Light Iron CEO Talks Innovations in Production and Post

Light Iron is a post-production company that is no stranger to innovation. The company is known for its handling of Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its end-to-end 4K production -- as well as its on-set hardware and software tools. Given LI's progressive attitude, it isn't too surprising that CEO Michael Cioni recently sat down to present a variety of non-Light Iron production tools (with one exception) that he sees as innovations. Cioni hits upon MōVI, the Canon C500, Ki Pro Quad, LI Live Play, and FCPX, all within the context of why and how they are future-ready. To see this innovator's thoughts on production innovations, check below.

In the description of the video, Cioni states:

This case study is my attempt at un-marketed information. These are simply examples of technology I particularly enjoy working with. But this video was done without the consent or request of any of the associated companies mentioned.

  • No company saw an edit before I uploaded it
  • No company contracted me to do this in any way
  • I was not paid for any of this information

Understandably, most of the video content posted by Light Iron has concerned the company's own tools and technology. Granted, the video below is more of an experiential essay than an exhaustive examination, but it's still quite interesting to hear Cioni's thoughts on un-affiliated tools and technology. (Again, the exception is Live Play, which is a Light Iron app). It's also noteworthy to see some love for Canon camera systems from a company that has largely been associated with RED. Check it out:

The Canon C500 and Ki Pro Quad combination is also making its merits known to the Saturday Night Live Film Unit. We've hit upon the Ki Pro Quad before, as well as SNL Film Unit's DP Alex Buono and his use of Canon cameras. More recently, StudioDaily reported that the AJA device "totally streamlined" the workflow of Buono and crew. This is saying something given their "breakneck 24-hour turnaround schedules," as SD puts it.

The $4000 Ki Pro is a far cry from the price and size of, say, the $330 Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle (or even the $2K Ki Pro Mini,) but it sports intensive flexibility. The $11K & $16K Codex CDX-3600 Onboard SCDX-3601 Onboard S Plus, on the other hand, are quite robust, but don't natively support ProRes recording. (The SNL Film Unit employed a Codex before switching to Ki Pro Quad).

Final Cut ProPerhaps what struck me the most was Michael's endorsement of Final Cut Pro X -- not because it's an endorsement of FCPX (opinions of which vary wildly, as we know), but because of the depth of his endorsement. 'Entirely file-based' is kind of Light Iron's bread and butter. The company's made that pretty clear in the relatively short time it has existed. For the CEO of this company to essentially say that FCPX is the only truly modern editor for an entirely-file-based world -- well, there's gravity to that statement.

If there's anywhere Cioni's call for 'habit-breaking' applies the most, it's surely here. There's a reason that most NLEs are built upon perpetually compounded options, abilities, interfaces, and so on -- old styles of working die hard.

I still haven't gotten my hands on FCPX, but I've been meaning to, if only to make up my own mind about things. I've heard from both detractors and supporters about the new Final Cut, and now I'd like to hear from you guys.

What's your reaction to Michael's presentation here,  both in general and in terms of FCPX? How do your own experiences on set and in post match up to Michael's thoughts and predictions?


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Your Comment


Aren't Avid and Premiere file based? Is this guy crazy?

September 28, 2013 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


My interpretation: it's not that Avid, Premiere, and FCP7 are file-based, it's that they're built from the ground up to fit the needs of an ancient model. Trust me, I feel you, I have far more experience in FCP7 than anything else. Using Premiere more and more nowadays, I find it's definitely the same sort of experience all over again. Which isn't a bad thing for me, by any means.

September 28, 2013 at 5:35PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Dave Kendricken

I won't say FCPX is the better...I think for some type of works FCPX rules and for others AVID does....and premiere for me right now is kind of on the dark side....Anyway....FCPX may not be the better but I must admit that is just the Fastest NLE terms of ingesting - previewing and start editing footage...i hate magnetic timeline but for some times is essential....but just drag your mouse over a thumbnail and have it already loaded "in the viewer" to put rough in and out is just fucking awesome...and when you have to watch hours of this is a time saver..

