Workflow: Nvidia speeds the 'Gone Girl' post pipeline
Issue: October 1, 2014

Workflow: Nvidia speeds the 'Gone Girl' post pipeline

David Fincher’s successful theatrical thriller Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris, hit theaters on October 3rd and has since generated nearly $150M in box office sales. As one of the first features to be shot entirely in 6K, the film required some unique solutions for its post production workflow. Edited by two-time Academy Award-winner Kirk Baxter, ACE, the 20th Century Fox feature was cut entirely in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

The filmmakers opted to shoot in 6K, but frame for 5K to have an ability to reframe and stabilize. They also wanted to retain control over a majority of the post production to improve turnaround and reduce overall costs.

“Shooting in 6K, we had a large amount of Red media content to be converted and reviewed,” explains Jeff Brue, post engineer. “This, combined with a need for an ability during editorial for every shot to be reframed, posed a unique challenge.”

Fast turnaround of image sequences from shoot, to editorial, to VFX was also key to enabling the creative teams to have time to iterate on shots.The more iterations, the better the final, and Fincher is known as a director who sets new visual standards with each film release.

Enter Nvidia’s latest GPU technology. It was incorporated across all stages of the film’s production, including the company’s new Quadro K5200, which provided double the memory and 30 percent faster performance than its previous generation equivalent.

On the back end of the workflow, the Nvidia GPU-based production system enabled up to 50 times faster transcoding of 6K files to DPX over CPU. This was a huge time-saving benefit that accelerated the project’s workflow for delivery to VFX. 

The offline stage was equally demanding, since it was done at a resolution of 2,304x1,152 for a correspondence to a 5K center extraction window, which is represented in a 1,920x1,080 timeline. Here, it was important for editor Kirk Baxter to have access to Nvidia GPUs for near-zero latency on start and stop of playback, realtime repositioning and stabilization in a complete VFX production flow-through methodology.

“The footage was finally converted to DPX using a Quadro K5200 accelerated Redline transcoder, which performs blazingly fast compared to the CPU. Also, the Nvidia CUDA implementation was the fastest GPU acceleration available to us, and let our post production pros review more content, iterate more frequently and finish their shots on time,” notes Brue.

The film was shot using the Red Dragon camera by DP Jeff Cronenweth, ASC. While captured in 6K, the creative edit was done at 2.5K as offline ProRes, viewed as 1,920x1,080 HD. The workflow was also able to support up to four streams of 6K multi-cam playback with realtime repositioning, stabilization and color-correction.

“Nvidia’s latest generation of GPUs was important to the creative flow of the production,” notes Jeff Brue. “The Nvidia Quadro 5200 was extremely performant in the production by allowing the playback and realtime downscaling of 6K to 4K – something that was crucial to ensuring the best post production experience.”

The Nvidia Quadro GPUs also enable GPU debayering support, eliminating the need for any additional Red Rocket hardware. “GPU debayering was huge for us, because it allowed us to distribute footage processing across multiple standard VFX workstations rather than relying on a single hero system,” continues Brue.

“I don’t know how we’d be doing any of this without Nvidia GPUs,” Brue recalls. “Well, actually I do know; it wouldn’t be with anything less than a 50-node render farm.”