“The story of evolutionary flight is one I’ve always wanted to tell… It’s our most ambitious yet.” David Attenborough
The spellbinding visual account of how flying animals evolved into the familiar species we see today, became a reality in stunning documentary series David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies, produced by Atlantic Productions with the help of SGO’s powerful and cutting-edge Mistika technology at ONSIGHT. As well as winning a 2014 BAFTA, the landmark series was recently nominated for a British Academy Television Craft Award for Special, Visual & Graphic Effects. The results are announced at the ceremony in London on Sunday 26 April.
The award-winning post division at ONSIGHT used Mistika once again on its seventh Attenborough project for Colossus Productions, which depicted complex flight skills with creative ingenuity. Formats used included 4K, HD, 3D and 2D including a bespoke 4K workflow design built by the ONSIGHT Post division. After also providing R&D and camera solutions for the project, the facility worked with massive amounts of data amounting to approximately 50 terrabytes and a variety of camera formats such as RED Epic. In post, ONSIGHT provided plate preparations, DI, VFX, conform, QC, mastering and deliverables in 3D and 2D across its numerous high-tech suites at its London facility. This included the ability to screen 4K masters, combining 5K live action with 4K VFX and CGI.
ONSIGHT’s Senior Colourist Andy Lee benefited from Mistika’s real-time speed and flexibility which enabled him to freely alternate between the colour and depth grades, as well as the VFX conform. Furthermore, Mistika’s wide spectrum of grading toolsets equipped him with a vivid and colourful array to enhance the remarkable features of winged creatures ranging from birds to butterflies, with eye-catching colour. In addition, he graded subtle tones to convey the changing landscapes filmed in places such as Ecuador to the grey palettes of Scottish skies.
Andy Lee has graded many of the award-winning Attenborough projects from Atlantic and Colossus Productions. He said, “Mistika allows me to work with ease across multiple formats, frame sizes and deliverables. David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies is an example of one of our extensive and innovative projects in 3D and 2D, which requires that level of flexibility, benefiting us and the production team.” VFX Stereo Artist Miguel Camaño Riveiro supported the project with stereo corrections and compositing work.
Anthony Geffen, Producer and CEO of Atlantic Productions commented, “Conquest of the Skies builds on all the storytelling and technology that we have been developing on these programmes with David over the last 5 years. ONSIGHT has played an integral role in this journey, creating solutions and delivering our productions, using SGO Mistika, to the highest standard.”
Previous Attenborough productions in collaboration with Atlantic Productions and Sky that also involved Mistika include David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive and Flying Monsters, both of which have won the BAFTA for Specialist Factual, as well as acclaimed Micro Monsters, Galapagos, Kingdom of Plants and The Bachelor King. David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies’ three episodes aired at the beginning of this year, followed by a special, The Making of David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies on Sky 1 HD. Visit the official website here www.conquestoftheskies.com
With Vive Cantando as their first Mistika project.
Grupo Secuoya, content creation communications giant and one of Spain’s major production companies, boasts the recent purchase of a Mistika DI 4K system with DCP creation capabilities from SGO, to enhance their post production department.
The company was drawn to Mistika’s unique ability to empower creative artists by providing them with a solution that combines all of the post production processes in one complete system, resulting in significant time-saving.
Director of Post Production at Grupo Secuoya, Ricardo Zamora highlights Mistika’s role as an agent of change and why it is an advantage to have Mistika on board, saying, “Mistika represents innovation in production, which helps us stand out and it’s what makes us different.” Pepe Abellán expands further concerning the opportunities that SGO’s technology brings to Grupo Secuoya, “Mistika allows us to develop our workflow without any complications. It supports footage captured on a variety of cameras such as Sony’s F55 or RED Digital Cameras at resolutions ranging from HD, 2K, 4K up to 5K, and all in the same timeline.” He adds, “After conforming the various resolutions within a project, Mistika provides the perfect opportunity, owing to its broad assortment of tools and real-time capabilities, to conduct high-end colour correction at incredible speed. The system also gives us the ability to achieve all of the VFX, compositing, and credits as well as the means to export various master versions, according to client requirements.”
Jose Luis Acha, Regional Sales Manager at SGO affirms, “We warmly welcome Grupo Secuoya into the SGO family. As an innovative company, Mistika fits in perfectly with their philosophy of optimising the production process so that they can deliver the desired results of the highest quality to their customers. This is the beginning of a relationship that will be mutually beneficial and we are delighted that they are part of the growing Mistika community.”
Grupo Secuoya’s first Mistika project Vive Cantando is a comedy drama series for Antena 3 prime time TV, produced by Atresmedia, and airs in the autumn. The programme follows band singer Trini (Maria Castro) who returns to her roots where she reunites with her family and the love of her life Juanjo (José Luis García Pérez).
Executive Producer: AMPARO MIRALLES
Director: MIGUEL ALBADALEJO
DoP: OSCAR MONTESINOS
Producer: MIGUEL ANGEL LARRAYA
ABOUT GRUPO SECUOYA
Grupo Secuoya offers valuable solutions and communication services for production companies, TV channels and many other industries. Visit them at www.gruposecuoya.es
Online Editor Christian Tröger working at Berlin’s ARRI Mitte used Mistika’s advanced toolsets to post produce majestic scenes in Cathedrals of Culture.
