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Alin Bijan Shoots The Ghost Of Goodnight Lane with Sony F3s and Cinedeck EX

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An S-Log image of Billy Zane in Alin Bijan's The Ghost Of Goodnight Lane.
Cinedeck revealed details of how its Cinedeck EX, multi-format, HD-SDI recording, monitoring and playback system was combined with high-performance Sony F3 cameras, and played a pivotal role in the camera-to-post workflow of VFX-laden horror feature film The Ghost Of Goodnight Lane, directed by Alin Bijan.

The combination of Cinedeck EX with Sony F3 cameras enabled the production to solve budget, performance and space constraints during the shoot, with Cinedeck EX also delivering a fast uncompressed, file-based camera-to-post workflow for the editorial and VFX teams.

The Ghost Of Goodnight Lane was written and directed by Bijan, and produced by Dallas-based production company Media World Studios, in association with FTG Media. The production, featuring an angry ghost with evil intentions, is a comedy horror about a movie being made in a haunted film studio, and was inspired by paranormal events that occurred at Media World Studios. It stars Billy Zane (Titanic), Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls), Danielle Harris (Halloween), Matt Dallas (Kyle XY) and Richard Tyson (Black Hawk Down).

Principal photography took place over 22 days, with two Cinedeck EX systems capturing from A and B Sony F3 cameras. All footage was recorded from the F3s as 10-bit, uncompressed, RGB 4:4:4, S-Log gamma-encoded imagery. Live action was output from Cinedeck EX in Apple ProRes 4:4:4:4 for Final Cut editorial, and green-screen elements output as uncompressed 4:4:4 for VFX work and compositing. Over a quarter of the movie, 25 scenes, was shot for VFX treatment. Multiple SSD cards were used to transfer the uncompressed footage to the editorial and VFX teams.

In addition to the rigorous schedule and the tight budget typical of an independent production, the production crew also faced restricted shooting environments, as many of the sequences were to be shot in cramped spaces.

In preparation for the shoot, Bijan and his crew carefully investigated how innovations in camera, recorder and monitor technologies could solve these issues, while delivering the highest possible quality file-based workflow to streamline the camera-to-post workflow. Considering all of these elements, the crew decided to shoot the entire movie using new Sony F3 cameras, with dual Cinedeck EXs at the heart of the camera-to-post pipeline.

“We knew we’d be facing a mountain of challenges in production, so we decided to let leading-edge technology lead us to the best pipeline,” said Bijan. “In the Sony F3 I found a camera that I could move around quickly and shoot sequences fast, but with extremely high quality. I also needed a recorder that did much more than just record. Assessing all the different kinds of recorders, we discovered Cinedeck EX offered more in one little device than anything else out there. It matched our physical space requirements, and more importantly, it enabled us to record S-Log uncompressed RGB 4:4:4 from the Sony F3 and deliver those files directly, and quickly, to post for editing and compositing.”

“When you’re shooting a film with so many VFX scenes, Cinedeck EX’s ability to deliver ready-to-composite, uncompressed content, without the need to convert file formats, is a huge time and money saver,” said Jonny Revolt, editor The Ghost Of Goodnight Lane. “The post crew could begin working in the full S-Log color space immediately, and this gave us the comfort of being able to test VFX keys live on set.”

Summing up his experience shooting with the Sony F3 and Cinedeck EX, Bijan said, “I need the right tools to help me tell my story, and Cinedeck EX makes filmmaking so much easier. We took full advantage of its advanced capabilities to shorten the distance between production and post – that’s the wonder of file-based workflows. Cinedeck EX helped me to tell a better story and make a better film, because I didn’t have to worry about my workflow, and that’s half the battle in indie filmmaking.”

Peter Crithary, production marketing manager for Sony Electronics, said, “Given the F3’s extremely quiet signal and exceptional picture quality, using S-Log Gamma encoding, with 10-bit uncompressed RGB output, Cinedeck EX is the perfect companion to record and preserve the superb image quality of the camcorder.”

The experience of working the Sony F3s with uncompressed S-Log footage has led the filmmakers to collaborate with Curtis Clark ASC, chair of the American Society Of Cinematographer‘s technology committee, to develop an Input Device Transform for the Sony F3 that will conform to the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences’ Image Interchange Framework (IIF) ACES color-encoding specification, and streamline an ACES workflow – from camera to grading to finished output.

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