Delivering High-End VFX and Color on an Indie Budget
March 1, 2021

Delivering High-End VFX and Color on an Indie Budget

To keep pace with large-scale blockbusters, independent filmmakers require a streamlined and cost-effective post-production pipeline for achieving high caliber VFX. 9th Street Films founder Andre Basso recognized an opportunity to service a growing industry demand for high-end post services on an indie budget. Today, the full-service creative shop offers end-to-end production services for feature films, indie projects and commercial spots for brands and marketers. 
9th Street Films’ integrated Flame post pipeline enables Basso and his team to deliver quality VFX, color and editorial in one shop, saving money and time for budget-savvy projects. 
“We’ve developed an internal pipeline for all VFX and color work that assumes all media exported out is the final deliverable for the intended target, whether it be Dolby Vision HDR, DCI P3 for theatrical release or REC709,” said Basso. “In doing so, we’ve reduced the workflow bottlenecks that can arise when passing shots between vendors by managing post under one roof. At the same time, we’re innovating new ways to get involved earlier in production to expedite post processes.”
While traditional production chains were tailored to film-based workflows, widespread adoption of digital cinema cameras in the last decade has enabled fully digital pipelines that afford new opportunities for post. 9th Street Films has explored new methods for creating workflow efficiencies and eliminating intermediate processes by bringing color grading and VFX early into production. By using color lookup tables (LUTs) on calibrated monitors during production, 9th Street Films can make color grading decisions with the DP while on set and lock color into XML files. In post, this allows color grading assembly to be done quicker, requiring simple cleanup rather than full grading. Basso and his team are also brought onto set as VFX supervisors more often, with many VFX laid out in previs ahead of production.

An emphasis on previs has been especially critical in the age of a global pandemic, with safety protocols required to limit the number of crew members on set. Using Flame’s built-in compositing tools on the editorial timeline, Basso is able to handle rapid prototyping during previs by enabling lights, cameras, actor blocking and different shot variables to be adjusted and planned out before ever stepping foot on set. For an upcoming original 9th Street Films’ project that satirizes American politics, Basso and his team will be establishing the film look, color scheme, set décor and shot blocking during heavy pre-production months ahead of the actual shoot. To create crowd shots for the film in the midst of restrictions for large gatherings, the team plans on shooting a small group of actors in the foreground and will use Flame’s perspective grid tools to replicate a full audience.
By streamlining VFX, editorial and color via Flame’s robust toolset, 9th Street Films has delivered a wide range of projects for clients, including the upcoming World War II documentary “Sixth of June.” “There were several key shots where the director didn’t think it would be possible to have VFX without going over budget, but we were able to make it happen using our Flame pipeline,” said Basso. “In the middle of color grading, we’d flip into batch and start whipping up VFX to liven up backgrounds for war reenactment sequences by adding in explosions and planes flying overhead. The end result was amazing, and the team was blown away by how seamless the post process was.” The film was well-received and made it to the first round of considerations for the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Documentary Short Subject.
9th Street Films also recently completed 200+ VFX shots for an indie film entitled “Love 40,” We also recently provided 200+ VFX shots for an indie film called “Love 40,” which entailed traditionally composited 3D models, tracking, digital crowd integration and cleanup work all completed within Flame.
Regardless of the project, when clients present source material captured on a variety of different cameras in various color spaces, Basso is able to seamlessly consolidate the footage and manage the look in seconds with Flame’s ACES pipeline. Flame’s powerful camera and planar tracking features allow Basso to efficiently manage any tracking job without requiring a separate application, while using motion vector as an aid for tracking or projecting graphics onto plates. Looking forward, Basso hopes to experiment more with Flame’s machine learning tools. He adds, “There have been a few instances where I’ve needed to create a depth of field effect with digital bokeh, and Flame’s machine learning tools have worked as advertised without requiring any experience on my end.”
In closing, Basso noted, “Flame has always enabled artists to make artistic decisions without being too bogged down by the technical aspects of post-production. It’s a liberating platform for creative decision-making that features an incredible interface and puts accessible tools at your fingertips.”