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in Filmmaking
on Sep 12, 2008

To conclude our series of blog posts from Paul Krik, writer/director of Able Danger, currently in theaters, here is his breakdown of how he posted his movie.

Able Danger was shot on an Panasonic AG-HVX200 by accomplished Brooklyn-based cinematographer Charlie Libin. We shot HD using no tape. It was shot to P2 cards, basically RAM and then copied to a hard drive. It was edited on Avid mostly on a laptop in a basement and then on an Avid at Jump Editorial. It was edited in HD but at the Panasonic “native” file size of 1280 x 720. This is not true HD, but after testing the camera’s 1920 x 1080 record modes, I found the difference negligible and the 1080 mode had problems with motion. And the file sizes made shooting 1080 inefficient.

After much research about the absolute best methodology for finishing, I decided on the following; 123,840 uncompressed TIFF frames (86 mins x 24 frames per second) were exported to a hard drive and brought over to one of my favorite post production facilities, NICE SHOES, and colorist Chris Ryan imported the TIFF sequence into the specter (German color correct box) and bumped up to true HD 1920 x 1080. It was color corrected there and laid down to D5.

No special pro lenses were used. We used a wide angle adapter on occasion and a long lens adapter for daytime surveillance. For surveillance night scenes, we used military grade night vision.

I did all of the sound editing and sound designing and editing and music editing in the Avid. The final was mixed in Protools. Shots that needed effects were exported as uncompressed TIFFs out of Spectre and went to one of two places:

1. AFTER EFFECTS was used for the surveillance graphics. It took months to develop the surveillance look. We (Roberto Serrini and I) experimented with a lot more graphics on screen and a lot more text. But that took away from the beauty of the imagery and became too noisy and less “filmic” also getting the right interaction of the onscreen text, the surveillance chatter (which I recorded through a kids’ toy voice distorter) and the onscreen action took a lot of fine tuning. I worked intimately with my assistant and After Effects artist refining ad infinitum. After I color corrected the night vision in Specter, TIFF frames were exported and we laid the After Effects back on top and then exported TIFF frames.

2. THE FLAME was used for some “gun flashes” and “electricity” in the stun baton were added after the color correct and bump up to 1080 HD from the Specter. The color TVs were composited and tweaked in the flame by Nick Sasso at Manic. Final finishing took the After Effects TIFF frames and conformed in the flame and laid down to D5 at NICE SHOES.

The film basically only existed on hard drives until we were done and laid down to D5. I think it was pretty innovative. The dream sequences on top of the World Trade Towers were shot on green screen, and uncompressed TIFFs were exported out of Avid and into FLAME and matte paintings and comps were done in flame. The intro animation was done in After Effects.

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