Indie Film Live

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Technical_05: Post-production near end.

"SPOON the Movie" Server is operational.

It comes down to 6.8TB of total available storage which will hold all source footage and lower resolution off-line CineForm versions of the same source. On the server that we are using 16 x 500GB HDD's in RAID5 configuration on Promise EX16350 16 SATAII unit (only available card on our side of the world). To keep 16 drives together we used custom build (from one8six) aluminum cage (can hold up to 32 drives) with 8 CM 4into3 HDD converters (box that converts 3 x 5.25" space into 4 x 3.5" with 12mm fan front of it).

Choice of the Operating System happens to be Linux Ubuntu 6.10 64bit.

File system is meant to be XFS, but its performance was substandard for a number of reasons. The main reason being that XFS’s read speed is slower than its write speed. In our pipeline read speed is more important than write speed, which is why we have decided to use JFS - IBM Journaling File System. Our tests show that JFS, compared to any other file system, gives outstanding performance and is stable all round. Its reading speed varies from 540MB/s (under 1GB) to 200MB/s (for larger files +/- 10GB). Its write speed is slightly less.

Network - Four “Link Aggregation” enabled CAT5e cables (from four port server adapter) run from the Linux box into a 1000BT switch from where two link aggregated cables run into Edit Suites.

Work Flow :
Initially we planned to work in on-line mode only, but we realized that it is more efficient to work with lower resolution proxies and have every artist share the media. Adobe Premiere needs a bit of a work around to account for scaling but Discreet Combustion uses “target size” to scale to High Definition no matter what the input is.

DV versions :
If you are working with CineForm you would know that it comes with a tool named "HDlink" that can be very beneficial to you. One of the features it has is down conversion of high resolution footage into DV version (for example PAL 16:9). The new down converted file is 1/6th the size (in MB) of the original and it gives you an opportunity to work with it on a much lower level PC with less intensity on the network. Now your medium range Pentium 4 computer can be your Edit Suite.

Given we have more or less 260 hours of footage, converting it to lower resolution files will take a very long time. Render farm capabilities here would be cool, but, some sort of auto proxy in the read process that does not render a new file would be much better. Alternatively have a mirror update folder which monitors the source folder and auto converts any new files in the directory tree and saves them to another identical folder tree but containing lower resolution proxies.

Current state :
Footage Server 6.7TB out of 6.8TB is full. Audio Server/Workstation 1.56 out of 1.6TB is full.
And "Spoon Tenth Assembly" is completed... :)

Target :
Shoot the missing scenes and Lock the Edit.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Technical_04: Production Phase Complete.

"SPOON"' The Movie.

EVE - SI1920

Imagine a recording device the size of any prosumer camera like the Sony HVR-Z1 or the JVC GY-HD100. Small enough to be comfortably mounted on a steady-cam, yet all the power of a professional HD camera with 1920x1080 resolution image acquisition. EVE is the fist camera to revolutionize the “indie film” world in both size and performance. The ability to record in HD 1920x1080 depth as film stock and all of the benefits of a digital environment.
No more having to waste money on digitizing film stock or having to shoot less footage due to budget constraints. Now you can shoot clean "True Eye" footage on set with immediate access for editing, animation or grade. Imagine the amount of time saved, shooting a film with the same depth as film stock and all of the benefits of a digital environment.
What does one gain from a digital environment. More control on what you shoot, changing the color matrix and comparing footage before you even shoot the scene! Exposure meter, color meter, digital zoom, element zoom, element spotter, focus assist... All of these tools are available to make for a less painful shoot, spending less time having to calculate things which can be done in the comfort of your VT workstation. All this while the footage shot is still RAW!
EVE is really easy to setup. A PC attached to the CMOS camera head with a PL mount for the prime lenses, 16mm or 35mm. Think of having a bigger monitor to watch your footage and compare sharpness, contrast, etc?.. It can be done. Want to edit your footage immediately while on set? It can be done.

Lets assume EVE is the chicken then MINI EVE is the egg. What do I mean by this? Allow me to explain...
Tight spaces to shoot in... Front of a car POV (Point Of View), while driving at high speeds. Shooting interior of a mini cooper while driving and looking around like a first person POV. How about shooting live action first person shooter? Now you can without having to lug around a heavy camera. The only down side to this configuration is that you are limited by a network cable used to record the footage and a VT workstation fast and powerful enough to capture full frame master footage and not reference image. This chip is easily mountable to a car or even a hard hat without the heavy weight attached to it, in other words the body of the camera...

