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SCRATCH DI Tools Power QLAB's Success in Complex Imagery

ASSIMILATE's SCRATCH is QLAB Mumbai's DI workflow tool of choice for features shot using RED's high-resolution digital cameras. SCRATCH tools also have the real-time high performance and power needed to do the full DI post production of QLAB's numerous complex imagery projects. One of QLAB's latest projects, director Shesh Adivi's Karma (2011), was shot by cinematographer James Laxton using the RED ONE(tm) 4K Camera. From conform through finishing and final deliverables, QLAB utilized SCRATCH in its post-production of Karma, which featured a range of color hues, numerous CG elements and multiple layers to convey the moods and details of this emotionally packed film.

"For Karma, director Shesh Adivi set a well defined look for this complex project that included nearly 560 CG elements, sky replacements, and extensive shapes/masks, all flowing seamlessly together," says Amit Shetty, a company director and colorist at QLAB. "Using SCRATCH, we were able to process all this the way a high-end DI system should work - with almost 9TB of data on the system; handling all kinds of data sizes (r3d, DPX, and CG elements) without slowing down performance; getting instant response even when pushing the system with 12 to 18 layers of scaffolds that included masks, blurs, qualifiers, six vectors, mask tracking, secondaries, and more. The high performance and stability of SCRATCH under this level of 'pressure' is truly astonishing, as is the price/performance value. We're able to do high-end DI, achieve the client's vision, and work within tight budget constraints."

Image courtesy of QLAB and Thousand Lights Inc.

"Our SCRATCH system is fitted with dual RED Rocket cards so we were able to work off the native r3d files in raw format, with all the metadata information, at full resolution throughout the entire project," adds Amit.  "We were working directly in the 4K REDRAW files until the end of the project, doing the color grading, blurs, masks, burn-out correction, and more. Only then did we convert the files to the final desired deliverable format, with pan & scan, applying different format guides and blanking for real-time reference as we progressed to creating the final product. The speed and ease of use of the SCRATCH system takes our productivity, and the ability to be more creative, to a whole new level that is exciting for our post artists, and more than satisfies the client's visionary goals."


"Our SCRATCH DI theatre is equipped with 5.1 Dolby playback capability, which gave our director and colorist full audio support throughout the grading session. They used the 'feel' of the audio treatment to create the looks that would best convey the different moods of the scenes," says Amit. "The ability to work in real-time was a huge asset because they could immediately see the changes and results, as well as compare versions of the same scene and make a final selection. The efficiency of creating several versions, without rendering, means no down time, which equals more time for creativity and cost savings for the client."

Amit notes, "We created multiple deliverables - with subtitles - using the alpha channel. We were able to effortlessly match it up with the 4K r3d images, and then enhance with a bit of shadow for perfect readability." Final deliverables included an intermediate negative, D5 HD Masters, and 2K DPX for DCI.

Performance Advantages of SCRATCH
"Paste grade is one of the coolest features of SCRATCH," says Amit. "It remembers the metadata, and any change in the EDL can be re-conformed with the previous grade automatically applied to the new timeline."

"Also the one-click qualifier option, with instant selection of shadows, midtones and highlights, is a great tool that saves a lot of time and effort," adds Amit. "And with scaffolds, we can use the recursive option to create separate layers for certain elements of the scenes and create different looks with the blend mode."

Amit notes, "A significant and unique advantage of SCRATCH is the ability to share color grading files between multiple systems and locations. A colorist working in India can email a small color decision file (CDL) to a SCRATCH facility in another city or country, and that remote facility can update their system and be ready for a client review. The high productivity, as well as the time and cost savings that come from this efficiency, is substantial. This also enables us to expand our role in the global marketplace by taking on projects from anywhere in the world."

"Another productivity benefit is the ability to create multiple-format deliverables from a single rendering," says Amit. "For example, in Karma, we sent out files for sound and VFX in multiple formats, such as mp4, h.264 .mov, DPX, and others."

 "ASSIMILATE has always taken client feed back seriously, and responds with lots of SCRATCH feature updates in shorter timeframes," says Amit. "One significant example is compositing tools, which enable the colorist to push the system to achieve the distinctive look and finish of a feature project without multiple back-and-forth steps among several departments or vendors." 

Amit adds, "The time and cost savings we achieve with the SCRATCH tools and workflow allow us to stretch our creativity, which gives us a huge advantage in the marketplace."

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Related Keywords:assimilate, scratch, 3D, IBC, digital intermediates, di, color correction, digital cinema, RED MX, RED MX-3D, ARRIRAW, DPX, AVID MXF, film, HD/SD, NAB, QLAB Mumbai's, Shesh Adivi's, Karma

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