GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel’s latest superhero extravaganza, hits theatres in May 2017. According to director James Gunn and cinematographer Henry Braham BSC, audiences are in for a unique visual experience. Gunn has been quoted on Facebook as saying, “I’m interested in being one of the many who help to create a new kind of magic that will usher the cinematic experience into the future.”
Gunn recruited Henry Braham BSC, the cinematographer behind The Golden Compass and The Legend of Tarzan, to serve as director of photography. In testing, the filmmakers found the imagery that best served their lofty goals was delivered by the RED WEAPON 8K, a camera that was still in infancy at the time.
“We were looking for a great, big-screen theatrical experience,” says Braham. “It’s a very visual movie, with rich, fantastical and complex imagery. I really liked the 8K because of the depth of the image, the intensity you get with it. The quality is astounding.”
Gunn says that the RED WEAPON 8K gives him control and freedom in post, as well as the ability to shoot very long takes, better allowing him to capture the “energy and rawness” in a performance. And he believes that new technologies will lead to “a new aesthetic of film, one different from what the past has offered, but equally beautiful – perhaps even more so.”
Braham shot an early digital feature, Flyboys, in 2005, and describes himself as having been “cynical” about the importance of resolution. “I’m not sure I could really tell the difference between 2K and 4K,” he says. “But when we shot the Legend of Tarzan at 6K, there was a significant difference between 4K and 6K. With Guardians, 8K really stood out. I’ve changed my view on this. It’s a very engaging image to look at. It almost has an added dimension because of the amount of detail in the texture. I really think this is a beautiful new aesthetic in filmmaking.”
Before committing to a brand new format, many questions needed to be answered, not the least of which is how to handle the massive amounts of data. Three months of testing allowed Braham to work with RED to tune the camera and make it ready for the realities of production. SHED, the creative finishing boutique with offices in London, Santa Monica, and Atlanta, designed a solid, efficient workflow based in part on experience with ALEXA 65 and RED DRAGON 6K on films like Captain America: Civil War.
The size of the full 8K frame is 8192 x 4320 pixels, and the RED WEAPON can capture 8K resolution at up to 75 frames per second. With multiple cameras, the amount of REDCODE RAW data generated by the production was estimated to be more than 230 terabytes.
Zoe Saldana on set
SHED specified an entirely Codex-based workflow from on-set through post, VFX pulls and archiving. The procedure involved loading 1 TB RED MINI-MAGs into a Codex S-Series Vault near the set. After a check, the data was cloned to an 8TB Codex Transfer Drive. A pair of Codex XL-Series Vaults at SHED Atlanta then processed the R3D RAW files with LUTs applied and rendered all the necessary deliverables through Codex Production Suite. ACES was also used to manage the colour and ensure consistency.
The original 8K camera data, including metadata such as the camera gyro and accelerometer data and any white balance changes, were tracked and updated along with the editorial ALE files and tied together using Codex Backbone, which provides reports and facilitates the flow of information. Codex Backbone is also being used to manage and provide all VFX pulls from the database created automatically during production.
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“CODEX HAS BECOME OUR STANDARD FOR DIGITAL PRODUCTIONS AND WAS THE NATURAL CHOICE TO FACILITATE THE FLOW OF DATA FROM SET-TO-POST.”
Marvel has worked closely with Codex throughout its extraordinary run of success. Jesse Torres, VP Post Production at Marvel, says, “Codex has become our standard for digital productions and was the natural choice to facilitate the flow of data from set-to-post. Codex Vault is extremely robust. We can trust that our post partner SHED will be able to use the system with no issues. By choosing Codex, we can be completely confident that our data is not only secure, but delivered on time to whomever needs it.”
Braham is pleased with the results. “From an audience point of view, it’s really exciting to look at,” he says. “It almost has a slight 3D quality, but in a very pleasing way. I think that’s a reason to go and see a movie in as high a resolution as possible. It bodes well for the future of filmmaking, the business side included. It’s an exciting time to be photographing movies. These formats are changing fast, and they’re really good. They are what you make of them – if you’re fearful, you might not have such a good experience. But if you embrace them and make them work for you, they’re fantastic.”
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