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"Mel Brooks: Make a Noise" Goes Behind the Laughs with Blackmagic Design
After more than six decades in the entertainment industry, comedic genius Mel Brooks is a legend. From his groundbreaking films (The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles) to his writing achievements and musical work, he is one of the most successful entertainers of our time. In fact he is one of just a handful of people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award.
Although he is typically very private, Mel Brooks recently opened up and participated in a biographical documentary that sheds some light on his personal life, creative beginnings and legendary career. "Mel Brooks: Make a Noise," a feature length film, aired as part of the American Masters series on PBS.
To complete the film, Los Angeles post production house Shapeshifter Post used a unique workflow that featured Blackmagic Design's Teranex 2D Processor and DaVinci Resolve color correction.
Achieving the Right Look
Several stars pay homage to the comedy giant in the film, which features interviews with celebrities like Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Richard Lewis, Tracey Ullman, Neil Simon, Cloris Leachman, Gene Wilder and Matthew Broderick.
Respected photographer and filmmaker Robert Trachtenburg, who directed the documentary, chose to shoot these interviews in 4K at 23.98 fps to achieve his desired visual presentation. This footage was then edited into a 29.97 fps (DF) project along with archival footage that was mostly already 29.97.
Shapeshifter began the process by converting the provided 29.97 fps Avid project to 23.98 fps, recreating a proper link to the original footage and making an AAF for DaVinci Resolve. This process allowed Colorist Randy Coonfield to conform all of the 23.98 fps 4K footage in Resolve.
Once this was done, Randy was able to begin color correction. During the process, he also did a large amount of zooms and pans to reframe interviews, which were shot with this in mind.
"The Resolve's ability to work with the full resolution files to make zooms of 200 percent and more look terrific was amazing," said Randy. "Our work included extensive secondary color, diffusion effects and many Power Windows to create a specific look. This required a lot of tracking as well, and Resolve handled all of it perfectly."
Finding A Common Denominator
After color correcting and resizing the 23.98 fps material in Resolve, the team performed a render process to create DNxHD media for conversion to 29.97 fps.
"Here at Shapeshifter, we like the way the Terenex 2D Processor handles this process, so that was how we converted most of it," said Randy.
Blackmagic Design's Teranex 2D Processor is a high end broadcast standards converter processor with high performance Thunderbolt I/O technology capture and playback features. It is a single processor model that offers all conversions in 4:2:2 quality in a single channel. It is one rack unit in size with built in power supply, and features SD/HD and 3 Gb/s SDI, HDMI and analog in and out, eight channel AES/EBU, four channel balanced analog input and output as well as consumer HiFi audio input connections.
As soon as the new, color corrected 29.97 fps footage was available after the Teranex process, Avid Editor Marc Fisher cut it into the sequence, replacing the original lower resolution shots. During the color correction process, Marc had been busy replacing all of the other footage with the best available version.
"When they were close to having a finalized timeline at full HD resolution, they created a mixdown of the entire piece, which was again sent to Resolve for a final color pass," said Randy.
Making The Final Grade
In the final color session, Randy and the rest of the team worked from the mixdown using an EDL to build the 29.97 fps timeline in Resolve.
"Some of the footage needed additional work, like noise reduction, sharpening, repositioning and color," said Randy. "A few interviews needed more color correction or different zooming, so we went back to the 23.98 fps project. But since much of the archival footage was already color corrected, this step required very little manipulation to achieve our desired result."
For the final step, the entire 29.97 fps mixdown was sent back to the Avid team with color correction, where Marc overcut the archival footage and any newly created footage from the camera files, added the titles and finalized the delivery.
"Using both Blackmagic's Teranex and DaVinci Resolve during the process of finishing this film made it easy for us to achieve the look we were going for," said Randy.
"These products really streamlined the process of combining very different elements together, turning them into an enlightening film that offers the viewer a genuine behind the scenes glimpse into the life of the legendary Mel Brooks."
Related Keywords:Mel Brooks, Shapeshifter Post, Blackmagic Design, 4K, Teranex 2D Processor, DaVinci Resolve, color correction