As Digital Cinema Shooting Reaches 4K, 6K, & Beyond, How Will Post Production Keep Up?
Michael Cioni, CEO of post firm Light Iron, has been quite proactive in sharing the ins and outs of his company's workflows, techniques, and philosophies. Previously, Cioni has highlighted the hurdles of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's 4K post production process, and gone in-depth about maintaining the color pipeline of Ender's Game amidst extensive visual effects work. Now, in a video journal released in time for NAB 2014, Cioni breaks down Light Iron's upgraded 4K, 6K and even 8K-ready post infrastructure -- while also explaining the importance of choosing tools today that will serve the future's needs.
The tools and techniques it takes to finish a film after editing make up the heart of the modern post house -- its "bread and butter," so to speak. It's not hard to imagine such a company being a little hesitant to give away any "under the hood" secrets, much less explain what everything is and how it all works together. As such it's pleasant if not surprising to see Cioni's openness here, who went as far as saying the following in a forum post from a ways back:
Actually, I have no problem revealing our cards. Ever since I started working in Hollywood, I found that sharing information is more effective in building relationships than in boasting about "secret sauces" that are reserved for clients only. While many people (especially post companies) lure people in with so-called "proprietary tools," I find that sharing the knowledge with everyone and everyone yields far more positive results.
This philosophy apparently extends to LI's core system -- the stuff that puts the "iron" in the company's name. Now, into the guts we go:
It's almost needless to say, but I'll say it anyway: that's a pretty darn impressive setup they got there. Those throughput figures pretty much speak for themselves, and it's amazing that much horsepower can fit into so compact a space. What's truly fascinating to me is just how IT-based the future of post -- and filmmaking in general -- really is. In a file-based world, that makes a lot of sense, but it's still nice to see that current hardware and software can handle the demands of tomorrow's formats.
Of course, these systems exist a bit beyond the scope of a home-brew indie post production setup. Regardless, I think it's helpful for any filmmaker to know the specifics of what drives a real-time 6K DI system such as this. You might not be pushing petaFLOPS or laying Fibre Channel, and you may never even need to. Whatever tools you have access to now, efficient and future-ready practices can still trickle down to a home-brew post setup -- as can issues like bottlenecks, conversely. Such considerations are just as important when time and budgets are limited, even if you're working in 2K.
Especially given the benefits of advancing GPU technology (as opposed to proprietary solutions), "tomorrow" is looking to be a bright place for filmmaking technology. Furthermore Light Iron's continued transparency here is appreciable, as it sheds all the more light on the inner workings of a pretty exciting future.