MEDIA VAULT TAKES CENTER STAGE ON A SOUTHERN GOTHIC TALE
With our recent catch up with Jason Starne, Producer and Post Supervisor, he shared with us how valuable the CODEX Media Vault was in the production of WHITETAIL. In our Part 2 - Post Workflow outlined below, Jason expands on the tools that were used to build a workflow around CODEX’s shared storage solution that allowed the entire production to collaborate with editorial, color, VFX, marketing, and music/sound finishing for the 2-hour Southern Gothic narrative.
“As a Producer and Post Supervisor, I must say having the Media Vault onset was crucial while making the film WHITETAIL,” says Starne. “I knew very well about CODEX for its work with ARRI, but what about RED? Could we still take advantage of the Media Vault even if we weren’t using High Density Encoding? HDE would have been nice since we were shooting with 2 RED Weapon cameras, each capturing at 6k anamorphic with a 2X squeeze, from a 6.5 sensor crop (2:35:1 Widescreen), using only 5:1 compression. Thanks to Director Derek Presley’s meticulous shot planning and storyboards, we only ended up with 10.4 terabytes total of Original Camera Native files (OCN) for the 12-day shoot.
WHITETAIL follows a broken family consisting of a father, an uncle, and the father’s 15-year old son Donnie as they embark on a weekend hunting trip out in West Texas. Donnie’s mother has recently died of an overdose, and the trio hopes to get away from it all by being out in nature. Instead, they find a mysterious man, shot in the stomach, and clutching onto a backpack full of money. Who shot the man? Where did the money come from, and how long will they survive while criminals are all out looking for the cash?
“The production workflow was simple. The A Camera utilized DSMC2 and we were able to generate QT ProRes proxies directly in-camera, while the B Cam was only the DSMC1. We relied on Adobe Media Encoder for transcoding the R3D files to 1920x788 QT ProRes proxy files to match the A Cam proxies.
“Each day as we broke for lunch, the data loader would ingest around 500-600 GB of OCN from the RED mags to the Media Vault, which never took more than 30 minutes due to the direct connected 10Gb Ethernet from the DIT ‘s Windows-based laptop. After the transfer of the B Cam data, we would immediately start generating proxies while our 1st AC would use the second set of mags for the rest of the shoot. At the end of each day we would swap mags and ingest another 500-600 GB of new R3D files and then be camera ready for the next morning. Plus, editorial would have everything they needed from the previous day ready to cut in Adobe Premiere.
“The Media Vault comes standard with four 10Gb Ethernet ports. In addition to the DIT loading the RED mags directly, we were even able to have the BTS (Behind the Scenes) team ingest images and video through a MacBook Pro laptop attached via a Sonnet Echo express unit utilizing the 10GbE network connection. The BTS laptop was running Adobe CC, and the BTS team managed the occasional PhotoShop and Premiere cuts for social media. All of this was happening while the senior editor worked on the main scenes without any hiccups or slowdowns. The editorial station, provided by CineSys-Oceana, was a PBW (Purpose Built Workstation), operating Windows 10 Pro, with an Intel i9 14-core 3.2GHz/4.4GHzTurbo chip, 128GB of RAM, and the Nvidia RTX2080 GPU with onboard RJ45 10GbE copper connections.
With the R3D files stored on the Media Vault and the extra workstation horsepower, we would often play with the ISO and Kelvin settings in Premiere for some look experimentation. The whole setup allowed the editor to quickly review takes and QC the scenes for continuity and lighting setups during the entire shoot.”
“To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” and since the beginning of the WHITETAIL project, the director and team had a very meticulous plan,” states Jason. “As we know from the production side, the entire production relied heavily on the Media Vault for all camera RED file transfers and proxy creation. This allowed the senior editor, Amanda Hughes, to begin assembling scenes right away in the make-shift edit suite, which was actually a bedroom in the house that a third of WHITETAIL was actually filmed in”. “At times the editor would be reviewing footage and assembling scenes, all while the director was watching his monitor with the focus puller, allow them to do their jobs respectively at the same time. It got a little tight for sure, but the Media Vault proved the importance of having quiet gear onset”.
Per Starne, “Production had to move fast”. They only had a 12-day shoot schedule and that wasn’t going to change. To recap; the camera OCN RED files were copied to the Media Vault. Proxy transcodes for the RED Dragon Cam B were created through Adobe Media Encoder accessing the Media Vault through a second laptop. Red Cam A proxies were created in camera due to a DSMC2 brain. Adobe Premiere was the tool of choice for editorial because “the relinking feature is so effortless, and the AAF export just conforms perfectly in Autodesk Flame, the online and finishing choice for VFX and final color.”
The shoot ended the day before Thanksgiving and although there were challenges, it all came together. Production packed up the onset gear and portable Media Vault and moved to Jason Starnes’ home office where editorial would continue through the month of December. Now acting as Post Supervisor, Jason said, “Believe it or not we had a picture lock by the end of December”.
The Editorial setup was configured with two laptops (edit and assist stations) running Adobe Premiere Pro. Autodesk Flame for Visual Effects with Autodesk Lustre 2020 were used for the online and color on a powerful purpose-built workstation provided by CineSys-Oceana. Taking advantage of the 4 direct connect 10Gb Ethernet ports on the Media Vault, the colorist and VFX team experienced excellent throughput to handle the post workflow. After final picture lock, the Adobe Premiere AAF was sent to the Autodesk Flame system which conformed the camera OCN RED R3D files at full 6K debayer on the fly coming straight from the Media Vault.
The VFX shots were packaged and sent over to Charlie Uniform Tango for the VFX work and to allow them to do their magic. The color grading was started in Autodesk Lustre 2020 and rendered back into the Autodesk Flame timeline. After picture lock the offline was sent over to the music composer Patrick Russell, and another offline copy with original audio and an OMF export was sent to Kevin Brown, at KDB Entertainment, who handled the sound design and dialogue editing.
“The experience has been amazing, being able to keep all the data in a single sharable, portable container. We already have another project in the works, and we know that CODEX Media Vault will take center stage!”.
Camera Type: RED Weapon
Director: Derek Presley
Director of Photography: Garrett Schwindt
Post Supervisor: Jason Starne
Codex related product and workflows