July 24, 2014

ASSIMILATE AT FOREFRONT OF 3D FILMMAKING WITH SCRATCH 3D REAL-TIME DATA WORKFLOW

ASSIMILATE’s SCRATCH(r) Digital Finishing Solution is taking the lead in affordable/high-performance 3D data workflows for the filmmaking, TV, and advertising markets, worldwide.  The rapid rise of 3D digital cinema is bringing magical and high-impact experiences back to feature films, capitalizing on its wow factor for global audiences young and old. Cutting-edge advances in digital 3D technology are the catalyst for this 3D revival, enabling a depth and richness to imagery for a highly immersive viewing experience. 3D TV episodes and ad campaigns are also on the rise. For filmmakers, producers, agencies and post-production artists, SCRATCH is quickly becoming the 3D workflow of choice for its real-time, powerful, cost-effective DI tool suite that can reduce 3D post production from years to months or weeks. 

From U2-3D and Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, to Piranha 3D, Charnobyl 2012, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D, and Fright Night 3D, SCRATCH is being used on a global scale for a variety of 3D tasks that include conform, color grading, finishing, compositing, viewing dailies, quality control, real-time remote 3D reviews, and more. SCRATCH enables post artists to work at their speed of thought, in real-time stereo throughout the full DI process. 

Jeff Edson, CEO at ASSIMLATE: “From on-set to finishing, SCRATCH enables users to work naturally, easily, and in real time within a built-in, streamlined, 3D data workflow to create a high-quality master for several deliverables. For 3D productions, with complex imagery and double the files, this has a dual benefit for filmmakers, agencies, and post houses:  a significant leap forward in efficiency and productivity, and more time for creativity, experimentation, and fine-tuning.”

ASSIMILATE AT FOREFRONT OF 3D FILMMAKING WITH SCRATCH 3D REAL-TIME DATA WORKFLOW

SCRATCH 3D color grade for Nau Clothing; image courtesy of Merge Group

What SCRATCH 3D Users Are Saying

“Piranha 3D” (2010) – Grant Boucher, award-winning VFX pioneer and founder of inner-D (LA): “A real-time data workflow like SCRATCH enables a significant time savings for a 3D pipeline, which has double the shots, all the complex imagery, and the convergence of left and right eyes. Even during the finishing process we were able to make convergence changes or color adjustments, and again working in real time was invaluable. SCRATCH is now the center point of everything we do.”

“Les Krostons” (2010) – Elodie Ly-tri, 3D data manager at Duboi (Paris): “A key advantage of SCRATCH is the built-in workflow for 3D stereo. So, along with being able to review L and R eyes individually, you can also play back the converged picture. Using the SHOT FRAMING tool set, I could adjust the X and Y offset to change the convergence of a shot, subtly scale the L or R to remove any black edges within the frame, and also correct any vertical or horizontal disparities. Grading for stereo is straightforward too. Gilles Granier, one of our in-house color graders, made color changes to the left eye through SCRATCH Scaffolds, and could apply them to the corresponding shot, or shots, in the right eye by a single keystroke.”

3D Armani Exchange A/X 3D fall ad campaign (2010) – Mark L. Pederson, Offhollywood CTO and co-founder (NYC): “It was clear to us that an all-data workflow is the future of films, TV, and commercials, whether 2D or 3D, so we got on board with RED and SCRATCH as early adopters. We chose SCRATCH for its streamlined workflow, stability, data management tools, and real-time color grading and finishing for 3D, 4K, 2K, and HD. It’s the ideal tool for working with native RED R3D files, and especially RED 4K stereoscopic 3D. The ASSIMILATE guys are continually updating the features within SCRATCH, so it remains a rock-solid tool and very relevant to us well into the future.” Offhollywood is currently working with Discovery on 3D episodes of The Haunted and Ghost Lab.

“Charnobyl 2012″ 3D (2011) – Martin Kryjom, Divizion director and chief colorist (Poland):  “SCRATCH is perfect for 3D stereo as its capabilities for viewing, adjusting convergence, equalizing the grade on the stereo pair, and applying the master grade, are all built in.” In post production now, 3D horror flick “Charnobyl 2012,” directed by Patryk Vega, is one of Poland’s biggest-budget productions.


Percy Fung, founder of Digital Magic Hong Kong (August 2010): “The future of filmmaking and media entertainment is digital cinema, and we are going to see tremendous growth in 3D productions over the next few years.  The advent of high-resolution digital cameras and real-time data workflows like SCRATCH that include powerful tool suites are making this possible.”


