MTI Film is providing postproduction services for the first season of A&E TV’s hit drama Longmire, helping the show quickly get from the set to the screen.
Produced by Warner Horizon Television, Longmire is taking advantage of MTI Film’s new Remote Control Dailies system to facilitate a workflow that spans the country. The show, a modern-day crime drama that centers on the sheriff of a remote Wyoming community, is shot in New Mexico, but editorial and post work is carried out in Los Angeles. A&E TV’s network operations, meanwhile, are based in Stamford, Conn. As a result, editorial media needs to be sent from the set to the editorial team on a daily basis, while high-quality review media has to be made available to parties in New Mexico, California and Connecticut.
MTI Film made all this possible by establishing a Remote Control Dailies facility in Albuquerque, just a short drive from the production location. Each day, data drives from the RED cameras used in production are transported to the dailies facility for processing. The camera media initially undergoes a color grading process using the Remote Control Dailies system. It allows dailies colorist Troy Davis at MTI Film’s Hollywood facility to work directly on the camera media over an IP connection. The series DPs are able to able to observe and approve the work in New Mexico.
“Remote Control Dailies allows us to avoid the expense of having a dailies colorist on location,” explained Longmire associate producer, Bryan J. Raber. “It also means that we can use the same colorist, Troy Davis, who did our pilot, and avoid the hassle of training someone new.”
Once that work is complete, the Control Dailies system produces ProRes editorial media that is then sent via high-speed Internet to the editorial team in Hollywood. It also prepares review media, in formats ranging from fully-authored DVDs to 720P chaptered files viewable on iPads, for delivery to the production team, network executives and others in the approval chain.
For final post work, MTI Film employed a flexible workflow to accommodate the show’s extremely tight delivery schedule. For several episodes, the facility “pre-graded” and “pre-conformed” the show before editorial was locked. “We would take the show at whatever state it was in — it might be a producer’s cut that ran several minutes long — and ‘soft’ lock it, and then take it through the grading and finishing process,” Raber said. “Four days later, when the show was formally locked, we would re-conform.”
The re-conform, Raber notes, was done using MTI Film’s proprietary “color trace” process that allowed color decisions made during the earlier grading process to be reapplied. “The color values were already in place and could simply be dropped into the locked cut,” Raber said. “That process would only take 15 minutes.”
At that point, final colorist Steve Porter merely had to add in and grade visual effects scenes and make minor adjustments. “We were able to complete the show in as little as an hour,” Raber said. “It allowed us to make our deadline without incurring overages. It was the only way we could have made Longmire work.”