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The Making-of 2009

Case Studies

Case Study 1 — Coeur animal (Animal Heart),
presented by its producer Xavier Grin.

A Swiss-French co-production of a first film by Séverine Cornamusaz.

A 1 million Euro budget, 10% was spent for the postproduction cost.

The shooting took place in the mountains for 30 days, there was only electricity from generator.

Shot with 2 Sony XDCAM-EX1 cameras (35 Mb/s), the Director of Photography (DoP) was Carlo Varini. The weight of this camera is only 2 kilos, for this reason it is not smart to use the big Angénieux zoom (~10 kilos)! Except if you use a solid rig designed especially. The synchronisation of this type of camera is easy. The second camera was for the shooting of the landscape that needed to become a character. A problem with the sound occurred because the cameras were running on 23,98 f/s instead of 24. This problem was finally solved in the editing with Final Cut. A lot of manufacturers don't tell the truth about the frequency — it is very important to know these tech specs and issues before shooting!

For the theatrical release the material was transferred by a laser scan on 35mm negative (the result was better than a blow-up from Super16!).

Advantages of the digital shooting:

For logistical reasons and for creation of authenticity in the film, the whole crew and the actors had to stay on the set and they had to live nearby during the shooting period. The director and the producer hoped to put the actors and the crew in the right mood for the shooting!

Case Study 2 — Rage,
presented by its producer Christopher Sheppard and the postproduction provider Tommaso Vergallo (Digimage Cinéma, tutor).

A British production of a film by Sally Potter.

A 0,4 million Euro budget; greater cost for the postproduction than for the shooting.

The shooting took place in a studio, the acting was set in front of a green screen.

The film was shot with the Panasonic camera AG-HVX200 P2 DVCPRO-HD which cost about 3500 Euro. Sally Potter was directing the actors and operating the camera. The DoP was setting the lighting. The crew consisted of 5 people, one of them was a Digital Digital Imaging Technician (DIT), Sally was testing the workflow very intensively. The goal was to get a 35mm print for theatres and festivals (subsidies from British Counsil possible for such releases), a DVD master and a transfer for mobile phones (a "film" with a kind of episodes). The first step for a security copy was made on a Power Book. It was the DIT’s responsibility to guarantee the security recording (discs, hardrives, cards, etc.) and the connection to the postproduction provider. This camera allows to work directly with AVID, FINAL CUT or PREMIERE for the editing.

Tommaso (Digimage Cinéma) and Christopher (producer) had already worked together before. Digital production allows to change nearly everything. There were two hours of special effects to handle — the whole movie! The background behind the actors was replaced by a colour which fitted with the mood of each of the characters. Sally Potter is a perfectionist and tried to change a lot. She wanted to have the look of a film like it would have been shot with a mobile phone but without having this poor quality. She drove the technicians nearly crazy. For the reason of the very limited budget, she had to do the grading mostly by herself in the editing room. Digimage Cinéma finally graded the film within 5 days instead of the 20 for such productions.

Christopher (producer) recommends: as some of the goals couldn't be reached, you should not trust the DoP's choice of the camera alone. You should also ask:

Think from the end to the beginning: (A) What is needed for the exploitation of the film (theatrical release, tv, DVD, BluRay, digital cinema, etc.)? (B) Choice of postproduction provider. (C) Planning of the shooting.

Case Study 3 — Illitch,
presented by its producer Raphael Cohen (Films en Stock) and the postproduction provider Tommaso Vergallo (Digimage Cinéma, tutor).

A French production of a film by Olivier Assayas.

A budget growing from 3 to 15 million Euro due to a change of the director and of the main part of the shooting on 35mm negative (106.000 m). The production was mainly financed by Studio Canal and Canal Plus.

The shooting took place in 9 different countries. After 3 months of tests, producer and director decided to shoot in 35mm 2 Perf (Penelope from Aaton).

The producer has to deliver a 3-part-tv-version and a feature length movie for theatrical release.
For the TV version all the footage was telecined in HDcam SR in 4:4:4 10 bits. The theatrical release will be done simultaneously in 2K Digital Cinema (DCI norms) and 35 mm print. Therefore the original negative was off-layed from flash to flash and will be scanned in 2K resolution. The digital color grading on for this version takes place in a big screen projection.

The TV release in the programme of Canal Plus is planned for March 2010, the very same moment when the theatrical release will take place outside of France.

