In the world of HDSLR technology, media management is a very important position. Every Elite Team member held this position at some point during the untitled Navy Seal Movie (Act of Valor). That way they couuld gain an understanding of HD image capture in a small footprint workflow system. They all jumped in head first!
The unique skill set that my Elite Team brings is that they all have a film background and are comfortable with certain rituals that accompany being a motion picture film loader and 2nd assistant cameraman.
Media Manager with Film Background:
- Manages the truck
- Keeps track of the gear and specialty pieces of equipment
- Creates an inventory and log
- Assesses how many magazines you have to load and color coding it according to the stock
- Labels the magazines with the date, job, film stock, and amount loaded on the magazine itself
- Writes a camera report with the same information
The system we designed for the untitled Navy Seal Movie is a mixture of the traditional film loader combined with the DIT job in the digital world. For our movie, Mike McCarthy who is a brilliant post-production guy at Bandito Brothers with an IQ that I swear is above 180, set up our media manager workflow system. The Media Manager station is very simple and compact. Sticking with the small footprint approach we employ a Mac Book Pro Laptop, a 24” HD Cinema Display monitor, and 4 External 500GB hard drives.
We shoot 10 to 15 minutes on an 8GB card. I like using the 8GB cards the best because the counter on the top of the camera kicks in depending on jpeg settings at approximately 15 minutes of media recorded. This is a great gauge. Once the counter starts to come off of 999 we re-load the card. Just like a 1000-foot magazine on a film camera.
There are three important reasons to do it this way:
- We can get that to the media manager and he can check the focus on his big monitor. We all know how critical the focus is with these cameras.
- The cards tend to heat up and when that happens the noise factor goes up. So keeping a fresh card in there is a very good way to keep the image as clean as possible.
- It promotes a steady pace of backing up cards. So, if for any reason something happened to the camera or the card you are not losing a whole day’s worth of footage.
In our workflow system, the 8GB card from the 5D camera goes to the media manager. He downloads the media into the computer and simultaneously sends it to the 4 external hard drives. After the download is complete, he checks for focus and exposure and labels each set-up for the assistant editor with as much detail and description as possible. Then, he formats each card before sending it back to the cameras in the field. When the cards go back to the field to be reused, the camera assistant knows to double-check that each card is coming back empty.
Next, one hard drive is shipped to the editor to start logging the footage. One is a backup if the original one gets lost in shipping. A third is for the director to view on his laptop. The last one is a “cloned master “of what we sent to the editor, which is held in post. This system has been successful in delivering the entire equivalent of 1.8 million feet of film safely into the editing room.