Neue Road Movies, owned by Oscar award-winning director Wim Wenders, produced the striking film which portrays various buildings around the world. Using the visual language of stereoscopic film-making, it was directed by acclaimed directors bringing their own unique style. Wim Wenders covers the Berlin Philharmonic building; Robert Redford‘s film shows off the Salk Institute at La Jolla in California; Michael Glawogger depicts the National Library in Russia’s St. Petersburg; Michael Madsen features the Halden Prison in Norway; Margreth Olin sheds light on the Oslo Opera House and Karim Ainouz focuses on the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Neue Road Movies selected ARRI Mitte’s creative team to conduct the visual post work. The complete finishing process, including conform, Stereo 3D alignment, as well as most of the VFX shots, were achieved by Christian Tröger using SGO’s Mistika post production system based at ARRI Mitte. The successful collaboration between Neue Road Movies and Christian with Mistika at the helm, goes back many years now, where they have worked together before on award-winning and high profile films such as Palermo Shooting and PINA. In Cathedrals of Culture most of the offline editing occurred on location where the buildings were filmed, or where the director resided. A variety of cameras and formats were used ranging from the ARRI Alexa, Canon RAW 5k timelapse, RED 3, 4, and 5K, right through to archival and still shots.
The idea was to merge as many logical steps and tasks together as possible, because the goal in mind was to have only one render process from the camera native file to the final resolution at all times. Christian continues, “When working directly from the native camera files like this, it is still necessary to have robust real-time playback in order not to disrupt the creative flow. Our Mistika runs on the latest HPZ820 with a Nvidia Quadro K6000 GPU, and this provided direct real-time playback in many areas. Where this was impossible, for short sections, I used Mistika’s “look ahead” cache, which pre-processes non real-time elements further along the timeline “on-the-fly”. By the time the play head reaches these elements, they are cached and therefore play in real-time. For longer playback needs, I background-rendered several parts as a 2.5K pixel-native proxy for each eye.”
Christian adds, “A 2.5k stereo as a proxy sounds crazy, but the machines are ready to give – so we should take it, as they can handle it! I made extensive use of Mistika’s built-in batch render manager, so that I could split system performance by processing multiple files in the background while still carrying on with creative work. I also used the batch manager to give Mistika a task-list to complete while I slept! For the real output, Mistika generated a 16bit DPX file sequence, which is the format we use as standard for exchange within ARRI Mitte, as we believe that our interchange format must be of the highest possible quality.”
Every morning began with a screening session with all collected work visible in the theatre. These morning sessions Christian describes as the most important times throughout the six episodes: – DOP, directors, stereographer, producer and artist assembled to spend a concentrated hour together, to define a to do list for that day regarding the overall post production timing. “In my opinion,” he adds, “a stereoscopic project needs more options for collaborative working than 2D projects for example, because the contribution of each department, including editing and colour grading, influences the perceived depth of the images.”
Christian goes on to describe how he approached the management of the project when considering how much to do within Mistika: – “As a finishing artist, you have to understand the moment your client explains the idea. Sometimes it is more efficient to start a separate VFX pipeline with the producers, which means outsourcing a task and then, exporting, coordinating and collecting the results thereafter. On other shots it was much more efficient to complete the shot directly within Mistika. Many other tasks such as tracking, roto-scopic work, relatively complex warps and matching archival footage to the filmed stereo material, were also completed using Mistika.”
Christian explained how all of the set-ups needed to be amended for the mono-scopic theatre version as well, to meet the client’s requirements, discarding all unnecessary stereo adjustments, but keeping all other decisions that had been made on the picture. “The stereoscopic television version also needed a different depth grade and an additional colour grade to bring it to the REC709 standard. All of these important tasks took place within the Mistika timeline.”
The 168-minute film which combines all of the six episodes, examines human life through man made structures, and will be released in Stereo 3D to distinctly capture the very essence of each building. The Director of Stereography was Joséphine Derobe. The films will be shown across the globe, following their Première at the Berlin International Film Festival 2014. Discover more about this fascinating project at the production company’s website.
ABOUT ARRI MITTE
Arri Film & TV Services Berlin GmbH, Auguststr. 48, 10119 Berlin, Phone +49 30 726267-150
ABOUT CREATIVE TOOLS
SGO’s official German Reseller. www.creativetools.de
Sir David Attenborough is the only person to have received a BAFTA in five formats, black and white, colour, HD, 3D and now 4K.
SGO’s Mistika was used at London’s ONSIGHT in David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive (3D) which has just reaped a coveted BAFTA TV Award in the Specialist Factual Category. Produced by Colossus Productions, a joint venture between Atlantic Productions and Sky 3D, Mistika technology played a major role in post at ONSIGHT in the exceptional project.
Breathtaking 7-Screen Projection Work-of-Art
“Mistika’s ability to work from the RED files so well, and at such a high resolution, meant it was perfectly suited to this kind of project.”
Thomas Urbye, Colourist, THE LOOK
The seven-screen projection is made up of five films at 5K resolution with 30Tb of RED material conformed on The Look’s Mistika system. Colourist Thomas Urbye graded from the RAW RED files using Mistika’s advanced grading toolset, initially grading each screen, and then combining all seven into Mistika’s unique grouping mode for client review on The Look’s 4m projection screen. Complex visual effects were completed by The Look’s VFX partners Lexhag and imported into Mistika to maximise the dynamic range.
The films were shot in London, Dubai and Iceland on the RED EPIC and feature James Franco, Colin Salmon, Maggie Cheung, Ingvar Eggert Sigurğsson and Mercedes Cabral. A shorter single screen version of the work was shown in New York’s Time Square in December and at Metro Pictures Gallery. Further details about the project can be found here and here.
Artist / Director: Isaac Julien
Post facility: THE LOOK
Colourist: Thomas Urbye
Finishing: Jason Wallis
Editing: Adam Finch
Grading System: SGO Mistika
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