DigitalFilm Tree (DFT), a post and design company specializing in Final Cut Pro (FCP) consultation and implementation, collaborated with Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch to pioneer a Final Cut Pro editing workflow for his work on Anthony Minghella's COLD MOUNTAIN, Miramax's Civil War epic starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman and prime Oscar contender, due in theaters Christmas Day.
The custom editing system from DFT, ultimately installed at Kodak Cinelabs in Bucharest, Romania, comprises four Apple Power Mac G4 dual-gigahertz computers running Final Cut Pro, Cinema Tools (formerly Film Logic) and DVD Studio Pro. The systems are equipped with IgniterRT 311 video capture and edit cards from Aurora Video Systems, which handle realtime 24fps digitizing for a seamless film-editing experience in FCP. A Galaxy 60 Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (SAN) from Rorke Data provided the four-networked systems with 1.2 terabytes of Seagate drive storage.
Murch (all three GODFATHERS, APOCALYPSE NOW and THE ENGLISH PATIENT) commented, "Final Cut Pro and Film Logic, now Cinema Tools, are not brand-new to the challenges of feature motion picture editing, but the $85 million COLD MOUNTAIN represents their first implementation on a project of such scale. The systems performed faultlessly in a challenging environment and yielded a significant reduction in cost, while simultaneously giving us great flexibility and reliability. DigitalFilm Tree and Aurora stepped up to the challenge and were critical in making this process a success."
Following a series of intense discussions with editor Murch and first assistant editor Sean Cullen regarding possible design and configuration alternatives, DFT built and tested the custom FCP editing workflow that was later deployed near the COLD MOUNTAIN film set outside Bucharest. DFT staff developed and tested an end-to-end digital workflow and configured a system that would function reliably once shipped half a world away. The resulting workflow and system performed without a hitch. Murch and Cullen used two of the Power Mac G4 units as individual edit stations, while a third was dedicated as a digitizing station for synchronizing dailies. The fourth system was used for exporting files and burning media to DVD. The final version of the workflow for COLD MOUNTAIN was developed by a close collaboration between DFT, Cullen and a global network of consultants.
"Working with Walter Murch was extraordinary and offered us the realization of the dream we shared when DigitalFilm Tree took root," said Ramy Katrib, founder and CEO of DFT. "The process of developing the first large-scale FCP editing workflow for a major motion picture was thrilling and incredibly fast and furious. Our goal now is to build on those workflow advances and implement them as standards. Other films have been finished using FCP, but COLD MOUNTAIN is the FCP-cut film that ushers a new chapter in cinema post."
"The engineering knowledge and nuances required for filmmaking in the digital domain are fiendishly complex," said Zed Saeed, sr post-production consultant at DFT. "A lot of patience and persistence were required for us to work through the challenge of the technology, and it was exciting to see how Walter and Sean thrived on it. For us, the payoff is that whatever pain we took over the project, our dream has come alive. It's worth any amount of pain because that's the burden of dreams."
Aurora Video Systems (www.auroavideosys.com) builds comprehensive video editing systems for the Macintosh, leading the post-production industry in product quality, affordability, ease of use and client support. Aurora has been recognized worldwide as the industry leader in the development and support of video editing systems since 1997. The company's industry-first achievements include development of the first true Mac-only Betacam-compatible card that works without converters, the first true realtime 24fps capture card for Final Cut Pro, and the first true offline video capture card for OSX.
DigitalFilm Tree (www.digitalfilmtree.com) was launched in 1998, starting a movement in the professional post-production industry by proving that newer, more innovative systems can be used to finish professional motion pictures and high-definition programming. The company offers post-production, creative and design services, education and extensive consulting for professional film and video environments. DFT's innovative offerings include digital dailies for editing, all manner of offline and online finishing, color correction and graphics and a multitude of high-definition services. DigitalFilm Tree serves an unprecedented array of studio-based and independent creatives worldwide. Clients range from first-time DV filmmakers to NBC's SCRUBS.