Charlie Kilman '16 did a summer internship with Light Iron New York, a digital post-production company. The following is an excerpt from a follow-up paper he wrote for a CAMS independent study comparing film industry workflows in the analog and digital eras.
Light Iron New York officially opened on January 28, 2013. Although the company required help from its mother company, Light Iron Los Angeles, the employees have pushed the company into the New York post-production scene, competing with post giants Technicolor and Deluxe for high-end jobs. Light Iron epitomizes the efficient use of digital technology in a post-production workflow. The employees at Light Iron worked with the directors, producers, and DITs (Digital Imaging Technicians) of each project to perfect the digital media workflow of the post-production process. In this way, Light Iron has proven itself to be an excellent example for the future of digital cinema as well as a master at transforming the raw footage from the camera into the final product.
Digital media offers countless solutions to effectively speed up the workflow of production that had been hindered by the analog processes of developing photochemical film. One of the most important transformations that came from the birth of the digital camera was the revolutionary new way of creating dailies. Unlike the method of producing dailies in the 1940s through 1960s, the replacement of film with “magazines” (literal magazines that are placed in the camera and where the digital footage is held) allows the footage to be developed on set with ease. Light Iron NY dominates the dailies industry with their fleet of Outpost systems, which are in effect carts housing data storage, computers, magazine readers, and monitors. The Outpost systems are the core of Light Iron’s philosophy of producing the raw footage in the most efficient and clean way.
The Outpost is centered around the idea of “todalies,” a phrase coined by Light Iron, suggesting that instead of the usual 24 hour dailies process common to the analog workflow, the Outpost carts are able to produce dailies in a matter of hours. Because of the elimination of chemical baths and off-site labs, the raw footage of the camera can be converted into viewable media by plugging the magazine into the Outpost cart, quick checking the takes, syncing the audio almost automatically, and adding some crude color correction. So, with just one dedicated person and the help of new technology, the Outpost cart is able to replace whole film developing labs. This means that the post process of producing dailies can be brought back onto set, which lessens the gap between post and production. So, Light Iron has used the new technology to simplify the workflow on the post-production end while also putting more of the creation back into the DP’s and director’s hands.