David Fincher is no stranger to being among the first to adopt new technologies for the making of his films.
From his use of RED cameras to incorporating advanced After Effects compositing into the post production pipeline, it seems like Fincher is always on the cutting edge of tailoring the production's technological decisions for how he personally makes films. His latest release, Gone Girl, is another step in that direction. His team chose to use an all-Adobe workflow for the film's editorial and visual effects, and the result is a highly simplified and efficient workflow unlike any other in the Hollywood filmmaking space.
With many major films these days, various parts of the post production process are outsourced to specialized companies. While this has the potential be a beneficial process both for creative and budgetary reasons, it isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, dynamic, nor is there much possibility for real time collaboration. That's where the all-Adobe workflow employed on Gone Girl differs from the pack.
By bringing editorial and VFX under the same roof, the Gone Girl post production team was able to work together on a group of networked workstations, allowing for seamless collaboration. Using networked computers is nothing new, but by centering the post production around Premiere Pro, the speed with which the editorial and VFX departments could communicate and collaborate was unparalleled.
Here's what Kirk Baxter, the 2 time Academy Award winning editor of Gone Girl, had to say about how Fincher likes to shoot for the edit, and how the Adobe workflow enhanced the review process.
The way David overshoots the frame in his films allows me to edit within the shot, then I throw it to the guys to sew together in After Effects, make it spotless, and stabilize the shot. That way David can judge the shots by the performance and delivery, rather than making comments on the technical aspects.
The real magic of this workflow was Adobe's dynamic linking between Premiere Pro and After Effects. Baxter could create sequences, send certain shots off for VFX work in After Effects, and then when the VFX artists saved their comps, they would be automatically updated within Baxter's timelines. This ability to both edit and create subtle VFX at the same time and place, then marry the two in real time, made the revision process much simpler and more streamlined. Add to that the fact that all of this was done with 6K footage, and it's clear just how impressive this post workflow really was.
From the sounds of it, Fincher's team was extremely satisfied with the streamlined Adobe workflow, and they will continue to refine and use those tools for future films. Whether Hollywood will begin to adopt similar Adobe workflows is questionable, as most post houses are still firmly rooted in Avid. However, if nothing else, the post production of Gone Girl proves that Premiere Pro is more than capable of handling the editorial of a major Hollywood film.