Les Machineurs says “Hello to Tomorrow” with DaVinci Resolve
Interactive wallpaper triggered by a person’s mood and 3D holographic projections through a caller ID sound like props from Minority Report. In reality, they could appear as staple household items in the not so distant future.
Each June, companies from all over the world flock to Paris to showcase prototypes of visionary product lines at the Hello Demain exhibition. Hosted this year from June 23 to 26 by Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, Hello Demain gave their 77,000 attendees a sneak peek at what the future holds for technology, from recipes “baked in” to bread makers to new panoramic plenoptic cameras that record a complete 4D light field in any 3D scene.
Orange also brought a technology preview to this year’s Hello Demain exhibition, the first Orange film in 4K at 60 frames per second (fps). Shot at this year’s Roland Garros, or French Open, the film gave a snapshot of how television would look in the future at a much higher resolution, while showcasing the intensity of this year’s French Open tournament. To accomplish the pioneering task of filming, editing, and most importantly, color grading and finishing this revolutionary footage, Orange turned to France based RED camera rental and post production house, Les Machineurs. Les Machineuers turned to Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve.
Les Machineurs was founded by photographer/filmmaker/director, Emmanuel Pampuri in 2006. Emmanuel began his career over 20 years ago, working as a cameraman for France TV stations, and as a freelance editor/director for TV, music videos, concerts and theatre. Aside from Les Machineurs, Emmanuel is also the founder of a separate production company TRACTOfilm, owns and maintains a blog, www.pampuri.net and his commentary has been posted on YakYakYak, Daily Motion, Camera Forum, and DSLR France and RED forums.
Les Machineurs is a full service production house that boasts a large orange tractor as its logo. This isn’t a far stretch from its literal definition: ‘the people who operate the machines.’ With offices in both Paris and Lyon, the ‘creative engine’ at Les Machineurs fuels a variety of projects, from RED camera rentals, consulting, filming, and editing HD/2K/3D to grading HD/2K/4K/3D, digital cinema mastering and compositing. Recent projects include famous French singer/songwriter Jena Lee’s music video for “Mon ange,” as well as a variety of documentaries for ARTE, the European cultural channel.
Working in 4K
Les Machineurs has also worked on projects with Orange’s R&D department, Orange Labs, in the past as technical advisors for smaller scale 3D projects and as executive producers for some of their programming, however, Orange’s call for a film in 4K at 60fps was something extraordinarily different.
“This is the first Orange film in 4K at 60fps, so it was quite a challenge. They wanted a very sharp picture with good contrast and a classic feel. They did not want it to look like cinema footage, yet they wanted to still show the benefit of the 4K resolution,” said Emmanuel.
Filming was done at the Roland Garros from May 28 to May 30 with one Epic Red Camera in 5K 2:40 at 60 fps, with some shots filmed at 120 fps. Native RED R3D media and Apple ProRes 1080p60 converted files were used. The footage was cut over the course of four days on a Final Cut Pro 7 workstation.
For coloring and grading, Emmanuel worked with his favorite colorist, Thibaut Petillon. While working at Les Machineurs over the past year, Thibaut has graded a variety of commercials and shorts, including a stereoscopic project for Ford, directed by Daniel Meyer, and a Microsoft Kinect ad directed by Mahdi Lepart. Before meeting Emmanuel, he also did freelance work for an assortment of France area post houses, including Satellite My Love, Firm Studios and Digimage La Pub.
For coloring and finishing the Orange project, Thibaut turned to DaVinci Resolve with RED Rocket cards for native R3D file grading. The grading process of the Roland Garros footage took two days. In conjunction with Resolve, Thibaut also used Blackmagic’s Resolve control surface, as well as the Blackmagic Design DeckLink HD Extreme 3D card for capture and playback in Les Machineurs’ Final Cut Pro 7 offline editing station.
Thibaut processed the Roland Garros film using REDLogFilm. This displays a flatter image that is more adaptable for colorists. To make the colors nice and crisp without blowing out the whites, diminishing the darks and erasing detail, Thibaut worked with Resolve’s Secondary Color Correction Display for secondary control of saturation and luminance qualifiers for image isolation and correction. Thibaut also utilized the Secondary Color Correction Display for control of the custom hues to add a slight orange tint. “With Resolve, I was able to key very cleanly using parallel nodes in a lot of different areas of the images, including the ground, the player’s skin tones, and the sky. It boosted the color without ever losing any of the image quality. I was amazed by the quantity of information within the image,” Thibaut commented.
“The day we filmed was also extremely sunny. To take advantage of the natural light, we decided to add an orange hue. The Secondary Color Correction Display allowed us to have the most delicate control over the hue and saturation,” Thibaut added.
Both Thibaut and Emmanuel are also big fans of Resolve’s powerful 3D object tracker. The tracker uses between one and 99 tracking points for a perfect tracking lock. It automatically follows objects’ movements, positions and sizes, making it ideal for sporting events.
“Coming from the compositing world, I must say this tracker is really an incredible one that competes with the best trackers found in compositing packages. Clients are always amazed by it, and for this particular project, it was perfect for tracking the Roland Garros winner, Rafael Nadal for example, as he hit the ball deep and into corners, and tracking his opponents as they ran.”
Thibaut graded the film in Quad HD resolution (3840x2160). The finalized piece, just over four minutes in length, was rendered and broadcast in 4K at 60 fps on the world's largest screen, Panasonic's 4K/2K 3D 152 inch Plasma, receiving a hearty ovation from the 77,000 people in attendance.
“We had a great reaction from the audience. The video really brought out the colors at the Roland Garros, conveyed the intensity of the crowd and players, all while keeping it less cinematic and more about the spectacular resolution of the 4K footage,” said Emmanuel.
He added, “DaVinci Resolve is the only color grading software that could have brought this project to life. It’s intuitive, fast, and consistent, and it’s producing the colors and picture of the future, right in front of our eyes, which is truly remarkable.”