Notes on rendering.

Converting the raw files to a usable image is often mired in confusion and can lead to controversies, especially at the beginning of a shoot and it needs consideration. Often people ask “can I look at or view the raw file?” It might seem a little pedantic but the real answer is “no”. A raw file has to be converted into an image before it can be viewed. There are many ways to do this and very different results can be reached. The Fishcat system uses an open source raw image processor to convert the sensor data into 16 bit or 32 bit images which are then processed into an Avid movie for the edit suite. Each workstation has the ability to render test frames on the fly for viewing immediately when setting up the shot. They can be viewed locally or on a viewing computer with a calibrated monitor. Some productions opt for a general colour profile for the shoot and others prefer to generate a “look” for individual sets. The fishcat system caters for a wide range of production styles from a neutral flat style of image, best suited to a traditional post production grade or “pre-graded” images with a final “look” baked in.
Post production houses sometimes struggle to cope with footage from a stop frame shoot. Often they apply traditional film style post production methods to the footage they receive and at some point they realise they have hit a problem. An example might be where they have to mix live action footage to a stop frame element and find it difficult to composite due to different cameras being used for each element. Issues of sensor size, lens choices and colour space can throw bags of spanners around and the last organisation they blame is themselves. A thorough test of the entire production process is vital before the start of a shoot and it often gets dismissed or overlooked. We have experienced months of rancor and finger pointing only to discover that a mad conversion process has been applied to the stopframe footage because “that’s how we’ve always done it and we know best”.

The way the raw files are processed is a crucial part of the production and needs thought, planning, understanding and total agreement before the shoot. It is sometimes necessary to lock down how various parties view footage, otherwise…headless chickens…sky falling in because someone received an image without the LUT. (Don’t get me started on LUTs)
We are flexible in our approach to this part of the process and are always happy to provide advice or support for the many ways of achieving the right result for any production.