FireFly: A Love Story
FireFly Cinema created the complete suite of color grading tools used throughout this film, the film adaptation of The History of Love, a novel by Nicole Krauss. DP Laurent Dailland has worked with the FireDay and FirePost products before. He collaborates frequently with Director Radhu Mihaileanu and colorist Isabelle Julien, from Paris color grading studio Ikenokoi. History of Love created an opportunity to work with a complete FireFly workflow, using FireDay on set and FirePost in post production and finishing. Laurent finds FireFly products much easier to use than any alternatives:
FireDay is the first product since the invention of the cine camera that I feel is truly designed with DPs in mind. It’s easy to use and you get great-looking results quickly.
Production: From Set to Post
On-set: a FireDay system was set-up near to the camera, providing a live grading preview on a reference monitor in the video village. This gave the DP, Laurent the confidence that what he was capturing on set was very close to the final color result he wanted to achieve for the look of the film. It was important to him be able to collaborate with the director on the artistic aspects of the final look and doing this on-set maximized use of their time for both of them. FireDay captures all color grading decisions made while previewing in a metadata database, and makes them available to any other digital film management personnel who might need them. For example, data wranglers were located “near set” in a separate production area could use another FireDay system that access the same color data to manage copying, backups, MD5 verification (generating MD5 codes that could be used to check integrity of copies throughout the post process), cataloging, and automatic application of color grading to the raw files. This has made the on-set color choices into the first step of the post production process.
This workflow allowed the DP to manage his time very effectively: by live previewing during the shooting at a moment when he is available to review and approve the look, he could then have the confidence that all the other related footage from that shoot will be turn out the same way.
In addition, Laurent sometimes wanted to check the color grading on his own time. The data wrangler exported a few stills from the RAW video clips along with the color grading data on a USB drive every evening. This drive was then given to Laurent who could playback and tweak settings on his own laptop in RAW format using a copy of FirePlay Free. If he changed his mind about the look, he could make adjustments and save his new color grading decisions back to the project database which would then be used the next day by the data wrangler to ensure that all related footage inherited the new look.
The data wrangler could also export some H.264 versions for the director, Radu Mihaileanu, who could then preview them using a simple media player like QuickTime. This fulfilled his need to have dailies of the footage, and allowed him to provide any additional notes on color, or notes to the production team.
The data wrangler also sent a copy of all RAW camera files together with the metadata to Eclair. Eclair performed a quality check, and rendered proxy files to be used for post editing with the latest color grading decisions rendered-in. Eclair also used FireDay and were able to use the same MD5 codes generated during the on-set backup to ensure that nothing had been corrupted, protecting the integrity of the entire production. The editing proxies are sent to a separate post editing facility, while the RAW files were forwarded to Ikenokoi to await the finishing process.
Finishing With Finesse
Ikenokoi (an early adopter of FireFly tools) use both FireDay and FirePost. They received the RAW files and metadata from Eclair. When they received the EDLs from the film editor, they used FirePost to conform the edit decisions against the original RAW files from Eclair. During this conform process, they also applied the final color grading using the settings from the shared database. By using FirePost,Isabelle Julien, the colorist could view the edit suite files side-by-side with the RAW files and ensure a good match to the look from post.
By doing this at the start of the finishing process, she could ensure visual continuity for the director: the look he saw on the first day of finishing was the same look that he had gotten used to seeing in the edit suite. In fact, except for any minor changes during the post finishing process, it was the look that he and the DP established and approved on set.
This approach provides the ideal starting point to the artistic process of finishing. FirePost offered the perfect combination of great creative tools and ease of use, allowing the colorist to apply unlimited secondary color grades and filters to add an entire extra creative dimension to the final result of the film.
Ikenokoi uses FirePost in their main finishing suite theater, but also has a second FirePost system for the assistant colorist suite, allowing them to manage rendering and offline file processing more efficiently. The two FirePost systems are connected on the LAN, and one runs the FireFly database application which keeps all metadata files involved in the production in sync. This means managing and synchronizing file IDs for all RAW and proxy files versions, various color decisions, timelines with multiple clips, edit decision lists etc. The FireFly database also enforces user permissions, to determine who can change these files for the project, ensuring multiple users can work together to finalize a project more quickly without stepping on each other’s toes.