September 28, 2013 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Premiere anc Creative Cloud are the stuff you need.

September 28, 2013 at 5:22PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


By the way, near the end when Cioni is talking about the third party apps, there is a brief glimpse of a lighting software where the intensity of the window beam is magnified onto the singer. In that screen shot, it looked a little cheesy but. if that software can be perfected, it may solve the "lighting in post" possibility that I mentioned in a recent discussion. I wasn't aware that something like this existed and was told that the entire scene, including the actors, would have to be digitized for this to work properly. It may still be the case in general for the best results but this app can also be an important tool for an independent filmmaker on a budget.
I wonder if anyone had a chance to use it.

September 28, 2013 at 6:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I was intrigued by that too, though I could not see a name. Does anyone know ?

September 29, 2013 at 3:09AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


You can't solve lighting in post. Light interacts with space, reflects, refracts, etc. The best you can do is create the illusion of lighting and that only works best when you don't have complicated camera movement.

September 30, 2013 at 2:04PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Right. However, let's imagine a multi-actor scene with a plethora of lights already present and working as designed by the cinematographer. As actors move within the camera shot, however, the light falling on them gains and loses intensity unless you keep on moving the lights in perfect unison with the action. An editor may accept that fact or, in this instance, choose a software aided solution. That solution will not create a light source that did not exist in the physical realm but merely augment the properties that were previously captured by the sensor. Now, I have no idea what difference there may be between a ubiquitous color grading package and this particular app but, I assume there is some reason for this program to exist. And so I'd like to learn more about it.

September 30, 2013 at 9:00PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Michael Cioni has let out a secret. FCP X is good and is becoming better and better with each update. Would love to know which third party plugins he is using.

September 29, 2013 at 8:23AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Michael has overseen the post on several of my projects and I must say he is one of the brightest guys in the business today. FCP X is the most innovative of all the NLE's out there, perhaps not the best NLE but definitely the most radical. FCP X has come a long way in the two years it has been out and once you get use to the new interface and learn how to use its organization tools it starts to rise head and shoulders above many of the other NLEs out there. The software still has some professional limitations (sharing between multiple editors) and you shouldn't have to purchase event manager x to have the program run smoothly. Beyond those shortcomings, it's a great ecosystem that has loads of potential with future firmware updates.

September 29, 2013 at 1:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I wonder how Red feels about him not mentioning the Epic as a camera for the future. It was clear from all his earlier videos talking about the red workflow that he was so deep in bed with them makes me wonder what happened. With all that, I'm glad he made this video and lent out some thoughts on these tools even if he plugged his own live play app.

September 29, 2013 at 6:11PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Yeah I would argue the RED (though I personally am not a user yet) is more future proofed than a C500. Their whole system is based on investment rather than spending thousands and then a few years later spending the same amount of money all over again.

October 11, 2013 at 7:03AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Sorry but FCPX still as far as I have seen and just double checking right now, does not natively support OMF export. Seriously are people doing their sound work in FCPX, I don't think so. As most high level systems are still using Protools. However we did all of our post sound work or 90%+ of it in Audition CS6. FCPX also does not integrate with scripts it does not automatically see dialog and recognize actors. A lot of the manual work you have to do logging clips in other editors Premiere does for you if setup correctly. Also using this very complicated system to get 4K and very expensive system. Why not just shoot RED? I thought Michael was a supporter of RED and now with DRAGON why would you ever use a C500?

September 29, 2013 at 9:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Darren Orange

Light Iron handles all types of digital media. I don't see why he needs to only promote Red. Obviously he's impressed with the C500 to give it a mention.

September 30, 2013 at 2:20PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


October 1, 2013 at 11:21PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Sorry to double-post but it just might be this software - Oloneo Photo Engine. It looks like they are a French company. They talk about "relighting" a scene in post. Auto-detection of ambient light. Etc.

October 1, 2013 at 11:35PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM