Post Script: Commercial Workflows
Issue: February 1, 2011

Post Script: Commercial Workflows

This month, Post looks at workflows for commercial productions, following footage as it is acquired, transcoded (or not), edited and conformed. At each stage of production and post, pros need to be able to handle, process and store footage that is increasingly being captured with newer cameras from Red, Arri, Sony and Canon. See our feature on page 20.

Shane Dillon is a partner as Seattle’s Lightpress (, a studio that regularly handles transfers, editing, color correction and conforming for commercial projects, in addition to longer-form work and independent films. Looking back 12 months ago, Dillon says Red would have been the most popular acquisition format, but starting in June, he noticed a shift to cameras such as Canon’s 5D and 7D, Arri’s Alexa, and even the high-speed Phantom.
“They are all evenly matched,” notes Dillon.

The studio recently posted spots for Nike, BlackBerry (pictured above), Seattle’s Best Coffee, Washington’s Lottery (below) and T-Mobile. The lottery commercials were all shot using Alexa. One BlackBerry commercials — Lightpress has posted nearly 60 to date — used 5D and 7D, Red and 16mm film.

“It’s surprising,” he says of the Canon cameras. “We’ve seen stuff, and it looks really good, but there are certain limitations with the Canon cameras in terms of panning or moving the camera about. That’s kind of a ‘no no’ because you get the rolling shutter problem. But if you do fast pans, even on the Red you get that.”
Lightpress has Avid, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere for editorial. Its finishing solution is Quantel’s iQ 4K Pablo with the Neo control panel. The Pablo is powerful and able to handle footage from all of the popular cameras in their native format. Dillon says it’s also useful for fixing problems in projects that are posted in the QuickTime format, which he feels has inherent problems. “Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. I can give you a dozen instances where you can import something and export it and it will look different. If you are really critical about color, you should not be using it, but people do.”

For lower-budget projects that are edited out of house, Lightpress has Red Rocket cards and will transcode files, putting them on a drive for editing. If the client needs further polishing, they can come back for finishing.

“We are here to help,” says Dillon. “If you want to come and polish [it] at the end, we can give you something that will look better than what you had to start with.”