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Killer Dailies: The Walking Dead & Vampire Diaries

COW Library : Art of the Edit : Joe Huggins : Killer Dailies: The Walking Dead & Vampire Diaries
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CreativeCOW presents Killer Dailies: The Walking Dead & Vampire Diaries -- Art of the Edit Feature

Joe Huggins

©2012 CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


Undead hits The Walking Dead (shooting on film) and The Vampire Diaries (shooting with ARRI Alexa) are both shot near Atlanta, GA, and both rely on Crawford Media Services for dailies for two very different workflows, one revolving around the ARRI Alexa, the other around Super 16 film.



The spiritual forces of darkness have found an apparent break in the cosmic harmonics of the universe that has brought hordes of Zombies and Vampires into the area surrounding Atlanta. For years they have come to satisfy their thirst for blood…or maybe it's just for money -- in the form of tax incentives. But not to fear, for Crawford Media Services has battled the demons by shedding light, or should we say 'Best Light', on the Dailies for these popular TV series.

Atlanta has been the production home to two leading TV cult classics, The Walking Dead on AMC and The Vampire Diaries on the CW, attracted by the state's 30% tax incentive. Both series have used Crawford for managing their dailies workflows and for ADR services.

As the largest post facility in the South, Crawford Media has been known for their national commercial, EFX, and Audio Design work and a host of other creative services and designed their new facility that opened in 2011 with a plan for dailies and finishing work. "We looked at all the state of the art systems for dailies," explains Senior Editor and Technical Director Ron Heidt as he sets up a screening in Crawford's 45-seat Digital Theater, "and were one of the first to purchase the Colorfront OSD systems. We actually were installing our two systems in Atlanta before Technicolor placed their orders. We were ahead of the curve then and have now added the Colorfront Express Mobile cart for on-set work." The ease of operation and flexibility of Colorfront and its speed in delivering multiple dailies formats has made it the industry standard for series and features.



Crawford's 45 seat Digital Theater was designed primarily for final audio mix and color correction for features. Here an editor sets up a playback from the Colorfront for a critical dailies screening of a camera/lens test.


Speed and efficiency are critical in the workflow as the two series overlap in schedules. "At one point this summer, we had both series and two additional independent features shooting at the same time," boasts Senior Colorist D.C. Cardinali, "and all made their deadlines. The Dead shoots on S-16 film which is processed in Atlanta at Cinefilm Lab and rushed to us early each day. Many days we'll have over 5 hours of material totaling over 1 million feet for the entire series. I transfer that on a flat pass using one of our two Spirit Telecines and a DaVinci 2K system. The media is created in a ProRes 444 Log C format directly into a security controlled partition on our SAN network. Media Security is very important to AMC, the CW, and all our clients.


AMC's The Walking Dead. Used with kind permission of AMC. Co-Executive Producer/SFX Make-Up Supervisor Greg Nicotero, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Director Billy Gierhart - The Walking Dead - Behind the Scenes - Season 3, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC ©2012 All Rights Reserved.
Co-Executive Producer/SFX Make-Up Supervisor Greg Nicotero, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Director Billy Gierhart - The Walking Dead - Behind the Scenes - Season 3, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC


My assistant then accesses the files on the Colorfront and begins to immediately sync the dailies, check the script logs, and prep the circle takes. Then I switch places and make the final color grade scene by scene in the Colorfront. With this overlapping workflow, we normally can ingest 5 hours of film and create the final deliverables roughly in an 8 hour day."



This Dailies suite at Crawford was designed with 'The Walking Dead' in mind. Colorist D.C. Cardinali (left) begins a 'flat pass' telecine using a Spirit and Davinci 2K of the S16 film direct into the Colorfront system on the right. While the scenes are being transferred, assistant Steve Shireman then begins the audio sync and confirms all the metadata with the script notes. Once all the film is converted to digital files, Cardinali then makes the Best Light Color pass and renders in the Colorfront.


The Vampire Diaries -- Paul Wesley as Stefan. ©2012 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Vampire Diaries -- Paul Wesley as Stefan.
The workflow on The Vampire Diaries is similar only it's all digital shot on the Alexa in ProRes 444. "We receive the Log C media on shuttle drives each night," points out Dailies Specialist Ian MacDonald, "and they will average 4 hours of media a day. The DIT has created LUTs on set for each scene, so I ingest the media using our second Colorfront system to apply the LUTs and sync the sound. All the deliverables are ready by 7 am each day. Like Vampires, we have to complete our work before the sun comes up,' he notes with a laugh.

Both series are edited in LA, so Avid DNX 36 files are uploaded on Crawford's fiber network via Aspera to editorial. H264 watermark copies are rendered and uploaded to DAX for distribution each day for the network clients to view, and DVD formats are created for local production viewing. That's one of the distinct advantages of the Colorfront OSD systems in that all the file formats can be rendered at the same time, in the background, at over 40 frames per second. One of the many reasons Colofront was awarded the Primetime Engineering Emmy this year. And per industry standards, LTO 5 tapes are made of all raw files and the dailies grade.

"It's been exciting to see the success of The Walking Dead and The Vampire Dairies and we're honored to have worked with these two hit shows from their beginning," notes Brennen Dicker the Director of Post Sales for CMS. "This season's premiere of TWD was the highest rated cable drama in history with ratings higher than the broadcast competition. [Ed note: It was also the highest-rated fall episode of any show, on any channel, broadcast or cable.] We hope these relationships will continue for years. Certainly Georgia's tax incentive has played a large role in the growth of series and features work in Atlanta and Crawford has positioned our team to take advantage of that. As long as Zombies and Vampires keep invading us, Crawford will be here -- to protect...and serve -- 'killer dailies'," adds Dicker with a wry smile.






Title image left, Nina Dobrev as Elena and Ian Somerhalder as Damon in The Vampire Diaries. ©2012 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Image right, The Walking Dead. Photo by Gene Page. ©2011 AMC. All rights reserved.

From The Vampire Diaries, above: Kat Graham and Paul Wesley in The Vampire Diaries. Photo by Bob Mahoney. ©2012 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

The Emmy name and the Emmy statuette are the trademarked property of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences ("Television Academy") and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences ("National Academy")

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