Epic Adventure Film Trilogy Involved Mistika’s Grading Technology From Start to Finish
New Zealand facility Park Road once again used Mistika for the post production of “The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies”, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), the third film in “The Hobbit Trilogy” directed by Peter Jackson.
Mistika’s colour grading and finishing systems have played a central role at the Wellington-based post house since shooting began for The Hobbit Films in 2011. SGO’s cutting-edge technology was again used throughout the DI online, stereoscopic post and final grade of the monumental final film hailed by critics as a colossal technical achievement.
Park Road’s grading theatres are based around the worlds largest installs of Mistika 4K and S3D master systems. Very large shared storage provides high-speed efficiency between online editors, stereographers and colourists. Dolby Atmos equipped mix theatres, foley and sound edit facilities complement the picture offering, and all work can be delivered to their in-house 176-seat cinema, capable of projecting all major formats, film/24/3D and higher frame rates.
The Mistika 3D tools were driven at full throttle in the third film of the Trilogy, “Mistika’s real-time immediacy again enabled interactivity with the grade and stereo where we could screen any formats in 2D or 3D,” Senior Stereographer Meetal Gokul explained. “The Mistika continues to provide exactly the right platform to service productions of any scale, with superb tools both for development and final mastering of stereo projects.”
Park Road are at the forefront in the development of High Frame Rate filmmaking, from on-set digital acquisition, support for offline editorial, final online, through to HFR deliverables. It took Park Road, together with SGO, years of research, development, testing and refinement to create the unique workflow for The Hobbit Films.
Workflow Architect Anthony Pratt played a pivotal role in the development and is part of the lead team that designed the world’s first HFR-3D workflow. Neither the facility, nor the platform, has stood still since the first film. A novel and highly efficient approach to VFX workflows was deployed for the latest instalment – using wrapped OpenEXR version 2 files – a world’s first. “The team at SGO really helped us prove and integrate this new approach, and we hope to see this released into the open source file format and libraries. Of course SGO’s clients now have it built-in!” Tony says, “Once again the Mistika sits firmly at the core of our business, servicing all of our team and our clients with timeliness previously impossible to achieve.”
“Park Road’s exceptional talent is evident in yet another phenomenal feature film delivery as part of “The Hobbit Trilogy.” SGO’s Director of Global Sales and Operations Geoff Mills stated.
SGO’s CEO Miguel Angel Doncel confirmed, “Park Road continues to push innovative boundaries of stunning film production. Their leading-edge needs are an infinite source of inspiration for current and future developments.”
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.
Christian Tröger shares his experiences on how Mistika enabled him to accomplish the required results, “Mistika was again used as the main tool for most of the work but also used as a hub and collector for all other processes. The Mistika timeline was simply created based on an EDL and a reference, with some episodes only modestly tweaked after editing, while other timelines requiring up to 20 stereo layers to organise the different sources, and also to visually vary and blend them to create interesting pictures.” Christian explains further, “We decided to complete this project in a 2.5K workspace, but always directly from the camera footage, which meant that all of the array of resolutions were brought down on-the-fly to a specific 1:1.85 ratio which would fit exactly into the final 2K DCP at a later stage. From this unity resolution, we continued to add the stereoscopic treatment that the film required, including re-framing, compositing, stabilisation and so forth.”
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.”
ARRI Mitte’s workflow solution allows for the DOP and stereographer to work in-house at the same time on the images, but on different systems. Every evening throughout this project, Mistika would diligently output the daily work as stereoscopic 16bit DPX in 2K, which automatically replaced the source pool to feed the grading session.
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.”
He adds further, “When all conform, VFX and stereo work was approved on the Mistika, and this output had been finally graded and rendered, it was just a simple re-link in the timeline to have final colours in the Mistika environments. The next step was to title and finish all the episodes and create the first versions. Projects like this always have a long list of versions and a huge list of deliverables. The versioning is part of Mistika’s role too, as they need to be created from the original sources, which are sometimes within the set-ups or from steps in-between processes.”
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.”
Christian noted, “Our last sizeable Stereo 3D project was back in 2010, and since then, the Mistika stereoscopic toolset has grown into a very complex and main core solution. Without the smart functions and the utterly phenomenal speed and usability, we wouldn’t be able to deliver such complex depth grading work, not to mention as well as all the other demanding tasks that Mistika handles at the same time for us.”
