11 September 2007

16 mm post production


Park Road Post is our local post-production facility, where we went on Tuesday to view our footage. At the same time we had a look around the editing suites. It's always a pleasure turning up at Park Road Post, the building itself and the entrance hall are so stylish, you feel like you are in a hotel.

We met Andy Wickens, who is lab liaison, dealing with clients who come in to have their film processed. First we took a look at the mixing theatre, a huge space with a big screen and a time code counter below it. There were a few mixing desks, one of which had 280 inputs, i.e. could handle 280 individual tracks.

As John Boswell, the re-recording mixer explained, most of the sync sound from a shoot usually gets thrown away and only used as a guide track, and once the dialogue has been ADR'd there may be up to 21 separate dialogue tracks alone. Then come the foley tracks for all the sounds like foot steps and clothing and other sounds, on top of the music and such. NZBlogPhoto70-2007-09-11-03-30.jpeg
John then took us through to the foley room, which was really in two parts: One side had the mixing desk, and through a window was a soundproofed room with lots of stuff on the floor for recording footsteps, such as epsom salt for snow crunch (for ”30 Days of Night”), leaves, gravel and sand. All around were stands with objects that could be used to make a sound as well as the motor bike they used to make foley sounds for "World Fastest Indian". Cool.

The next stop was the dark room and processing room where our film reels would have been checked in total darkness for faulty perforation or rips before being stapled together into a long reel and spooled into the developer. The developing machine is fully automated and even replenishes its dev chemicals automatically so that only occasional tests have to be made to ensure everything is on track. This is also where copies are made off the master print for distribution to cinemas. For a mayor NZ release like King Kong 100 to 150 copies may be struck.


After developing the print goes to the contact printer to make a positive. This is done in safe light, as the positive film is so slow (about 5 ASA) that it won't get fogged under low red light. A big machine runs through the film one frame at a time and contact prints onto the positive material.

We took a short visit with the digital intermediate guy, who ran us through a quick description of the process of DI, where the film is scanned into the computer one frame at a time for post processing such as colour grading and addition of special effects.

The whole film processing areas looked like a hospital wing, all the corridors were super-white and clean, the operators wearing lab coats, a total contrast to the warm cosiness of the front of house areas, where soft sofas and dark wood prevails.

The last stop was the screening room, where we settled down in deep leather sofas to watch our footage from last week. The film had been exposed to a standard setting, although the grader had put on some extra lights on to some film to make it come up better.

Watching the footage we made last week was a sobering experience. A lot of shots had soft focus, and many were badly framed. Fortunately the exposure was pretty good, but then again, there are often only 6 setups per shoot, so they will be difficult to cut together.

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