Frida Kahlo in black and white on screen in an editing studio

Remote Post Workflow for Sundance’s Frida Supported by DaVinci Resolve Studio and Blackmagic Cloud

Part of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition, the film “Frida” takes a look at the life and mind of iconic artist Frida Kahlo. Director Carla Gutiérrez brings the story to life through Kahlo’s own words from her diary, letters, essays, and interviews, as well as visually through her remarkable artwork.

As Image Workflow Supervisor, Color Team Director, and Senior Colorist on the film, Ernie Schaeffer used DaVinci Resolve Studio and Blackmagic Cloud as the central applications for most of the DI’s image processing. “The project was unique in the sense that the final archive was being updated throughout post production, right up until the last moments before QC and delivery for Sundance,” he noted. “We also had a dispersed team working remotely, so flexibility and collaboration were key and supported by DaVinci Resolve Studio and Blackmagic Cloud.”

The team began by synchronizing NAS devices across different locations in Mexico City and Morelos, Mexico, between the archive delivery/restoration, animation/VFX and color/online teams. Throughout post, the animation/VFX team updated and delivered approved shots within the NAS synchronization, and each location had certain read and write privileges to ensure each department was responsible for the specific deliveries required for the post process. The archive masters were delivered remotely through FTP from New Jersey to the server in Mexico City, which synchronized to all departments. Additional remote collaboration was required within the color/online team as Schaeffer was based in Morelos, with another colorist in Mexico City, and Gutiérrez in New York.

“The challenge was to continuously integrate the final archive masters into picture lock online, which was handled by the restoration team, and then delivered to the animation/VFX and color/online departments,” explained Schaeffer. “The conform and grade were done in DaVinci Resolve Studio using Blackmagic Cloud for the color/online team to work within the same project simultaneously. Blackmagic Cloud Storage was also used to move media files for color proposals and treatments, and during color sessions we live streamed our DaVinci Resolve viewer via the DaVinci Remote Monitor app to Carla in New York who was using an iPad Pro M2 with Reference Mode to ensure proper calibration of the image during the approval process. This was critical to the creative decisions made between Carla and the color team, and this workflow allowed color grading to begin from the start of the post process and continue through the delivery and restoration of archive masters.”

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Schaeffer also used DaVinci Resolve Studio’s Fusion page for some cleaning and restoration aspects for the archive. “Fusion was used quite a lot for final dust busting, fixes and cleanups, and we didn’t even need to leave the timeline,” he said. “We used Resolve for the complete online, as well as for our mastering and delivery of mezzanine files and mastering for the creation of the DCP.”

Eventually, Gutiérrez, along with a small team, traveled to Mexico to finalize color, restoration and online in Schaeffer’s studio, but the team continued to rely on Blackmagic Cloud and the DaVinci Remote Monitor application as remaining archive masters, credits and animations continued to arrive until the last days of the post finishing schedule.

“I always adapt to remote possibilities so that the creative process is not limited by logistics or physical locations. On ‘Frida,’ the remote workflow, which was made possible by Blackmagic Cloud and Blackmagic Cloud Storage, created flexibility, and these remote monitoring and collaboration possibilities allow for a new paradigm for post production teams working from different countries and locations,” concluded Schaeffer.

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