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Spy Post helps create a vibrant world for "Girls Rock!" documentary

(March 03, 2008)
DMN Newswire--2008-3-3--Spy Post continues to build its repertoire of feature films having recently completed da Vinci color correction and post work on the well received ?Girls Rock! documentary. The film, which had its world premiere at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Canada and US premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, will be distributed in the US by Shadow Distribution and released in theaters on March 7th in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Seattle and Portland.

Co-directed by Arne Johnson and Shane King, ?Girls Rock! follows the transformation girls go through at Portlands Rock 'n' Roll Camp For Girls and how the camp influences the girls for the months that follow. The summer camp provides a place for girls, ages 818, to learn rock DIY-style forming bands, writing songs, and building relationships. The documentary follows the dedicated counselors (including Sleater-Kinneys Carrie Brownstein and The Gossips Beth Ditto), as they guide the girls through a journey of self-identity, musical exploration and girl empowerment.

To view stills and clips from the film, please go to:

For Spy Post, the film was an opportunity to showcase a digital intermediate workflow including the efficiency of working in the da Vinci 2K Plus. The ?Girls Rock! DV film was up-converted to HD and then treated scene-by-scene by Colorist Gary Coates using the da Vinci.

?At Spy Post we consult with many long-format independent filmmakers about the sensitivity of budgets, and the most practical way to leverage their DV production workflow in postproduction, explains Eric Hanson, Spy Post Partner. ?Many of them hope that they can do color correction in their editing programs such as Final Cut and Avid. While these solutions have robust tools, they are not as optimized for complex grading for long-format projects. Filmmakers are always amazed when we tell them that working in the da Vinci with a real colorist can actually be more advantageous, budget and time-wise. Our process is fast and very interactive. They can see the color and aesthetic treatments in real time, even secondary color corrections with sharpening or de-focus adjustments. Theres no rendering, which really optimizes the process when you consider that every scene may be color-corrected over a 90+-minute sequence.  

The filmmakers planned ?Girls Rock! around an HD Universal Master, shooting 24fps on the Panasonic DVX 100, which would provide them with latitude in post. All of the interviews and camp footage were shot cinema vérité, with hand-held cameras, to maintain an unpolished DIY look that was consistent with the rock-camp theme. To bring the entire look together, Johnson and King turned to Spy Post via a referral from mutual friend and Producer/Media Consultant Ben Hess.

?We wanted our film to be rich, cinematic and organic, remarks Arne Johnson. ?This couldnt be a slick MTV version of the camp it had to have that rough and grainy feeling. We didnt know much about film transfers, but Eric [Hanson] and Gary [Coates] impressed us with their knowledge. Spy Post knew the particular challenges that we were up against and took us very seriously. Gary immediately responded to what we were saying not as a technician, but as an artist. We were shocked by the accessibility and efficiency of the da Vinci.

Coates, Johnson and King spent one day on Final Cut Pro experimenting with different looks and color treatment styles for each of the four primary subjects in the documentary. Coates then applied these techniques in the da Vinci over a course of five days. Laura, an articulate Korean adoptee from Oklahoma who is obsessed with death metal, had a red and black look. Palace, a sweet-seeming 8-year-old with a heavy metal sneer and ?rawk heart, received an intense, hyper-luminant treatment while Misty, a teen emerging from a life of meth addiction, homelessness and gang activity, was given a diffused tobacco color. Amelia, another 8-year-old whos obsessed with her Chihuahua Pippi, was assigned a spectacular psychedelic look. Each girl was also given distinct looks for their home and camp environments.

?Im really proud of this project, comments Coates. ?We are thrilled by the reviews, and the girls are really invested in and empowered by this film. ?Girls Rock! is a good example of how you can use the da Vinci with greater productivity and facility. I do a significant amount of documentary work, and find that the da Vinci is four times faster than Final Cut Pro. With this kind of capability, Spy Post is fast becoming a venue that serves independent filmmakers.

?This experience has us addicted for good, concludes Johnson. ?Well never do a software color correction again. Spy Post and Gary did such an incredible job on our film. It was stunning to see how clear and beautiful the footage looked on the big screen.

Producer & Co-Director: Arne Johnson
Co-Director & Cinematographer: Shane King
Animator / Motion Graphics: Liz Canning

Postproduction Company: Spy Post
Colorist: Gary Coates

Spy Post is located at 577 2nd Street, Suite 103, San Francisco, CA 94107
T: 415.621.7791. F: 415.621.7792

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