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LEM pioneers HD dailies workflow

30 November 2006

Dry-hire company LEM Digital not only provided the digital editing and workflow technologies for the latest James Bond film Casino Royale, but working with the film’s producers and Bell Theatre Services, it also used HD dailies and digital projection extensively on the film. It now plans to roll out similar HD post production and HD finishing services to film and broadcast producers, writes Andy Stout.

The company’s first challenge entailed working closely with the film’s editorial team, led by editor Stuart Baird A.C.E., during the pre-production phase of the film, to design and implement a workflow that would assist the film’s international production schedule. The editing on Casino Royale moved between Prague, the Bahamas, Pinewood Studios and Soho.

For the film, LEM Digital established a disc-based HD rushes/projection theatre on location at Barrandov Studios in Prague, which subsequently moved to Pinewood Studios, and then to Soho as the production neared completion. The advantage of the system was that it could be quickly set up at different locations whilst providing high-quality and flexible playback facilities. Along with portability and convenience, the adoption of this modern workflow on Casino Royale, provided the filmmakers with significant cost savings on film-processing too.

“More and more producers these days want to take advantage of what digital can offer and want to screen previews from HD conforms rather than watching inferior quality colour prints,” said Peter Watson, managing director of LEM Digital. “Last year we moved into the HD arena on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire renting out an Avid Adrenaline HD system to conform the film for the preview. But we went one step further on Casino Royale by also offering the HD dailies and projection services. With the proliferation of HD in throughout the post production workflow, we see these sorts of services becoming highly attractive to directors, producers and editors alike in the film and broadcast markets in the coming year.”

The editing on Casino Royale took place on multiple Apple G4-based Avid Meridians running Media Composer, with 4TB of Unity storage and fibre optic LANShare networking. The HD dailies were viewed via a Rushplay system, outputting HD MPEG-2 files through a Sony Qualia projector, which was supplied by Bell Theatre Services.

LEM Digital also provided an Avid Unity system with 2.4TB of storage, and a Mac G4 Avid Meridian, at Arion the facility responsible for the provided the daily film transfers. The dallies were digitised into the Avid via Digibeta and transported to location on Firewire drives. The HD dailies for projection were also shipped at the same time on separate drives before being copied to the Rushplay server for the crew screening of digital rushes.

“I wanted HD projection in my cutting room to go with the HD rushes,” said Casino Royale editor, Stuart Baird. “The projector needed a ten-foot screen, which meant I needed a big cutting room, but that worked as I had a large Avid system to go in as well. The HD dailies were convenient as it meant there wasn’t a lot of film to send up. As the whole film was kept on a computer, we could refer to any shot on HD, which we did for rushes and checking focus.”

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