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Fix on Set VS Fix in Post


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#1 Elhanan Matos

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 07:57 PM

I'm not sure how many people here subscribe to the CML (Cinematography.net); This is a topic written by Sean Fairburn about the different practices of shooting High Definition.

Enjoy...


The reality here is that there are more options that are in play than the seemingly simple one or the other choices that are offered. I did a post a while back "Things you can't fix in post" and for the most part no one really added much more than the conservative list of 30 items I put down. Here is another to raise the tide of understanding.

Let me propose that we look at some possible options to shooting HD and how those decisions affect what we do.

Phase 1
Simple Basic designed for beginners in the field.
Camera falls off the truck Turn on, Shoot, no WB, CC, no Time code set, Fix in Post everything. Monitoring is composition only and does not even need to be HD.
Irrelevant viewing environment.
Sound is recored seperately.
Dailies get Time Code are synced and color balanced then downconverted for editor.
No DIT needed, No experience needed, More money spent in post per tape.
Philosophy that by doing everything in post that you can get better images. (works well for beginners
reducing their need to have the knowledge necessary to rise to any other phase)
Producer not really seeing any advantage to shooting HD.

Phase II
More experienced Crew able to make better use of system.
Well prepped camera comes off the truck tuned by rental house engineer, Good auto White Balance, CC, Free run or Record run, Fix in Post only what is necessary.
Monitoring is Composition only and likely in HD, keeping lights from hitting the monitor.
Sound is recorded separately and on Camera.
Dailies are just downconverted for editor.
DIT may or may not be there if crew has experience.
Less money spent in post per tape.
philosophy that getting a good consistent image in the field gives post more to work with.
Producer ambivalent due to her somewhat cost savings on HD tape over Film.

Phase III
Very Experienced Crew able to make Full use of system.
Well prepped camera comes off the truck ready to be fine tuned by DIT and DP making adjustments when necessary to always get the best most consistent images.
Color Matrix is custom tuned to match what the DP sees with naked eye, White Balance manually
adjusted, record run time code (Because Post has already given the note that they hate FREE RUN time code).
Monitoring environment is controlled and calibrated in HD with Vector scope WFM Monitor always being checked.
Sound is recorded seprately and on Camera.
Dailies are virtually timed in the field for downconvert for editor.
Very experienced DIT always looking out for the DP, Camera dept, Sound dept, and Post insuring everyone is happy and comfortable.
Even less money spent in post per tape.
Philosophy getting colors to look proper in field and setting the Look the DP desires to be able to fulfill the
Directors vision in the field and go home knowing that his/her work if left alone will convey his/her intended look while still giving maximum room to post during final DI having maximized the Dynamic range and proper exposure at a much higher bit rate on the camera head than what is possible from Tape.
Producer smiling due to her wise choice of shooting on HD

Phase IV
Truck Shoot
Very Experienced Crew able to make Full use of system LIVE or Live to tape.
Well prepped camera comes off the truck ready to be fine tuned by Shader (Truck talk for Mobile Colorist) DP setting in overall lighting and look perameters making adjustments when necessary (if there at all)
to always get the best most consistent images.
Color Matrix is custom tuned to match what is seen with naked eye, White Balance manually
adjusted, Free run time code (Because It is most likely a Live event cameras don't stop recording as often) A very experienced Video Tape Operator who is feeding multiple record decks is present with Master
record deck and multiple (ISO) Isolation decks recording ready for slow mo replay. Monitoring env is controlled and calibrated in HD with Vector scope WFM Monitor always being checked.
Sound is recorded on the decks mixed LIVE. Dailies are non existent as the show is being broadcast LIVE to the Homes of the Viewing audience.
Very experienced crew of Camera Operators and Utility people with an EIC.
No money spent in post per tape.
Philosophy getting 9 Cameras colors to match exactly in field under changing environmental conditions (Sporting event) and setting the Look and go home knowing that his/her work has already been seen and not noticed by millions of people as you come down off the rush under the hail of complements.
Producer smiling never shot anything but Video thankful that the downconvert and Uplink didn't crash during the show.

