Industry trio creates budget-minded HD facility, beta tests Adobe CS3 software.
Three years ago, after the completion of the film Dust to Glory, a few of the participating content producers for the project found themselves so like-minded about technology, production, postproduction, and distribution, that they decided—on the idea of director Mike "Mouse" McCoy—to start not so much a production company, but an identity. This identity, acting as a production and post facility, would produce content based upon what they describe as a synergistic groove that is down to earth and completely respectful of one another's talents and ideas. Thus, in late 2006 Bandito Brothers was born, comprised of the talents of McCoy, director Scott Waugh, and editor Jacob Rosenberg.
The Bandito Brothers, with their understanding of the new movements in technology and future media outlets, decided to develop their company around the idea of a budget-conscious HD facility—providing in-house solutions that could serve nearly the entire spectrum of client needs, from beginning to end, in high-def.
Using samples of work done on Dust to Glory and a few commercial spots Waugh and McCoy did for Leo Burnett, the directors pitched BF Goodrich's agency for a project early this year. The look of the work created by the trio impressed the client enough to win the project, giving the Bandito Brothers identity a prime opportunity to lay their tread.
Using Super 16mm, HD, and lipstick formats for the series of BF Goodrich commercials—of which the deliverables were one main commercial and two cut downs for the 2007 Final Four NCAA Basketball Championship—McCoy, who is a performance driver and a stunt driver, and Waugh, a stunt man whose done a lot of second unit, action-oriented work, decided that this project wouldn't be your standard car commercial—it would be all aggression.
"Typically car commercials are just big and elegant, very quiet, peaceful shots that kind of has a flavor to it that's pretty predictable," says Rosenberg, who edited the project. "This is not predictable. It's full-on action driving in a car that looks great. The tires are being used and it's not an oversell. It's engaging."
Setting up aggressive, engaging shots to highlight the performance tires brought its challenges. Add the fact that the Bandito's wanted the commercial to be as organic, raw, and rugged-looking as possible that they didn't want to employ any sort of CG-related work—and the task was heightened. So, with McCoy's understanding of how to get close on cars, and Waugh's knowledge of great angles and how to capture intensity, the crew spent a good amount of time developing rigs for the various cameras, turning to the expertise of rig-builder Mike Majesky at Shelly Ward Enterprises, North Hollywood, Calif.
Armed with an Arriflex 135 16 SR3-HS, Sony HDW-F-900 Cinealta, Sony PDW-F-350, and an Iconix HD-RH1 lipstick, the trio hit the road for production, doing the front- and rear-rigged car shots in Baja California, Mexico, and most of the car-to-car, rally, and drifting footage in Big Bear, Calif.
Due to the refined, filmic look that McCoy and Waugh have developed with their high-def camera package, matching all of the footage wasn't a problem. The obstacle was getting it all to the same format, so, they used Sunset Digital in Glendale, Calif., to transfer the Super 16mm film to HDCAM (which is seemingly the only thing the Bandito Brothers currently can't do in-house). From there, they aimed at matching the look of the commercial spots to the client's print advertising campaign that would be launched in tandem.
To match the raw, dry look to print, Rosenberg and co-hort Andrew Huebscher used an inhouse Iridas SpeedGrade HD for color correction, which they then imported and edited on a relatively low-cost open HD HP xw9300 workstation and a Matrox Axio LE using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.
"I'm a tried and true Adobe user," Rosenberg says. "So, we've really got the Adobe platform showcased at Bandito Brothers as I like to use Premiere Pro in the top arena—and really put it through it's paces. And really, we built a great HD system for not a lot of money. With the SpeedGrade HD [we were] technically able to do uncompressed 4:4:4 color correction on our final images to create that really dry look that matched the print campaign."
"But, that investment in the Iridas system was really big for us in establishing ourselves as a complete solution so we don't have to go to some other place to establish final color—which really can kill your budget," Rosenberg says.
When providing the final deliverables, the Bandito Brothers went one step further, using the capabilities of the new Adobe CS3 package, of which a beta version was given to Rosenberg during post—months before its unveiling at NAB.
"Our deliverable was the Digibeta for the Final Four," Rosenberg says. "The spot is just a hit—people just love it at BF Goodrich and they buy a ton more ad space in HD. So, the same time we did a Digibeta deliverable, we did an HD deliverable, because everything was in HD already. So, we laid off the SR with eight channels of audio and basically 10-bit color, and just did the same lay back to Digibeta."
The only thing not possible with Premiere Pro as a total solution, Rosenberg found, was when they needed to render footage out to DPX files to send through the color system (Rosenberg says that is the file-type the system really prefers). But, using Premiere Pro with After Effects gave them the latitude they needed in the files.
"That was the only way we'd go out of Premiere," Rosenberg says. "So, uncompressed Premiere files into After Effects—kick those out into a DPX file and then render those into a 10-bit wrapper that would then kick back out to tape."
During Rosenberg's beta test of Adobe's new CS3, he thought the software proved its value for their full-service, budget-focused HD facility.
"In terms of making DVDs with Encore CS3 and kicking out Flash files or H.264 files and all that, Premiere Pro CS3 was definitely valuable for that part of the process," Rosenberg says. "Using the CS3 versions, I think we were able to support more export formats, and we were able to jump between [Premiere and After Effects] more easily. So, Encore brought a bunch of solid new features, like you can export to a Flash file which is great for client review—just kicking out Flash files in CS3 is a lot easier, creating H.264 files is a lot easier as well. So, those things were big steps forward."
All said and done, the BF Goodrich client ended up going from one Digibeta deliverable to a total of seven commercial spots, various web deliverables, as well as DVD copies.
"That's one of our big advantages if we look at ourselves as a post facility," Rosenberg says. "All of these formats coming out of one facility—it makes things much easier budgetarily and managerially."
See the BF Goodrich work on the Bandito Brothers website, www.banditobrothers.com.Download PDF