Grading across the Atlantic


TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
In the last five years, color correction has made leaps and bounds in terms of the way we grade, the performance capabilities of grading systems and even the locations where we grade. Only a few years ago, color correction suites were isolated rooms that were nearly impossible to connect to other offices or artists. But the color world has changed and geography no longer has to separate color artists from their clients.
For international brand owners and ad campaigns, this new color workflow is allowing real-time editing and a near 24X7 creative workflow. HSBC, one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world, is one of the first to turn around a campaign that was color corrected between New York and London when HSBC’s ad agency, JWT, approached Smoke & Mirrors to govern the look and feel of their new global campaign. The campaign was remotely graded in London, England while the creative director conveniently watched the grading process from a comfy cinema seat at Smoke & Mirrors’ New York office, all in real-time.
Smoke & Mirrors is based in Soho, London, which is the creative Mecca for some of the UK’s best in vfx, 3D and color grading. So it takes a lot to stand out from the elite. Smoke & Mirrors has been climbing it’s way to the top for the past 15 years and stepped up its game with their recent investment in high-end grading suites, the recent opening of their Shanghai office and a state-of-the art remote grading facility connecting its New York and London office, which makes this post-house a gem.
Mark Wildig, one of the four founders of Smoke & Mirrors, started the operation in a shed in Covent Garden, London 15 years ago. He began the company as a VFX post-production house and in 2005 they acquired Red post-productions, which allowed the business to naturally grow into a full post-production facility, branching out to color grading with DaVinci Resolve, using the Resolve Control Surface.
“Before we acquired Red Productions, we were a post production company focusing on special effects, so we wanted to expand our services and do everything from VFX to grading to finishing. In order to offer this, I had to look at investing in color grading and DaVinci had such a great reputation and performance capabilities, we had to go with it. Resolve has lived up to our expectations and it’s working beautifully,” said Mark Wildig.
Part of the Smoke & Mirrors team is Mark Horrobin, head colorist, who is a well-respected and known colorist in London and who joined Smoke & Mirrors in 2009. Since he’s been with Smoke & Mirrors, Mark has worked on a number of global advertising campaigns – including Marks & Spencer, HSBC and Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Best Restaurant’.
Mark has well and truly made a name for himself at Smoke & Mirrors. He now heads up the remote grading suite, where he completed the grading for HSBC’s global advertising campaign. The campaign was filmed on location in Rio de Janeiro and follows a family’s move to Brazil and their unique experiences of integrating into new culture and society – carrying out the campaign’s core message of ‘Live Life Without Boundaries’. Fitting to the campaign’s message, the commercial was remotely graded (without boundaries) on Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve in real-time between the London and New York grading studios.
Real-time grading was key for this project. It needed the ‘wow’ factor not only in the creative process but also in performance of the system to have an impression on Smoke & Mirrors’ clients. “When we did the HSBC grading, our colorist in New York allowed me to take over his machine and grade in real-time while the director watched in the New York studio and I had the agency next to me in London. The remote grading was the one thing I thought would be a bit flaky but we haven’t had any complications with the real-time performance or using Resolve in this way - the workflow is very robust,” said Mark.
DaVinci Resolve Linux supports more real time color correction than any other system by smashing the limitations of a single computer and allowing a cluster of computers with high performance GPU cards, so processing is always real time. And by using a PCI Express expansion chassis colorists can double or triple their grading performance.
As the New York office was being built, Mark made sure that the grading suite was a mirror image of the London suite. This allowed the director of the HSBC commercial in New York to have the same grading experience as the advertising agency in London. This was a seamlessly easy process because of the preparation, set-up and performance provided by the Resolve’s real-time capabilities. Mark said, “We have enough bandwidth to play seven uncompressed real-time 2K streams, which is very important for us to get the most out of the Resolve’s real-time performance capabilities. We are one of the first companies to do this and we’ve replicated it in New York and London. We are the only company that can operate at that bandwidth, which is fantastic!”
With both studios, the project footage is scanned into DPX files and sent directly to a server that sits at the center of Smoke & Mirror’s facilities. They use a real-time Spirit DataCine, which has the capability to scan in real-time with both DaVinci Resolves, Autodesk Flame or multiple Flames working off the system, and the files can be accessed via the server immediately from any of the grading suites; anywhere in the world.
“When I was approached by Smoke & Mirrors, they wanted me to bring the grading department into the non-linear world and get the remote grading suite up and running. We chose DaVinci Resolve for these suites because it’s an very intuitive grading tool, it has more than 25 years of grading history and it’s a product that has been built by colorists, not engineers,” said Mark.
Australian-born, Mark was a miner in Queensland before he moved to the UK and ‘accidentally’ found his career driving full-speed ahead into color grading. “I moved to the UK in 1994 and my first job was as a runner for a Moving Picture Company, and as my career developed I worked my way through tape operating, assisting with online editing, and moved into color grading – very strange considering I was working as a miner 17 years ago,” said Mark.

