• Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2020
Apple previews new iPhone software, changes to Mac chips
In this photo provided by Apple Inc., CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address during the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, June 22, 2020, in Cupertino, Calif. At its postponed and now-virtual developers conference, Apple is expected to unveil some modest changes to iPhone operating software and possibly to drop some hints about its efforts in augmented and virtual reality, although any new gadgets are still probably a few years away. (Brooks Kraft/Apple Inc. via AP)

Apple on Monday provided a glimpse at upcoming software changes designed to make the iPhone even easier to use and also announced a long-anticipated shift to a new type of chip to power its line of Mac computers. 

The preview of the next version of the iPhone's operating system, known as iOS 14, highlighted Apple's annual conference for computer programmers and mobile app makers. The event, which was delayed for three weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, took place in virtual form via a webcast from the company's Cupertino, California, headquarters.

In recognition of the pandemic, Apple's next iPhone operating system will include an option to put a face mask on a personalized emoji. Upgraded software for the Apple Watch will also detect when wearers wash their hands.

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off Monday's session with remarks that acknowledged the nationwide protests triggered by George Floyd's death last month at the hands of Minneapolis police, as well as the social and business challenges posed by the worst pandemic in a century.

But most of the presentation revolved around an array of new features that, for instance, could help iPhone users manage their apps better, find new ones, and use their phones to unlock and start their cars remotely. (Though that last feature will initially only be available for a 2021 BMW model.)

Apple also promised an upgraded version of its digital assistant Siri intended to make it smarter and less cumbersome, helping it fend off rival voice-activated concierges made by Google and Amazon.

Apple also said its Mac computers will begin using its own chips as it phases our the Intel processors that have powered the machines for the past 15 years. Some Macs will have the Apple chips before the end of the year, but the full transition away from Intel chips won't be completed until 2022.

There had been speculation that Apple would unveil apps that rely on augmented reality, or AR, a technology that melds digitally projected images with the real world. Although Cook has been hyping AR has the next big wave in technology, it hasn't caught on in the mainstream yet and Apple didn't drop any new bombshells about it during Monday's event. Instead, the company disclosed a few relatively minor features in its AR platform for iPhones and iPads in a written summary.

Apple is widely believed to be working on an AR headset and internet-connected glasses that could be released in the next two to three years. True to its secretive nature, Apple hasn't disclosed any plans for its own line of AR devices. 

The company gave no indication whether the pandemic-driven disruptions in work in the factories that make iPhone parts will delay the release of the next model. The company typically unveils its next iPhones in early September and then starts selling them toward the end of the month.

Analysts believe the release of the iPhone 12 will be come later than usual, but are expecting it still will be on sale well before the pivotal holiday shopping season. Earlier this month, the CEO of chip maker Broadcom, Hock Tan, told analysts he expected a delay in the production of a product made by a major North American smartphone maker. Broadcom is a major supplier for the iPhone.

Apple is expected to roll out as many as four different iPhone 12 models this year, including its first version that will be able to work on the next generation of ultrafast wireless networks known as 5G.

Investors are betting heavily that Apple could emerge even stronger from the pandemic and the associated recession. The company's stock hit a new all-time high Monday before closing at $358.87 — a gain of 22% so far this year that gives Apple a market value to give the company a market value of more than $1.5 trillion.

  • Thursday, Jun. 18, 2020
Submissions deadline nears for 72nd Engineering Emmy Awards
2019 Engineering Emmy Award recipients

The submissions deadline for the 72nd Engineering Emmy® Awards is looming--online submissions will remain open through Monday, June 29. The Engineering Emmy Award honors an individual, company or organization for developments in engineering that are either so extensive an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the production, recording, transmission or reception of television.

The 2020 Engineering Emmy Awards entry form can be downloaded here.

Recipients of the Engineering Emmy, The Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award and the Philo T. Farnsworth Corporate Achievement Award will be selected by the Engineering Awards Committee, which is comprised of highly qualified Academy members appointed from technically oriented peer groups. Winners will be announced this October.

Previous Engineering Emmy Award winners include AVID, Canon, Dolby Laboratories, Disney, FUJI, Netflix, NASA, Sony Corporation and YouTube.

  • Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2020
Deluxe launches cloud-based IP delivery solution One VZN
Andy Shenkler, chief product & technology officer of Deluxe

Deluxe Entertainment Services Inc. (Deluxe) has launched One VZN (pronounced “vision”), a cloud-based IP delivery solution distributing major studio and independent content to movie theaters and exhibitors worldwide quickly and securely. Developed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), One VZN is an enhancement to the Deluxe One platform, the company’s flagship cloud-based solution that unifies the media supply chain. One VZN leverages Deluxe’s 100+ years of experience providing high-quality, reliable theatrical services to the media and entertainment industry and represents a continued investment in theatrical content delivery and support for the resurgence of theatrical viewing by consumers. 

“As our industry faces one of the most impactful hardships in modern history, we know one thing--global cinematic experiences will return. One VZN is poised to be one of the most important innovations in digital cinema distribution in the past decade, fundamentally changing not only the economics of film distribution for exhibitors and studios around the globe, but also enabling new theatrical experiences for viewers as well,” said Andy Shenkler, chief product & technology officer of Deluxe. “We are invested in the future of cinema and are thrilled to expand our relationship with AWS to bring this innovative solution to market using AWS Snowcone. Bundling connectivity, management, and unlimited capacity, we’re looking forward to reshaping theatrical distribution and getting everyone back to the movies.”

One VZN uses the newly announced AWS Snowcone, a small, ultra-portable, and rugged edge computing and data transfer device, to provide secure, easy-to-manage storage of content in theater locations. One VZN distributes content from Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) using high speed online transfers to AWS Snowcone devices in theater locations using AWS DataSync. The combination of the Deluxe One platform and AWS Snowcone can overcome on-site storage constraints by sending smaller, customized content packages and providing an incredibly small infrastructure footprint in theaters, while also improving security with military-grade encryption.

Bill Vass, VP of technology, AWS. said, “Together, AWS and Deluxe continue to spearhead cloud innovation for the media and entertainment industry. Deluxe One and One VZN are great examples of digital transformation built on AWS that deliver tangible benefits to a whole industry and will improve customers’ experience in theaters when it’s safe to return.”

John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, added, “The return of theatrical experiences is something we all are looking forward to and we are excited that our partners in the industry see the future as bright as we do. The investment in this solution represents Deluxe’s support for the future of our business and the resiliency of the theatrical market. We look forward to what Deluxe and AWS are bringing to the market and are excited about all of the possibilities.” 

As a part of the One VZN subscription, exhibitors will also receive managed high-speed network connectivity at no additional cost. In mere hours, content is now made available to movie theater owners and exhibitors. This reduced delivery time will have a significant impact across the end-to-end media supply chain, providing content creators and owners with additional time to finalize the production process in advance of a global distribution. Exhibitors will now be able to eliminate their reliance on the physical delivery of hard drives, providing them with the ability to add late bookings of content or dynamically extend content without constraints of server storage or the threat of new incoming titles. The solution will also provide the ability for key management integration with files at the edge as well as tighter integration between Theater Management Systems and cloud-based content repositories, driving further support for alternative content and live event experiences in theaters.

One VZN will be piloted in select sites across North America as theaters slowly begin to reopen, including Premiere Cinemas, Emagine Entertainment, Classic Cinemas, ArcLight Cinemas, amongst additional major theater locations. Following the North America implementation, One VZN will continue to be rolled out globally. 

  • Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020
Lightstorm deploys Blackmagic for "Avatar" sequels
Geoff Burdick

Lightstorm Entertainment used an extensive array of Blackmagic products, including the Teranex AV, Smart VideoHub 40x40 12G, ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K and more for their recent work during production for the Avatar sequels.

With the release of Avatar in 2009, the company once again proved that there were no limits in filmmaking. But just as the story of the Na’vi will evolve in the sequels, so will the technology behind the films. A key element is the ability to evaluate content as it’s being shot, rather than waiting until postproduction. “We evaluate live camera feeds in a manner as close to the theatrical experience as possible, so we can make real time decisions on set,” said Geoff Burdick, SVP of production services & technology for Lightstorm. “This saves time during shooting, benefits Weta Digital, our visual effects vendor, and helps streamline our postproduction and mastering process.”

This necessitated viewing live feeds from multiple 3D camera systems, simultaneously. “In the past, we viewed live and playback material in 3D HD at 24fps,” said Burdick. “Now, we acquire at 4K 3D, and feed through our pipeline at various resolutions and frame rates.” These include 3D 48fps in 2K and 4K, 3D 24fps in 2K and 4K, and 3D 24fps in HD.