“Black Eyed Peas” – Brian Daly, president at Mob Scene Creative + Productions (Beverly Hills): “We developed a workflow for Samsung’s Black Eyed Peas 3D promotional material that included 3D post production on the SCRATCH Digital Finishing Solution. Samsung knew exactly what they were looking for in 3D, and SCRATCH was able to deliver. During a grading session, adjustments were made on the fly, in real time. Working in real time is vital in 3D post, especially when the content is a live multi-cam situation and any adjustments need to happen instantaneously.” 

“Archangel” (2009), Bonnaroo Music Festival, Nau clothing – Jerome Thelia, founder, and colorist and compositor at Merge Group (NY): “High-end 3D means lots of very large files, with a complex data-based workflow, conform, and color grading at a high-quality level – all of which would not be possible without a real-time system like SCRATCH. A real-time workflow is especially vital to the creativity and productivity of a project when working in 3D, and SCRATCH delivers exactly that in a streamlined digital pipeline.”

“My Bloody Valentine 3D” (2009) – Brian Gaffney, vice-president/general manager of Technicolor Creative Bridge (LA): “For My Bloody Valentine 3D, we used SCRATCH as a versatile support tool for four different applications within our 3D workflow…virtual telecine, edit module, quality control, and visual effects. At first glance, tackling a 3D project appears to be daunting and that’s why we opt for best-of-breed tools like SCRATCH. SCRATCH is a powerful stand-alone workflow in itself, but it also works seamlessly, as in this case, within any digital workflow as defined by the project. Its ability to support any format – HD, SD, 3D, RED 4K, 35mm, 16mm – and its depth of functionality make it a highly used and versatile tool within our workflows.”


“Journey to the Center of the Earth” 3D (2008) – Jonas Thaler, VP post production at AFG/Walden Media (LA):  “When researching a 3D digital workflow, we examined several scenarios that were compelling but none proved to have the flexibility, 3D features, and price point that we needed to put this together on a project basis. SCRATCH was the only system that met our criteria for 3D, plus it included an extensive feature set for the DI process. Our biggest concern for SCRATCH was the size of this project. There was a huge amount of footage and content from several sources, and we had roughly 800 visual effects, which means multiply by two for the number of files. This was an ambitious project for a cost-effective software tool that we set up ourselves, but SCRATCH performed amazingly well.”


Euro Disney 3D Short (2008) – Arnaud Paris, co-founder and stereographer at Sysmic Films (Paris): “It was very easy to adjust the camera alignment in SCRATCH. The resize, offset and angle controls did all that in real-time on the dual R3D streams. In terms of convergence you can’t predict what the best solution is until you actually watch the result in 3D. The real-time, interactive 3D visualization that SCRATCH gave us was fundamental in helping us to design and then finesse the experience.”


SCRATCH Real-Time 3D Workflow
SCRATCH v5.1 includes a host of product features that propel creative pros — broadcasters, filmmakers, studios, post facilities, creative teams, and agencies — to work at their utmost levels of creativity.  SCRATCH v5.1 offers the most advanced, cost-effective, real-time digital workflows for 3D, RED MX and beyond, RED MX-3D, ALEXA ARRIRAW, HD/SD, film, DPX, AVID MXF, or any mix of formats.  SCRATCH v5.1 includes a robust core feature set with real-time data management, review/playback, conform/editorial, color grading, compositing, finishing, and final mastering to any format.


SCRATCH v5.1 includes 3D-specific features for enhanced convergence, scaling, and versioning. Post artists are able to work in real-time 3D at all times with direct output to any stereoscopic display system.  Additionally, ASSIMILATE exclusively offers the 3ality 3Play Pro-S for facilities seeking a flexible, professional quality stereo-review system. ASSIMILATE also offers the first 3D Post Remote-Review Network, which combines SCRATCH, the 3aility 3Play Pro S, and the Telairity H.264 Encoder to enable the real-time review of 3D files among clients, talent teams, and post artists, anywhere in the world.


See SCRATCH at IBC 2010
At IBC 2010 at the RAI in Amsterdam, September 10 – 14 (Stand 7.K01), ASSIMILATE(tm) is featuring its state-of-the-art SCRATCH(r) Digital Finishing Solution in four major demonstrations on the show floor. The demos will feature complete SCRATCH workflows for stereoscopic 3D, advanced compositing, digital intermediate (DI) and finishing, as well as the first 3D remote-review network over the internet for real-time review of 3D files among clients, directors, DPs and post artists anywhere in the world.


