consisted of a single RC transmitter that was paired with two receivers; one for each robot. From the receivers, Sorensen ran a single servo cable to each Micro Cinema Camera’s expansion cable. Each camera was assigned to its own switch on the transmitter.

“The remote viewing/control system in the bots was simple to set up with off-the-shelf parts. The system was a massive time saver on set, and it was reassuring to see that the cameras rolled through all the hits and crashes. It was beautiful,” said Sorensen.

Sorensen added, “Because the Micro Cinema Cameras are so tiny, it was simple to rig them inside the confined spaces of the cockpits. While we were testing with Eagle Prime, we also used the cameras locked off on c-stands and Magic Arms, a camera on a motion control slider, another on a gimbal and one on a jib.”

Sorensen also commented on the Micro Cinema Cameras’ durability. “While filming one episode, we were testing the robot’s ability to throw 55 gallon drums. In a stroke of massive bad luck, a wayward barrel came straight down onto a Micro Cinema Camera rigged on a motion control slider. The drum sheared the lens clean off, but did only minor damage to the slider and did nothing at all to the camera. They’re impressively durable, those little cameras,” he said.