Phase V
Simple Basic designed for extremely experienced DP, VFX, Director in the field.
Camera falls off the truck Turn on, Shoot, no WB, CC, no Time code set, Fix everything in Post.
Monitoring is in Dual stream HD but requires a LUT applied so you don't puke at how bad everything looks.
Custom 12 seat leather screening room projection for On Set Color "Interpreteer" who provides Possible suggested interpretation of the way the Images can look unless someone feels their interpretation
requires validity and must be seen as long as its by Proxy and ultimately non distructive to the original.
Sound is recorded separately.
Dailies get Time Code, are synced, and color balanced with suggested LUT then Fiber optically placed on the Master server for the editor to have instant access.
No DIT needed but there will be at least 2 highly paid to make sure the concept of "You capture everything" is explained so that even the craft service girl understands, No experience needed because its just not possible to screw up.
Recording 10 BIT, LOG, RAW, RGB, 4:4:4, directly to HDCAM SR and Harddrive (pick your own flavor).
Philosophy that by capturing everything you can get better images if thats what you want. (works well for all 5 of you).
Still somehow find it possible to complain that Live realtime metadata tracking and Compositing of BG and effects isn't fast enough and why does it take so long to shoot it in 3D when your eyes are doing it
right now without any help.
You insist We must shoot everything at 4K because its so good that you can't see it with current technology.
Producer seeing big advantage to shooting HD but wonders why it cost so
much more than Film.

See what I mean there are other options to Fix on Set vs Fix in Post.
It can be a bit more complex topic than one vs the other.

I hope you had fun reading this and I hope it made you laugh a bit.
Some of it might even be accurate.

Have Fun shooting in any phase you choose especially when you start in
one and end up in another  :-)


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#2 David Cox

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Posted 06 May 2005 - 04:46 AM

Very Good!

There are some worrying truths in there. From a post perspective I can tell you there is nothing that worries us more than when the producer comes in with a pile of tapes / film rolls saying "The director / DOP said we'd fix it in post". (Invariably they didn't ask us first and the producer already spent the post budget on lunch).

Given an infinite amount of money we can probably do an infinite number of things, but we also have a phrase about that sort of work. "You can't pollish a turd!"
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#3 nchopp

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 10:27 AM

Phase IV
Truck Shoot
Very Experienced Crew able to make Full use of system LIVE or Live to tape.
Well prepped camera comes off the truck ready to be fine tuned by Shader (Truck talk for Mobile Colorist) DP setting in overall lighting and look perameters making adjustments when necessary (if there at all)
to always get the best most consistent images.
Color Matrix is custom tuned to match what is seen with naked eye, White Balance manually
adjusted, Free run time code (Because It is most likely a Live event cameras don't stop recording as often) A very experienced Video Tape Operator who is feeding multiple record decks is present with Master
record deck and multiple (ISO) Isolation decks recording ready for slow mo replay. Monitoring env is controlled and calibrated in HD with Vector scope WFM Monitor always being checked.
Sound is recorded on the decks mixed LIVE. Dailies are non existent as the show is being broadcast LIVE to the Homes of the Viewing audience.
Very experienced crew of Camera Operators and Utility people with an EIC.
No money spent in post per tape.
Philosophy getting 9 Cameras colors to match exactly in field under changing environmental conditions (Sporting event) and setting the Look and go home knowing that his/her work has already been seen and not noticed by millions of people as you come down off the rush under the hail of complements.
Producer smiling never shot anything but Video thankful that the downconvert and Uplink didn't crash during the show.



In regards to the truck portion... (I'm going to be speaking about high-end mobile production; D1 college sports and professional sports carried by ESPN or Fox Sports)

The individuals serving as the "mobile colorist" are not called "shaders" or "mobile colorists", they're video engineers. They're manually controlling iris, white balance, and pedestal. All the main cameras are connected via CCU cable. ENG\EFP and interview cams are connected via triax or coax. Sony camera bodys and Canon lenses are the standard. The "color matrix" is NOT balanced by the naked eye, but with color bars and vectorscope\waveform monitor. It's referred to as "color balance" in broadcasting.

The video tape operator is referred to as an editor, and there are generally 3 or 4 of them. One is running an ALF, which is an NLE command-line based replay system, and the other 2 or 3 are running the actual decks, with controllers for playback commands. Generally it's BetaMPEG for high-end sports production. When there are slowdowns in the game the editors will feed the ALF operator clips for him to digitize, he can acquire footage from any of the cameras (up to 15 or more for large events - usually closer to six or seven for average productions) and sources in the truck.

The replay decks are all referred to by color - green, blue, red, etc. Cameras are USUALLY referred to by number, but this depends on the particular Director. I prefer number, but some use letters.

Chyron is the graphics system of choice. Pinnacle has a BIT of a presence, but not nearly to the extant of Chyron.

Sports broadcasting is very freelance based. The Producer and Director are generally the only two employees actually employeed by the network. All the others are freelance.

There is no hail of compliments. But there IS one hell of a rush. D1 hockey (WCHA in particular) has always been my favorite.

Sorry, my background was intially in sports broadcasting, so the mistakes in that part of the article kinda bugged me. ;)

Edited by nchopp, 08 May 2005 - 10:28 AM.

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