Blackmagic Design provided a unique and comprehensive product set that allowed for numerous solutions throughout the pipeline. The key to the workflow was creating seamless viewing and playback, despite the massive amount of data necessary.  Having the ability to review multiple resolutions and frame rates in real time allowed the team to remain in step with issues that may have gone unnoticed before, only to be found later in post. “

One of Blackmagic’s simplest products became a production workhorse. The Teranex family allowed for a hybrid HD 24fps/4K 48fps workflow on set. 

  • Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020
ARRI lights up with GM Ivo Ivanovski
Ivo Ivanovski

Ivo Ivanovski will join ARRI as general manager of business unit lighting, effective August 1. Together with GM Markus Lampier, Ivanovski will manage ARRI’s lighting business unit out of the facility in Stephanskirchen, Germany. 

Ivanovski will be responsible for demand creation including the areas of product management, application engineering, service, sales, and marketing. Ivanovski will report directly to Markus Zeiler, executive board member of ARRI.

  • Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020
DP Cookes up look for "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels"
"Penny Dreadful: City of Angels" (photo by John Conroy)

When it came time for cinematographer John Conroy to develop the look for Showtime’s Penny Dreadful: City of Angels spin-off, he already had eight episodes of lensing the original Penny Dreadful under his belt. A major part of the look for the spin-off would come from using Cooke Optics’ S4/i prime lenses and rehoused vintage Cooke Speed Panchro lenses.

Conroy noted, “The original series was set in Victorian gothic London, while City of Angels is set in 1938 Los Angeles — a very different look. That gave us the opportunity to start fresh and create our own vision. For example, the original series was dark with action taking place in shadows, while City of Angels takes place in a very colorful era in a bright and sunny city. It truly was the difference between night and day.”

Conroy explained, “We used four ARRI ALEXA Mini cameras in 3.2K 16:9. We rented a full set of S4/i lenses — all 18 lenses from 12mm to 300mm, as well as two sets of rehoused vintage Speed Panchro primes in 25mm, 100mm and 135mm focal lengths. We did several tests at Panavision to make sure that the Panchros and the S4/i’s matched, with the goal of the two lens families looking seamless to the viewer by the time our colorist got done with the footage.”

Creator and writer John Logan was very specific about not wanting a noir look and feel, but rather embracing the 100-degree heat of Los Angeles. “Our mantra from John was ‘we gotta feel the heat,’” said Conroy, who added that “having 60-70-year-old optics that were designed in the 1920s really helped with that aesthetic.”

  • Tuesday, Jun. 2, 2020
Zoom booms as pandemic drives millions to its video service
In this April 23, 2020 file photo, members of the Vermont House of Representatives convene in a Zoom video conference for its first full parliamentary online session in Montpelier, Vt. Zoom Video Communications is rapidly emerging as the latest internet gold mine as millions of people flock to its conferencing service to see colleagues, friends and family while tethered to their homes during the pandemic. The release Tuesday, June 2, 2020 of the once-obscure company's financial results for the February-April period provided a window into the astronomical growth that has turned it into a Wall Street star. (Wilson Ring/Zoom via AP, File)
SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) -- 

Zoom Video Communications is rapidly emerging as the latest internet gold mine as millions of people flock to its conferencing service to see colleagues, friends and family while tethered to their homes during the pandemic.

Tuesday's release of the once-obscure company's financial results for the February-April period provided a window into the astronomical growth that has turned it into a Wall Street star.

Zoom's revenue for its fiscal first-quarter more than doubled from the same time last year to $328 million, resulting a profit of $27 million — up from just $198,000 a year ago.

The numbers exceeded analysts' already heightened expectations, providing another lift to a rocketing stock that has more than tripled in price so far this year while the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index has fallen 5%.

After a big run-up leading up to Tuesday's highly anticipated announcement, Zoom's stock initially rose even higher in extended trading. But it abruptly reversed course and fell more than 3% after company executives acknowledged during a video discussion that some of its newfound users might depart during the second half of the year if health worries caused by the novel corornavirus dissipate.

Even if the shares trade in similar fashion during Wednesday's regular session, the stock will still be hovering around $200 — more than five times the company's initial public offering price of $36 less than 14 months ago. 

