DIT MITCH BAX
The on-set digital workflow for Netflix’s $50m feature, Death Note, was supervised by Vancouver-based Mitch Bax – one of the first DITs to have experienced the 4K Codex workflow for the then brand-new Panasonic VariCam 35 (now marketed as VariCam Pure).
Prior to production, Bax worked closely with DP David Tattersall BSC to create a trios of 3D LUTs, with varying colours and contrast levels, for the Panasonic VariCam 35 used on the shoot. During production he then ensured the safe capture and delivery of the original 4K Panasonic V-RAW camera files, using Codex workflow systems, over to Fotokem, which provided an overall dailies and deliverables service from a satellite facility it operates in the city. Bax’s role also encompassed performing daily, non-destructive grading tasks in collaboration with the cinematographer.
Bax began his DIT career in Vancouver in 2009, and has enjoyed a thriving schedule ever since, thanks to the city’s on-going attraction as a production centre. His growing credit list encompasses major motion pictures and episodic TV series, including V (2011), Chronicle (2012), RoboCop (2014), Deadpool (2016), Star Trek Beyond (2016), Sidekick (2017), plus Altered Carbon, Tully and Power Rangers, which are set to release in 2018. All of these productions used Codex recording and workflow systems.
“Starting out with the Codex on-board recorder on an ARRI D21 on Chronicle, I’ve had a lot of exposure to the Codex equipment on many different projects. In just a few short years I have seen the company grow, and its workflow products evolve considerably – from on-board devices to in-built capture drives and the powerhouse Codex Vaults. Death Note was my first experience of using Codex with the then brand new Panasonic VariCam 35. Whilst you always have a little trepidation of working with new equipment, I needn’t have worried, as it proved another good workflow experience.”
Death Note was shot in the VariCam 35’s open gate mode (4096 x 2160 active pixels) for an Anamorphic 2.39:1 extraction in post. During production, the Codex 2TB Capture Drives, which slot inside VariCam’s recorder module, were initially delivered to a near-set workflow hub, where the V-RAW material was copied to a secure RAID.
When the duplicate footage was secured and verified, the Codex Capture Drives were then forwarded to Fotokem in Vancouver. As soon as a clones, LTO-back ups and QC of the material were made via a Codex Vault, the Codex Capture Drives were then cleared and returned to the set, ready to be recycled into the production workflow. A single Codex 2TB Capture Drive provides around 55 minutes of Panasonic VariCam 35 capture at 4K. The production used around 35 Codex Capture Drives, with the recycling procedure taking two to three days.
Working closely with Tattersall, during each day’s shoot, Bax would typically apply one of the selected 3D LUTs non-destructively to the Panasonic VariCam feed on-set, and perform on-set grading tasks as required using Pomfort Live Grade. On-set monitoring was done at 1080p in V-Log Rec.709, on a Sony PVM 250A. The resulting CDL grading metadata and 3D LUT were passed on a USB drive along with the Capture Drives and relinked to the RAW material at Fotokem.
“Both David and I thought the VariCam 35 footage looked gorgeous from the get go, and when we viewed the 4K footage at Fotokem, the quality was unquestionable – with lots of lots of latitude and colour information in the picture,” says Bax. “From a technical standpoint, the VariCam 35 files are as large as the ARRI Alexa 65s, and the data rate is close to the Alexa 65 too, which is pretty mindboggling, and a great testament to Codex’s collaborative engineering with Panasonic.
“THE BEAUTY OF THE CODEX WORKFLOW ON DEATH NOTE, WAS THAT DAVID AND ADAM WINGARD, THE DIRECTOR, HAD THE JOINT REASSURANCE OF SEEING AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF THEIR DESIRED AESTHETIC ON-SET...”
“The beauty of the Codex workflow on Death Note, was that David and Adam Wingard, the director, had the joint reassurance of seeing an accurate representation of their desired aesthetic on-set, while knowing the images would look the same in post. Codex makes life easier for people like me, which is just as it should be. It is quite an achievement that they have created yet another robust workflow, this time for the Panasonic VariCam 35.”
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