'Chronicle' Reinvents Found Footage Genre with Codex/ARRIRAW Workflow
Chronicle, the stylish sci-fi thriller from and Twentieth Century Fox, employed Codex Digital recording and workflow technology while shooting on location in South Africa. The film used Codex Onboard recorders in tandem with the ARRI Alexa cameras to capture camera data in ARRIRAW format. Chronicle is among the first films using this groundbreaking Codex/ARRIRAW workflow to reach theaters.
Written and directed by Josh Trank (best known for his work on the television series The Kill Point), the film is about a trio of high school friends who make an incredible discovery that gives them supernatural powers. The film has drawn rave reviews for its reinvention of the “found footage” genre. Although it purports to be composed from video footage captured by its heroes, the film explodes into a full-blown visual effects extravaganza, as the boys explore the limits of their new abilities with increasingly dark results.
The producers of Chronicle tested a variety of digital camera formats to determine which would best deliver the “found footage” look they wanted. They eventually narrowed their choice to two compressed formats and the uncompressed ARRIRAW format, the latter captured with an ARRI Alexa camera and recorded to Codex Onboard recorders.
Chronicle’s production team chose to use Codex recorders because they were the only recording devices that supported the ARRI Alexa camera in ARRIRAW mode (Codex Digital recorders were the first to be certified to support the ARRI Alexa camera in ARRIRAW mode). Before production began, the filmmakers rigorously tested the workflow in Cape Town, South Africa, where the film was shot, and found it clearly superior to other digital camera and recording systems.
Executive producer James Dodson said that the ARRIRAW workflow was especially impressive in shooting locations with extreme depth of field and in nighttime and other low-light situations. “There was no comparison,” Dodson says. “We shot with available light in Cape Town at 10 at night and, while all three formats had an image, the compressed formats looked grainy and lacked resolution and detail. When we put the ARRIRAW through a color correction system, we could dig into the blacks and they held up, they didn’t get milky and the noise was minimal. There wasn’t the noticeable breakdown in detail that is emblematic of low-light footage.”
During production, ARRIRAW data was captured with Codex Onboard recorders. At regular intervals, or when they were full, the recorders’ datapacks were passed onto a dailies team who used a Codex Digital Lab to create back-up media, apply initial color timing, and produce deliverables for review, editorial and post production. This workflow allowed the production to create and view dailies while on location without relying on an external post production facility or infrastructure.
“It gave us an elegant, turnkey system to capture, process and archive,” said Dodson. “It allowed us to capture a very, very high-resolution image. We had the perfect tools to make this movie.”