The Wafian HR-1 is a direct-to-disk recorder with HD-SDI & HD component video. It has been our front line VT Station - footage recorder on location for the movie. It is now our edit suite. Recording to the Wafian HR-1 improves the visual quality of f
ootage by avoiding on camera compression and limited bandwidth of HD tape formats. Unlike fixed bit rate codecs such as DVCPRO HD and HDCAM, camera sensor data is recorded directly to a CineForm RAW format preserving the original pixel data.
With the HR-1 footage is immediately available for instant preview and on site editing via Adobe Premier Pro software. Saving you time and money from recording to film stock, developing the negatives as well as transportation costs, etc... The HR-1 is capable of recording approximately 18 hours of footage at 1920x1080 progressive capture, edit ready.
Other than being a direct-to-disk-recorder it can be used for many applications such as computer animation, compositing, rotoscoping, post production, green screen, etc... The all in one solution for on-site editing.

The MOTU was used for recording approximately 4 to 6 channels of audio to a laptop at 24-bit, 96KHz sample rate recording ability, it can record 192KHz as well. Reason for using the MOTU Traveler over other hard disk recorders is that you have the ability to edit on-site with the Traveler acting as your sound card. So it basically becomes an on-site sound editing suite, with the ability to record at high sample rates and have instant playback as well as better file management. For the movie we recorded using 2 condenser microphones, 2 wireless lapel microphones plus the addition of a background microphones. It is compatible with most programs, but the software of choice happened to be Adobe Audition which has an easy to use interface and pristine sound quality up to 192KHz, 32-bit.
It has 4 XLR balanced inputs with an addition of 4 extra balanced/unbalanced quarter inch jacks, analog inputs. ADAT optical digital I/O, SPDIF and AES/EBU digital I/O provide a total of 20 inputs and 22 outputs. The unit is also bus powered from the computer's FireWire port or standard battery pack for complete portability.

CineForm has developed new patent-pending technology called CineForm RAW. CineForm has extended acclaimed wavelet codec algorithms to lightly compress the raw data from the camera into 10-bit CineForm RAW files. Directly compressing the sensor data eliminates the multiple stages of transform processing traditionally performed inside the camera, ensuring the highest dynamic range and visual quality for the images. The data which is lightly compressed into CineForm RAW at a ratio of about 5:1 for 1920x1080 10-bit data, substantially less than any other in-camera format. For more information on CineForm RAW codec check out their site at:

The production phase of the movie has come to an end... Total figures are 6TB of total storage, of which 230 hours of RAW 1080P footage for the feature "Spoon", 20 hours of 720P "Spoon" coverage and 70 hours of behind-the-scenes coverage in DV format... 230 hours edited to approx 100 minutes... Good Luck with the edit “Inspired Minority”.
A very big thank you to everyone involved in the pre-production and the production of our feature film, THANK YOU for all your support, dedication and patience during this process.

Special thanks to: CineForm, Silicon Imaging, Wafian, One8Six, CineGate.

This is Phase 2 – COMPLETE.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


We were using premiere 1.5 for some time even when Cineform insisted we upgrade to V2 for best performance with Cineform RAW. We began testing Pro 2 with a demo version and have just upgraded. The test results were varied and there are definately issues with the entire work flow. But nothing that will actually get in our way and as we settle in I think most should dissapear or we'll find a work around.

The biggest problems overall seem to be caused by large projects which produce a memory bottleneck. Also there appear to be some issues with Premiere and other apps on the PC. For example. If mid way through an edit you browse your folders in explorer and and play source files in media player (we use media player classic but all players produce the same result) after a while premiere will slow down. A lot. I waited 12 minutes once for it to resolve whatever it was doing. It seems to be a page file swap but there is no indication in the tasks that memory is used up or low. My project could be consuming between 150MB and 700MB and the same could happen. This may be caused by XP but I don't think so. Memmory is being swapped somewhere but no ones telling. In task manager everything is just fine!!

Aside from that we have had a fairly solid test phase with an average of around 3 crashes a day in premiere. The file recovery has worked very well and we have only really lost data due to network issues and other areas of our worlkflow that we are tweaking. It would be nice if the edit software was less memory intensive. Right now we plan only to edit groups of scenes (2-3) at a time and then assemble those seperately. There seems little chance of assembling an entire film on one timeline and while that seems silly, with hundreds of hours of source footage we might be thankful of that fact.

Once we get into the thick of editing I am sure there will be more to comment on but right now we are only just getting going and we have many other workflow issues which are giving us bigger headaches - like network media sharing and serving.


The lenses used on Spoon were 16mm Zeiss prime Ultra II and some canon zooms. Primes are highly recommended as there is clearly a difference. Our zooms were also soft a lot of the time when we shot wide shots but we managed to resolve this with settings and stop and also Silicon Imaging has updated the software which has made other changes which have improved the sharpness and clarity of the image a lot. We have also used 35mm lenses and they are fine.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Finally we are getting post under control. I know there have been many questions in the past few months on many forums. It has been difficult to keep all the wheels turning when there is so much work to be done but finally the systems are comming together and we can begin manage our time better. I would like our team to be able to manage the process the best way possible and to this end I have created this thread for questions.

