Video Hawks Uses Blackmagic Design for 'World War Z'
July 23, 2013

Video Hawks Uses Blackmagic Design for 'World War Z'

FREMONT — Los Angeles-based Video Hawks built three innovative video assist carts used in the filming of the summer blockbuster “World War Z.” The carts were built around Blackmagic Design’s Compact Videohub routers and Videohub Smart Control panels, HDLink Pro DVI and numerous Mini Converters.

Video Hawks, founded by its current President, Tom Loewy, is one of the industry's leading video assist companies. Having partnered with technology genius, Technoprops' founder Glenn Derry, Video Hawks has built and operated ground breaking video assist, camera, VFX support and motion capture technology for some of the biggest movies ever made, including the augmented reality system Simulcam made famous for its use on "Avatar" and "Real Steel."

For "World War Z," Video Hawks provided video assist carts used across international shooting locations, including the United Kingdom, Malta and Budapest. The carts gave the film's director and DP the ability to improve lighting and camera angles, see raw footage immediately and view shots with effects added in real time, showing where masses of zombies, soldiers and unhappy victims were located in the shots and how the final images would appear.

"'World War Z' just is not a clean film in terms of what is happening on the screen and on the set. Smoke, explosions and constant action had to be mixed with hordes of zombies, including actors in makeup and wearing motion tracking suits, and areas where CGI zombies would need to be added later," said Dan Moore, co owner, Video Hawks. "Filming was a down, dirty and extreme challenge, and the director and DP needed to see what they shot, make changes and set tone and ambiance right on the set while taking into account all of the extra imagery needed."

Each cart had multiple Compact Videohubs for routing of media, Videohub Smart Control panels, HDLink Pro DVI devices for monitoring and a number of different Mini Converters to handle the various feeds from multiple cameras and graphics and effects systems. Once a shot was completed, Video Hawks' co owners Glenn Derry and Dan Moore recorded footage and incorporated needed effects in real time, allowing the director and DP to view and adjust shots, lighting and actor and prop placement.

"On set control and giving the director and DP the ability to see the final look was vital on 'World War Z.' With Blackmagic Design as the core of these carts, we were able to provide that and have the flexibility to answer any request made of us. And the products are built to fit in perfectly with any workflow we throw at it. With the Videohubs in particular, I could manually change inputs or manage them from my laptop or iPad," said Moore.

"Also, this was not an easy shoot on any of the equipment. We went from the amazing heat of Malta in the summer to winter in Budapest and had to deal with smoke, bombs going off, grit and dust. Blackmagic equipment has muscle and durability though," continued Moore. "The great thing about working with Blackmagic equipment is that I can sleep at night knowing it just won't fail. And an added bonus is that the great looking design of Blackmagic products lets our carts look beautiful as well."