Published on Tuesday, 09 June 2015


Colorfront Demos UHD HDR Production & Post at Cine Gear 2015

Colorfront has demonstrated recent developments in its on-set dailies and transcoding systems, which currently support UHD HDR production and post, during the Cine Gear Expo 2015, held 4-7 June at The Studios at Paramount in Hollywood.

Colorfront products shown were the 2015 versions of Express Dailies, On-Set Dailies and Transkoder, all running on MacPro workstations, plus On-Set Live 2015 running on the new Retina MacBook Pro. All of the company’s software is based on Colorfront Engine, a colour pipeline with tools that a team can use to create looks on set, and then ensure the colour fidelity of UHD HDR materials and metadata through to end of post production. Within these tools, HDR is not an add-on facility but an integrated part of the pipeline, again, from set to the final delivery of the program or shots.


During Cine Gear Expo, Colorfront was demonstrated as a part of workflows supporting the newer colour, digital cinema camera and editorial formats. For example, full ACES 1.0 support is now incorporated across the product line to produce complete ACES-compliant productions. Colorfront is a member of the ACES Logo Program, recognising that the Academy Color Encoding System ACES is becoming a standard for managing colour throughout movie and TV production lifecycles.

Supported camera formats now include ARRI Alexa 65 and Alexa SXT, Panasonic Varicam V-RAW and AJA Cion, plus Sony XAVC encoding and decoding. Colorfront On-Set Live 2015 was shown grading footage from a Sony F55 camera using 3D LUTs stored on AJA and HDLink Pro LUT boxes. To show HDR monitoring and display, Colorfront demonstrated playback on professional and consumer high dynamic range UltraHD displays, including a 65-inch Samsung JS9500 UHD HDR TV set.

Supporting UHD post production, Colorfront showed rendering of 4K DNxHR for editing, finishing and delivering in 4K in AVID Media Composer. Also in AVID, Colorfront’s standalone file-conversion and mastering system for digital cinema and UHDTV production, Transkoder 2015 on Mac, was demonstrated creating 4K DCP deliverables from AVID DNxHR editorial footage.

Colorfront Transkoder in Action

Transkoder is now in use at major broadcasters such as BBC, NHK and MGO, and in VFX asset management systems such as The Creative-Cartel’s Joust, which uses the engine for 2K, 4K, 3D4K, 8K, UHDTV and high frame rate processing tasks. The Creative-Cartel is a digital pipeline management company specialising in digital workflows for feature films.


On-set or near-set, their team controls camera data using their own Joust software and various third party applications, moving EDLs, VFX dailies and metadata from camera to post to delivery on screen. Joust works as a digital repository through which VFX vendors access and distribute RAW assets, cyberscans, their VFX composites and other work-in-progress, plus camera reports.    

The Creative-Cartel runs Colorfront On-Set Dailies systems for near-set operations, and Transkoder Engine to power six Joust VFX management systems. These systems are packed into flight-cases built to follow productions working on locations, using SFTP or Aspera to set up fast broadband connections with VFX, editorial and DI facilities.

The Creative-Cartel collaborates with each production in advance to establish the workflow, file formats and file-naming conventions required, and to assign Transkoder Engine pre-sets accordingly. Transkoder typically undertakes the initial ‘heavy lifting’ processes of transcoding RAW files to the various DPX, EXR, QT and MXF files formats the VFX and editorial teams and DI finishing studio will use. It is also capable of outputting most other codecs and mezzanine delivery formats currently in use.

Following this stage, Transkoder Engine continuously reads and auto-conforms the EDLs from editorial. Users can select the RAW pulls and deliverables they need using pre-sets in Joust, which then pushes these assets to the vendor in the required format. Joust also has a dailies viewer used to review shots-in-progress, and a live interactive review function for dispersed teams.

Jenny Fulle, CEO of Creative-Cartel said, “Being able to use Transkoder as part of an automated system, meant we could develop Joust into a standalone package that users can interact with directly themselves. Once production is set in motion Joust’s functionality is automated via a web user-interface. Depending on the file sizes, turnaround times can be shortened to the point that delivery is close to immediate.” Editors and editorial teams, for example, don’t have to wait several days for VFX pulls to arrive.

Jenny said that what has separated Transkoder Engine from alternative transcoders is the ability to write directly into the Transkoder API. Other systems they evaluated had a translator step in between, resulting in a more complicated workflow. Colorfront products are generally ready with support as new cameras and formats emerge as well. She also said that her company is considering moving into automated cloud-based operations, and therefore looking forward to the next developments from Colorfront.