Colorist Podcast: Ian Vertovec, from Light Iron

2018-01-16 Colorist Podcast - Episode 20. Ian Vertovec

Episode 20

January 16, 2018
Colorist Podcast

This episode is sponsored by Colorist Society International and Mixing Light.

On this episode of the colorist podcast, I talk with Ian Vertovec, Co-Founder, and Senior Colorist at Light Iron.

Ian has colored major films “The Social Network,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and “Gone Girl.” And more recently, he has colored the TV shows “Baskets” for FX and “Glow” on Netflix.

Originally from Chicago, Ian focused on photography, then moved on to digital compositing. He later co-founded two post facilities in Los Angeles: Plaster City, then Light Iron. Out of necessity, he moved on to color at his company. He found his combination of photography and compositing matched perfectly for a career as a colorist.

In this podcast, we talk about:

  • Coloring David Fincher films and working with extremely dark images
  • The challenges of working on VFX heavy projects
  • Making HDR look both cinematic and realistic
  • Advantages of working with high-end systems like Quantel Pablo
  • The difference between working on TV and films
  • How experience with compositing served him as a colorist
  • Bringing life to images using texture
  • Using film emulation LUTs in his workflow
  • Comparing different cameras as a colorist
  • Using ACES in a color managed workflow
  • Keeping grades simple, clean, and efficient

Listen to the interview

Tech Media Planet: The Social Network

Episode 22

December 6, 2010
Tech Media Planet

Colorist Ian Vertovec from Light Iron Digital takes us through the ins and outs of color grading one of this year’s biggest hit films “The Social Network”.

Listen to the interview

Dolby: Ian Vertovec and Michael Cioni, from Light Iron

September 2, 2011
Dolby (YouTube)

Playlist:

Thanks to Joe Frady

Bad Lands

2018-04 ICG Magazine - Mindhunter 05 (Patrick Harbron)

Erik Messerschmidt and Chris Probst, ASC, also have made “smart” use of LED technology, as detailed in our cover story on Mindhunter (page 36). David Fincher, who first started using LED’s for process work on Zodiac, 11 years ago, not only customized a high-resolution RED camera for the show (dubbed the “Xenomorph”), but also devised one of the most ingenious LED-driven plate projection/interactive lighting processes for driving shots TV has ever seen. Messerschmidt’s description of Fincher’s commitment to innovation mirrors those Sundancers bending technology in the service of new ways to tell a story: “For David, the frame is sacred; what we choose to include is intrinsic to what the audience thinks is important. They are one and the same.”

David Geffner, Executive Editor
ICG Magazine

Visualizing the daring and often scary world of David Fincher requires new technologies and processes rarely attempted in series television.

Matt Hurwitz
Photos by Patrick Harbron & Merrick Morton, SMPSP
April 2018
ICG Magazine

In the season 1 finale of Netflix’s MINDHUNTER, a disturbed FBI agent, Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), bursts wildly from a hospital room, as a handheld camera gives chase. The move begins as shaken as ford is, but, as it lands with the agent, who collapses in the hallway, it’s as if the camera has floated to a butter-smooth stop inches from the floor, the maneuver executed like it was on a perfectly balanced Jib arm, crane, or even Steadicam. But it’s none of those. What can viewers assume from this?

David Fincher has returned to television.

FOR THIS SERIES ABOUT A PAIR OF AGENTS WORKING IN THE FBI’S ELITE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES UNIT in 1979, and attempting to understand the mind of a serial killer, Fincher used a number of leading-edge technologies – interactive LED lighting, custom built high-resolution cameras, and, as in the shot with Agent Ford, image stabilization/smoothing in postproduction – to keep the viewer visually embedded. Fincher’s aim with MINDHUNTER, which has no graphic violence, is for viewers to “access their own attics. There’s far scarier stuff up there than anything we can fabricate,” the filmmaker insists. “I wanted people to register what’s going on in [characters’] eyes and where the gear changes are taking place. At what point do I [as the viewer] feel like, ‘OK, I’ve got an insight,’ and at what point do they feel like: ‘oh, I’m being sold something. It’s all about the nuance in how the balance of power is changing.”

