When Director/Producer - Leon Bashir planned his feature film Verdens Beste Pappa (The World's Best Dad), a normal film-crew was engaged and everything was set to start shooting in March.
Then came the pandemic.
Except his longtime partner DoP Petter Holmern, the director - most known for his fast-paced crime-movies, lost his entire crew as well as a significant part of his funding. It was critical for Leon to shoot on Norway's national day, May 17th to realize the project, and as soon as things seemed to even possibly open, he decided to go ahead and engage a new crew in record time to just do it, very much in spirit of the movie itself - a comedy for kids about a single dad “doing his best”.
The practical framework for the production had changed drastically, due to the pandemic. On-set crew needed to be limited to a bare minimum, due to Corona-related regulations. The editors would need to sit in their private suites in different cities, and post-production needed to be super efficient to meet the tight financial and time constraints. Still, Leon wanted a rough edit of the entire movie the first day after shooting was done.
This sounded to us like a perfect use-case to stresstest QuineCore and our collaborative tools so Quine joined in.For Bashir's Company, this was the first time to rely on the QuineCore workflow-solutions.
As early as legally possible, the production crew was assembled and first shooting day was set for May 14th, just in time for the National Day scene.
Now shooting wrapped on schedule and editing was on-target for the entire shooting period.
“It would be hard to go back to the way production was made before,” says Petter Holmern, Director of Photography.
Video by Birk R. Groven
We will try to break down how the QuineCore tools were used in this production.
Verdens Beste Pappa might be a bit extreme without a dedicated datawrangler or experienced script-supervisor, but on the other hand: Maybe not?
A huge challenge in this new era is how to keep the on-set crew down to a bare minimum to allow for social distancing, while still keeping control on all aspects of the technical production. Digitizing the file- and metadata management and making it possible for stakeholders to work and contribute remotely, will be a huge contributor to the goal of making productions flow in a post-Corona reality.
“These days you almost have to have the first draft of the edit ready almost before you are done shooting, especially for commercials and TV series.” says DoP Petter Holmern. We will look at how the QuineCore tools helped Verdens Beste Pappa to reach that reality with a corona-friendly crew.
The first major problem was communication between the physically disconnected stakeholders.
QuineBox™IoT serves as the automated communication robot which transfers dailies and editorials directly from the camera to whoever needs them in real time with basic metadata intact.
Quinebox™IoT is a first-of-its-kind smart recorder/distributor which records editorials and/or dailies and push the files directly from camera into QuineCore for immediate review and editing by permissioned stakeholders.
The box is designed to be a low-maintenance addition to the camera-rig. You set it up once per production, and after that, all you need is to see to that it has power, SDI connection and an active 4G dongle. In case of no-network, it has a built in 1TB SSD, that caches all files and distribution is automatically re-triggered once a network is available.
The QuineBox™IoT needs to be directly attached to the camera to provide robust performance, but outside that, the behaviour is fully automatic. Start/stop trigger and metadata are read directly off ARRI, RED and Sony's pro cameras. For todays small cameras like the RED cameras and ARRIs Alexa and Alexa LF Mini, the box can contribute to a better balancing of the rig.
“I don’t even notice it, the QuineBox™IoT just sits there after initial setup,” says Petter Holmern.
No-one sane doubts the value of script-supervisors notes.
But why is the "normal" that these notes cannot fluently and unproblematically merge with the rest of your file-set and just flow into the editor of choice?
There is a lot of totally valid focus on color-spaces, codecs and transfer-speeds, but unless the data can easily be matched and structured, what good is it to have a 10Gbit line to receive huge files into "some folder" that are essentially a mess? The exact same work needs to be done over and over again.
MovieSlate® is an almost intimidatingly flexible app, ranging from a cheapo basic app where you can annotate Scene, Slate, Take, Circled takes and basic notes, to an advanced multi-user environment for audio metadata, VFX metadata and script .pdf annotation tools connecting directly to your cameras and logging technical metadata in realtime and frame-accurate.
Because of its advanced features, many potential users are easily intimidated by this brilliant tool to easily structure your project.
And in this article we will focus on the simplicity of getting 70-80% benefit without a significant effort.
With the MovieSlate® basic application, you can eyeball the camera-timecode on your iPad, annotate Scene Slate/Shot and Take and if you are brave: Circled takes, and with QI, those notes will automatically structure your video and audio assets based on timecode.
This basic structuring gives you more than half the benefit in the editorial process, and the connecting of the data is all automated with the QuineCore tools.
If you feel a tad more brave, it is easy as a click to add shot-notes that will automatically follow into your editor application. These notes can later be dynamically edited and refined both in the MovieSlate® app itself and in the shared QuineCore webUI.
Now if you feel really brave, you could use the automation to get the file-names right. This is particularly useful if there are multiple units shooting at the same time or if you shoot a lot of varispeed. QI/QuineCore is capable of matching assets on either filename or TC priority and is unit-aware, to get the right notes matched with the right shots.
On Verdens Beste Pappa, it took us less than an hour to teach someone who had never taken script notes before, how to use MovieSlate® efficiently and how to ingest the notes so that the dailies from QuineBox™IoT (and later from the transcodes) were always updated with current notes and production-orientation (Scene/Slate/Take/Circled info).
Once you get the hang of it, and the data from the MovieSlate® is actually applied, it is impossible to go back to whatever Excel- or paper- regime you were used to.
If you are afraid of typing notes on an iPad's virtual keyboard, get a physical keyboard, those are cheap and robust these days.
While QuineBox™IoT is the flashy turbo-boost to the QuineCore workflows, the heavy-lifter in automation and parallel non-linear collaboration is QuineIngest (QI).
For Verdens Beste Pappa, Storyline LAB ingested and colour-graded the final dailies, while file-distribution and additional ingest was done through QI and all active users like editors, and script supervisor, had their own QI to exchange files and metadata with the rest of the production.
We will go more in-depth on QI with our next use-case, but here are some highlights from Verdens Beste Pappa.
Audio- and metadata ingest was done twice a day directly on-set to make it possible to really edit-as-you-shoot:
Logging is then automated through matching of assets in QI, and when the assets are uploaded they can automatically be imported into Premiere through The QuineCore Premiere extension.
The RED Helium files are large and heavy to transcode, in this way all material needed for an edit was available for everyone at the end of the day.
While QuineBox™IoT keep distributing fresh shots into QuineCore, the web-based cloud app shows all footage on mobile devices, connected smartTV's and PC's.
Instead of crowding in front of a monitor -- which is forbidden by Corona regulations, authorized users can just look at the daily they just shot on their phones or iPads.
The QuineCore webUI structures all assets in the production and QI's smart watchfolders and device-recognition, automatically categorize assets into for example dailies, location imagery, casting-calls, stock imagery, rough-edits, review-files, giving the producer, director, editor or anyone involved in continuity, the data they need at their fingertips.
Leon, also the leading actor, always logs into QuineCore to look at the shot just done and confirm that he has what he needs. He also use QuineCore as a management tool when planning the next days shooting.
“It was nice to see all shots we did on my phone by the end of the day, I also watched the first 40 minutes of the film on my phone through QuineCore at home.” says Leon Bashir.
“QuineCore also helped the script supervisor a lot,” says Leon, “If she needed to confirm anything be it continuity from weeks back or her final notes, she could just look up the scene in QuineCore.”
“One day I got a call from my editor sitting at home, told me that I need more close-up for a scene,” says Petter Holmern.
To have the input from the post artists is extremely helpful, especially when we have strict time-and financial constraints for projects and it is nigh impossible to reshoot, said Leon.
“I can see how this same process allows for not only editor, but also VFX supervisor, 3D artists, anyone who is the stakeholder of what happening on set to provide their opinion early on. That would boost efficiency immensely. “
“We used to fly-in editors to sit on-set to be able to finish an edit rough-cut by the end of next day.” says Leon. That took two extra positions on-set to get the material ready in addition to the logistics around setting up functional on-set edit suites. With QuineCore, the editors could sit comfortably in their suites working efficiently in their own environment
The editors used Adobe Team project to collaborate, while we synchronized assets and metadata to their edit-stations through QuineCore with QI.
The editors shared stock-footage, music and review files with the other collaborators through watch folders on their stations (we will make the next post specifically on the editing).
At the last of 24 shooting days, the rough-edit of all scenes was already shared in QuineCore.
To recall the workflow we implemented with Leon's Team:
-----Quinebox™IoT was used to deliver dailies and edit-proxies directly from camera to cloud for reviewing/monitor in realtime on mobile devices, computers or connected smart-TVs.
-----All edit- assets and metadata were uploaded through QI and synced and distributed through QuineCore.
-----The QI smart watchfolders were used to import and distribute other assets like stock-footage, SFX, music, documents and review files.
-----No seasoned Script Supervisor was available on this short notice, but through a 2-hour crash-course in the MovieSlate® app, newly enrolled Script Ania Nova from the arts department, managed to keep strict control on continuity and directors remarks from day one, being able to browse the project based on production metadata on her iPad.
-----The QuineCore Adobe Premiere Plugin, linked up all the synchronised audio and files and metadata from MovieSlate® with Adobe Premiere and logging just toke 5-10 minutes per shooting day.
-----The production used Adobe Team Project for the editors to work simultaneously on the same project on the files and metadata distributed through QuineCore.
Quine tools glued the project together and shared the data necessary to keep the production flow going from shooting day one to the last day, and now serves the production through the post process.
Leon's next project is a lock-stock-and-two-empty-barrels-like gangster-movie situated in India and Norway, but despite the entirely different content and production conditions, Quine and the new way of production is what he will bring on.
Leon Bashir on imdb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0411508/
Petter Holmern on imdb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1748944/