Case Study 4 — Adam Resurrected,
presented by its producer Ulf Israel and the representative of its postproduction provider, Lisa Riemer (PICTORION–Das Werk).

An Israelian-American-German co-production of a film by Paul Schrader.

Approximately a 10 million Euro budget. No indication about the spending on post-production.

The shooting took place in Germany, Israel and the USA. The DoP was the young German talent Sebastian Edschmidt. The 35mm negative material was scanned and the delivery of the rushes was on DigiBeta.

The editing took place in Roumania, Germany and USA (Paul Schrader) on AVID Adrenaline which offered very fast working even on effects in 10-bit realtime. The work on the 130 shots which asked for VFX treatment started already before the final cut. It was scanned on 2K in 25f/s.

The workflow plan was delivered by PICTORION–Das Werk. They developed their own Data Base for the postproduction and for the visual effects (VFX) as well as a kind of a To-Do-List.

Lisa Riemer thinks that filmmaterial will survive and that this kind of workflow (35mm negative – rushes on DigiBeta – offline editing on AVID – scan on 2K – add VFX (2K) – colour grading 2K baselight – transfer to 35mm and to other masters) will go on. Ulf Israel is convinced that digital shooting misleads to less planning, to shoot tons of material, to a lack of concentration and at the end to a raise of the budget.

Case Study 5 — Nos résistances,
presented by its producer Tom Dercourt (Cinemadefacto) and the postproduction provider Tommaso Vergallo (Digimage Cinéma, tutor).

A French-Canadian co-production of a film by Romain Cogitore.

A 2,7 million Euro budget, 30% were spent for the postproduction and the finishing. The producer explains the main parts of his 93 points budget plan (power point presentation).

Tom Dercourt has worked for 15 years as a distributor and producer. For him it is normal to think from the end (showing of the film)backwards. Theatrical, tv, Digital Cinema, online, festival (Cannes) and DVD/BluRay releases are planned. The director is 24 years old and the DoP 30, both are very open and keen to learn all about the new techniques. For the director this was his first feature length movie.

The shooting took place in France with the RED ONE camera. The tests were shot with some actors in some similar sets to the original ones and then the material was sent to 4 different "labs" in 3 countries. All results were very bad. They decided to shoot in HD anyway. The director: "The story is strong, the actors are great … and that's all that counts." They had some ergonomic problems. The camera's weight was about 5 kilos but they had to use a big and heavy zoom. They balanced the camera in adding some 4 kilos at the back end. For security reasons four backups were made on the RED space system and one for the editing.

The postproduction and the finishing schedule was designed on an Excel file.

The colour grading was made on 2K within about 80 hours (2 weeks) for the digital cinema projection (DCP, compressed with JPEG2000) and in 2 days for the HD-tv-master. The encoding with JPEG2000 of a feature length movie cost about 10.000 Euro, a DCP master 6 to 8.000 Euro (including picture, sound, language and subtitle versions, etc.).

The expert Philippe Ros, the producer Tom and Tommaso (Digimage Cinéma) explain the problems and the advantages in shootnig with the RED ONE:

Case Study 6 — Giulias Verschwinden (Julia's Disappearance),
presented by its DoP Filip Zumbrunn and the postproduction provider Ruedi Schick (SwissEffects).

A Swiss-German co-production of a film by Christoph Schaub.

A 1,7 million Euro budget with major spending on the actors and the least possible amount for the technical cost.

The shooting took place mainly in the studio using Blue or Green Screen. The preparation was very intense with the director, the art director and the DoP, they tested the whole workflow with the postproduction lab, they even tested clips in movie theaters on big screens. The film was shot with two Panasonic HPX500 cameras (full HD stretched). It is a semi-professional camera with an adapter for 35mm lenses. With this camera you get on the monitor what you get at the end. There were scenes of 8 to 9 minutes to shoot. The film was shot within 22 days.

The editing took place at the production company on AVID.

The shooting was taking place without the involvement of the lab which was going to take over after the final cut. There was a 7 days colour grading.

Conclusions: They only tested 3 linear cameras. The crew, especially the DoP, has to feel comfortable with the camera and the whole technique. It was very important to check immediately the result in real on the 19" screen on the set. This is possible with this kind of camera. The great advantage in digital shooting is the possibility to shoot simultanously with several cameras with very small additional cost.

The Making-of 2009