Captain Phillips: Turning Day Into Night with DaVinci Resolve

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Four years after it made headlines, the harrowing ordeal of commercial shipping captain Richard Phillips gets the big screen treatment, care of docudrama specialist Paul Greengrass, in Captain Phillips.

Barry Akroyd was the cinematographer on this intense, high stakes drama telling the true-life story of an American shipping captain swept up in a hostage ordeal after Somali pirates hijacked his ship. The film’s main protagonists are the ship Maersk Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his Somali counterpart, Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

The digital intermediary (DI) on Captain Phillips was carried out by Company 3’s senior colourist Rob Pizzey, who reflects on his latest opportunity to work with the duo and the challenge of grading a big ‘day for night’ climax: “It was great to team up again with Paul and Barry after working on Greenzone with Paul and having done the DI on Barry’s last two features.”

Rob-Pizzey

Rob Pizzey

“Barry has a naturalistic style of shooting and Captain Phillips was no different,” explains Pizzey. “Everything is filmed handheld so there are never any locked off shots during the film. Because the camera is always moving, Barry is right on top of the action. You almost feel like a part of the film.”

“His background in documentary filmmaking means he prefers a more natural feel with lots of great looking pictures. And that is exactly what you get with Captain Phillips.

“During the grade I had to differentiate between the film’s start, where we first meet Captain Phillips in his house and traveling on his way to the airport, from the scenes in Somalia where we first see the Pirates. The film starts with a cooler looking colour pallet and then – bang – we cut to Somalia, shot on super 16, which is really hot, really warm.”

The biggest challenge on Captain Phillips was the film’s climax, which takes place at night. “Most of the climax was actually shot in the day with just a few shots filmed at night, which created a big challenge in the grade, making the day shots filmed on various formats match the night shots,” says Pizzey.

“You have footage filmed at night and then you’ve got bright day footage shot in a water tank at Pinewood Studios and then you’ve got other material filmed at sea during the day, literally it is cut next to each other. Barry and I discussed this pre shoot and decided we could make it work, although it would be a monster of a job.”

A month before the DI, Akroyd and Pizzey had the chance to work on the conformed ‘day for night’ scenes, allowing them to start setting the look. “We worked through the scenes making sure we could achieve what we wanted and flagged areas where we could do with some help from vfx.”

“DaVinci Resolve’s unlimited nodes and auto tracking capabilities were a big help during the grade of Captain Phillips’ big day for night scenes,” reveals Pizzey.

“The camera is moving around all over the place because you’re at sea, so the tracking tool was perfect because I could hand draw shapes and then grade within that area,” he explains.

“Then the auto tracking would map to the movement of the camera so we could get on with grading the day shots to match the night footage. It was also really useful for lining up faces and pulling out eyes. With the auto tracking, you get the shape on there and it maps it all the way through. It really did save me a lot of time.”

“That session took us a week. Having got it in a pretty good place we then rendered out the DPX files with the grade baked on and sent them over to the visual effects house who were able to help us in areas where I’d darkened bits down, by adding in lights on to the boats or removing clouds in the sky to help sell the look.”

So when those shots came back into the timeline for the main DI they were 90 per cent final, explains Pizzey. The main DI took three and a half weeks and was attended by Barry for the first seven days. During that time the pair set the look and mood for all the scenes and graded the climax of the film in full.

“When Barry left to shoot his next project I was left to carry on matching everything up. Once finished, Paul and Barry came back to have a final pass of the film where we carried out very minor tweaks on a couple of shots, then we wrapped.”

For more information on DaVinci Resolve, visit www.BlackmagicDesign.com

Apple launches Logic Pro X

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Apple Logic Pro X on MacBook Pro, with Logic Remote on iPad. Photo courtesy Apple Inc.

Apple® has unveiled Logic® Pro X, what it describes as the most advanced version of Logic Pro to date, featuring a new interface designed for pros, powerful new creative tools for musicians, and an expanded collection of instruments and effects. Logic Pro X includes Drummer, a revolutionary new feature that provides a virtual session player that automatically plays along with your song in a wide variety of drumming styles and techniques, and Flex Pitch, which provides integrated pitch editing for audio recordings. Apple also introduced Logic Remote, an innovative new way to play and control Logic Pro X from your iPad®, giving musicians the flexibility to create and mix their music from anywhere in the room.

“Logic Pro X is our most powerful version yet, with advanced tools and a modern new interface designed to streamline the process of creating professional quality music,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Musicians are going to love creative new features like Drummer, Flex Pitch, Track Stacks and the Arpeggiator.”

Logic Pro X has been designed with a modern new look while preserving and expanding the power and features that professional users rely on. The streamlined interface provides access to advanced tools and functionality for more technical tasks, or can be hidden to allow musicians to focus on being creative. Flex Pitch helps users fix out-of-tune vocals and even change the melodies of recorded audio by manipulating individual notes within an audio waveform. Track Stacks lets you organize and collapse multiple tracks into one, or can be used to create rich, layered instruments. Smart Controls allow you to manipulate multiple plug-ins and parameters with a single move for quick and powerful sound design. An improved Mixer helps manage mix sessions more efficiently, with increased visibility into signal flow and dynamics and faster ways to manipulate channel inserts.

Logic Pro X provides a collection of new creative tools for songwriting and music production. Drummer delivers professionally produced, realistic drum tracks that respond to your direction and can perform millions of unique grooves in rock, alternative, songwriter and R&B genres. Drummer is powered by the performances and sounds of some of the industry’s top session players and recording engineers, including legendary mixer/producer Bob Clearmountain, who has worked with the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. Designed to work with Drummer, the new Drum Kit Designer plug-in lets you build your own custom kit using a diverse collection of professionally recorded snare drums, toms, hi-hats and cymbals that you can mix, match and fine tune to get the right drum sound for your song.