Tags: iss061 | blackmagic design | grading | smoke and mirrors | mark wildig | davinci | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Davinci Resolve 14 with Fairlight from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

    Davinci Resolve 14 with Fairlight from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

  • Blackmagic Design: Products at NAB 2013

    Blackmagic Design: Products at NAB 2013

  • Blackmagic Design at NAB 2012

    Blackmagic Design at NAB 2012

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera BMPCC 4K at IBC 2018

    Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera BMPCC 4K at IBC 2018

  • Blackmagic Design Ultimatte at IBC 2017

    Blackmagic Design Ultimatte at IBC 2017

  • Blackmagic Design Resolve 14, ATEM, URSA Mini PRo and more from IBC 2017

    Blackmagic Design Resolve 14, ATEM, URSA Mini PRo and more from IBC 2017

  • ATEM TV Studio Pro HD from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

    ATEM TV Studio Pro HD from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

  • Blackmagic Design at IBC 2016

    Blackmagic Design at IBC 2016

  • Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

    Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic Design on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Blackmagic Design on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

    Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

  • Blackmagic Davinci Resolve 15 at NAB 2018

    Blackmagic Davinci Resolve 15 at NAB 2018

  • Holdan and DaVinci at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and DaVinci at BVE North 2011

  • Blackmagic at IBC2011

    Blackmagic at IBC2011

  • Blackmagic introduces Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) at IBC 2018

    Blackmagic introduces Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) at IBC 2018

  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K at NAB 2018

    Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K at NAB 2018

  • Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K at NAB 2018

    Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K at NAB 2018

  • Blackmagic MultiView at IBC 2014

    Blackmagic MultiView at IBC 2014

  • Blackmagic and Fusion at IBC 2014

    Blackmagic and Fusion at IBC 2014

  • Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

  • Autodesk at NAB 2013

    Autodesk at NAB 2013

  • Digital Vision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Digital Vision on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Cintel at IBC2011

    Cintel at IBC2011

  • Image Systems at IBC2011

    Image Systems at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • BroadcastShow Christmas Special

    BroadcastShow Christmas Special


Articles
Shedding Light on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k BMCPP4K
Garth de Bruno Austin “What is it about light that has us craving it?” Is the question asked in the opening seconds of Garth de Bruno Austin’s latest short, The Colour of Light. Exploring this natural, human need as well as our innate desire to control it, Garth’s film showcases everyday people going about their lives in differing degrees of luminance, whether that be an artificial streetlight or a natural morning sunrise.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | cinema camera | 4k | cpp4k | Garth de Bruno Austin
Contributing Author Garth de Bruno Austin Click to read or download PDF
Using Wireless Transmission
Jeremy Benning Wireless acquisition is a staple of live sports, entertainment and reality shows where cable free capture permits shots not previously possible, for health and safety reasons, and gives the camera-operator greater artistic licence to roam. The same is increasingly true of narrative drama where cinematographers are keen to work handheld or Steadicam where that helps tell the story. Any equipment which frees their movement and time by being lighter, easier to use and reliable in performance is going to tick a lot of boxes.
Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | Jeremy Benning
Contributing Author Jeremy Benning Click to read or download PDF
Accelerated Workflows with eGPU
Mike Griggs From the UK’s National Trust to magazine publishers to manufacturers, digital content creator Mike Griggs has a wide and varied portfolio of clients for whom he creates 3D art, motion graphics and multimedia exhibits. A typical day might involve sampling birdsong near Virginia Woolf’s country estate or creating 3D animations for VR. To keep on top of these demands, Griggs wanted to take the full power of the GPU computing revolution on the road.
Tags: iss134 | sonnet | egpu | amd | post production | editing | Mike Griggs
Contributing Author Mike Griggs Click to read or download PDF
An Obituary to Timecode
Bruce Devlin - new A stoic and persistent character that stubbornly refused to change with the times, Timecode has finally passed on, but no-one has noticed. A long-lasting industry veteran, Timecode was brought into this world at an uncertain date in the late 1960s due to the needs of analogue tape workflows and the demand for synchronisation between audio and video devices. A joint activity between SMPTE and the EBU led to the work on Time and Control codes starting its journey to standardisation in the early 1970s.
Tags: iss134 | timecode | smpte | ebu | edit | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read
The Wireless Way to 4k
JP Delport DTC’s AEON group of products have been specifically designed for the 4K market. We encode with the more efficient HEVC algorithm, which means we are taking a 12G signal and compressing it to a bitrate that can be managed over an RF link. So what makes this a leading idea in the 4K revolution?
Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | JP Delport
Contributing Author JP Delport Click to read or download PDF