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December 2014
Issue: April 1, 2011

Sixteen19 looks at on-set post

By: Marc Loftus
NEW YORK — Sixteen19 (www.sixteen19.com) recently celebrated its first anniversary of providing DI, color correction, editing, finishing and on-/near-set services. The company has space at 1619 Broadway, including two DI theaters and 17 Avid editing rooms, as well as divisions in New Orleans, Los Angeles and London. They can also provide mobile rigs for work on location or in production offices.

In just its first year, Sixteen19 has provided post services for Black Swan, Salt, Adjustment Bureau, Morgan Spurlock’s upcoming Greatest Movie Ever Sold, and the HBO series Treme. Here, director of technology, Brandon Bussinger, discusses their operation and the solutions they can provide for on-set post.

Post: Tell us about your business?

Bussinger: “Basically, our company is a full service post company with offices in New York, LA… we have a guy in London, and do stuff in New Orleans. We came from a company called Orbit Digital, that started as an Avid rental company and have a long background of being out in the field with editorial.”

Post: Orbit was in New York?

Bussinger: “[The] main office was in New York — New York and LA. We were bought up by PostWorks and worked for them for a while. Our team basically had all come from Orbit. We went our separate ways and then came back together to set up Sixteen19 about a year ago. 

Post: What was the goal?

Bussinger: “We had a distinct idea of providing end-to-end mobile services. That includes editorial support, integration and workflow management, data management — we’ve done on-set dailies. We generally have long-standing relationships with editorial teams. Throughout the years, even in the early days, we were one of the first putting Avids on-set. 

“When Avid’s software-only came out, we put it in a laptop and sent it to India do to editorial for The Darjeerling Limited. And we’ve grown from there. Now, we do digital dailies, and we use a variety of systems for that. We are sort of agnostic in terms of what tools we use. We find the right tools to support a job. These days, with cameras coming out every week, I don’t know if there is a system out there that will do everything?”

Post: You have many film credits. Is that your focus?

Bussinger: “We are very heavily in feature films, but we have done documentary and television. We are working with [HBO’s] Treme right now. They are editing on location as well as reviewing their final color timing passes remotely in the field in New Orleans. The final show is being color timed in New York, but they are reviewing it and providing notes on a calibrated monitor in the editorial space, which is right near set.”

Post: Are you seeing a trend with cameras and acquisition?

Bussinger: “They use whatever is in front of them — anything from GoPro cameras shooting 720, to Alexas and Genesis, and anything else — even Hi-8 Handicam that the director decided to bring. We sort of run into everything.”

Post: Do you have rigs designed specifically for on-set work?

Bussinger: “Our approach, in terms of running color timing and generating dailies [is] we feel pretty strongly that ‘on the set’ is a little too close, and getting away from all the chaos of what is going on there is a real benefit for production. So generally, we’ll set up near editorial, or if it’s in a studio building, on the same floor, but just down the hall.”

Post: Is that for quality control purposes?

Bussinger: “[Yes], getting all the metadata in place. We have script supervisor notes, camera reports and sound reports, and comparing notes to what data actually shows up is a very important part of the process and sometimes gets missed in a direct on-set environment — especially in features. There is a lot of information being generated on set that needs to be maintained and tracked and organized throughout the process. And with the speed at which production goes and with union issues in terms of needing to get off set when the set wraps, you can’t have somebody there all night. But, if you are in editorial, you can stay all night and get it done.

“My backgrounds is as a colorist, and to be honest, I don’t really want to stand in a tent and make critical color decisions. It’s not a great environment for it. What the lab used to provide was a way to get everything in one place and organized, and pass it on to editorial in a way that they can actually utilize it. Editorial needs more than just Avid media.”

Post: Can you give an example of a recent project?

Bussinger: “For Fright Night, we worked with Company 3. They provided a colorist and we provided the workflow and systems, and basically built a post facility on location in a rented office space in New Mexico, right next to editorial. If editorial gets something that they don’t understand, they get an answer right away and the production can continue.”

Post: Does most of the on-set work pertain to tapeless acquisition?

Bussinger: “Data capture — we do a lot of Codex capture, assisting people and providing support for their on-board recording and data management, which generally means getting a copy made so disk packs can go back to the camera, and providing the shuttle drives and whatever else to pass on.

“Right now we are doing Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in New York, providing them with a rig for backing up all their stuff on set. It’s shooting on Alexa. [We] back up and it goes to a lab. We are backing up the camera-original data on location so they have an archive of it and then they are able to pass that data on to the lab, which then does all the processing for editorial.”

Post: So you are not doing any transcoding for editorial?

Bussinger: “On that job, we are not doing that. We’ve done everything where we are responsible for that, to where somebody else is dong that. And that’s sort of our specialty: being able to help with any of those pieces of the chain. It’s not an all or nothing kind of a deal.”

Post: Have you built custom on-set rigs?

Bussinger: “We have a standard road case that were using. It provides a built-in monitor and generally an HP Z800 or a MacPro. On the smaller productions, a 1 Beyond Wrangler, which is really handy box for when you’ve got to move around a lot. I design the road case. Calzone Cases builds it for us. We sort of custom build them for every job. I find the case is a pretty handy form factor. It’s basically the step up for when you need a little more fire power than what the Wrangler is going to provide on its own.”

Post: What about storage?

Bussinger: “It really depends. This last job, they were going to have 140TBs. We are doing a big push toward utilizing LTO-5 for things other than just straight archive. Being able to use LTFS and use it as a back up drive makes it really attractive for on set [work]. It’s a little more robust and you don’t worry about dropping them or things like that.  And now you can also scale to large quantities of storage that don’t need to all be online at the same time.”

Post: Do you have a preferred monitor?

Bussinger: “We have [HP] DreamColors [in the rig], but if there is critical color timing going on, it’s going to be either a projector or a calibrated plasma, like a Panasonic professional series plasma.”