Digital film cameras have profoundly evolved the film-making process in many ways. One of the most significant ways is that they increase the control DPs can have over the look of a film. And they allow that influence to occur much earlier in the production process: instead of relying on a quickly produced daily to verify the exposure, DPs can now see the exact result of their work and start to make color grading creative decisions while still on set. They can do this with the confidence that their decisions will be carried through to the final result.
In addition, the newly created role of Digital Intermediate Technician (DIT) also offers the potential to have much more creative impact. DITs are now integral to the color grading process on set, providing live previews and creative alternatives that DPs and directors can react to. Previously, this type of input could only occur in the editing or finishing suite.
There’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in digital film, and the tools created by FireFly Cinema reflect the demands of quality, creativity and efficient collaboration that are being place on the modern film professional.
Benefits of FireFly workflow
- Live on set preview of shot set-ups with color grading applied, visible to DP and director
- On-set management of files: secure, fast, with color decisions captured-in
- Easy preview for DPs and director, allowing them to maximise their available time on set
- Confidence that on set color decisions will be available throughout the post process
- Consistent tools for color labs that manages RAW files and produce proxies
- Proxy files for edit that already have the first-pass color look applied
- Quick conforming of RAW files against post EDLs in finishing suite
- Efficient color-matching at the start of the finishing process
- Powerful secondary color tools for finishing with finesse
- A shared set of data for everyone throughout the process to work from
From Laurent Dailland, Director of Photography has much to say about the FireFly solution: “The fact that FireFly Cinema offers a complete suite of products is very unique. It ensured that decisions we made on set about the look were carried all the way through the post and finishing processes.” He goes on to elaborate on how this changes is revolutionizing the process of film making: “Just a few years ago, there wasn’t really a great solution for an end-to-end color workflow. But now, it’s really unacceptable to start a film project without having one in place. It’s the only way for both the DP and the director to be sure that the creative decisions they make on set are faithfully carried through to the final film.”
What if a book written before World War II in a little village in Eastern Europe could shine through the years, crossing continents and surviving violent conflicts, to guide the journey of three generations? This book is entitled THE HISTORY OF LOVE. New York, the 21st century. Leo, an old Polish Jewish immigrant, lives with the memory of the great love of his life. Despite his painful history, he cheerfully navigates life’s ups and downs with indefatigable, crazy humour, alongside his best friend Bruno. Across town, in Brooklyn, teenage Alma is determined to find the ideal man for her mother to remarry. Always in control, she is staggered to find herself falling for her handsome classmate Misha and discovering love for the first time. Nothing seems to link old Leo and young Alma. And yet… From Poland in the 1930s to Ellis Island, from Chile to Central Park, the manuscript of “the most loved woman in the world” will travel through time to unite their destinies. After The Concert, Radu Mihaileanu returns with a joyful, tender and deeply moving saga.
Companies and personnel
Director: Radhu Mihaileanu
Director of Photography (DP): Laurent Dailland
Products used: FireFly Cinema provide their complete suite of advanced color tools for digital film. FireDay was used for on-set color grading, DI processing, and live color previews; FirePost, for color finishing and rendering.
Production: The History of Love , based on the novel by Nicole Krauss. This is the first film production that used the FireFly color management solution from end-to-end.
Production Company: 2.4.7 film. Paris-based.
Locations: New York, Montreal, Romania — multiple location and set based shoots.
Digital dailies company: Eclair Group:. Paris-based.
Color grading and finishing: Ikenokoi : final grading, DI management, Paris-based. One of the very first companies to buy FireFly Cinema tools.
Colorist : Isabelle Julien, CEO : Arnaud Chelet
Equipment Rental: Panavision supplied the FireDay system, storage, computer, etc. Also supplied cameras for the shoot