The Idea is to Post questions about anything on Spoon in this thread as a comment. We will place responses in the content we upload and make sure we inlcude answers (should we have them) elswhere or in the body of content. This way we can ensure that we know about what people are interested in. Also feel free to let those on other forums know that we would like to centralise this process for efficiency. All questions welcome. Please try not to use this thread for discussion. This "questions list" does not preclude creation of and discussion in any other discussion threads.

Thank you all for your continuing support and interest.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

See what can be done

I have gotten some requests for more and more behind the scenes clips. Silicon Imaging have posted some of the greenscreen shots we've done on their site, so check it out. For today I have a selection of awesome clips...

Grant with Glyde Cam

Our Director of Photography using a glyde cam. The camera being just the head and the LCD and the monitor actually was so light we had to add a little weight to the arm. We have used this for quite a few shots and I'm sure you can see why. The system is perfect, his got great movement and the head is small and versatile.


Allright here we have some FX. Start off with one of our bad guys breaking a car window, it looks super. The art department had to actually then make a hole in the middle of that already broken window which was fragile and could actually fall out any second. Buit they did it so well done. After that he have Jason Cope firing off an AK-47, looks pretty real.

Sunel on trolley

You've seen photo's of this but now take a look at it in action.

Here the latest starts. We wanted to do an underwater shot and we got it in the end. The biggest problem was that we we working with non-standard camera's and wires. Having worked with them before we approached One8Six, suppliers of camera, grip and video equipment. These guys are amazing. They modified a Hydroflex for us so we could get the cables in to the heads without obviously letting the water in. The make was perfect first time round. We tested it right after they finished making the modifications and not a single drop was let in. Also the shoot at the pool was great and the footage we got was awesome. We shot some in 30p just to get that little slo-motion feeling together with the strange ambiance of being under water and it worked great. Hope you enjoy the clips...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Behind the scenes II

Here are some more clips from behind the scenes.

This clip will give you a good look at what the camera looks like. This is NOT the full body version, which is a bit bigger with the drives attached. Still, we are using this head on wire for almost all our filming. You can see in the second part of the clip with Grant just how nice and light the camera is. He is easily holding it up and able to move it around smooth and effortlessly.

Bungee rigs and Slide

We posted a picture of these bungee rigs previously, now take a look at them. The rigs, built by Alfie gave a nice handheld feel to the shots. The last part of the clip is a rig we built for a slow high angle 'track' to close-up on the car window, it worked great.

Two camera's on one dolly

This is one of our out-door shooting days, luckily we had nice weather. Here you can see why it's so nice to have just the head of the camera's: it's light-weight, and it's a lot smaller. Thus enabling us to put both heads on this one dolly and covering a wide and close shot in one take.

Cable Stunt

A little stunt we did at the power station. Can't give away WHY he is moving through the air. In the second part of the clip we strapped Shaheen into the same harness and pulled him back to get a POV shot of the action.

Friday, June 30, 2006


The moment we all have been waiting for...behind the scenes footage of SPOON and the SI-1920. These first few clips I have put together to try and show you a bit about what's going on and so you can take a look at some ways we are using the camera's and software.

Simon with software interface

In this clip you can see Simon, one of our directors, after just installing some new software we got from Silicon Imaging. The picture you see on screen is the interface we use to control camera operations, all with the click of a button. Here we just recieved software upgrades that enabled us to change shutter speed through the program. You will also notice, from around 35 second in the clip, how Simon is selecting the project archive he wants to record to. Each time the record button is pressed and then stopped again a seperate file is created for each take. This is a huge help in post-production as all your clips are already seperated and ordered.

Camera LCD screen

The camera head sends the GigE signal to our wafian boxes, and then the screen image from the computer screen is sent baack to the LCD mounted on the heads, as you can clearly see here. Thus what you see at VT is what the camera operator sees, and the other way round of course. This was filmed on our set that we built in the school hall.

Shaheen on the SI-1920

Our camera operator for Camera Head 1, Shaheen. The camera heads are quite light so actions like standing on a high ladder is no problem. The light heads have made various such shots possible that would have, though possible, been more dificult.

Couple of shots where we are using the camera on a Jib Arm. Very easy to control and it gives a very nice smooth motion to the shot.

Right, I hope you like our first behind the scenes footage, there are more clips, but I'll post them tomorrow. If there is anything specific you want to see, feel free to ask for it in the comments. Just as a teaser I will say that future clips include: outside shots, camera's on bungee rigs, close-ups of the camera, some stunts and Grant, our DOP, showing off the glyde-cam.