Published on Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Director Tim Cawley worked with Brickyard Filmworks to produce ‘From Nothing, Something’,
developing a custom workflow pulling together new and archive footage in multiple formats into
a feature documentary.
|The documentary chronicles the creative processes behind individuals such as Tom Perrotta, Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara, Neville Page, Preston Scott Cohen, Huma Bhabha and others ranging from cancer researchers to celebrity chefs, to uncover where people get their ideas and how they bring them to fruition. ‘From Nothing, Something’ premiered on 29 April at the 10th annual Independent Film Festival Boston in Boston, Massachusetts.|
Tim Cawley has worked with Brickyard Filmworks several times before on advertising campaigns and on his short film ‘Big Day of Fishing’ in 2009. Brickyard's DP Geoff McAuliffe, producer Amy Appleton and post-production supervisor Henrique Ghersi worked on this project for two years from pre-production through the shoot to finishing. Geoff explained, "This was such a different process from our usual projects, and it was an amazing learning experience for a lot of the team members. This was a passion project for all involved, working in locations all over the country, doing all of our own lighting and shooting and much more."
Geoff and Henrique shot all of the sit-down interviews in 4K with a RED camera and all b-roll with two Canon 5Ds. They also received additional footage in formats including Canon 7D, Panasonic 154 AVCCAM, Panasonic HVX, Flip Cameras, DBetas, HDCAMs, DVDs and scanned materials. This footage, eventually comprising about 30 per cent of the final cut, not only varied in format but also in frame-rate and resolution.
|Henrique Ghersi explained that from the very start of production, Tim and Geoff wanted to give the documentary a cinematic look and make it stand out in contrast to the more typical run-and-gun style documentaries. They also felt the cinematic style would be more suitable for a film that investigates and ponders on the creative process and the creative mind. Taking this into account, Geoff decided to shoot the interviews using the RED ONE and customised his lighting setups to complement the subjects and environments.
“On the other hand, there were to be a lot of spontaneous and unplanned moments that had to be shot on the fly as b-roll,” said Henrique. “So we had to be flexible enough and ready to capture footage easily and on the spot. This is why the decision was made to use Canon 5D cameras to capture the b-roll footage. They are portable enough to use in any kind of location and be used handheld, but still produce a really nice, cinematic image.”
|Brickyard On Set
Led by Geoff, Brickyard had a substantial influence on the decision making about both the looks and the camera and other gear, constantly communicating with the director. For the sit-down interviews when they could afford the time to set everything up, they monitored the shoot with Panasonic BT monitors displaying the HD 1080p image right out of the RED Camera. For the b-roll footage shot on the run using Canon 5D cameras, they would review all material on a laptop as soon as each memory card was full. All material was then copied from the cards to the laptops, where it was organized and titled appropriately, and backed up redundantly to two separate 1TB drives on the spot.
Henrique said that, given the limited number of people working on production, the role of ‘data wrangler’ varied on each shoot. “Working as the post-production workflow supervisor, I oversaw the asset management, archiving and retrieval of the material in the post process back at Brickyard. All the drives of material accumulated on set were stored at Brickyard where they were converted and transcoded for offline and eventual online.
|“The footage was organized in 1TB drives with an additional mirrored drive to back up each one. Almost 10 Terabytes of footage were shot for the project, which amount to around 100 hours of material. A total of 20 drives host the footage, which includes main drives and back-ups. All footage was then sent to Michael Schrom and Company where LTO tape back-ups were made of each drive for very secure safeguarding of material.”
Transcoding all of the images into a single format, resolution and frame-rate was a major undertaking for the team. “It all varied in frame rate, format and quality and could range from high resolution HD 1080psf images to NTSC interlaced compressed footage,” said Henrique. “The challenge was first to make sure it all had unique timecode embedded for optimal offline/online workflow - and ultimately to make it all look as good as possible in the context of the rest of the footage that we had shot for the film.