LOS ANGELES — Fox’s new 10-episode series Wayward Pines saw its broadcast debut on May 14th, but viewers that downloaded the “Fox Now” app were able to watch the entire episode online two weeks earlier.
Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed an episode, the series stars Matt Dillon as a government agent Ethan Burke, who was sent into the field to investigate the disappearance of two missing colleagues. A car accident leaves him hospitalized in Wayward Pines, ID, a peculiar small town that appears to be trapped in time. Soon, he finds himself with a growing number of unanswered questions and an inability to leave its limits under his own free will.
Wayward Pines also stars Terrence Howard as Sheriff Arnold Pope and Juliette Lewis as a local resident who too, can’t seem to escape the town’s grip.
FotoKem (www.fotokem.com) provided a range of solutions for post production of the series, which was shot in Vancouver using Sony’s F55 (4K/2K/HD) camera. Director M. Night Shyamalan worked out of his barn in rural Pennsylvania, and the show’s editor set up shop at FotoKem’s New York studio. Keep Me Posted in Burbank handled finishing services for the show.
Post had a chance to talk with FotoKem’s VP of technology, nonlinear services, Jon Mauldin, just before the series premiered. Here, he details the challenge of connecting numerous locations and making sure each had that same material as the show came together in post.
POST: What was the biggest challenge on a show like this?
MAULDIN: “The biggest challenge was the multiple locations, and that was dictated by people’s schedules and other projects that people on the show were working on.
“We had production in Vancouver. We had editorial in Hollywood, that was happening here, and we had the director in Pennsylvania doing his next project and wanted to work from home. And then we had an editor that wanted to work in New York during part of it. Our challenge was: ‘How do we make it seamless for everyone and also provide some ER/disaster recovery capabilities if there was a problem with editorial that was working out of a barn in Pennsylvania?’”
POST: What is the first step in addressing all of this?
MAULDIN: “Bridging all of that. That was the first challenge of trying to make sure everyone had everything, and that it stays right. So if an AE in Los Angeles throws in a sound effects library, the editor in Pennsylvania, or when she was in New York, has that same sound effects library everywhere she went.
“On top of that, not only did we want people to have access to the material in all of the places, we needed them to be able to work with each other from different places. We want the edit bay in Los Angeles to be able to play a different episode to the director in Pennsylvania. Or the editor in Los Angeles to be able to play a cut and for them to be able to have realtime collaboration.”
POST: What is the status at this point?
MAULDIN: “Editorial is wrapped on it. They’ve been wrapped for a little bit.”
POST: Did you have to send gear into the field?
MAULDIN: “We provided systems for editorial in all of the locations they were at. Locally, they were in one of our buildings, tied to our network for all of our services. In New York, they were in our offices in Columbus Circle, and we provided editorial gear there. And then in Pennsylvania, when we went to M. Night’s barn, we installed systems and shared storage, and supported that integration remotely as well.”
POST: What were they using for editorial?
MAULDIN: “They were on Avid Media Composer with ISIS shared storage.”
POST: And the show shot with Sony’s F55?
MAULDIN: “I think that was dictated by production and the DP and what they were more comfortable with, and the look that they were trying to establish.”
POST: How is media being sent to each location?
MAULDIN: “They were using a secure file transfer. What happened with the workflow is the dailies would land here in Hollywood in the middle of the night, so as dailies were coming in, the staff would be organizing them and prepping them in the Avid. There was a little bit of a challenge because of the time change.
“As soon as we got the dailies in Hollywood, they were being synced to the ISIS in Pennsylvania and New York. What that allowed us to do was get the heavy lifting or the copying done. Imagine we are going to a farm in rural Pennsylvania — it’s not as if you have a ton of high bandwidth there. So we had to sync the dailies there and got them there as quickly as possible, and then the AEs would come in and organize them. And as they organized them here in Los Angeles, then they would have them organized when the editors came in because they didn’t have to wait for them to be organized and synched, and sit there waiting for files to download, and it’s the afternoon by that point.”
POST: How are you able to sync files between locations?
MAULDIN: “We are using a combination of tools to make the remote workflow happen. For the ISIS, we are using StorageDNA to do some remote file things between the three different locations. Part of the process was defining the strict workflows with the editorial staff so that we know that the AE in Pennsylvania has a workspace that is synched back this way.
“Imagine the AE in Pennsylvania digitizes some sound effects cuts or did some After Effects work or Photoshop — he needed that to come back to Los Angeles so LA always had a full copy of the media. While the media in Los Angeles, which would be dailies and other work that the assistants [did] on other episodes in Los Angeles, still had to go to Pennsylvania and New York.”
POST: There’s an ISIS in each location?
MAULDIN: “Correct. We were defining workflows and workspace management, and synching between the three by setting up rules of what gets synched where.”
POST: Did FotoKem handle the finishing?
MAULDIN: “It was done at Keep Me Posted - that’s a FotoKem facility in Burbank.”
POST: Once it’s set up, is the workflow pretty foolproof, or can there still be problems?
MAULDIN: “It’s pretty robust. I think the hardest part is making sure people are putting things in the correct place. When you are local, and you move something to the wrong drive, it’s not necessarily that big of a deal. When you are remote, it could be a bigger deal, because you might not have the correct sound track for a cut. And you have studio execs coming in for a cut so you want to make sure everything is there. I’d say it’s a combination of the technology and our service staff making sure it’s seamless for them when they need it.”
POST: What kind of files were being sent from production?
MAULDIN: “They were receiving DNX files from the dailies facility up in Vancouver.”
POST: Studios collaborating is nothing new, but this workflow was a bit different?
MAULDIN: “The part that was unique was that we had this whole synchronizing happening in the background. But from the synchronized editorial, they have playback [capabilities] from each of the locations. Each of the locations had the Avid SDI output encoded back to a secure media server so that if M. Night was in his barn playing back a cut and they wanted studio execs to screen it, that was coming out of his Avid there. And because production was in Vancouver, and he was in New York of Pennsylvania, or then Los Angeles, and the visual effects house was in Vancouver, they would often use that capability to just play through an edit and then collaborate and do visual effects spotting sessions or editorial reviews that way as well.”