And How Codex Crunches Those Monster Red Weapon Files

Reunited Guardians Vol 2

Beyond fans clamoring for new plot and character details, many industry eyes turned to the current production of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 after Red and the film’s director, James Gunn, revealed in January the film is one of the first features to be shot with the 8K Red Weapon camera. With principal photography underway in Atlanta, the GotGVol2 filmmakers and the production services company Shed have developed a massive 8K pipeline to crunch the camera’s files on set and send them swiftly and efficiently to post. Here’s why—and how—it brings the earthbound workflow into Star-Lord territory.

Red Dragon.Weapon 8K

1) It Never Underestimates Little Monsters

Cinematographer Henry Braham, BSC, calls his Red Weapon with its 8K Red Dragon sensor his “little big camera.” Although Marvel shot the first film with its favored ARRI Alexa XT, the super-high resolution and compact form factor of the Red camera immediately won them over.

2) It’s Already Handled 100+ TB of Data and Counting

With multiple cameras on set capturing 8192×4320 pixels per frame, some at up to 75fps, the amount of RedCode Raw data generated on this film is ginormous. In fact, the production generated more than 100 TB of data in its first 34 days. In order to handle all that data daily, Shed designed a Codex-based workflow that could take the filmmakers from set through post, especially during visual effects pulls and archiving. Every day on set for the duration of the 81-day shoot (due to wrap in June), 1 TB Red Mini-Mags are loaded into a Codex S-Series Vault nearby. After an initial check of the metadata, data is then cloned to an 8 TB Codex Transfer Drive. Codex Transfer Drives have a pretty stellar track record using SSDs and the Codex File System to transfer data where it needs to be securely and quickly.

Codex Vault XL-Series (1)

Codex Vault XL

3) Shed’s Not Afraid of Heavy Lifting

Shed is no stranger to managing massive amounts of data on set: recent credits include Captain America: Civil War and the just-released Jungle Book: Origins. For GotGVol2, Shed is using a pair of Codex XL-Series Vaults to crunch the heaviest data back at its Atlanta studio, where the production is based. These Vaults use Codex’s dailies system Codex Production Suite to process R3D raw files with LUTs applied, making quick work of the rendered deliverables: DNxHD 115 for Avid, PIX 720 and 1080P, and 4K Open EXR for visual effects pulls. Shed is also using ACES to manage color looks throughout the entire process. Says Matt Watson, Shed’s colorist, who helped set up the pipeline, “In addition to the Red 8K Weapons, the crew is also using Phantom and GoPro [cameras] on occasion. Using Codex for all our deliverables means we have one workflow for the various cameras that are being used. Codex makes it simple.”

4) Every Piece of 8K Data, Including Metadata and White Balance, Is Tracked by Codex Backbone

Throughout the production, the original 8K camera data, including critical camera metadata like camera gyro and accelerometer data, plus any white-balance changes, are tracked and updated with the editorial ALE files and tied together with Codex Backbone, which is also being used to manage and generate all VFX pulls from a database created automatically during production and near-set dailies. Marvel likes that attention to detail. Says Marvel’s VP of post, Jesse Torres, “Codex has become our standard for digital productions and was the natural choice to facilitate the flow of data from set-to-post.”

GotGVol2 Storyboard

Director James Gunn posted this on the GotGVol2 Facebook page in March: “Another Wednesday, another one of my storyboard thumbnails for #GotGVol2 from a scene we just shot. What is it? Who is it? Guess away. But you’ll have to wait until the movie comes out to know for sure!”

5) With All That Firepower Under the Hood, Effects and Action Sequences Might Get Even More Intense

OK, that last one is purely speculation, but given the bits of information that writer/director James Gunn is posting to the film’s Facebook page and the technical details we now know, it stands to reason. Before we find out for sure, you better get busy with other things: Vol. 2 won’t arrive until spring 2017. Watson and Shed’s Matt Tomlinson, however, will give an in-depth look at the 8K workflow behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at 3:00 p.m. Monday, April 18, and 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 19, at the Red Digital Cinema booth (#SL1517).

The teaser cast reunion shot, at top, was posted to GotGVol2‘s Facebook page on February 17.