News 24.09.20

CUTTING EDGE DISCUSSES DAILIES, DIT SERVICES AND SHOOTING IN AUSTRALIA



A unique insight into digital dailies services in an equally unique landscape.

As Australia’s largest full-service post facility, Cutting Edge has been producing and supervising on-set and near-set dailies both in Australia and internationally since the days of 35mm film. They have been able to support technical developments, with the move to digital cameras and the adoption of new formats and higher resolutions. Cutting Edge has adapted to find effective workflows ensuring they remain on the front foot and continue to offer a world-class service.

With the recent announcement by the Australian Federal Government of the AU$400 million Location Incentive grant (which is additional to the AU$140 million announced back in 2018), Cutting Edge is excited to see the fund attract more foreign productions to Australian shores.

We sat down with two of Cutting Edge’s dailies maestros, Creative Technology Specialist, Simon Alberry and Head of Color, Adrian Hauser to discuss digital dailies, DIT services and what to expect when filming in Australia.

How long have you been providing dailies services for?

Simon: Myself, I have been involved in servicing dailies for 14 years professionally and earlier as a video short film operator. I started at Atlab Sydney in 2006 and was trained under Efilm’s Bill Feightner to support 4K digital film intermediate scanning and colour from 35mm film. Kodak laboratory training and being part of the pipeline development team between film and digital workflows, set up my readiness for the RED Epic and Arri Alexa’s leap into full digital dailies.

I have been with Cutting Edge since 2018, working across the Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane facilities to deliver high-end production services to the APAC region.

Adrian: My career as a film colourist began 30 years ago as a telecine dailies colourist. I have since witnessed and been part of the evolution of both film and digital cinematography in the Asia Pacific region. The key of dailies, whether film or digital, is always to ensure the creative intent of the DOP is captured and visually represented on all platforms, be those on-line web-based dailies or in the edit suite. Having such a wealth of experience in the field, I bring to the table a knowledge base that should keep any DOP feeling they are in safe hands.

You mentioned Cutting Edge’s facilities in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but we also know Cutting Edge has worked in rural Australia. What are the challenges of processing dailies remotely?

Simon: The challenges are different in each location, and often we will send our recce scouts to document and report back before deploying equipment and setting up. We have learned, through experience, to document our plans well, including network schematics, detailed equipment lists and workflows, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Every location and production is unique. It is crucial to not only think about the requirements of the production but also the environment. For example, a location shoot in remote Australia can throw up challenges like heat, humidity and stable power. It is so essential to work closely with the production companies to source viable locations for the remote setup.

Are any locations or setups off-limits?

Simon: No, not at all. If you can get a camera in for a shoot, then we will go in as well. Our team has slept in swags and worked out of the back of 4WDs to support productions. It’s all part of the challenges of making films that we love.

What technologies do you take advantage of / rely on to deliver dailies remotely and from the comfort of a Cutting Edge facility?

Simon: There are some great partners that we team up with in dailies. International players that become part of our day-to-day support network. These companies are on the cutting edge (pardon the pun!) of camera and post-production workflows. They get our challenges and understand the needs of a fast turn around with robust equipment and 24/7 support. We only use equipment that we have 100% faith in. We test all gear before deployment to ensure it is up to the challenges we will throw at it during production.

What about you, Adrian? How do you fit into the puzzle? And what is your role in setting up color pipelines for principal photography?

Adrian: At Cutting Edge, we take pride in setting up efficient colour pipelines for both theatrical and television drama. As a rule, this includes testing on-set camera monitoring, display calibration and choosing the right colour rendering models for the job. The last piece of the puzzle is to make sure Editorial has everything they need in terms of metadata and that the subsequent dailies are processed containing the desired creative intent from the Camera department.

When does a production company engage you and start discussing the requirements for their show?

Simon: Ideally early, in pre-production or when visiting their location recce. If we are engaged early in planning, we can provide holistic advice and cost-saving solutions when developing budgets.

Adrian: For me, it is generally during the Hair-Makeup and Costume camera tests. It is the ideal time for Camera and Post to look at finessing actual colour palettes and looks. From a colour point of view the more camera tests that can show the variances of locations, textures, colours and lighting setups the better chance we have of setting up a ‘Show Look’ that will work in most situations. Depending on the project, this can range from a day to a week of tests.

Talking directly to DIT services you provide, would you like to expand on this service further and the importance of this role on-set?

Simon: The digital imaging technician (DIT) has become a vital support for the director of photography, providing an immediate technical response to lighting conditions, deep camera and lens knowledge, calibrated environment and expert quality control. Each cinematographer has a different way of working, and so this role becomes a very personal one. Often the DIT will manage the iris control, colour pipeline and grade the dailies from the log video stream handshaking with the dailies crew at the wishes of the creative DP.

We see this now as a vital position within the camera department. They are so much more than a data wrangler. At Cutting Edge, we have become very close to the freelance DPs and DITs in our APAC region and see our role as one of support. We are committed to providing experienced, trained and supported crew backed by our Cutting Edge APAC equipment logistics and network of Zen-desk technical services support.

What are your thoughts on the latest announcement from the Federal Government?

Simon: In a very competitive global production market, all players in the Australian market must support each other to win the international work on Australian soil. Federal and State funding bodies, as part of this bigger picture, play a critical supporting role for the arts with spend incentives like the Location Incentive and Location Offset funds. We have seen historically that our technical and creative crew and cast here in Australia can deliver world-leading feature and television content.

Finally, what is a common misconception about on-set and near-set dailies?

Simon: In today’s filmmaking, immediate delivery of content is vital, but it must maintain accurate colour and image quality reflective of the delivery to the screen. Whilst it may seem simple on paper, careful planning is required onset to facilitate the daily turn-around of sometimes up to 10 TB of RAW camera data. Logistics onset, stable power, redundancy, security, internet speeds and creative flexibility often cloud that expected simple plan. We work closely with Production to solve the challenges as a safe pair of hands.

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Cutting Edge’s dailies credits include:

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Paramount Pictures)
Fantasy Island (Columbia Pictures)
Grace Beside Me (Netflix)
Guardians of the Tomb (Netflix)
Harrow (ABC)
I Am Woman (Goalpost Pictures)
Jungle (Arclight)
Lambs of God (Foxtel)
Love & Monsters (Paramount Pictures)
The Bureau of Magical Things (Netflix)
The Other Guy (Stan)
The Secrets She Keeps (Ten)
Tidelands (Netflix)
Winchester (CBS Films)
The Shallows (Columbia Pictures)

If you have a project that you are looking to shoot in Australia that you wish to discuss with Cutting Edge, please contact:

Marcus Bolton
Head of Features & Television
[email protected]
+61 2 8332 5999