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.
Wim Wenders: Berliner Philharmonie – Berlin, Deutschland (DOP Christian Rein)
Michael Glawogger: Russische Nationalbibliothek – Sankt Petersburg, Russland (DOP Wolfgang
Michael Madsen: Haftanstalt Halden – Halden, Norwegen (DOP Oistein Mame)
Robert Redford: Salk Institute – La Jolla, Kalifornien, USA (DOP Edward lachman)
Margreth Olin: Opernhaus – Oslo, Norwegen (DOP Wolfgang Thaler)
Karim Ainouz: Centre Pompidou – Paris, Frankreich (DOP Ali Olkay Götzkaya)
Produced by: Erwin M. Schmidt, Gian-Piero Ringel
Executive Producer: Wim Wenders
Co-Producers: Signe Byrge Sørensen, Anne Köhncke (DK), Tommy Pridnig,
Peter Wirthensohn (AT), Maria Ekerhovd (N), Charlotte Uzu (F), Laura Michalchyshyn, Sidney Beaumont (USA), Nobuya Wazaki, Kayo Washio (JP)
Produced by: Neue Road Movies (D)
Co-produced by: Final Cut For Real (DK), Lotus Film (AT), Mer Film (NO),
Les Films d’Ici 2 (FR), Sundance Productions / RadicalMedia (USA), Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg In Collaboration with Arte D/F), Wowow (JP)
Director of Stereography: Joséphine Derobe
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
Mistika’s Award-Winning Grading and Workflow Technology plays a Crucial Role
Wellington, New Zealand, 13 January 2014 – SGO’s award-winning Mistika DI Colour Grading post systems form the core at Park Road Post Production and were utilised again in epic fantasy film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.
Mistika’s involvement at Park Road included supporting on-set services and screening HFR digital dailies, all the way through to the DI online, stereoscopic work and stunning final grade for the film. The world-class facility boasts impressive purpose-built state-of-the-art DI theatres for both high-end 2D and stereoscopic finishing work, supported by Mistika 4K/Stereoscopic master systems combined with dedicated finishing suites with matching SGO technology and shared storage for speed and fluidity between their online editors and colourists.
Supervising Digital Colourist for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Trish Cahill worked with a team at Park Road alongside Lead DI Colourist Vickie-Lynn Roy, using Mistika’s world-leading colour grading toolsets to complement the second film’s darker and richer narrative as the company head through Middle-earth toward both Erebor and, of course, Smaug – the extraordinary creature brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch and the VFX geniuses of Weta Digital.
“At Park Road we are inspired by filmmakers who share our constant desire to push storytelling tools forward. That motivation allows us to deliver world-leading results for our clients which never let technology take the lead, but which give us compelling colour grading tools with which to achieve a director’s vision. The Mistika is simply a great asset creatively and technically, and is at the core of our work on this incredible production.”
Trish further explains the DI process using Mistika and how she put her creativity to work behind the head-spinning action scenes and help enhance the picture-book beauty in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
“Park Road choose tools which are not only scalable and technically deep, but have truly focussed on using those tools as enablers for creative expression. With the Mistika we were able to work interactively with the production, at High Frame Rate, taking the unique looks developed for the second film and extending them in the final grade sessions to focus on visual narrative. The best thing about great tools is they enable us to work with filmmakers to bring the world they imagined to life.”
Vickie-Lynn expands explaining some of the technical intricacies behind the scenes, “Beyond the look development undertaken prior to the final online sessions, such as the variable ‘lens’ effects built entirely in the Mistika, we were able to effortlessly fold in highly technical requirements for specific shots – such as deep mattes, themselves mathematically driving complex grade and stereo effects – all on the same platform, and all the time running critical stereo work in parallel with the ongoing look refinement, as the team headed towards the final delivery.”
Lead Stereographer Meetal Gokul explains “The interaction of grade and stereo is so often underestimated, so at Park Road we work in parallel – with any screening format, 2D or 3D, available for review at any time. The stereo toolset in the Mistika was definitely used to its fullest for the second film in the Trilogy, and as always my team’s focus is on an incredible 3D experience which drives the story forward. This film is amazing, and the Mistika continues to provide exactly the right platform to service productions of any scale.”
