When French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet decided to film A Very Long Engagement in rural locations miles from the closest town, post production supervisor Lionel Kopp had to figure out how to screen dailies. The solution was two buses – one equipped to screen HD dailies with a Barco HD projector and Sony HDCAM deck, and the other a traveling edit suite outfitted with two Avid DS Nitrises and a MediaShare – which followed them on the road throughout Brittany and other locales.
On Amelie, Kopp had tried out DigiBeta dailies, conforming the edit on an Avid Symphony and projecting digitally, but the results weren’t high-res enough for Jeunet, he reports. "When we did AVLE, my idea was to definitively not choose 35mm working elements but replace DigiBeta with HD 24p elements throughout, even during the dailies," Kopp says.
The first scenes from A Very Long Engagement were shot in Paris, which gave director Jeunet a chance to work closely with the colorist at à‰clair Laboratories, outside of Paris, using a Spirit DataCine and Pandora Pogle. That established communication served him well when the show went on the road, and the day’s negative was sent to à‰clair, transferred to HDCAM and then returned to location. There, Jeunet viewed dailies in the screening bus and the dailies were digitized in the editing bus.
With two Avid DS Nitrises on board, editing of AVLE proceeded in parallel with production. After a day’s shooting, Jeunet spent a few more hours in the edit bus. The Nitris also enabled Jeunet to conform the edited sequences and put them through an additional color-correction pass. The results were used for preview screenings, for Warner Bros. executives in Burbank and press previews. Though Kopp admits the results were lower-res than the final product, showing working elements in HD on a big screen was an impressive feat. "Producers and journalists don’t have to think, Ã¢Â€Â˜It’s awful but one day it’ll be beautiful,’" he says. "They’ll see something beautiful that’s near what the final film will look like."
With this system in place by the time production was complete in late February, so was the first rough cut of the film, as well as the first pass of color-correction. That made for a dramatically shorter post-production period. With the addition of 300 VFX shots (from Paris VFX house Duboi), a re-scan at 2K on a Northlight scanner at à‰clair and a final color-correction on the Discreet Lustre, the finished AVLE was screened at WB in June, a bare four months later.