Dude, WTF?
Jay Hopkins
Issue: July 1, 2012

Dude, WTF?

On Wednesday, July 25, the Hollywood Post Alliance’s Sales Career Resource Group (SCRG) presented the topic “On-set Dailies: WTF? (or What’s the Flow)” at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in Studio City, CA.  

The panel was moderated by HPA President Leon Silverman, General Manager, Digital Studio, Walt Disney Studios. Panelists included Richard Winnie, VP of Post Production Universal Television and Universal Television Cable, Joe Fineman, executive Post Consultants, Curtis Clark, ASC, Gigi Coello-Bannon, Supervising Producer “Criminal Minds” and Arthur Forney, Co-Executive Producer, “Law & Order” branded series.  

The topic was conceived to address the revolution in dailies creation and delivery that has changed the post industry quicker than color, hi-def and digital camera did.  Panelists were assembled who have participated in this revolution from the user’s side.

Cost efficiency was the major theme expressed by each of the panelist.  Coello-Bannon, led off with this when discussing how in season five of “Criminal Minds” there was a studio mandate to trim $300,000 from the show’s budget. They looked at post production and found that they could cut $40-50,000 by shooting straight to tape rather than film. According to Coello-Bannon, that was a seamless transition.  For season seven, they decided to shoot digitally, because the DP was impressed by the Red Epic camera.  They found that it was a perfect fit for the show because of shooting on location and because it is compatible with Avid, which all of their editors used so there was no need to change anything. But before embracing it she had to consider what problems could arise.  

First, because the set is very chaotic and shot largely on location she needed to know if she was going to have a complete set of dailies at the end of the day.  The answer was no because the show uses three cameras with raw files from each needing to be ingested and even more important was the different flavors of deliverables she needed for post the next day. 

Her question was, “How do I bring all that into a quiet post environment?”  She found the answer through Michael Cioni at Light Iron.  He suggested the show do on-set dailies and designed a workflow solution that consisted of Light Iron’s Lily Pad and OUTPOST services.  After vetting the potential solution carefully by testing it out before the season started, she found the process to work extremely well without any drawbacks.  She found that doing dailies on-set she could get things done cheaper, better and faster.

According to Forney, on-set dailies have been the key to cost efficiency for “Law & Order: SVU.”  “L&O” shoots on the Alexa camera and utilizes FotoKem’s NextLab for its dailies.  It has allowed the show to save $30,000 and to have a much shorter post schedule.  He too echoes Coello-Bannon’s better, cheaper and faster mantra.

Each panelist ended with a thought provoking statement about on-set dailies.  Winnie commented that being open to change is the key and that the expertise of a post house is still necessary.  Coello-Bannon said to be open to change because it is coming but also to vet carefully the solutions available because what works for one show may not work for the next one.  According to Fineman, it is the cost to pay attention to – from the production point of view the best quality is wanted for at the lowest cost.  Forney stated that keeping in mind the aesthetics and that decision on the type of workflow has to include and be discussed with the DP because they play major part artistically.  Clark concluded that final color grading is not going to happen outside of a controlled environment on location.

Silverman finalized the event saying that he found the overall theme from the panelist was to cost savings, using innovation and that the world is changing.