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Ender's Game: The Set-to-Screen Color Pipeline

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CreativeCOW presents Ender's Game: The Set-to-Screen Color Pipeline -- TV & Movie Appreciation Feature

Light IronLight Iron
Hollywood, California
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Case Study: Ender's Game from Light Iron on Vimeo.



Light Iron – a post production leader specializing in projects originated on file-based motion cameras – provided on-set color, color workflow, and final color for the weekend box office hit Ender's Game. The company has released an in-depth video on its Ender's Game workflow, highlighting the collaboration and innovation that fueled this multi-year project.

"Ender's Game is an amazing science fiction movie, with a behind-the-scenes story equally as compelling as what's on the screen," says Light Iron CEO Michael Cioni. "Light Iron collaborated with the VFX team at Digital Domain to create a powerful color pipeline that delivered the vision of director Gavin Hood and cinematographer Don McAlpine. From setting looks on-set with our Lily Pad System, to managing metadata with our Live Play iPad app, to determining multiple colorspace deliveries of VFX shots, to creating complex branches of scene looks in the DI, our workflow was progressive at every step."


(L to R) HAILEE STEINFELD and ASA BUTTERFIELD star in ENDER'S GAME.
(L to R) HAILEE STEINFELD and ASA BUTTERFIELD star in ENDER'S GAME.


Production began in early 2012 at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. DIT Tim Nagasawa operated Light Iron's Lily Pad, a lightweight and highly mobile on-set color system. Nearby, Jason Beale operated Light Iron's Outpost Mobile Data Lab to produce dailies and backups.

The Lily Pad and Outpost combination was appreciated by director of photography Don McAlpine, ASC, ACS: "Tim provided a good solid backing and the Lily Pad was an efficient portable visual control center. This, backed with the security of Light Iron, proved to be a very efficient and reassuring protection of the product we were producing."


ASA BUTTERFIELD and HARRISON FORD star in ENDER'S GAME.
ASA BUTTERFIELD and HARRISON FORD star in ENDER'S GAME.


Also on-set, Light Iron's Live Play iPad app was used in conjunction with the 5th Kind app to log and track metadata for the numerous VFX shots to be developed.

The handoffs of photography elements to Digital Domain and completed VFX shots back to Light Iron were in specific configurations so that, in the DI, Supervising Colorist Ian Vertovec had maximum flexibility to apply color grades across VFX shots and uncomposited R3Ds in the same scene.


Screenshots of Colorist Ian Vertovec's grading process from log input to final look.
Don McAlpine, ASC, ACS, shot in a custom 4K extraction, which came to 4096x1724. This yielded a clean 2:35:1 in 4K which could be repositioned and reframed from the 5K source. Upper left, Log input. Upper right, baseline graded image.

Upper left, shot with additional contrast, blue midtones, added halation. Upper right, the vignette effect brought down, the walls brought down and Ender, up. Photos courtesy of Light Iron.

Vertovec worked closely with McAlpine and director Gavin Hood to develop the final look of the film, including crafting subtle day/night cues to structure the passing of time and separating color profiles to enhance the emotional thematics of the story.

"When you work on a project for more than a year, it makes a tremendous difference when the work flows seamlessly from set through DI," notes Cioni. "Our innovative process is different from those of the legacy companies of post production, in the same way that Netflix is different from Blockbuster and Yelp is different from the Yellow Pages. Being progressive in data processing and color management enables clients to leverage file-based tools to reach maximum creative control."




ENDER'S GAME -- Trailer








Title header image: ASA BUTTERFIELD and HARRISON FORD star in ENDER'S GAME.
All images ©2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.



About Light Iron
Light Iron is a post production company that specializes in on-site dailies, digital intermediate, archival, and data services for projects originated on file-based motion cameras. With facilities in Hollywood and New York City, Light Iron serves feature film, episodic television, and web-bound projects at both the independent and studio level.


HARRISON FORD stars in ENDER'S GAME
Harrison Ford in Ender's Game

The company distinguishes itself by providing clients state-of-the-art hardware and software solutions configured to enhance the creative process. More specifically, Light Iron offers post production workflows that minimize time, maximize image fidelity, and increase filmmakers' creative control over their projects.

Recent credits include features such as Muppets Most Wanted, Enough Said and 42, commercial campaigns for Miu Miu and Mattel, and the television hits Criminal Minds and Veep.

For more from Light Iron at Creative COW, read about the 5K workflows for real time, full resolution post for Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.



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