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Brian Hardman, Head of Post Production, Broadcast Operations at dock10 explores how the ELEMENTS ONE supported dock10’s first major Netflix post project, providing conform, VFX, grade and mastering for Red Production’s The Stranger.

“The primary need for the ELEMENTS ONE was driven by our foray into the world of Netflix. Taking on the full gamut of Netflix deliverables lifts the bar from traditional HD, terrestrial workflows and deliverables.

We had previously worked from 4K acquisition for an HD delivery but nothing like 4K HDR. The ELEMENTS ONE was an essential component for this transition

We’ve had a small VFX department for some time with some talented VFX operators and were used to doing low to mid-range commercials and VFX for traditional HD output working within a more traditional video-based storage environment. We wanted to develop and grow this department to encompass Tier 1 4K drama. But this is a big step up.

“The first big challenge was that we needed a suitable SAN that could deliver an OpenEXR workflow”

The conversation began at the start of 2018. We understood that our estate wasn’t ready to support the kind of workflows and demands that come with high-bandwidth OpenEXR workflows. Netflix were brilliant to work with. They were very supportive and helped us with all aspects of the workflow. You start with the deliverables and work backwards. The first big challenge was that we needed a suitable SAN that could deliver an OpenEXR workflow.

We spoke to our trusted reseller, XTFX, who support our two Autodesk Flames. The brief was familiar to XTFX, and they totally understood the requirements we had. And the ELEMENTS ONE was the obvious choice. A primary requirement was a SAN that could mount and efficiently run the Flame estate. Overall, we wanted to have two Flames running in real-time, some VFX workstations hanging off it and Blackmagic Resolve for the grade and to support the deliverables.

We bought the ELEMENTS ONE with 380TB of WIP storage to handle the project, and with all the versions and temps we had, we almost filled it. We must have used between 350 and 360TB. The VFX was even bigger than we had anticipated.

The show was the hit Netflix Original psychological thriller, The Stranger, produced by Red Productions and this was a Tier 1 delivery. The show master was for eight one-hour episodes. It was Red’s first foray into 4K HDR as well. Everyone involved in the production was mindful of the demands of the workflow and the shooting ratio was efficient. The show was also as data economical as was realistic.

The show was shot on the Sony VENICE at 4K anamorphic on the X-OCN ST recording format and then brought in and transcoded to Dnx36 and 16bit linear OpenEXR, all working within an ACES AP0 colour pipeline. Due to the nature of the deliverables and some of the more complex VFX shots, we had to work with desqueezed EXRs, resulting in an 8K working format. The speed of the ELEMENTS ONE made this process relatively painless and enabled us to meet the delivery specs, whilst ensuring all colour decisions remained intact without any drop in image quality.

The kit of parts included Mellanox to move the high-bandwidth data around. We had the Flames and Resolve running off 40GB client connections to get the real-time playback performance we required. We also bought two of the first Sony BVMHX310s for monitoring and two Leader Electronics Scopes for test and measurement. Our grading artist Jamie Parry had very specific requirements and wanted to ensure the project would run as seamlessly as possible.

“The ELEMENTS ONE was an essential component for this transition”

We had excellent support from ELEMENTS from the outset. Alistair Washbourn came up and provided overview training for our technical team and was always available afterwards, acting as a conduit to the right engineering support. We had almost immediate access to their senior technical people with the right knowledge when we needed them. There was no feeling that we were in a support queue. They were very hands-on and proactive.

It wasn’t at all painful to get it up and running to support the workflow. There are storage vendors where you say, ‘Media and Entertainment’, and they say ‘yes, we do video’ but they don’t really get it. It’s about understanding the requirements of a workflow. There’s a big difference to saying we support video files to working with ELEMENTS where you know they’ve had these conversations before. You don’t feel like you’re pushing the envelope with them and that is a true comfort.

The end project delivery ran like a charm. Netflix received the project and we filled the 90TB Amazon Snowball delivery unit.

We’ve subsequently used the ELEMENTS ONE for other drama projects for various broadcasters and streamers as well as for many short form commercials. We’re now gearing up for our next major Netflix series with Red Productions where again we’re doing full post and with Netflix trust and support, we’re now investing in QC to be able to send the finished deliverables straight to them.”

ABOUT DOCK10

dock10 has built an enviable reputation as one of the UK’s leading television facilities, with ten purpose-built studios equipped for any size and style of show including the UK’s largest television studio – a favourite for primetime Saturday night entertainment.

dock10’s extensive post production facilities offer full picture and audio post as well as VFX for broadcast, commercials and corporate customers. Working with the most advanced and innovative technology dock10 delivers hundreds of hours of content a year.

dock10’s post facilities include Avid editing, Avid Pro Tools audio and voice over booths, Baselight, Resolve and Lustre and the latest Autodesk Flame suites for VFX.

dock10 post has won multiple awards for both creativity and technical innovation including winning the Best Post Production House at the Broadcast Awards 2020.

Find out more at dock10.co.uk

 

ABOUT ELEMENTS ONE

  • Dedicated storage for Media and Entertainment
  • Grade and edit the latest DPX and EXR
  • Human Centric Workflow included
  • Easy to deploy and future proofed through scalability
  • Close customer collaboration

Find out more at elements.tv

 

Jon Creamer