Primetime: NBC's 'Blindspot'
Issue: October 1, 2015

Primetime: NBC's 'Blindspot'

A mysterious woman crawls out of a duffel bag in Times Square, suffering from memory loss and covered in tattoos. One of the tattoos bears the name of an FBI agent, and it doesn’t take long before the Bureau discovers that each tattoo contains a clue that will help solve a crime.  NBC’s Blindspot shoots on-location in and around New York and at Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios. “It’s a very ambitious show,” says Sarah Rath, associate producer in charge of post production. “It’s like making a feature every week on a TV schedule. The workflow is a best practices scenario due to the big scope of the show. We wanted to stick with what works.”

Blindspot is shot ProRes 2K on Arri Alexa. Cinematographer Martin Ahlgren shot the pilot; David Tuttman and David Johnson are the alternating DPs for the series. Deluxe New York handles dailies color, syncs audio and pushes Avid DNx36 files to a download station in the LA editorial office via point-to-point Aspera. Once in editorial, material is ingested into Avid ISIS. Master files from the lab are backed up on multiple LTO tapes and then shipped to Level 3 to prep for online finishing.

“By the time the editors get to work in the morning, everything’s ready to go,” Rath says. “The point-to-point dailies solution is new for me. Since it’s so reliant on Internet speed, in the past you’d get the dailies lab in New York to push material to a partner lab in LA. But now with Internet speeds so much faster in the workplace, we’re able to get dailies pushed right to our office — that’s a real time saver.”

Editors Finnian Murray, Joel Pashby and Kristin Windell, and three assistants, cut individual episodes of the show on Avid Media Composer V. After editing unsupervised for a few days, they spend four days with the director, who comes to the cutting room, if possible. 

Producers also work face-to-face with the editors, if they can. If producers have to remain in New York, the LA edit room will send a secure video stream to the production office at Steiner so they can collaborate in realtime. “Show creator Martin Gero is all for new technology,” notes Rath. “He was ready to try remote editorial.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Blindspot has not been very effects intensive to date, says Rath. “There are a lot of action sequences, but they do a lot practically. The pilot has a big opening sequence in Times Square that was all shot practically. A special company designed and created the tattoos with our make-up department.”

Level 3 colorist Chris Boyer grades episodes with Resolve. “Color plays its own role in the show — there’s a real feature look and feel to it,” Rath says. Level 3’s Lisa Wehren does the Avid online.

Supervising sound editor Mark Relyea, along with Warner Bros. sound mixers Dennis Kirk and Todd Orr, perform the mix with composer Blake Neely lending “another voice” to the content, says Rath.

“Although we’re shooting 2K on Alexa, we still follow a ProRes 4:2:2 workflow, something that Martin Gero has done in the past,” she explains. “2K gives us more resolution and room to play and doesn’t make a huge difference in file size and storage.”

Check out Post's October issue for details on other new Fall TV series, including Supergirl, Quantico, The Minority Report and Heroes Reborn.