In our line of work, we look for an angle on a story. And we usually limit it to one. This often runs counter to the nature of filmmaking — and I use that term generically to refer to that leap of faith that you take collaborating on a spot, feature, episodic, docu, or cartoon, whether it’s made in film or video. We’re breaking that pattern with our piece on Van Helsing. You’ll find POVs from the director, the cinematographer, the effects supervisors and the colorist handling the digital intermediate.

The story starts with director Stephen Sommers contemplating “What next?” after finishing The Mummy Returns. What eventually grabs his imagination is a reunion of monsters born on film in the 1930s. Digging into the Universal archive and reinvigorating Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and others meant he was going to need industrial strength, which lead him to Lucas Digital — but not before deciding that the virtual cinematography needed to take its cues from a master, Allen Daviau.

You’ll learn how Daviau and the VFX supervisors communicated about the way in which photochemical cinematography should overlap with the virtual camerawork. And then how Daviau, who’s well-seasoned in the art of digital manipulation thanks to many years of preparing Spielberg movies for home video release, handles the digital intermediate process to enhance what will be projected in theaters.


This month our writers have a lot to say about how the working world around you is changing. Here’s what they’ll tell you this month:

Effects houses in LA are getting more ambitious and expanding to perform editing and finishing services.

>> A-list DPs are spending more time shooting movies for TV.

>> Innovations in CG pipelines are facilitating formats considered impossible to animate in 3D, like prime-time sitcoms.

>> HD pipelines are going to be integrated in more workplaces this year, and they have a good model to imitate: the episodic TV workflow.

West coast editor Debra Kaufman tells you about companies that specialize in VFX that are putting everything in context and offering finishing (and sometimes creative editing). Learn more about this trend in “VFX in LA”.

Bob Fisher reports that the TV dream-team approach of Angels in America is not a one-time proposition. Talented DPs are signing up for movies of the week and miniseries. Is cable TV entering a golden age? Read “Why DPs are Big on TV”.

Not all energetic experiments net out in Nielsen ratings, but they still challenge outmoded assumptions. Toronto-based DKP Effects took on the TV series Game Over, setting out to prove that a prime-time sitcom could be done in 3D for the same price as the average live-action half hour. Find out more in Short Takes.

How much different is HD workflow? We unleashed career editor Don Levy to find out. His answer? Offline hasn’t changed at all yet, but there’s a whole lot more information to handle during finishing. This industry veteran — you may remember Don from DigiPix, an early Avid post operation in Manhattan — takes a look at how editors and colorists handle shows that are either originated and/or mastered on HD.

Alison Johns, Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief