A Western VFX guy in China

Bubble Gum Crisis Wrap Up

Ok, this entry should only act as a wrap up of our finished Bubble Gum Crisis trailer we did for Cannes. Unfortunately not what we expected but still interesting to test out my RED workflow with FCP and Color (aehmmm..) Anyway for short-term projects importing in FCP in RED’s native colorspace (Log&Transfer) without transcoding to ProRes 422 (HQ) might be a performance hit, but for our 2min. long timeline in 2048×1024 worked pretty much flawless on a 8core machine. No frame dropping if playback quality is set to Medium, good enough for editing and still be able to see all necessary details of the acting performance. 
Regarding our film workflow, i sent to Color and made a one-light correction as well as built a custom LUT to save a DPX sequence in LOG space. Was not so difficult took me some days and with the help of my recorded Mac Beth and calibrated color charts wasn’t really rocket science. Why DPX ? is 12bit color-precision not good enough of RED code, No? just because we are all used to DPX workflows and also to do a quick print out on a Arri Laser recorder which expects LOG space anyway.
In Nuke i just applied a standard LogLin operator switched to ‘Linear’ viewing LUT and everything was just fine. The CG were rendered in Maya with Renderman and we saved everything in the OpenEXR format and recombined the passes with a custom written Gizmo. Isn’t that complicated at all and we frequently do this with VRay passes from 3DSMax. Maximum flexibility and artistic freedom for the compositor. My prefered workflow consists of the OpenEXR format in Nuke rather than getting 30 different layers as separated passes, sometimes as TIFF’s which is not only a waste of storage space, but also a really hit for CPU performance. Is just for print, for god’s sake not for comping, OK ??
The comp was pretty much straight forward, just the keying needed a bit of love, but with a combination of the new IBK Keyer and of course my all time favorite the Primatte and Keylight (hard and soft method). Some roto to remove rigs and some paint fixes for the wire removal, but nothing dramatic. After staging (framing) animating the Maya camera, exported the cam data with a Mel script to Nuke and built a Pan & Tile for the skydome, tweaked the 3DMoblur with the provided velocity data out of the scanline renderer, smudged up and de-saturated everything, put grain on and rendered out. The really cool thing though is that the TOD (Time of Day) could be preserved throughout the compositing stage which meant that i was able to do a quick confirm with the EDL from FCP in Color. Since i didn’t have Gluetools  to import the DPX sequence in FCP, i rendered with an uncompressed 10bit RGB Kona3 codec to preserve the latitude. Anyway FCP as onliner not really an option, but with some workarounds doable. Would have been much easier with a Smoke but there was no budget for this.
The lighting was sometimes off, so i had to play a bit with our RGB Diff pass, but for a trailer and in a hurry i guess, OK. Not the best trailer i did in my life but again a very important lesson in understanding the Chinese way of doing things (aehmmm…at least i tried hard

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