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How Codex helped DIT Peter Marsden tame the workflow on Fantastic Beasts



The on-set digital workflow for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Heyday Films/Warner Bros.’ £225m fantasy adventure, directed by David Yates, was supervised by DIT Peter Marsden.

Working closely with Technicolor, which provided an overall dailies, deliverables and DI package to the production, Marsden was responsible for the safe capture and delivery of the ARRIRAW camera original files – emanating from multiple ARRI ALEXA Studio XT and ALEXA XT cameras shooting on the first unit – into post production. Marsden worked in tandem with second unit DIT Mustafa Tyebkhan, which employed identical workflow procedures from multiple ALEXA cameras. The production shot Anamorphic in the ALEXA 4:3 mode (1.33:1 gate /2880 x 2160) for a 2.40:1 extraction in post production.

Marsden started his DIT career in Australia in 2006, and has enjoyed a thriving career ever since. His extensive credit list encompasses independent and major motion pictures, including Skyfall (2012), Mr. Turner (2014), Into The Woods (2014), Gravity (2013), Macbeth (2015) and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016). He is currently working on Darkest Hour, scheduled for release in 2017. All of these productions used Codex recording and workflow systems.

Marsden’s first experience with Codex was on a Spanish production called 14 Days With Victor (2010). “This used a Codex Portable Recorder, which was generally hung around my neck like a Nagra audio recorder, yet was a revolution at the time compared to the huge box recorders previously, which always needed a magliner to cart them around.”

Marsden’s first Codex/ARRI ALEXA experience came on director Mike Leigh’s short film, A Running Jump, commissioned for the 2012 Olympics, using the then brand new ALEXA, fitted with a Codex Onboard M recorder to record the ARRIRAW files.

“As time has progressed Codex’s recording technology has gotten faster and more compact, shrinking from external recording technology to the integrated XR Capture Drives within the camera body today,” says Marsden. “This advance is a great aid to camera crews and productions in general, as all of the cabling and external technology has gone, and the recording capacity has increased. These days, people just don’t think have to think about the recording system now that Codex is inside the camera, which is just the way it should be.”

Fantastic Beasts shot principally at Warner Bros.Studios Leavesden. During production, Codex XR Capture Drives were delivered to Technicolor, which had set up a dailies review and data processing facility in nearby offices on the lot, every lunchtime and every evening on wrap. The Technicolor team included technical operations manager Chema Gomez, and dailies colourist Mel Kangleon.


Using a Codex Thunderbolt Dock and the Codex Virtual File System (VFS) to specify the ARRIRAW files, the Technicolor team performed cloning and QC tasks before archiving to LTO-tape back-ups. With copies made and verified, Technicolor then performed the Anamorphic 2.40:1 extraction, and made the various deliverables for dailies review, editorial and the VFX vendors on the production. Once the necessary copies and checks were complete with verified clones, the Capture Drives were cleared and returned to the DITs on-set ready for recycling into production for the next stage of shooting.

 A single Codex 512GB XR Capture Drive provides around 35 minutes of ARRIRAW Anamorphic capture. Fantastic Beasts used 30 Codex XR Capture Drives, across the first and second units, which Marsden says was more than enough to run an efficient workflow during the normal course of events, and meant there was always enough capacity on a big day of shooting.

Technicolor implemented a ‘best-light’ LUT on-set, and the results of any on-set grading, using Pomfort Live Grade, were parsed as a CDL on a USB drive and relinked to the material once it reached the Technicolor near-set team.

The overall effect of the workflow set-up allowed the director, DP Philippe Rousselot AFC ASC and crew to review dailies on the same day if required, in a calibrated and colour-controlled environment. This gave them the assurance that they were seeing an accurate representation of the film’s aesthetic and style, created by Rousselot during production, and the opportunity to observe and correct any potential mismatches in the live action and VFX takes before the main DI started.

 “There are so many different devices that you can use with digital cinematography cameras these days, that you always go with the ones which are reliable,” says Marsden. “Whatever the production the safe and fast transfer of data from set-to-post is the top priority, and Codex delivers a fast, reliable and streamlined camera-to-post workflow. The technology is very discreet and just works – simple as that really. We can all just get on and do our jobs without worry or distraction.”

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