Blackmagic Design today announced that the documentary “All You Hear Is Noise,” which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, was shot using Blackmagic Design digital film cameras, with post production completed using DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, color grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software, as well as Blackmagic Cloud for remote collaboration.
Directed and produced by filmmakers Ned Castle and Matt Day, “All You Hear is Noise” follows three Special Olympics athletes, Trent, Chris, and Melanie, through their training for competition at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The film follows their relationships with their friends, families, and fellow athletes, and the aftermath as they return to the United States. The project was co produced by SpringHill Company, the content production unit backed by LeBron James, and its Uninterrupted brand, which focuses on athlete empowerment. The film was also executive produced by Robin Roberts.
Longtime friends Castle and Day had been looking for an opportunity to make a documentary together for a while. “We would bat around ideas vaguely on the phone, and then Ned brought up the Special Olympics and his experience and stories from being a coach for the Vermont bocce team,” said Day. “As we explored the subject matter, we learned there’s just not been a whole lot of storytelling on either Special Olympics or intellectual disability in general.”
With the initial plan to focus on Trent Hampton as he trained for the Special Olympics World Games, Castle and Day began preparing for shooting. “As truly independent filmmakers, funding the majority of this from our own pockets, budget was our top priority,” said Castle. “First, we needed a camera that would give us a cinematic look, but we knew shooting would be a day here, a week there, so rentals were not practical.”
The two settled on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera as their early choice, eventually adding the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 digital film camera and toward the end, the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. “The built in ND filters and mini XLRs are huge advantages for doc filmmakers,” added Day. “The Pocket cameras are small, super intuitive, easy to use, and provide a really beautiful image.”
Constant evolution of shooting conditions meant preparing not only physically but cinematically for almost anything. “There’s a scene in the third act where Trent is volunteering at a triathlon in Long Island,” continued Day. “It was raining, hailing, and incredibly windy. We wrapped our cameras in trash bags and did the best we could. With the brooding sky and the crashing waves, the squinted cold faces pushing through the elements, it was really compelling footage. Capturing that in Blackmagic RAW made a huge difference. Obviously with documentary shooting, we’re almost never in the same lighting conditions twice, going from indoors to outdoors and in between. We didn’t light a single moment in the film, so to have that latitude in both the exposure and the color space is a huge asset for us.”
For post production, editorial was accomplished between Day in Los Angeles, Castle in Burlington, Vermont, Editor Pablo Garza in Mexico City, and Assistant Editor Mallory Bracken in Richmond, Virginia. “The features of Blackmagic Cloud were a game changer,” said Castle. “It’s stressful just thinking of what it would have been like to share various timelines by exporting them each time. It was a massive time saver for us to all be in the same project file at the same time, share timelines to review, and make tweaks, all without ever leaving the application. It also had the glimmer of a communal vibe as you can see when someone is in the project and what they’re working on, so while being remote has its benefits, this also helped give a sense of shaping the film together simultaneously.”
“Similar to the cameras, DaVinci Resolve is just so intuitive, easy, and fun to use,” added Castle. “It just makes sense, works the way you want it to, and looks good while you do it. And with us shooting in Blackmagic RAW, we just assumed that Resolve was the native place to edit and take advantage of what the file format has to offer.”
With a three year production, the post team evolved with versions of DaVinci Resolve Studio, and with each update, they were pleased with the new tools offered. “We started on Resolve 15, and by the end of the edit we were in Resolve 18. The features developed along the way have been great. We have a particular love for the voice isolation tool!”
Editorial became a tale of two stories. After initial production, Castle and Day reviewed the cut and realized it wasn’t done. “It wasn’t good enough,” said Day. “We entered the research phase that we never had before filming and educated ourselves on what we were missing, why we missed it, and how we needed to rectify that lack to make a good film. We kept filming for two more years while assembling a panel of disability advisors to help us steer the story.”
For the last editing phase, the team brought in Garza. “We can’t say enough good things about Pablo. He just has a beautiful sense of story, which seems to flow through him, and that was a great benefit to our film,” noted Castle.
For final color grading, Day and Castle brought in Luke Cahill from Different by Design to manage the color process. “Our film was the first Luke had graded using Blackmagic RAW, and he was pretty surprised by the versatility of the footage,” said Castle. “Our biggest technical hurdle in the color suite was getting consistent and natural looking reds across the various lighting conditions, especially with that primary color being a recognizable hallmark of the Special Olympics’ brand, meaning lots of bright red shirts and other red sports apparel, signs, and banners. We had to be careful not to push those large color blocks too far otherwise the gradients would posterize. Beyond that unique situation, we found the overall latitude of Blackmagic RAW to be truly amazing, and we’re thrilled to have had such a rich color palette to tell this story.”
“All You Hear Is Noise” is on one hand a sports documentary and on the other, an international adventure that brings the audience along for an epic journey. “The film contains scenes of intense action, many relating to the athletic storylines, as well as moments that are more contemplative as we get to know the athletes in their lives outside of athletics,” said Day. “The cinematic look we got with the Blackmagic cameras and DaVinci Resolve helped us capture these aesthetic sensibilities for both kinds of scenes, but it was especially important for helping shape the tone of the story around the subjects’ lives off the playing field. That kind of versatility is amazing.”
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