Price and Availability 
Contact ASSIMILATE or your local reseller for a demo, pricing, and configurations of the SCRATCH v5.1 Digital Finishing Solution.  For a list of contacts for ASSIMILATE direct sales and resellers, see www.assimilateinc.com. 


About ASSIMILATE
ASSIMILATE(tm) is transforming post production of visually complex imagery projects with its SCRATCH(r) Digital Finishing Solution, the essential mix for a real-time, resolution-dependent data workflow. SCRATCH v5.1 moves creative artists into Post 2.0, the next-generation of digital post production tools to achieve the highest level of quality in digital cinema imagery. Along with data management, SCRATCH features a rich set of DI and post tools for working in any combination of 3D, RED MX, RED MX3D, ARRIRAW, HD/SD, and film. ASSIMILATE is committed to empowering the broad spectrum of creative and post-production professionals with state-of-the-art, easy-to-use, data-centric solutions that deliver optimal price/performance. To learn more about SCRATCH, see www.assimilateinc.com 

 
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Digital Cinema and Data Workflows in China: An Interview with Wu Chiao, Director and Cinematographer

Well known director and cinematographer Wu Chiao is at the forefront of digital cinema in China. He has been immersed in the filmmaking process since his first day as a student of cinematography at the Beijing Film Academy. He has been the director and/or cinematographer (DP) of numerous films, setting a standard of excellence within China. George Lucas’ “Star Wars II” — the first motion picture to be shot using an HD camera — planted the seed with Wu Chiao that quality movies could be made outside the realm of traditional film methodology. Since then, he has amassed a good deal of experience and knowledge about the digital cinema process, including the quality and performance of digital cameras and data workflows, as well as their contribution to the art and craft of cinematography. He recently shared a few of his thoughts with ASSIMILATE. 

Q: Before digital cinema, you were using film. What was your impetus for choosing to work in the new medium of digital cinema?  

A: When I was studying cinematography at the Beijing Film Academy, film was the only option for making movies. At that time, China’s film production and post-finishing process was very unsophisticated, so in order to achieve high quality for the film master and copies, we most often had to go abroad for the film processing and photo prints. At the beginning of 2002 I learned that the American director George Lucas filmed “Star Wars II” with HD cameras. This was hugely inspirational for me — I realized that if quality cinematography could break the boundaries of film, this would cause a great revolution, giving the creation of cinema much more freedom. This strong belief and sense of purpose was the impetus for my exploration and deployment of digital cinema. Although I experienced innumerable setbacks and difficulties during this quest, I have no regrets. I believe the future of cinema must be in the digital era.

Digital Cinema and Data Workflows in China: An Interview with Wu Chiao, Director and Cinematographer

Director/DP Wu Chiao using the RED digital camera

Q: Why have you embraced digital filmography?     

A: I used the F900 in 2002 to shoot the first Chinese digital film “The Coldest Day,” and won the Best Cinematography category for the Golden Rooster Award. From then on, my focus has been digital film technology and how to perfect the shooting, as well as the associated post and finishing processes. I have now finished over twenty digital films, while experiencing the spectrum of new digital technologies, from digital film development, the initial stages of each digital technology — HDCAM to Film Stream — and now the REDRAW data. I believe I am one of the most progressive, comprehensive, thorough and active filmmakers in the field of digital film technology in China.

 
Q: You’re at the forefront of digital cinema in China, using the workflow combination of the RED ONE 4K camera and ASSIMILATE’s SCRATCH Digital Finishing Solution for post production. What projects have you completed using the RED/SCRATCH combination?  

A: “Illusion,” “Heavenly Man,” “Right And Wrong,” ” Red Strawberry,” and “Escape The Crisis.” We have other projects in production now.

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Q:  How long have you been using the RED ONE cameras for your films?

A: Early in the 2008, we purchased a RED ONE 4K Camera, but as a new technology it required  some time to test and adjust the workflow. In 2009, we set up a SCRATCH data workflow and mastered the use of its digital intermediate (DI) tool suite. Once we knew that SCRATCH could easily handle the REDCODE data, and we had very satisfactory results for the conform, color grading, finishing, and quality output, we began using the RED camera for filmmaking.

Digital Cinema and Data Workflows in China: An Interview with Wu Chiao, Director and Cinematographer

Scene shot with RED; DI in SCRATCH; image courtesy of Wu Chiao
Q: What major differences or advantages are you seeing in the use of the digital cinema workflow?

