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iPontificateHarvest Of Redemption Gets The da Vinci Treatment

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- March 11th, 2005

Director Javier Chapa just completed final post production and mastering on Harvest of Redemption, a film shot in the Texas Rio Grande Valley last August for which I was the Director of Photography.

Javier was in Atlanta, Georgia at the post facility Crawford Communications, Inc. for two weeks completing the final sound mix, color correction, and CGI for the film before public release. Color correction was completed on a (US$2.5 million) da Vinci 2K Color Enhancement system, an industrial-strength processing system that has won technical Emmy's for image processing and color modification.

I asked Javier to give a summary of the final post experience at Crawford Communications, and to tell us what it was like to use the da Vinci on the project.

TMO: So Javier, you just wrapped post-production on Harvest Of Redemption. What exactly were you doing in Atlanta, GA?

JAVIER CHAPA: We are working with a post production facility by the name of Crawford Communications, who has been helping us in several areas including: Transfer to D-5, Tape to Tape Color Correction, Final Sound Mix, Special Effects 3-D, Cleanup and/or Removal, Compositing, Titling and Final Output.

I was fortunate to meet Mr. Jesse Crawford, who owns Crawford Communications, through a mutual friend in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Crawford took a liking to the story and offered to finish any post-production needs at a very minimal cost. My intention prior to meeting Mr. Crawford was to do the rest of the post-production in L.A. After visiting the facility and meeting the staff, however, I knew this opportunity would take Harvest to a different level.

TMO: Tell us a bit about the da Vinci image processor. What is it for, and what is it like working with the da Vinci?

JC: After working with the da Vinci its difficult to ever imagine wanting to color correct on any other system that would be as limitless as this machine. D.C. understands the da Vinci, and when you combine an experienced colorist like D.C. with its capabilities....there are no limitations. You can create any look that you could possibly imagine and literally spend months on a single project. We spent a good solid week working on Harvest. That's a fairly fast pace for a da Vinci system, but we knew what we wanted and D.C. works fast. Go da Vinci or find an equal competitor.

TMO: What are some other imaging techniques you have been using and what were the outcomes?

JC: The problem with working on a period piece is that its difficult to find wardrobe and props of that period. The most difficult part, however, is making sure you keep props that aren't of that period out [of the scene]!! We removed things such as telephone lines that weren't of the period, generators, EXIT signs etc.

When you are shooting as quickly as we did, you don't have time to remove everything, and that's the beauty of digital! You can remove anything you want. Other aspects that we worked on were smoothing out actor's faces, earring removal and earring hole removal. Ron did an excellent job of cleaning up all of these different problems.

TMO: Were there any technical issues regarding the HD image? What steps were taken to remedy the problems? Any way to prevent these in the future during production?

JC: We have not had any technical problems working with the HD images that the Panasonic Varicam has produced. As a matter of fact we bumped up to D-5 1080p instead of the native 720p and the image quality looks exactly the same.

TMO: Tell us some of the steps involved with completing the sound mix? Any issues that needed addressing?

JC: One of the key elements in creating a good sound mix is making sure that all the other elements of sound are good (sound edit, score, foley, ADR and sound design). If you can deliver all of these additions to the final mix in a professional manner, the mix can become more creative rather than technical.

Greg Crawford has a beautiful mix room with HD projection. We were fortunate to have a good sound edit, and foley from Mr. Scott Reynolds in Austin, TX. Having these elements made our sound design and mix that much easier. Greg is very creative with sound and really knows how to create moods and feelings through the levels and other sound elements.

TMO: How has the final sound mixing gone in terms of difficulty or ease? Have you encountered any issues or problems at this stage of the game? What hardware and systems are you using for the sound mix?

JC: Greg works on a Pro Tools HD system with a JVC HD projector. The most tedious part of a mix is making sure that all levels of dialog are in place. That takes most of the grunt work...then from there you can mix fairly quickly. We spent a full week on the mix. That's fast!

TMO: What are some of the steps involved when encoding 5.1 surround sound? How does this exceed what other filmmakers can do on a home system compared to the studio?

You can do surround pretty much off of any home system (i.e. with Apple's DVD Studio Pro), however it isn't the encoding that's important...it's the Pro Tools HD system and how it gives you limitless options in a mix. It's like the da Vinci of color correction, but for sound. Harvest isn't a loud movie, therefore our basic 5.1 is pretty standard. This isn't an action packed flick with all kinds of special effects and unlimited sound design and because it's simple and dialog driven we focused on dialog and music and the driving forces to tell the story.

TMO: What is the next step with the film itself? What will be the final format for distribution of the movie?

JC: Our final format will be as a D-5 master. I'll be on the road until we sell this movie. I feel very confident with the final product and I've been lucky to have the privilege to work with so many talented individuals.

TMO: My last question today is about the people you worked with to bring all this together. Who were you working with directly in the different areas of mastering, color correction, sound mix, etc.?

JC: Kathleen Fitch, Post Operations Manager, has worked with Crawford since 1996. She is responsible for the development of the company's Post Production creative team, and she produces and serves as liaison to ad agencies and commercial production companies. Kathleen and I worked very closely to determine each of the steps of the post-production process.

Ron Heidt is handling all of my mastering, compositing, removal and effects. He is known as an industry expert on HD and has developed associations with key manufacturers for beta testing HD software and equipment, and he operates Crawford's HD Hybrid Suite, a new linear/non-linear edit suite that is both resolution and frame-rate independent.

Ron took my DVCPRO HD content and upconverted it to D-5 1080p master. This process was done on the TeraNex system. TeraNex converts any standard format video signal to any standard output, in any aspect ratio, including converting from 4:3 to 16:9 and from one HD format to another. It's a very new technology and one of the best in converting from one format to another. After creating the master, the rest of the Crawford family could work from a D-5 format.

D.C. Cardinali was my colorist, and is arguably the most experienced Colorist in Atlanta. DC's telecine artistry has won several ADDY awards and has made it to the Monitor Awards Finalists twice. He has worked with notable Directors John Landis, Francis Ford Coppola and other legends in the entertainment industry. D.C. did some phenomenal work on this project. We worked very closely to develop the look of the film-scene by scene.

Greg Crawford did my final mix. He is an experienced sound designer in long-form, short-form, big screen, music and television. He is an expert in 5.1 sound design and mixing as well as a first call engineer for audio post with ad agencies and broadcasters. Greg did an amazing job with the sound design and mix of this film. Having an individual like Greg mix for your film is a delight and an honor. Greg and I studied each of the elements of a mix including sound design, foley, and score and made decisions based on a scene by scene basis just as in color correction.

Visit the Harvest Of Redemption Web site for the complete credit list and to view the trailer, pre-da Vinci color corrected.


With five years in the entertainment industry, and three years writing for The Mac Observer, works passionately on various genres of film, including documentaries, narrative features, and shorts. He has two feature films under his belt as Director of Photography and Camera Operator, and his current role at TMO is to cover digital media and the film industry.

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