Fincher’s longtime postproduction supervisor, Peter Mavromates, says he creates an “experience of omniscience,” similar to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, “where you’re in a straitjacket with your eyelids pinned open, and David’s forcing you to watch these horrible things.” In fact, the show’s unique visual process began more than a year before production started in Pittsburgh (on area locations and on stages at 31st Street Studios, a former steel mill), with the development of a unique RED camera system.

Christopher Probst, ASC – who shot MINDHUNTER’S pilot and second episode – was asked for his input on a RED prototype system, which had been designed by Jarred Land and RED’s Chief Designer Matt Tremblay according to Fincher’s specific needs. “David wanted to take all of the different exterior add-ons that create a jungle of wires, and put them inside the camera body,” Probst explains.

Fincher puts it even more directly: “It just seems insane that we’ve been bequeathed a [camera] layout [dating back to] D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin that looks like some bizarre Medusa. [The camera] should be something that people want to approach, touch, and pick up.”

In fact, the custom system built for Season 1 [Land created a 2.0 version being used in Season 2] had an RTMotion MK3.1 lens-control system, Paralinx Arrow-X wireless video, and Zaxcom wireless audio (with timecode) integrated into the RED body, with the only visible cable being to control the lens. Slating was all but eliminated, with clip-number metadata being shared wirelessly between the camera and the script supervisor, who used Filemaker software to associate takes and clips. An audio scratch track from the mixer was recorded onto the REDCODE RAW R3D files and received wirelessly.

The base camera was one of RED’s DSMC2 systems, the then-new WEAPON DRAGON, with its 6K sensor. The shell design, accommodating the added gear inside, with its angular shape and heat venting fins on top, had a “Xenomorph” appearance (à la Alien), and was dubbed as such by Land and Fincher. “When the camera arrived in Pittsburgh, they had actually engraved “Xenomorph” on the side,” Probst says.

Read the full profile:

Website version of the profile

2018-04 ICG Magazine - Mindhunter 14 (Patrick Harbron)

2018-04 ICG Magazine - Mindhunter 13 (Merrick Morton)

Zodiac. When Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Daniel Netzel
March 28, 2018
Film Radar

An experimental video essay covering David Fincher‘s “Zodiac“, a true crime masterpiece that might be more true than you’d expect.

All interview excerpts taken from the special edition Blu-ray and DVD.

Thomas Flight‘s video that helped inspire me:

Cinematographers & Cameras: Insights Into “The Crown,” “Strong Island,” “Mindhunter,” Spots

Robert Goldrich
March 26, 2018
Shoot

One DP just won his first career ASC Award—on the strength of his work on The Crown (Netflix).

Another made key contributions to the heartfelt Strong Island (Netflix), which was nominated for this year’s Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

And a third DP has spent a recent stretch focusing on spots after getting a career break from David Fincher on the TV series Mindhunter (Netflix).

Here are insights from DPs Adriano Goldman, ASC, ABC, Alan Jacobsen and Erik Messerschmidt.

[…]

Erik Messerschmidt

Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt has spent the past year focused on commercials but his career progression is the reverse of what is typical. Instead of spots serving as a springboard to TV series and theatrical features, it was Messerschmidt’s work on the TV series Mindhunter (Netflix) which established him as a DP, leading to spotmaking opportunities.

Messerschmidt’s commercial lensing exploits have included Taco Bell’s “Web of Fries” cinema, web and TV fare directed by Joseph Kosinski of RESET, Buick and other automotive ads from director Kevin Berlandi, and a pharmaceutical spot directed by Mark Pellington of Washington Square Films. Messerschmidt also shot for Pellington the Demi Lovato music video “Tell Me You Love Me.”

Messerschmidt had been a gaffer who worked extensively on commercials that were lensed by such notables as Claudio Miranda, ASC, Tami Reiker, ASC and Jeff Cronenweth, ASC.

