When Dubai-based editor, director and filmmaker Jac Mulder needed to correct a specific shot in his film Bordering on Bad Behaviour, he contacted Blackmagic Design to help build an interface that would speed up his workflow. In the process, he was invited to test the pre-release of DaVinci Resolve 11. He shares his feedback with […]
When Dubai-based editor, director and filmmaker Jac Mulder needed to correct a specific shot in his film Bordering on Bad Behaviour, he contacted Blackmagic Design to help build an interface that would speed up his workflow. In the process, he was invited to test the pre-release of DaVinci Resolve 11. He shares his feedback with BroadcastPro ME exclusively
You cant miss the sparkle in Jac Mulders eyes when he speaks of any of the productions he has worked on thus far whether its a simple TVC about a battery, or a feature film hes been scripting. He infuses so much passion into each of his projects that it comes as no surprise to hear that he approached Blackmagic Design to correct just one problematic shot in his most recent production, Bordering on Bad Behaviour.
But thats only one of the many unique things about Mulder. When the South African filmmaker set up Muddville in Dubai a few years ago, he believed he was made for bigger things than the local market offered. He often spoke of his dream of becoming a filmmaker one day, and scripted his own stories while doing TVCs on the side. However, when the options in the local market lacked promise, he approached international clients. And thats when the fun began.
Bordering on Bad Behaviour is Mulders most recent feature film. In this quirky, sometimes philosophical exposé on the tragedies of war, three unlikely candidates Bob (Tom Sizemore), Ari (Oz Zehavi) and Baz (Bernard Curry) are thrown together and forced to evaluate their lives, their alliances, their perspectives and, ultimately, each other. As with all of Mulders past projects, the film has been developed only for international distribution and has already won several awards.
“Festival submissions were not a major priority for us, but we explored this avenue and received our first laurels from The Indie Gathering in Ohio,” explains Mulder.
“With us winning Best Feature Comedy and runner-up for Best Feature Film at the festival, our excitement peaked. I received a nomination for Best Director and my lead, Tom, and supporting actor, Oz, were nominated for best roles in those categories. Further to this, our film was selected in Sydney and was screened there last month.”
The film has been shot with three Red Epic cameras using Master Primes for a truly cinematic look. It was while wrapping up the final online for the DCP of the feature and making last-minute corrections that Mulder discovered a problematic shot that needed more attention.
“I screen-captured the corrections I made to the sequence, broke them down with roto-scoping and tracking Tom’s face, matched the background and sent the clip off to Blackmagic Design. My intention was to request some interface changes to speed up my workflow. However, the local distributor linked me with the London branch, where (hopefully) they were impressed with what I had done. Within a few days I received a contract from BMD and I opted to finalise the grade on the latest release. The entire film, therefore, was graded on Resolve, running the native resolution of the Red Epic 5k images. The picture looked fantastic as a result.”
Mulder, who trained as an animator and visual effects supervisor, has over the years become very familiar with Resolve.
“Fortunately, Muddville has an extremely powerful system to handle the resolution of this format and we find it beneficial to work with the native power of the r3D metadata. With this in mind, I made the creative decision to run final pass through the new release and prep it for DCP delivery,” he explains.
“I’ve been using DaVinci for many years, both in South Africa and here, especially the old system using traditional film stock. So I guess I have always had an affinity towards the product, and when it became more available to the film community, I jumped on board. I built up a grading suite with an 85-inch broadcast monitor, ordered the panels and set up a fibre-optic network for speed. Before long, I was comfortable grading the TVCs, music videos, short films and, ultimately, the big feature. As an interface, it has become way more intuitive. I find myself comfortably getting involved with the footage; I’ve explored all the aspects of the software and applied a more compositing approach to my colour corrections. To say it has come on in leaps and bounds since the good old film days is an understatement,” says Mulder.
One of the key features in the new release that struck Mulder as impressive is the two screens option.
“It is aesthetically perfect, with huge Waveform monitors and the Parade forever in the corner of my eye,” he points out.