The surge left Zoom with a market value of about $59 billion through Tuesday — greater than the combined market values of the four largest U.S. airlines, which have seen their businesses hammered by the coronavirus outbreak that has dramatically curtailed travel.

"Videoconferencing is going to become a mainstream service," predicted Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, who co-founded the company nine years ago. He made the remarks during the video conference that at one point attracted more than 3,000 participants, a reflection of the intense interest in the company and its hot stock.

In a sign that the company still expects phenomenal growth in the months ahead, Zoom forecast revenue of roughly $500 million for its current quarter ending in July, more than quadrupling from the same time last year. For its full fiscal year, Zoom now expects revenue of about $1.8 billion, nearly tripling in a year.

Zoom's boom has come despite privacy and security problems  that enabled outsiders to make uninvited — and sometimes crude — appearances during other people's video conferences. 

The concerns prompted some schools to stop using Zoom for online classes that have become widespread since February, although the company's efforts to introduce more security protection has brought some back to the service. More than 100,000 schools worldwide are now using Zoom for online classes, according to the company.

Overall, Zoom now has more than 300 million daily participants attending a meeting held on its service, up from 10 million five months ago. Those numbers include people who join multiple Zoom meetings during the same day, something that has been happening more recently in recent months.

But the once-weak privacy controls also helped make Zoom extremely easy to use, one of the reasons it became such a popular way to hold online classes, business meetings and virtual cocktail hours after most of the U.S. began ordering people to stay at home in effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Zoom also offers a free version of its service, another factor in its popularity at a time when about 40 million people in the U.S. have lost their jobs since mid-March, raising the specter of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The San Jose, California, company has always made most of its money from companies that subscribe to a more sophisticated version of its service that traditionally has been used for business meetings among employees working in offices far apart from each other.

But the pandemic-driven shutdown turned Zoom into a tool for employees who once worked alongside each other, but have been doing their jobs from home during the past few months.

Zoom ended April with 265,400 corporate customers with at least 10 employees, more than quadrupling from the same time last year. About 30% of the company's revenue in the most recent quarter came from users with fewer than 10 employees, up from 20% in the November-January period.

Although Zoom remains focused on servicing its corporate customers, Yuan  is hoping  to figure out ways to make money from the all the socializing and learning that is happening on the service, too. Some analysts have speculated that eventually may involve showing ads on the free version of Zoom, although the company hasn't given any indication it will do that. "There are a lot of opportunities ahead of us," Yuan said in Tuesday's video conference without elaborating.

If it hopes to continue to expand, Zoom also will also will likely have to do a better job of protecting the privacy of its video conferences. To help achieve that goal, Yuan has been consulting since April with Alex Stamos, a highly respected online security expert who previously worked at Yahoo and Facebook. Both those companies encountered their only security and privacy problems, too.

Zoom's success is also drawing stiffer competition from much larger companies, including Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

  • Monday, May. 18, 2020
Stargate Studios creates real time virtual environments using Blackmagic Design
Stargate Studios generates real time virtual environments deploying Blackmagic Design resources
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Blackmagic Design announced that visual effects facility Stargate Studios utilized a wide range of Blackmagic Design products in creating “ThruView,” the company’s cutting edge, proprietary real time virtual production system.

Stargate founder and award winning visual effects creator Sam Nicholson, A.S.C., originally developed the concept of real time compositing in the early 2000’s, when production had all but halted due to 9/11. “Shows based in remote locations were suddenly unable to travel to their respective locations,” said Nicholson. “So, the question was, could we convincingly put ‘ER’ in Chicago, ‘CSI’ and ‘Ugly Betty’ in New York City and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in Seattle, without ever having to leave LA?”

Using clever production design, extensive plate shooting and a fair amount of green screen on set, Nicholson’s team was able to convert all of the shows the company serviced to virtual production. “We established the Stargate Virtual Backlot, shooting high resolution 360-degree backgrounds of cities all over the world,” said Nicholson. Stargate Studios’ Virtual Backlot library is billed as being the largest virtual environment/set extension library in the world, with over 300,000 clips.

But the solution was not perfect. Using green screen on set was not ideal, with directors and actors feeling limited by working against green only, with nothing to which they can react. Directors of Photography also found it difficult to match lighting to backgrounds they couldn’t see. Add to that the increased time and cost of compositing scenes in postproduction, and Nicholson knew there had to be a better way. He began to ask, “Could we achieve what we had been doing in postproduction in real time? Could we achieve finished pixels on set?”

