Digitally acquired TV series: Criminal Minds
Submitted by Light Iron on Fri, 2011-09-30 00:00
CBS’s Criminal Minds revolves around an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze top criminals in an effort to anticipate their next move. Season 7 premiered in mid September, and when Post caught up with producer Gigi Coello-Bannon, the production team was working on day two of an eight-day shoot for Episode 7.
Coello-Bannon has been on Criminal Minds since the pilot and has been able to watch the show’s success and loyal fan-base grow over the years. She describes the series — produced by ABC Studios in conjunction with CBS Studios — as “the little show that could,” initially being matched up against juggernaut Lost, and then quickly growing ratings that first year.
Production takes place on two large sets in Glendale, as well as on various locations. The first four seasons of Criminal Minds were shot on 35mm film. The production then switched to Sony’s F35 for Seasons 5 and 6, and this season, the show has gone entirely file-based, shooting 4K with Red’s new Epic camera.
“Every time we made the leap from one format to another, we did a lot of research,” says Coello-Bannon. “The scariest part was going to file. There were so many issues in the past — not so much shooting, but the flow afterwards.”
The folks at Red turned them on to Michael Cioni and the team at Light Iron (www.lightiron.com) in Hollywood. “I have to say, that kind of cinched the deal. They are pioneers in Red. Michael Cioni is a genius and took us through his facility and the gear, and came over to the set. [We] shot something and immediately ingested it into the Outpost box, and it was like, ‘Wow!’”
The show will shoot eight days per episode, and while Red Epics are the main cameras, an occasional Canon or GoPro may also be used, depending on the scene. Once footage is captured, a DIT operator immediately loads sound and picture onto a Lily Pad, an on-set solution provided by Light Iron that Cioni describes as a lightweight color suite designed to provide first-look dailies. “Camera negative is loaded onto the Lily Pad and looks are applied and saved as meta data, which can later be used in dailies processing, visual effects and ultimately the digital intermediate,” he notes.
“It serves many purposes,” says Coello-Bannon of the Lily Pad system. “A: to store it; B: to verify there is video and sound, and that the jam syncing is happening appropriately. Then the DP comes and creates color value,” she continues. “Normally it’s called a LUT value, [here] it’s called an RMD Red metadata.”
The color settings are saved to a Flash drive and this drive, along with the original Red Flash cards and the original sound files, are packed into a secure Pelican case and brought over to post production, which is located in the same space as the set and production offices.
There, another Light Iron solution — the Outpost suite — is set up next to editorial, where data manager Aaron Moore creates an assortment of file formats for different post production needs. Moore initially creates a back-up and then ingests the color value. He also triple checks sync so that by the time editorial gets the footage, it is in perfect sync and contains the color the DP has established.
DNx36 files are created for the Avid editorial. H.264 ProRes QuickTime files are generated for upload to ABC Studios’ Jelly Roll system, which allows for viewing of dailies on a computer. These files are also used for creating DVDs. And DNx175 files, without the LUT value or Red metadata color, are created for online and assembly later on.
In addition, DPX files are created for visual effects purposes. FuseFX in Burbank handles VFX for the series. “Criminal Minds is one of those shows, that while it may not show it, we have a lot of visual effects,” says Coello-Bannon. “Since [in the show] we fly from city to city every week, we are usually creating set extensions to create the look of that city, or we’ll burn in images on people’s cell phone or computers.”
“We are 100 percent file based until we air our broadcast master,” says Coello-Bannon. The show is delivered on HDCAM SR tape, and its assets, including all dailies, files and the final color-timed master are archived to LTO tape.
Read the complete article by Post Magazine here.