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Spy Post Delivers “The Village Barbershop”

Spy Post completed visual effects, post and telecine work on The Village Barbershop, a dramatic feature written and directed by Chris Ford and starring John Ratzenberger (Cheers). The film debuts at the Cinequest Film Festival on Feb. 29 and has been accepted into the Sonoma Valley Film Festival. The film concerns a fading small-time barber forced to hire the last person on earth he’d want working in his shop–a woman (played by Shelly Cole, Gilmore Girls).

“The film had a great DP in Cliff Traiman, but after shooting on the fly for 18 days in all kinds of light and locations, there was still plenty of picture work to be done,” explains Chris Ford, who is also a creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. “For me, the only place to go was Spy Post. Beyond the nice work they’d done for me in the commercial world, they had a fantastic reputation for knowing all things digital. In addition to matching single scenes shot across multiple days, colorist Chris Martin brought with him the brilliant idea to use subtle shifts in color to enhance the ever-changing moods of the film, and VFX artist Kyle Gray saved the day (and my ass) with some amazing clean-up and composite work, then stuck around to create a lovely end credit sequence as well. Ultimately, I walked away thinking, I can’t believe my little $250K film looks this good.”

The film is another example of Spy Post’s digital intermediate workflow: the post house handled the conform, visual effects, closing title sequence and color correction. The Village Barbershop was shot in HD with Panasonic VariCam at 720p DVCPRO HD 24fps and offlined in SD with Final Cut Pro. Once conformed, it remained tapeless as it moved from Final Cut to After Effects and Flame, and then to final color through the da Vinci. Final masters were delivered on HDCAM.

“Our digital intermediate pipeline maximizes the image quality of the filmmakers’ source material and positions them to output a universal master, which preserves multiple delivery options,” says Spy Post partner Eric Hanson. “We advise them on the most efficient, cost-effective and high-quality intermediate format to work in during the project. It’s similar to doing a digital intermediate for a big-budget feature—we’ve just modified the process so it’s accessible to spots, documentaries and independent films.”

Senior colorist Chris Martin worked off the universal master at 1920×1080, 23.98fps, on a da Vinci real-time color corrector.

“The universal master existed as a data source for Chris using RaveHD,” Hanson continues. “This real-time digital intermediate allows the colorist flexibility to manipulate the data with da Vinci’s speed, similar to the speed of a tape-to-tape session.”

“The film is set in Reno and has a feeling of Americana,” says Martin. “We went with antique warm tones that didn’t feel too glossy or too flat. DP Cliff Traiman really captured the visual essence of the film in the way he shot and lit the scenes, giving me nice highlights and shadows to work with. I worked closely with Chris [Ford] to determine how to accentuate and develop the look of the story. Whatever the film format or deliverable, Spy Post is able to utilize our high-end gear, from Flame to the da Vinci, and tailor our in-house workflow using Final Cut Pro and RaveHD as a conduit. We’ve created a process that is empowering to feature filmmakers, and allows for more flexibility and creativity.”

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