News and notes from around the industry are captured on Buzz. Subscribe and stay connected to make sure you get the “buzz”. Takes a Closer Look at Higher Ground and the Film's RED/Avid Workflow

Only published comments... Sep 26 2011, 12:00 AM by EmployeeGone



Check out this in-depth article by Oliver Peters available on, which takes a closer look at Higher Ground and the film’s RED/Avid Media Composer workflow. The film originally moved down a postproduction workflow path based on the fact it would be edited using Final Cut Pro until editor Colleen Sharp came on board and the team began working with Media Composer--three weeks after the start of production faced with two and a half weeks of dailies in ProRes. Through informative commentary from Colleen as well as Jeremy Newmark, head of post production at BCDF Pictures, learn more about how they successfully incorporated Media Composer 5.0 (taking advantage of AMA) into their workflow to complete film, which has appeared at the 2011 Sundance, Tribeca and Los Angeles film festivals and is currently in distribution through Sony Pictures Classics.


Colleen Sharp

(Editor Colleen Sharp)


A few highlights from the story:

According to Sharp, “I’ve cut one other film using Final Cut, but I feel more comfortable with [Avid] Media Composer. I suggested it would be better if I could cut Higher Ground on an Avid, if possible, because I had to hit the ground running. Since I was starting three weeks after filming had begun, I needed to be as efficient as possible, and that would be on a system that I was most comfortable with.” Of course, this added the dilemma of whether or not to re-transcode the RED files into a format native to Avid.


Newmark explains, “I was concerned about whether I’d need to take the existing dailies and convert them again to DNxHD media for Colleen. I talked it over with a friend at PostWorks in New York and it seemed like using AMA would be viable. We proceeded down the road of using the ProRes files in the Avid [Media Composer], and Colleen was able to cut the film entirely using linked AMA files. We never transcoded them into DNxHD and it worked well. Of course, at the beginning I still had the Plan B of converting everything again if the AMA idea didn’t work, but I wanted to avoid this as it would have cost us extra time. Even though we own a RED Rocket card for fast transcoding, the crew was using two cameras the entire time and often recording very long performance takes. In two and a half weeks, they’d already accumulated quite a large amount of footage.”


BCDF intends to handle more films on the Avid system in the future. Newmark continues, “We always want to let the decision be made by the cinematographers and editors whenever possible. We own RED camera packages, but we’ve also shot films with ARRI Alexa and 35mm film depending on what’s the right approach for that film. I really think Avid is the best tool for feature film editing and I’m glad this experience worked so well. Of course, now when we have a RED show that we know will be cut on Media Composer, we transcode the RED media to DNxHD. Nevertheless, going ProRes on Higher Ground proved to be far more seamless than I would have expected.”

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