A: In 2004, I proposed that the nucleus of the digital filmmaking workflow was the integration and optimization of digital technologies, which is the most significant feature of, and biggest difference from traditional film. This premise is based on the integration of the digital-photography application features and the digital intermediate (DI) process. From the creative development to the technical principles, all filmmakers need to consider the fluid flow of pre-and-post production data, orchestrating a streamlined workflow for the entire production process.  Exploiting digital technology to its fullest advantage ensures the best image quality and guarantees the narrative for the film. Integration is a prerequisite, while optimization is the goal.

Currently, the trends in digital film technology are a diverse selection of formats and flexible pipelines; seamless workflows and easily integrated DI tools; varying levels of technical complexity; increased productivity; and cost-effectiveness. The ultimate quality of the film depends on not only the talent and skill of the creative and post artists, but also the technology level of their tools. This differs from the past era of film, which has a defined, repetitive, time-consuming work process that relies on costly single pieces of equipment and fixed production methods.

Q: Do you think digital cinema will become the mainstream medium in China for feature films and TV productions in the future?

A: In China, cinema has always been the high-end product of media entertainment, and always at the top of value chain. The swift development and broad application of digital technologies are bringing about a great revolutionary change to the filmmaking industry, now dominating present-day productions, and this will continue into the future. The digital era is here and it is changing the way movies are made in China and throughout the world.

Q: What other digital tools are you using in conjunction with the RED camera?  

A: Fortunately, there are numerous choices and options now for building a digital pipeline. We use a digital field recorder, Final Cut Pro, SCRATCH, plug-ins, and so much more.

Digital Cinema and Data Workflows in China: An Interview with Wu Chiao, Director and Cinematographer

Scene shot with RED; DI in SCRATCH; image courtesy of Wu Chiao

Q: How are you using SCRATCH?

A: SCRATCH is at the hub of our digital pipeline.  We use it for data management, conform, color grading, compositing, reviewing dailies, client reviews, and finishing. Visual effects can be easily dropped into the timeline.

Q: What contributions does SCRATCH make to the digital cinema process?

A: One of the important capabilities of SCRATCH is its ability to easily process the native RED R3D files so that post artists can get the most out of the imagery with the color grading and finishing. The analytic reduction of color space in SCRATCH is still the best within the variety of available DI products. The SCRATCH workflow includes the most effective DI tool suite for post production of RED-based imagery, including conform, color grading, and finishing, as well as the best quality results for filmmakers.

Q: How have the digital cameras and other digital tools changed the way you approach your work?  

A: Profound changes have occurred during the evolution from the HD era to the digital era of filmmaking. The present RED workflow is more like working with film. During the pre-production we can control the exposure, based on the exposure and temperature meters we`re familiar with, while with an HD camera we must rely on the standard and waveform monitors. In contrast to the HD equipment, we use SCRATCH in the post-production where we can immediately “process” the digital negative and do the color grading.  We`re able to hold a huge adjusting space for dynamic range, shadow and brightness levels, hues and so forth. It is much more convenient to use the disk-based and flash memory-based storage, compared to using the video tapes and film reels of the past. With the innovations and rapid progression of digital technology, the art of cinema is making a huge leap forward in ease of use, while maintaining high-level quality standards.

 
Q: What testing of digital cinema technology are you engaged in now?  

A: We are currently doing a comparision test between RED MX(EPIC)and the ARRI ALEXA cameras. In all our testing, we have found that the present digital cameras have completely surpassed the film camera in the aspect of photo-sensitive characteristics and mechanical properties. The high-quality results have reached, and often exceeded that of film — in resolution, sensitivity, dynamic range, frame rate, and color reduction.

We are also researching the integration and optimization of workflows, by which the digital negative can reduce and replicate three channels of RGB within the smooth transition of 10-bit color gradation. This is the only problem caused by the photo-sensitive characteristics of the Bayer filter in the digital cameras, and this needs to be resolved quickly.
 

Q: What is your vision for future digital cinema technologies?

A: The speed of technical progress and innovation for digital cinema will continue to move forward at a rapid pace. This is good news for filmmakers and all creative and post artists, as well as the viewing audience.  As the digital negative replaces film, the quality output will reach even higher levels of clarity and sophistication. The focus should be on how to apply these new technologies in an integrated and optimized workflow. Only in this way can we put more power and performance into the hands of the creative communities and markets.

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