2013-08-16 21:25:27 - Elysium, Neill Blomkamp’s latest feature film, was finished by Vancouver facility Digital Film Central using adaptive new systems in post-production.
Central’s novel approach meshed VFX, editorial, and color correction much earlier in the post schedule than usual, to better achieve Blomkamp’s vision – and finish one of 2013’s biggest films.
Vancouver, Canada – Digital Film Central (Central), a boutique Vancouver facility, has created a post-production approach that allows more creative control for directors and cinematographers, earning it the right to finish Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. This new workflow, called ShadowConform, enables enormous improvements in time efficiencies and aesthetic control. The work was executed in a retreat-like environment, by a team working closely with Blomkamp throughout the post process. This new methodology is causing many in the industry to reexamine the usual post-production workflows for large, visual effects-heavy features.
Elysium, the dystopian near-future sci-fi feature from Blomkamp (the director of District 9), has generated a lot of buzz.
“On a film of this scope, this work would typically be completed by a
big player in a center like London or Los Angeles said Curtis Staples, a partner in Central. “Central might be a boutique facility, but we have a very strong team equipped with the right tools and some progressive ideas
Central’s smaller size allowed them more freedom to derive a workflow that was outside the usual process – and particularly suited to Blomkamp’s vision and style of filmmaking.
"Ultimately the choice to do DI at Central came down to the fact that they came highly recommended and the company actually is a place I wanted to work said Blomkamp.
“In terms of the workflow that we were doing, I think we were slightly ahead of the curve because we weren’t constrained by multi-facility, multi-layered systems said Brad Goodman, Post Production Supervisor for the film.
This freedom allowed Central to design a pipeline around the preferences of the director, leading to what amounts to the next evolutionary step in post-production. Through a process they call ShadowConform, Central integrated editorial (raw production footage), VFX (visual effects), and color correction much earlier in the schedule. This approach improves time efficiency, and ultimately leads to better creative control.
The resulting innovation allowed for improved control over the aesthetic aspect of Elysium, crucial for the director. “The aesthetic for Elysium was incredibly important to me said Blomkamp.
The director’s visual style is typically very photorealistic and natural, which is very challenging in visual effects-heavy features. Elysium contains digital effects in almost half the movie. Moreover, Elysium works in two aesthetic worlds – the gleaming, pristine Elysium, and the polluted, crushingly overpopulated earth. This creates a very complicated challenge for post-production, which had to render these two looks seamlessly. Central’s ShadowConform workflow was designed for these challenges.
“Finding a way for the color grading process to overlap with other creative streams extended the number of months we were able to work on the look Says Andrea Chlebak, Central’s Senior Colorist on the film. “With more time, we were able to work at a relaxed pace, combing through the film until all of the color was just right
“On a technical level I found everything ran incredibly smoothly and it's definitely a process I would like to repeat said Blomkamp.
The work was carried out in Central’s intimate, discreet creative environment. “Neill likes the intimacy, this inner sanctum idea. He goes up, it’s private, he goes to the dark studio – he’s in Central. That kind of thing is precious to Neill said Goodman.
Blomkamp also appreciated a natural creative rapport with Andrea Chlebak: “A lot of her instincts were in line with mine and that just makes for a very seamless smooth process."
With more and more post services moving to the Cloud, there is a growing opportunity for more flexible systems to play a role in finishing big movies. In the case of Elysium, this freedom offered efficiencies, cost savings and a final product that many in the industry will be watching.
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Digital Film Central (Central) provides picture post-production services for feature films and television. As a pioneer of the digital intermediate process in Vancouver, the Company is dedicated to progressing the artistry and technology of its craft. Central’s talented and innovative team emphasizes creative collaboration with filmmakers. The Company provides a refined and adaptable pipeline to achieve extraordinary picture finishing. Central’s services include: VFX I/O services inc. custom optimized plate grading, DI color grading, customized workflow design, look consultation, D-Cinema Ultra-HD and HD mastering, film-scanning & recording, texture management, and image optimization. For more information and credits see: www.digitalfilmcentral.com