Nicholson’s team began to put their research into play, and leveraged it for their next production, HBO’s new series “Run.” The show required the characters to travel across the United States on a train, but production never intended to leave Toronto. “During preproduction we proved that with multiple Blackmagic Design DeckLink 8K Pro cards we could stream 10 simultaneous streams of 8K footage to the Epic Unreal game engine for real time playback on forty 4K monitors on a 150’ long train set.”

Utilizing a custom tracking and lighting tool developed in house, the system was able to deliver a photorealistic moving image, displayed through the train windows, with animated lighting to match the plate, tracked to and composited with the shot in real time. “We produced the entire series with this system which we now call ‘ThruView.’”

The “ThruView” system relies on a number of new technologies that are finally developing into robust, reliable tools, both proprietary and off the shelf. “We developed targetless, wireless camera tracking at Stargate, as well as a pixel mapped, RGBW DMX lighting system. Tools such as 8K image capture are now workable with Blackmagic Design‘s 8K playback and Davinci Resolve Studio on set color correction,” said Nicholson. Affordable 4K monitors, increasingly fine grain, modular LED panels, NVidia‘s accelerated GPU graphics processors and Epic‘s Unreal 4 game engine combine with the Blackmagic Design tools to make “ThruView” possible for Stargate. “The challenge is to bring these various technologies together and make them dependable and durable enough for the pressures of multicamera live action production.”

“The Stargate ‘ThruView’ team employed three Davinci Resolve Studio systems, simultaneously on the ‘Run’ set,” said Nicholson, “We relied on multiple Davinci Resolve stations to coordinate all of our assets for playback on set. Resolve’s extensive capabilities in real time color correction, editorial tools and Fusion VFX were essential to manipulating a large quantity of high resolution footage at the rapid pace of a live action set.”

In addition to Resolve and the DeckLink 8K Pro cards, the “ThruView” system also incorporates a variety of Blackmagic Design products as part of the system backbone. This includes multiple Smart Videohub 12G routers, DaVinci Resolve Micro Panels, UltraStudio 4K Extreme, a Teranex AV standards converter, an array of Micro and Mini Converters, as well as an ATEM Constellation 8K switcher, which was instrumental in handling the high resolution images.

Nicholson relied on Blackmagic Design because he knew he could depend on the tools. “Blackmagic products are very dependable. They work right out of the box and continue working. It‘s a rough working environment on set, so the tools you are using have to be bulletproof to survive.”

“Real Time Virtual Production, which uses a combination of photographic and computer-generated assets, will become the new norm as processors get faster, memory deeper and large scale LED displays become more affordable and more durable,” said Nicholson. ”Virtual production offers a practical solution to the challenging production situation we are currently facing. It is much easier to bring the location to a production than move an entire production to remote locations. That said, it is important to remember that virtual production is not for every production. It requires a much more diligent preproduction process to acquire your creative assets and test the specific technologies you will be using in principal photography.”

But despite the caution, Nicholson feels strongly that the industry is headed firmly in the direction of virtual production, and that “ThruView” is positioned to answer that call. “Ultimately, I do feel it will replace approximately 50% of global green screen shooting in the next few years. Our system is ideal because it works and, thanks to Blackmagic Design’s components, it can be offered at a reasonable price. Because no matter how good a piece of hardware is, it’s not good if you can’t afford it.”

  • Friday, May. 15, 2020
Facebook buys Giphy, popular tool for creating animated GIFs
This March 29, 2018, file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Facebook has bought Giphy, a popular tool for creating the animated images known as GIFs that pepper conversations around the internet. 

The companies did not disclose financial terms. Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, Axios said the deal is valued around $400 million. 

Facebook said in a blog post Friday that it plans to integrate Giphy into Instagram but added that Giphy will still work outside of Facebook's properties.

The company said about half of Giphy's traffic comes from Facebook's apps — Instagram, Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp. Giphy is also widely used on Twitter and in messaging apps. 

  • Thursday, May. 7, 2020
"Dead to Me" DP Toby Oliver opts for Cooke Optics S7/i Full Frame Plus prime lenses
Toby Oliver, ACS

The Netflix original series Dead to Me has moved production to Cooke Optics S7/i Full Frame Plus prime lenses for season two. The show stars Christina Applegate (nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series-Musical or Comedy for season one) and Linda Cardellini.

