BURBANK, CA — Hula Post (hulapost.com) supplied editing systems for The Batman, Warner Bros.’ latest feature film release based on the DC Comics superhero. The movie harkens back to Batman’s second fighting crime, when he pursues the Riddler. The Batman was directed by Matt Reeves and stars Robert Pattinson. It was released on March 4th.
Hula Post provided Avid Media Composer workstations, Avid NEXIS storage and workflow designs for editor William Hoy, ACE, and first assistant editor Matthew Simpson, who initially worked from their homes, and later for the entire editorial team at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA. Hoy began work on the film in late January of 2020 at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in England, using cutting rooms set up for him and a UK-based editorial team. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, he returned to the US on March 17th.
Editor Bill Hoy
He resumed work in July of 2020 in Los Angeles, where Hula Post set up local Avid systems in his home. In February 2021, Hula Post engineers, Simpson, and post production supervisor Tina Anderson prepared to relocate Hoy to the Warner Bros. lot and set up workstations for the sizeable editorial team that was to come on board. Hula Post ultimately provided nine Media Composer workstations with 160TBs of NEXIS storage for a series of rooms that took up an entire floor. Warner Bros. instituted strict COVID protection protocols for the post process, specifically not allowing more than two people in a room together and requiring masks.
“Matt Reeves and I always work together in a very collaborative and fast-paced way,” Hoy explains. “He sits beside me at my Avid, then he can see everything I am doing, which allows us to really dig in and fine-tune the project. However, working for ten to 12 hours a day with a mask on was impossible, so we had to come up with another way.”
The solution was to set Reeves up in a separate room with a system that could see the editor’s Avid interface and output feed, enabling Hoy to completely mirror his system to the director. It allowed the director to see content from Hoy’s monitors in realtime, as if he were sitting next to him. The editor’s 5.1 audio output was also sent to a mixer in the director’s room. Reeves therefore heard the same audio as Hoy.
“One challenge we encountered was that screen sharing had to be secure and accomplished without touching outside internet,” explains Simpson, whose job was to execute the workflow. “As a result, we were restricted to using Apple’s screen-share app over our NEXIS network, which initially limited us to monitoring one Avid interface screen at a time.”
Director Matt Reeves
Hula Post helped create a solution for the director using two Mac Minis connected to the local NEXIS network to deliver multiple Avid screen shares. Reeves was also connected to a video switcher so his client monitor could receive outputs from any Avid in the cutting room. To make the system user-friendly, the other first assistant editor, Ben Insler, wrote a script mapped to a button on a Stream Deck, and when Reeves pushed it, it securely triggered his computer monitors and client monitor to bring up what was on Hoy’s Avid.
“It was the closest approximation we could create, in a COVID world, of being in the same room,” Simpson explains.
Insler also wrote scripts for multiple buttons on the Stream Deck, enabling Reeves to mirror the systems of the other editor Tyler Nelson; both first assistant editors Simpson and himself; second assistant editor Lian McFalls; visual effects editors Martin Allan Kloner, Derek Drouin and Mike Wilson; and editorial/post production assistant Rachel LaFond.
According to Simpson, “Each Avid had a feed to and from the video switcher, which allowed all of us to see a live output from any system in the cutting room, eliminating having to be in the same room.”
The Batman reunited Hoy and Hula Post. He has edited several features using Hula systems, including War for the Planet of the Apes.
“I used Hula Post on this project because I have a long history with them,” Hoy notes. “They have such a phenomenal engineering team with an ability to create a dynamic workflow for my projects, plus they provide the best technical support, which is really important on a project like The Batman.”