Filmmaking Team Delivers Panoramic, 6K Experience in 6 Below
On a frigid winter day in 2004, Eric LeMarque’s snowboarding adventure turned into a nightmare when he became lost in a remote region of the Sierra Nevada. Thus began a harrowing week-long journey in which the former Olympic ice hockey player would come to terms with personal demons and his own mortality in a fight for survival. 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain, edited in 6K native using Adobe Premiere Pro, brings LeMarque’s true story to the big screen in vivid detail. Following its Exclusive Cinema Premiere in theaters across America on Thursday, October 12, 2017, the film will be available on demand and digital HD on Friday, October 13, 2017.
Some directors might be hesitant about taking on a story that dramatizes an internal struggle against the harsh elements. But director Scott Waugh is always up for a challenge. He began his movie career as a stunt actor at the age of 12. After decades in the business, he transitioned to a position behind the camera as a director and producer on movies such as Act of Valor, which features realistic depictions of Navy SEAL operations starting real-life Navy SEALs.
“My background is in action film, but I’ve always been drawn to filmmakers who combine really great action with emotional stories,” says Waugh. The attraction to LeMarque’s story went deeper than the desire to tell a story of intense survival, Waugh played hockey with LeMarque for several years in his youth. “I felt like the story was destined for me,” he says. “I wanted full creative control, so we went the independent route to make the movie that we wanted to make.”
To truly capture the scale of LeMarque’s fight against nature, Waugh needed an equally epic screen to capture it. That’s why Waugh became the first director to shoot a feature film entirely for the BARCO Escape format. BARCO Escape uses three movie screens side-by-side to provide a 270-degree panoramic experience that takes audiences deep into the story, creating a greater sense of LeMarque’s lone struggle against vast expanses of snow.
Shooting a film for new technology is no easy task. Waugh filmed the entire movie on RED Dragon cameras in 6K to accommodate the unique BARCO Escape requirements. He also brought on accomplished editor Vashi Nedomansky to help mold the footage together. Unbeknownst to Waugh, Nedomansky also had a connection to the material: he played professional hockey with LeMarque for nearly a decade.
“Scott didn’t even realize that I knew Eric,” says Nedomansky. “It added another layer to the challenge for all of us, because of our personal connections it was critical that we tell the best story possible.”
Waugh and Nedomansky knew that they wanted a flexible, platform that would enable them to edit the 6K footage natively. “We’re a small, independent production, so when you think about the time and cost involved with transcoding footage, it didn’t make sense,” says Nedomansky. “It’s almost lunacy to attempt a 6K native workflow untested, but we knew we had to try it. Adobe Premiere Pro CC was the obvious software choice because it’s the only software proven to work at high native resolutions.”
Waugh created several editing workstations with Premiere Pro running on Dell Precision 7910 towers with NVIDIA GPUs. This workflow allows editors to pull 6K footage into the Premiere Pro timeline and start editing right away—no transcoding needed.
“The best thing about editing native is that you get what you see,” says Waugh. “It gives you the freedom to really play with the edit and catch those in-frame details that will support the story in your mind.”
Eliminating the need to transcode also sped up production by allowing Nedomansky and assistant editor Jon Carr to start editing the film from day one of the six-week shoot.
“I prefer working with everything on one timeline as it helps me see how everything fits together,” says Nedomansky. “Before we left Salt Lake City, I’d cut about 62 minutes of the film and had it all on one Premiere Pro timeline. We pushed and it didn’t break, which was really impressive.”
In addition to his assistant editor duties, Carr doubled as the visual effects artist. By taking advantage of Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects CC, Carr could take a scene from the Premiere Pro timeline, remove reflections or comp in night skies using After Effects, and then seamlessly return the shot to the timeline—all without rendering or transcoding.
“If we had a greenscreen shot, I could have it dropped into the edit within half an hour,” says Carr. “We did 99% of the visual effects in house—about 300 shots—and we couldn’t have done it so quickly and easily without Adobe Creative Cloud.”
Between the BARCO Escape release, traditional theatrical release, and eventual Blu-ray release, Waugh needed to accommodate many different frame sizes for a single movie. Premiere Pro is flexible enough to handle all resolution, output, and title options from a single app. Because they were editing in real time, they could also continue to make changes right up to the last second, allowing them to give the story polish without any wasted post-production time. Rounding out the post-production pipeline were Audition, which the team used for first pass audio mixing and Media Encoder, which was used for the DCP outputs.
“I can honestly say that the combination of Adobe, Dell, and NVIDIA on this project created the most powerful and most fun system I’ve ever used,” says Nedomansky.
“The power of Premiere Pro is truly mind-blowing. It’s a fantastic example of how technology can support creativity,” says Waugh. “Combined with the super-systems from Dell and NVIDIA, I think we were able to accomplish the impossible. There’s truly not another system that could have handled this production.”
Join Adobe for the 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain live filmmaker Q&A on October 13, 2017 from 8:30 PM to 8:30 PM on the Adobe Premiere Pro Facebook page.
Official Website: www.6BelowTheMovie.com
Official Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/6BelowFilm
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