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Light Iron Takes “Gone Girl” Into The Future

BY: Marjorie Galas

Light Iron wanted to do more than manage the production workflow on David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.” They wanted to take “Gone Girl” into the future. At an invite-only panel held at Hollywood’s Arclight Cinema Wednesday, October 15th “Gone Girl Found 6K” explored the choices behind the camera equipment and edit systems that not only benefit the current release but future versions of the film.

Moderated by Light Iron CEO Michael Cioni, the panel included DI producer Katie Fellion, post supervisor Peter Mavromates, colorist Ian Vertvec, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, Danny Peters from Quantel and Mike Kanfer from Adobe. Over the course of the two hour presentation, the discussion highlighted the choice of camera, the implementation of editing software and techniques and the integration of post production during principle photography that enabled the film to not only be screened with current projection models, but encapsulating meta data that can be utilized in the future, when projection systems catch up to more advanced frame rates. Clips, charts and examples helped guide the audience through the very technical discussion.

Before highlighting the benefit of shooting on the 6K Dragon and highlighting the sophisticated workflow that bridged the camera’s data with the editor’s needs, Cioni kicked off the discussion by providing some very grounded guidance. He reminded the audience that the needs of the film should always drive the decisions about equipment and workflow.

“Think of your workflow as a car. You always want to choose the best car for your needs,” said Cioni. “A Ferrari wouldn’t be the best choice for carrying a big load, nor would a dump truck be best for a short commute. All these vehicles are great for a specific situation. You have to think about what is best for the task at hand.”

Working with the team on Fincher’s last two features (The Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Cioni noted the workflow has always had to step up to challenges of dealing with advanced film rates, requiring vendors Quantel and Adobe to be ready to work with their needs. While earlier digital features “Zodiac” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” were both shot in 1K, Fincher has steadily pushed the frame rate envelope on his features. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was shot on 4K and current production “Gone Girl” was shot in 6K. Fellion and Mavromotes discussed the production workflow chart, noting post began on the third day of shooting. Working with Quantel and Adobe, they avoided designing a post workflow that was most commonly used, instead focusing on developing a system that would service the image best.

Stabilization became incredibly important in the editing of “Gone Girl” and a system was developed that highlighted the proper dimentsons of 6K projection while maintaining all recorded data. Throughout the process the editing team was working with pro res files instead of raw files. Editing was done in layers by a team that included lead editor Kirk Baxter, three assistant editors and the visual effects team. Most editors work in 1080 pixels, however “Gone Girl” was 1920 pixels. The system Light Iron and the vendors created utilized video cards that can easily operate on a laptop that managed a raw file set up that adjusted the resolution. Advanced graphic cards supported multiple monitors, and with the files presenting motion on an x/y axis, data was stored without being visible. Cioni stressed that although collaboration was crucial to the success of the workflow, the team always had to be working in a vertical alignment.

Cronenweth discussed utilizing the Red Dragon. While the mechanisms within the camera have been completely updated, the camera body design has remained in tact. Working closely with colorist Ian Vertovec, Cronenweth’s goal was to emphasize the stiffling heat of a warm, midwestern summer. With “Gone Girl” being their fourth feature together, Vertovec felt he had a strong handle on what Cronenweth would expect from the shots and aimed to emphasize certain elements within a scene.

“A colorist does his job when the audience doesn’t know when it’s been colored,” said Vertovec.

Cronenweth wrapped up the evening’s presentation by reiterating Cioni’s initial sentiment that emphasized choosing a workflow based on the needs of a project.

“Regardless of the system, everything has to support the story,” said Cronenweth.

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