On the feature front, Messerschmidt served as a gaffer on the David Fincher-directed, Cronenweth-shot Gone Girl, a project which proved pivotal. “David knew I had a still photography background and I ended up doing promotional still work with him on Gone Girl,” related Messerschmidt. “David took me under this wing and moved me up to shoot his series Mindhunter.” (The alluded to still photography chops date back to when Messerschmidt worked for still shooter Gregory Crewdson.)

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Harris Savides, ASC and director David Fincher plumb the depths of human obsession

Flashback: Zodiac.

David E. Williams
Unit photography by Merrick Morton, SMPSP
April 2007
American Cinematographer

Most people remember the San Francisco Bay Area of the late 1960s for “flower power” and the Summer of Love. But as the decade came to a close, a grim nightmare unfolded in the counterculture mecca. On the night of December 20, 1968, two teens in the San Francisco-adjacent town of Benicia were brutally slain by a lone gunman. At midnight on July 4, 1969, another young couple was attacked in nearby Vallejo. On July 31, cryptic letters arrived at three Bay Area newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle; each contained part of a complex cipher. The writer warned that unless his coded messages were printed on the front page of each publication, “I will go on a kill rampage.” A followup letter soon arrived at the newspaper. Opening with the sentence “This is the Zodiac speaking,” the missive detailed the particulars of both crimes. The killer had given himself a name and stated his purpose: to taunt and terrify. The three-part cipher was soon solved, revealing a hate-filled manifesto. In all, he would communicate with such letters and codes on more than 20 occasions.

One front-line observer to the unfolding story was Chronicle editorial cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who began investigating the case after it became clear that harried law-enforcement officials — hampered by jurisdictional regulations, misleading evidence, and the emergence of more than 2,500 suspects — were powerless to unmask the killer. In 1986, Graysmith published his true-crime book Zodiac, which connected disparate clues for the first time and presented theories on the killer’s identity. This book formed the basis of the recently released film, photographed by Harris Savides, ASC for director David Fincher.

In the film, Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal), SFPD inspectors Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong (Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards, respectively), and Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) are sucked into the Zodiac’s vortex. All four try to manage their growing obsession with the case, but soon find their lives inextricably intertwined with that of a madman. The case remains unsolved to this day.

Read the full article

Zodiac

MINDHUNTER. Season 2 will have 8 episodes, two of them 2 hours long

According to Jennifer Nash, Mindhunter Extras Casting Director.

Jennifer Nash, Mindhunter Extras Casting Director (Jennifer Nash) 02

Tim Schooley, Reporter
March 20, 2018
Pittsburgh Business Times

Before any director calls action, Jennifer Nash has long begun the second season scramble to scout for extras in western Pennsylvania to appear in “Mindhunter,” which enjoyed a critically successful first season on Netflix last year.

In charge of recruiting and hiring extras for the episodic program about the early days of FBI profiling that grew into the study of serial killers, Nash emphasized just how heavily the show invests to hire extras in both type and number.

“We need so many more people than just the normal background acting community,” she said. “We need regular people.”

This season, one of her biggest tasks will be to hire a significant number of African-American people as extras. This includes a major scene in which 1,000 people, mostly African-Americans, will be needed for a protest expected to be shot in Wilkinsburg for several days.

“We’re going to be bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, to African-American communities,” she said, of Mindhunter’s second season emphasize on story lines involving African-Americans.

Last year, Nash was charged with recruiting 3,000 people to be extras in the 10-episode first season of “Mindhunter.” This year, she needs 5,000 for an eight-episode season, including two episodes that will be two hours each.

“I really have my work cut out for me,” she said, of hosting casting call events at places such as Trixie’s on the South Side, where a line stretched around the block. She also wants candidates to reach out to her at mindhuntercasting@gmail.com.

Read the full profile:

‘Episodics’ to dominate Pittsburgh film production this year [PAID CONTENT]