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FX Louie Series Prepping & Posting At NY's Mega Playground2nd Season Shooting With RED (November 01, 2010)
2nd Season Shooting With RED
Recently renewed for it's second season on FX, Louie has also returned to NY's Mega Playground. In an industry that measures long-term relationships by the nanosecond, writer-director-star, Louis C. K., exec. producer Blair Breard and (by proxy) NY's Mega Playground make a funny exception to the clich�. Back in 1999, C.K. was writing and directing Pootie Tang, his debut feature. Blair Breard was on board as unit production manager/co-producer. And, Mega Playground founder Eitan Hakami had recently opened his Broadway & 49th Street Avid editorial/telecine company, where he gladly welcomed the irreverent film as an early client. Fast forward to 2010, C.K. and Breard are once again, comfortably ensconced at 'The Playground,' only this time in production offices and editorial suites at Hakami's sprawling 40,000 sq. ft. West Village complex.
"Louis and I have maintained our working relationship throughout our careers," Breard says, "I was very happy to sign on as Exec. Producer when FX committed to the Louie series. I've also worked on a number of projects at The Playground over the years, and watched Eitan expand his company to its quite comprehensive current incarnation. We were extremely pleased with the news that the show has been picked up for a second season, and we're equally delighted to continue our residency at The Playground.
"Louie is an extremely ambitious production, and Louis is totally hands-on in virtually every creative area," Breard continues. "He writes, directs, stars, does rough cut edits on his laptop, and, he works with our editor at the Playground. He envisioned the show not as comedy sketches, but as a series of short films. In fact, it was his filmic sensibility that inspired him to shoot with the RED Digital Cinema System. It provides the filmic look and shooting style he wanted in an affordable digital package.
"One of the key factors driving our decision to make The Playground our production home was the facility's strong background in RED," Breard adds. "During our initial negotiations with Eitan, we learned that CTO Terry Brown and the Playground team were well-versed in RED workflows. They were instrumental in enabling us to take full advantage of RED and all it has to offer. Editor Michael Kahn and colorist Ben Perez did an amazing job finalizing and polishing our footage using a variety of FCP tools for our first season, we're glad to have them back on board for round two.
"Because Louie shoots on location in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, literally all over the city, we don't need a studio sound stage," she continues. "In fact, our only recurring location is a Manhattan apartment, which serves as Louie's on-camera home. Our production is challenged by disparate lighting issues, an extremely tight shooting schedule and the day-to-day fluctuations of a city which, though film-friendly, constantly throws unanticipated obstacles in a productions' path. These can range anywhere from super-high db police, fire engine or ambulance sirens to crowd control and, the exact opposite -- blas� neighbors totally unconcerned with compromising their personal agendas for the convenience of a TV comedy shoot," Breard laughs.
"It's always a pleasure to welcome old clients back to the fold," says Cristina Esterz-Ortiz, Playground Operations Manager who handles day-to-day activity at the complex. "We feel repeat business is the best reference our company can earn. It's the primary reason we are so committed to doing everything in our power to resolve challenges and provide a comprehensive menu of services."
"At the height of our production cycle, we were working with a staff of 26," Breard reports. " We took over a space on the 7th floor which encompassed everything from casting, wardrobe, conference room and scheduling to two editorial rooms. The Playground handled virtually every aspect of our production from color correction through editorial. The only outside service we had to employ was audio because The Playground's new mixing suite had not yet gone on line. Initial feedback on Louie has been very positive, and FX has been happy with the ratings," Breard says. "We're looking forward to our extended stay in The Playground."
"The Playground is the real deal," Breard concludes. "The Playground team was very helpful in guiding us through our RED issues. Colorist Ben Perez and editor Michael Kahn are genuine FCP wizards. We had a very specific look in mind for the show. RED helped us achieve what we envisioned, but, as with all new technology, you expect to run into bumps and wrinkles. The entire Playground team, from operations to editors, engineers and colorists were there to guide us through the minefield. The combination of service and support brought us back for our second season. We've got a terrific production office set up, spacious, comfortable and in the heart of one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city. They gave this place exactly the right name, we're happy to be back at The Playground for our second season."
Photo: Louis C.K. stars in Louie now producing & posting its second season for FX at NY's Mega Playground
Mega Playground is strategically housed is three Manhattan locations. Two locations are in the heart of the thriving West Village independent film community. A 30,000 sq ft facility at 609 Greenwich St. with a neighboring 14,000 sq ft. facility opening in March 2010 at 96 Morton St. It also houses an editing satellite in Midtown in the famed Brill Building at 1619 Broadway. Mega Playground provides High Definition post- production services which include Avid and FCP rentals, online DIs, Color Correction, Telecine, Dub services, the proprietary DP Dailies digital workflow process, as well as production offices for feature film, Broadcast and
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