Altered Carbon (Netflix), produced by Skydance Television, envisions a grim future where technology has enabled humans to transfer their consciousness from one body to another--effectively giving eternal life to a privileged few as they move through a steady stream of cloned host bodies. The high-concept series is also pushing the boundaries of traditional TV technology.
Altered Carbon becomes one of the first episodic shows to be shot on the ARRI Alexa 65, and finished in Dolby Vision HDR. Deluxe’s global postproduction teams worked closely with Skydance Television’s production team to develop a highly collaborative and forward-thinking workflow to handle the massive file sizes from the Alexa 65--bringing feature-quality visuals to the small screen on an advanced level.
“We were in a unique position from the beginning because our DPs Martin Ahlgren and Neville Kidd loved the look of the Alexa 65, which at that point had only been used to shoot features,” said Dieter Ismagil, VP of post production at Skydance Television. “I’ve worked with Deluxe on TV projects for over a decade, so right away I went to them to brainstorm on how to handle these intimidating file sizes--how do you manage the dailies? How do you do VFX pulls? How do you get everything done on time and control costs? There was a lot to figure out initially just to make sure we could pull this off.”
Deluxe teams at Encore in Vancouver and Hollywood, EFILM, and Company 3 tackled these workflow challenges with a number of approaches, including their proprietary service, Synapse Portal. This service simplifies ingest and automates distribution of original camera plates to VFX vendors with the desired specs, dramatically reducing turnaround times and eliminating the potential for human error.
Traditionally used for features, Synapse Portal for TV was first deployed by Encore and Company 3 on 2017’s American Gods, to great success. Knowing the speed and flexibility of the Synapse Portal would be crucial for the VFX schedule, Deluxe worked with production to develop a workflow to keep costs down using downrezzed 4K ProRes XQ files for mastering the show rather than the massive ARRI RAW files.
Encore Vancouver handled dailies, EFILM handled VFX data management, Company 3’s Jill Bogdanowicz colored the series, and Encore Hollywood managed the finish and final delivery–-all in close collaboration with Altered Carbon post producer Allen Marshall Palmer and the DPs.