Logic Pro X expands Logic Pro’s rich collection of synthesizers and keyboards with more new instruments. The Arpeggiator is one of nine new MIDI plug-ins and can transform a simple keyboard chord into an elaborate performance. The new Retro Synth emulates some of the most popular classic synthesizer tones from the 70s and 80s, and Vintage Keyboards offer realistic models of electric pianos, B3 organs and clavs, with sophisticated tone-shaping controls. Bass Amp Designer allows bass players to play and record using vintage and modern bass amps, with cabinets and microphones that can be configured to build a custom bass rig. Logic Pro X also features an entirely new Sound Library with an updated loop collection and over 1,500 instrument and effect Patches that make creative use of Track Stacks, Smart Controls, the Arpeggiator and other new plug-ins.

Logic Remote is an innovative new way to extend the creative power of Logic by using your iPad. Designed to take full advantage of the iPad Multi-Touch™ display, Logic Remote gives users new ways to record, mix and even perform instruments in Logic Pro X from anywhere in the room, turning their iPad into a keyboard, drum pad, guitar fretboard, mixing board or transport control.

Logic Pro X is available today from the Mac App Store℠ for $199.99 (US)/£139.99 (UK). Logic Remote is available today as a free download from the App Store. For a complete list of system requirements and compatible systems, please visit: www.apple.com/logic-pro.

Canon EOS 70D DSLR with improved autofocus

DSLRs are still as popular as ever amongst indie filmmakers on limited budgets, despite the arrival of affordable dedicated cameras such as those from Blackmagic Design. Canon’s older DSLR cameras are enjoying a new lease of life with the latest version of the Magic Lantern firmware upgrade, that is bringing unforeseen RAW video shooting capabilities to many of the cameras. For those wary about upgrading their cameras with the third-party patch, Canon continues develop filmmaking/video capabilities of its DSLR range with the release of the EOS 70D.

Designed as a bridge between its affordable 700D and the popular 7D model, it offers a range of features for the cash-strapped semi-pro that will deliver pro results for stills photographers and improved Full HD video for filmmakers not requiring a full-frame sensor.

The EOS 70D features a new 20.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, designed and manufactured by Canon. It’s the first Digital SLR in the world to feature ground-breaking Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, which delivers smooth and accurate autofocus (AF) when shooting Full HD movies and fast AF acquisition when shooting in Live View mode.

Paired with the 14-bit DIGIC 5+ processor and 19-point all cross-type AF System, the EOS 70D captures incredible, full resolution images at up to 7 frames per second, with up to 65 JPEG or 16 RAW images in a single burst¹. Additionally, a native ISO range of ISO 100-12800 enables photographers to shoot in lower light conditions and use faster shutter speeds whilst retaining high image quality.

Canon’s new Dual Pixel CMOS AF provides swift AF performance when shooting in Live View mode and smooth accurate focus for Full HD movies. It makes it easy for users to take their next step with movies, enabling them to keep moving subjects in sharp focus and create professional-looking pull-focus effects. The technology utilises advanced CMOS architecture, allowing two photodiodes to be mounted within each pixel, both of which can be read independently to achieve autofocus, or together for image capture, with maximum image quality at all times.

An advanced AF system for stills includes 19 cross-type AF points spread across the frame, providing high speed, accurate AF – ideal for tracking sports and wildlife subjects as they move within the frame. The AF system is customisable, allowing photographers to adapt to the subject they’re shooting. AF points can be used individually, together in small groups, or as a wide active area for more unpredictable subjects. A dedicated AF area selection button, positioned conveniently next to the shutter release, enables quick switching between modes, without having to take the camera away from the eye.

The EOS 70D’s powerful specification is packed into an expertly-engineered body that’s designed for comfort and swift operation. The Intelligent Viewfinder, with 98 per cent frame coverage and 0.95x magnification, allows photographers to comfortably frame their images and visualise settings via the electronic overlay. Conveniently-placed controls provide instant access to the most frequently used settings, such as ISO, AF mode selection and metering, so users can quickly change settings and concentrate on capturing the moment.

A 7.7cm (3.0”) Vari-angle Clear View LCD II Touch screen with a sharp 1,040k dot resolution is ideal for video shooting, or composing images from unusual and creative angles. The screen is a capacitive type, which supports a series of multi-touch gestures including swiping and pinch-zooming – perfect for navigating menus, amending settings or flicking through images.

Clever connectivity for easy control and instant sharing 
The EOS 70D is the latest EOS model to feature integrated Wi-Fi, providing the freedom to remotely control the camera, as well as share images. Using Wi-Fi connectivity, users can connect to the EOS Remote app and control a wide range of image settings, including ISO and exposure, as well as focus and release the shutter. Photographers can also remotely use Live View mode, as well as review and rate their images.

Alongside beautiful stills, the EOS 70D allows photographers to create high-quality movies with ease. Full HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution video can be captured with a choice of selectable frame rates, including 30, 25 or 24fps, and 60 and 50fps at 720p, and a range of compression options for post-editing and sharing. Thanks to new Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Movie Servo AF mode tracks subjects as they move, or even as shots are recomposed, ensuring they’re always in focus. Alternatively, users can select different focus areas over 80 per cent of the frame simply by tapping the touch-screen, even when recording – ensuring that movies stay sharp and clear if a subject moves or the user changes the composition of a shot.

Videographers can also enjoy stereo sound using the internal microphone, or enhance audio with the in-built external microphone input terminal. Full control over settings such as aperture and ISO is also possible within manual mode, giving users greater freedom as their skills develop.