Complete Camera Data Management for Demanding 80-Day Shoot
Amsterdam: August 24, 2010… The MARVIN camera data management system is currently proving itself on a demanding shooting schedule for the high-profile Dutch mini-series Lijn 32 (Route 32).
Directed by Maarten Treurniet, the eight-episode thriller opens with a bang when a bus arriving in Amsterdam suddenly explodes. The series then retraces the steps of everyone on the bus, uncovering their individual stories, and ultimately, the mystery of what caused the horrific explosion. Among other firsts, the 80-day shoot, which wraps in early October, represents the production debut for MARVIN, the new digital cinematography workflow system from MARVIN Technologies.
Cinematographer Jan Moeskops is shooting Lijn 32 on RED MX cameras. The shoot is generating between 150 and 200 GB of data each day, captured on 16 GB CF cards. Once full, the CF cards are attached to MARVIN, which copies the data to its internal 12 TB RAID5 array, as well as separate hard drives. MARVIN verifies the data as it copies, flagging any corrupt file it finds. When the data is verified, MARVIN automatically generates LTO tape masters, QuickTime proxies for offline editing and DVD dailies.
“The idea of the MARVIN is one thing, but when you put it to use on a real production, you experience the difference it makes in your work,” said director Maarten Treurniet, inventor of the MARVIN, (along with developer and business partner Guus Zijlstra). “We made some interesting discoveries on this project and what we have learned is flowing directly back into development on the MARVIN.”
With a multitude of locations and characters, the shooting schedule for Lijn 32 is extremely challenging. During the first few weeks, the team found that the standard Core i7 920 CPU could not process data fast enough to keep up with the volume of material being captured every day. They decided to upgrade to the MARVIN Pro configuration, which features the Intel Core 980x processor. “That changed everything,” recalled Treurniet. “MARVIN was able to copy 16 GB cards in under 10 minutes, as well as verifying all the data. We had wondered if we would need to upgrade to an LTO4 drive, but we have found that LTO3 is fast enough to keep up. While we continue shooting, MARVIN processes the data, creating the masters, offlines and dailies.”
“We’re using a total of five CF cards on Lijn 32,” said Marcel Vendrig, digital imaging technician on Lijn 32. “When we’ve copied the data, we erase the card and send it back to the cameras. We typically use each of those cards several times each day.”
MARVIN saves high resolution stills for each take. “The full resolution stills are excellent,” explained Vendrig. “I use them to check image quality, for example to make sure all the camera sensors are registering correctly.”
Throughout the shoot, maintenance and updates to the system have been provided remotely by MARVIN support. “It was incredible,” enthused Treurniet. “Wherever you are in the world, when you connect your MARVIN, support can get right into the machine if you need help with anything. It’s the same with software updates. There is practically zero maintenance for the user. It’s all done remotely through MARVIN support.”
MARVIN from the DIT’s Perspective
“Before MARVIN, I did my data wrangling with a laptop, Data Manager and external hard drives,” explained Vendrig. “When I had copied the files, I sent the drives to the post house where they created the dailies and offlines. It was more complicated and much more time-consuming, and there was always the nagging fear that something might go wrong.
“I was excited about the opportunity to work with a new technology on this project,” continued van Vendrig. “I no longer need to spend time just copying data. Instead I can focus on my real work – checking image quality and fixing problems when they come up.”
MARVIN from the Cinematographer’s Perspective
“This is my second project on the RED camera,” said Jan Moeskops, director of photography. “I still like shooting on film, but for this project, I’m glad we’re using the RED. We have such a complex script with so many locations and characters. It’s a relief to have MARVIN with us.
MARVIN creates the rushes, and I don’t have to think about any of it. I can check lighting and sharpness as we go. At the end of the day, I know that every shot is good. It takes a big load off your shoulders.”
MARVIN from the Editor’s Perspective
“These days in post, it often feels like we are one step behind the camera technologies,” said Jasper Quispel, who, along with Bas Icke, is editing Lijn 32. “A cameraman is already shooting with a new camera, but Final Cut Pro and Avid are not yet compatible with the new system, and the RED camera is no exception.”
“We’ve had many issues converting the R3D files in the past few years, and for an editor, this is really annoying,” added Icke. “With MARVIN these issues are solved, and we can focus on the creative side of editing, which is what we’re supposed to be doing!”
On Lijn 32, file conversions are done on the MARVIN. The editors receive offlines as DNxHD 36 MXF files with a mixdown of the audio included. “We can load that right into the AVID,” said Quispel. “Having access to the DVD dailies as MPEG-2 files and stills of every shot is a big help too.”
MARVIN from the Director’s Perspective
“Now that we’ve seen what it can do in the real world, I can recommend a MARVIN to anyone,” said Treurniet. “Transcoding on MARVIN is faster and more reliable than anything else. Other systems crash if there is a corrupt file. MARVIN just flags the problem and continues transcoding.
We know right away when there was an issue with a file. We can check right away to see if there is enough material to salvage the shot, or if we need to re-shoot. You can 't do that if you only find the problem later."
"Out of 385 reels, which we have shot so far, we've only had four corrupt takes," he added. "MARVIN flagged all of them and we had no problem dealing with the issues right there on the spot."
MARVIN at IBC
MARVIN Technologies will be exhibiting at booth A.38 in Hall 13 in the RAI in Amsterdam, Sept. 10-14, 2010. To book an appointment for a demo, IBC visitors should contact Adam Welsh or Russell Branch (russell@marvintech .com, tel +44 (0)7900 692 000).
Lijn 32 is a Dutch mini-series being produced by ID TV for NCRV Channel 2 and KRO. The series includes eight episodes and will air this fall. Visitors to IBC will be able to see preview footage from the series at the MARVIN booth.
MARVIN automates the creation of backups, L TO tape masters, QuickTime proxies for offline editing and DVD dailies. As a result, MARVIN saves filmmakers, camera owners and rental houses significant time and expense in comparison with current practices of manually copying and wrangling data . MARVIN supports the RED One camera, the Silicon Imaging SI-2K, ARRI D21 /Alexa, Panasonic P2, as well as high-speed cameras such as the Vision Research Phantom and Weisscam HS-2.
About Band Pro
Band Pro Film & Digital, Inc. specializes in products and solutions for professional filmmakers and videographers. From their offices in Burbank, CA; New York City, NY; Munich, Germany; and Tel Aviv, Israel, Band Pro offers the highest level of knowledge and expertise along with the finest equipment and accessories available. The company's research and development protocol allows product lines to expand toward the newest technologies so clients can focus on the art and craft of cinematography. With close relationships in Hollywood and worldwide, and longstanding partnerships with camera and lens makers, Band Pro has remained at the forefront of the newest developments in digital cinema. For more information, please visit: www.bandpro.com or www.bandpro.de.
About MARVIN Technologies
MARVIN Technologies was founded by Dutch filmmaker Maarten Treurniet in order to develop a simplified and reliable data workflow for the digital cinematography. The company's flagship product, MARVIN, accomplishes this by establishing a clear set of protocols and automating the creation of backups, masters, offline proxies for editorial and dailies. Based in Amsterdam, MARVIN Technologies is a privately held company with a growing network of international sales offices. For more information, please visit: www.marvintech.com