Head of Technology at Park Road Phil Oatley confirms “We rely on the capability of SGO’s Mistika when creating stunning content for all our clients. Once again, on a ground-breaking production of this magnitude, Mistika has provided a proven and reliable architecture that was both flexible and robust, giving us the immense speed we required. It is a huge advantage to work on one unified platform, and the Mistika combines immense power with remarkable versatility.”
It took Park Road Post Production, together with SGO, years of research, development, testing and refinement to create the unique workflow for The Hobbit Trilogy. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey realised a new technical and aesthetic standard. Workflow Architect Anthony Pratt played a pivotal role in developing Park Road Digital Cinema, VFX and 3D workflows and is part of the lead team that designed the world’s first HFR-3D workflow. “The pipeline we have built around SGO’s tools is seamless both for the client and for our team. The core of our entire pipeline was enabled by the dedication, support and innovation of the team at SGO, and use of the Mistika as our primary platform. We were delighted to put it to work again on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Tony adds, “Mistika has not only energised our team, and replaced the previous ‘heavy-iron’ infrastructure at Park Road, but is the absolute heart of servicing large-scale productions and with timeliness previously impossible to achieve.”
Park Road, with technology partner SGO, also won the industry’s prestigious IBC2013 Innovation Awards for their pioneering work building the World’s First HFR-3D post workflow. The 2013 IBC International Honour for Excellence was also presented to Sir Peter Jackson. In addition, SGO received the coveted International 3D Society’s 3D Technology Lumière Award for its Mistika finishing and colour grading system and for advancements in Stereo 3D and Ultra HD technology, a highly complimentary recognition alongside Park Road’s receipt of a Lumière Award recognizing their HFR Pipeline.
SGO’s Director of Global Sales and Operations Geoff Mills affirms “We are very proud that Mistika continues to play an integral role at companies of such a high calibre such as Park Road, in yet another exceptional feature film delivery as part of The Hobbit Trilogy. The team at Park Road continue to stretch the boundaries of film production and SGO eagerly supports them with current and future project work.”
CEO of SGO Miguel Angel Doncel asserts “Park Road’s highly creative and brilliant technical teams rely on advanced technology that grows with them. The loyal relationship that exists between our two companies, and which we cherish, has grown stronger than ever, and is a significant testament to our shared commitment to quality and innovation to remain on the very edge of new filmmaking technologies now and in the future.”
The second film in The Hobbit Trilogy follows the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and 13 Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), as they continue their journey to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Along the way they encounter the skin-changer Beorn, giant Spiders of Mirkwood, Wood-elves led by Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and King Thranduil (Lee Pace), and a mysterious Man named Bard (Luke Evans), who smuggles them into Lake-town. Finally reaching the Lonely Mountain, they face their greatest danger – the Dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug topped the worldwide box office, crossing the $500 million mark in its first two weeks of release. The film began releasing in markets as of 11 December 2013, and is currently showing in cinemas in HFR 3D, IMAX 3D and 2D. Visit the official movie website at www.thehobbit.net/
ABOUT PARK ROAD POST PRODUCTION
A premier post production facility located in Wellington, New Zealand. Developed by filmmakers for filmmakers, Park Road offers a relaxing and inspiring environment for filmmakers to realise their vision. Park Road was established as a one-stop shop with world-class integrated picture and sound departments all under one roof. Park Road is uniquely placed to supply all post services for a feature from on-set support, rushes, stereoscopic alignment, digital intermediate, foley and sound mixing through to the final completion of all film and digital deliverables for distribution. Visit them at: www.parkroad.co.nz
ABOUT THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The screenplay for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM. www.thehobbit.net
ARRI also chose Mistika to Finish Engaging 4K Feature Film “Run Boy Run”
Berlin, Germany, 18 October 2013 – Strategically placed in the centre of the trendy Mitte area of Berlin, brand new post production house ARRI Mitte has emerged and has invested in a Mistika 4K DI post production system from SGO’s German Reseller creative tools, to service its high-end commercial and feature film projects. ARRI Mitte is the second facility related to the established parent company ARRI Film and TV Services Berlin GmbH and works on feature films by leading directors and with blue-chip clients for big brand names for ad campaigns for the likes of McDonald’s, VW, Nikon, Fiat, Mobile.de, SKY, Danone Activia, Vodafone, Schweppes, BMW, Toshiba, Goretex, Sony Ericsson, Lipton Ice Tea and many others.