“The general layout of the interface features four main buttons and moves the artist quickly between menus. As an ex-animator, the larger Keyframes panel is a welcome change. I find myself getting a little more creative with my looks and don’t fear adjusting exposure as light changes in the clip. Grading in log mode has been my desired source for my files. I was able to clip the blacks and whites and control the midtones and highlights. I gained even more control with the specular highlights and rolloffs,” he says.
Continuing further, he adds that the matte finesse feature has been greatly improved.
“This is especially useful if one needs to separate skin tones from the backgrounds. I think this may be my favourite feature. I find I’m quickly able to explore that teal/orange look, and on the feature film it came in handy, matching specific colours without worrying about the noise of soft banding.”
While the release has several positives, Mulder points out that the interaction element could have been better.
“Being efficient in other compositing applications, I find the split screen needs more work, a way for one to rotate the separation line, even offering a transparency element in there. The other aspect to the software that needs improving is the Alpha Channel aspect. Being able to slip it, or even pull it in separately, would be a welcome improvement.”
Blackmagic seems to have taken Mulders feedback on board, since he has been invited to test more releases.
Over the years, Muddville has traditionally worked with Premiere over FCP.
“For obvious reasons,” says Mulder.
However, when there was concern over being able to edit the new RED Dragon Monochrome 6K footage in those applications, Resolve became a crucial choice.
“Since shooting with the Red Epic Dragon, I have noticed a far cleaner image, especially in log mode. We recently graded the Toyota 4D commercial and some of the shots were taken late afternoon. In a rush to catch the perfect light, we opted to not have any reflectors or bounce in the shots and would see where we could push in Resolve. To be fair, the picture on an 85-inch broadcast monitor was astounding. The client was fascinated!
“Dropping all the rushes into DaVinci and doing the entire edit in the Edit timeline resulted in the simplest and most basic process of going from offline to online, using only one piece of software. I even spent a few moments adjusting the audio and treating the software as if it were Premiere.
“As an editor, I feel its on the right track and am certain I will be doing a lot more of the smaller edits on Resolve.”
It is ideal for RED footage as well, Mulder explains.
“I’m a firm believer in never transcoding Red Epic footage and have to confess I have no clue as to why people still do this, especially since Resolve handles the image so beautifully. As part of our process, we are always linking files between our Nuke Compositing software and they too, in turn, use the native resolution. Here, we are able to shift data between the systems seamlessly with detailed .exr files that update if any corrections are made. Somehow, Blackmagic has intuitively created a piece of software that takes the hassle and worry out of linking files and making corrections to specific shots.”
To summarise, there are lots of little things that impress Mulder, including the two screen options, the layout for delivery, the four-button menu options, the finer level of control with the grading, the longer timeline for the keyframes, the highlight difference button, the overall speed enhance, the highlight control, the matte finesse and the dragon monochrome 6K footage that comes in easily.
There are other features that took more time to figure out, but worked eventually.
“For instance, the Edit Index was a little confusing at first but I now understand the relevance. The two-screen mode took a bit of getting used to, and likewise the scale and colour being separated, but I got around those quickly as well.”
RedRocket issues remain a challenge though.
“It works on some projects but doesn’t on some others. I also struggled initially with getting the panels to work but it magically worked after a couple of days.
“The split screen needs help. Perhaps a line that could rotate would be most useful. The Alpha/Mask needs to be revisited, especially in terms of slipping, separate import and working independent of being associated with a clip. The undo on RotoMask jumps back three to four steps if pressed twice and that was very frustrating. The lightbox thumbnails need to be at least double the size, and I didnt see a ‘confirm overwrite’ on delivery.”
But all in all, Mulder feels the Resolve is heading even further into every post production suite.
“The big excitement came when we processed the Digital Cinema Print. Vox Cinemas let us use their projectors to test the quality and the 4K and 2K prints we processed from DaVinci Resolve were absolutely exquisite. We sat there in amazement at how pristine the image was,” explains Mulder.
The filmmaker himself has had a lot of joy with his recent film. In fact, Mulder secured both sales agents and distribution opportunities at the first unofficial screening of the film. He has now been contacted to direct a film in Vancouver.
“I’m hoping this film gives the UAE the recognition it deserves. Having landed international distribution and world-wide release, and raised funds in this city for a film that has been produced, directed and posted by a local production company, I believe we make the UAE proud.”