The media management and quality control handled by the digital imaging technician and post house is nearly universally vital in modern filmmaking, where each digital camera brings its own varying formats, workflows, and quirks. This need for DITs and post houses, however, may evaporate just as quickly as it has arisen -- at least according to the predictions of Michael Cioni. As the CEO of post house Light Iron, he has helped pioneer RED workflows at the highest level of filmmaking, so his word is not to be taken lightly -- particularly since he's predicting the end of what his and any other post house does as we know it by 2017. Furthermore, what cameras (and therefore camera teams) will have to take care of themselves is staggering, especially taking a look at the duties fulfilled by today's high-end DIT carts -- including those assembled by Light Iron itself.
"The DIT Dilemma"
On his blog FORESIGHT, Michael Cioni has written up a fascinating editorial in which he discusses a number of points in the overlapping worlds of the post house and the on-set technician, which largely appeared previously in a thread on REDUser. He highlights the lack of agreement or understanding regarding a DIT's duties, as well as the marginalized recognition of the DIT's importance many productions seem to propagate. Perhaps most importantly, he explains his own expectation that the role of the DIT will be redundant by 2020:
The data that I’ve collected and successfully applied into my business suggests that the post house is less desirable than ever before and in terms of dailies provisions, will not exist by 2017. Mark my words. Likewise, the sophistication of cameras continues to increase and for the DITs who have been in the game for 10 years, you know that many of the tools you used to require to “normalize” images on your cart have been absorbed into the camera itself. In fact, I predict that by 2021, all the capture, transcodes (there won’t be transcodes, but the equivalent of the transcode), sync, color, windowburn, watermarking, versioning, color space conversions and even lined-script notes based on totalcode-timecode during capture will *ALL* be recorded and managed by the camera, saved to an online cloud server and instantly distributed worldwide. In other words, a significant portion of what Light Iron does today to make its money will not exists in 10 years (which is the same for thousands of people around the globe). Again, mark my words.
These predictions are based on following the data that has been compiling for 10 years, analyzing Moore’s Law, talking with targets of manufacturing, evaluating the market evolution and making a few educated guesses. The result: in 2021, we will not have DITs or dailies post houses. - -Sure, I’m scared, too, but I know enough of my own abilities to predict the market that I intend to evolve along with it - as opposed to devolve in spite of it (as some foolishly attempt do). If you are a DIT today, I can assure you that you won’t be a DIT in 2021. -- Maybe that’s a relief:-) But it means that one needs to find ways to A) build a career that leads to professional satisfaction in the future and B) find ways to extend your relevance today as far in the future as appropriate.
Michael's post is extensive, and in context these statements possess even greater gravity, so I recommend reading the full text, "The DIT Dilemma."
What A DIT Cart Can Do -- And What Cameras of the Future Must Do to Replace Them
Moving ahead with Mr. Cioni's prediction, the weight of it becomes even better illustrated when one stops to consider the types of things a DIT does on set, with the help of specialized equipment carts -- all of which the camera team and the camera itself must complete in the future envisioned in Michael's post.
There are many DIT cart solutions available -- and to a certain extent, you may be customizing your setup from show to show as needed if you're filling the role yourself. In fact, reading up on the topic, we're looking to feature the specifics and innards of a standard DIT cart for those who are interested in the near future. Here, I include soley Light Iron configurations because this gear comes from an industry leader in production and post processing and workflow -- as such, and given how seriously Light Iron takes these matters, Michael's predictions take on all the more importance.
What about you guys -- are you able to envision a near future in which the functions of DITs, their carts, and the post house are all included in-camera?