When series creator and showrunner Liz Feldman wanted her main actresses to look their best on screen for season two, cinematographer Toby Oliver, ACS--who was brought on to lens the second season--decided that the “Cooke Look” would be exactly what was needed.

“Liz wanted to maintain as much of the overall look of season one as possible, but she also wanted the main actresses to appear warmer on screen,” said Oliver. “To improve the photography from the first season, I decided that the Cooke S7/i Full Frame Plus prime lenses would give her exactly what she was looking for. I’ve used Cookes a lot over the years, and they are quite flattering, especially with close-ups. There’s just something about the ‘Cooke Look’ that makes actors look really good on screen--it gives the skin a nice glow.”

This was to be Oliver’s first full frame project, shooting on Sony Venice cameras in 6K mode, using all of the full-frame sensor, so he did a range of lens tests at camera and lens supplier Alternative Rentals in Los Angeles.

“For my own tests, we had a model at Alternative Rentals, where I looked at all the full frame lenses that were available on a Sony Venice to do my due diligence,” said Oliver. “From a technical standpoint, I wanted to know where each lens sat compared to the others, particularly in terms of sharpness and breathing, as well as find lenses that were ergonomic for the ACs and with a full range of focal lengths and easy availability. From an artistic standpoint, I wanted the best look for the characters. The lenses that gave me exactly what I wanted were the Cooke S7/i Full Frame Plus primes.”

Later, when it came time to do the main test with the leading ladies, Oliver didn’t have to test a bunch of different lenses. “I knew that the Cookes would give the look Liz was looking for, and they did. The test with the ladies looked great,” he said.

Oliver credits Alternative Rentals with going out of their way to procure as many lenses in the S7/i range that were available for the 10-episode shooting schedule last year, as the lenses had recently been introduced.

“My lens kit started with a single set of Cooke S7/i ranging from the 25mm and went all the way up to the 135mm,” said Oliver. That gave him seven prime lenses (25mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm and 135mm) in the main set, plus duplicate lenses of the 40mm, 50mm, 75mm and 135mm for use on two, and sometimes three, Sony Venice cameras. “The combination of the Venice and the S7/i full frame lenses are a great match, especially when working with a more mature cast. I had flexibility in lens sizes and when I needed a second set or just some extra lenses, Alternative Rentals came through...and I knew that I could trust that I was going to get the same matching results with each specific focal length from various sets. With the Cookes, I had more flexibility, but they also gave me an edge in making the actresses look good, while keeping the overall tone continuous from season one to season two.”

The Cooke S7/i full frame lenses also helped in dealing with the danger of the 6K image being too sharp, one of the downsides of digital cinematography. “You don’t want to have to fight that overly digital look. You want your lenses to help you. With the Cookes, I have an element of gentleness, without the image looking soft,” said Oliver.

In addition to choosing the best lenses and filters to help tell the story and show actors in their best light, Oliver worked with the series’ colorist, Tim Vincent of Technicolor, before shooting to look at the test shots and set up the LUTs for on-set monitoring and dailies. He was also in close contact with Vincent during the coloring process, reviewing his grades and giving notes, with dialog back and forth for the first few episodes--as well as comments from Feldman--to give Vincent a grading style for the show.

When it came to his first full frame project, Oliver found it interesting to work in a new format where what you get is slightly different than what you expect. “Lenses come across wider than in 35mm format, which gave us a different field of view, with the 75mm prime being my ‘go to’ lens for close-ups and medium shots,” he said. “For our wide shots, I mostly used the 32mm and 40mm. When shooting a black comedy, you’re not going to go to the extremes from scene to scene, so I didn’t use the 25mm or the 135mm as much. The bulk of the shooting is within a fairly narrow range of focal lengths, 40mm to 100mm, except for special moments.”

Another element that Oliver found very useful during shooting was Cooke’s /i Technology that collects detailed lens data for production, VFX and postproduction. “In addition to this data being recorded automatically by the Venice so that the VFX supervisor and artists would have it, I would use this data daily on the shooting monitors,” explained Oliver. “That way I would have all the details of the lens, including size, iris, distance and other lens parameters on the edges of the monitors. That direct feedback of the iris right on the monitor is very useful, especially as I control the iris, so I don’t have to rely on hand-drawn numbers on the control.”

Season two of Dead to Me is for release on Netflix this Friday (5/8).

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