Written By: Dave Kendricken of nofilmschool.com

File-based acquisition affords filmmakers endless flexibility all the way through post production. Given the many possible workflows, it becomes important to tightly manage everything for efficiency, quality-control, and sanity. Or, as post company Light Iron puts it below, “Not All Post is Created Equal” — especially when the task is to maintain a consistent color pipeline across 900 VFX shots and the remaining non-VFX material, not to mention managing 75 TB of camera RAW data. Now, the company offers a fascinating (and exhaustive) look at the DI job it performed on the sci-fi epic, Ender’s Game — one which demanded exactly such a process. Check out the 20-minute case study video below.

We’ve covered Light Iron before across a variety of topics, probably because Light Iron (usually by way of CEO Michael Cioni) often has interesting and enlightening things to say about future-bound post production processes. Topics have included some of its hardware and software offerings, the life expectancy of the DIT as we know it, other revolutionary file-based tools, and the company’s oft-mentioned end-to-end 4K management of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for Fincher & co.

The trend continues with this recently released 20-minute long breakdown of the post workflow and DI for Ender’s Game:

I haven’t seen Ender’s Game (though I did read the book, some years ago), but epic it most certainly does look — the process described above can be said to properly match it in scale.

Once again I think LI’s approach to post — and production, and the integration between them — is something indie filmmakers can certainly draw from. Working under greater budgetary restrictions does not make any sort of file-based workflow impossible. Much like anything else in the low- (or no-) budget realm, it simply requires a bit of creative problem solving. One of the reasons I love seeing in-depth, ‘hard-core post’ videos like the one above is because it allows for the reverse-engineering of high-budget processes to be remodeled for use on smaller-scale shoots. In other words, stealing (and steal we will).

‘Epic scales’ aside, we’re at a point in the evolution and affordability of tech, tools, and software where no facet of file-based filmmaking is unattainable. Everything Michael Cioni hits on above is within the realm of possibility for nearly any shoot of any scale. (Even LTO backup is something you could implement if you really wanted to).

For instance, you don’t need LI’s Outpost or Lily-Pad packages to take advantage of dailies review over WiFi/iPad — Live Play is available for $10 per iPad on the App Store, powered by the free Light Iron Server Mac OS X app. You don’t need a $100M budget to pull camera and audio cards simultaneously for parallel offloading. The free program Davinci Resolve Lite can handle any manner of VFX deliverables you may need to produce, DPX at 4K (or UHD, at least) or otherwise. And then, of course, there’s the highly affordable array of high-quality cameras becoming more and more available, as many of you are well aware. The list goes on, and will continue to get longer. I’m trying to be inspirational — is it working?