As high-resolution, high dynamic range (HDR) workflows have continued to evolve in recent years, a parallel evolution in video assist, DIT and dailies equipment and support has become essential. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, The Rebel Fleet makes such services available on-set to production crews working locally and across Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
Founded in 2015, the company’s clients include commercial, episodic and feature films producers, who typically approach The Rebel Fleet for custom workflow packages, often with a specific camera in mind. The team then works alongside each client to develop a custom pipeline and deploy gear that aligns with their particular production environment, budget, crew sizes, DP and director visions, studio requirements and so on. Their recent expansion into post production now means post services also are available to projects in New Zealand.
On Set with The Rebel Fleet
The video assist and DIT workflows The Rebel Fleet team builds on-set for clients rely on a range of router, converter and control devices, which the company usually purchases from AJA. In the fast-paced environments they work in, solidly built equipment with solid warranties are critical for the team’s peace of mind.
QTAKE video assist software, used to log, capture, playback, edit and process video output from cameras, is another product central to The Rebel Fleet’s video assist services. It integrates directly with AJA KUMO routers through the KUMO’s network interface. The team can quickly establish predefined router settings. For example, if a client wants all the monitors to display playback or live footage, they can preconfigure it, load it onto their stream deck to automate the request, and see the changes reflected across the routers.
For The Rebel Fleet’s CEO Mike Urban, this capability has major advantages over making changes manually. He said, “Being able to bring this much control into the rig network via KUMO gives our clients more free time to try out special ideas. Being able to run the AJA KUMO routers off 12-volt batteries is also a great help.”
Colorfront and HDR On Set
As HDR continues to play a more prominent role on set, The Rebel Fleet is deploying more HDR gear across projects, including the AJA FS-HDR and AJA HDR Image Analyzer. When used with Colorfront On-Set Dailies software, these tools help ensure the client’s desired look stays consistent as footage moves from acquisition through dailies. Mike said, “HDR equipment costs remain a barrier to broader adoption of full HDR workflows, which is where tools like AJA FS-HDR have made a difference. We can convert between SDR and HDR and still retain a high-quality image.”
The Rebel Fleet CEO, Mike Urban
When The Rebel Fleet deploys monitors on set, the FS-HDR gives its team the confidence that they’re displaying HDR correctly if they receive a log signal from the camera. Log video shows very little colour without manipulation. Depending on the project, they can then route different paths to HDR or SDR and while they are viewing the results, the FS-HDR’s compatibility with Pomfort Livegrade Pro also enables them to use it as a dynamic LUT box.
It also carries out real time HDR/WCG conversion with the Colorfront Engine’s video processing algorithms, which support three modes – TV, Live and Film. In all of these modes, FS-HDR has parametric controls for the Colorfront Engine’s HDR transforms and colour correction.
HDR Image Analysis and Metadata
Mike’s team then uses HDR Image Analyzer to monitor HDR on set with scopes that match what they are seeing in Colorfront. He said, “With FS-HDR, we have one rack-mounted device that can analyse the up-to-date 4K/UltraHD HDR standards including HLG, PQ, Rec.2020 and Rec.709, over a single cable with 12G-SDI, from HD content up to 8K. When using HDR Image Analyzer, we can also keep an eye on the scopes when monitoring, which is excellent for ensuring consistency in dailies.”
With on-set HDR finishing always a part of the plan for one of The Rebel Fleet’s latest projects, the ability to switch between SDR and HDR in the dailies pipeline proved crucial. DPs and other production members needed to know what the HDR looked like during brightly lit or outdoor scenes with high dynamic range, and because nearly every shot would become a VFX shot, metadata was key. Starting from the cameras – ARRI ALEXA LF cameras with DNA and other smart lenses – The Rebel Fleet designed the workflow so that all metadata from the camera and the lens could be easily read through the on-set pipeline.
“AJA FS-HDR could read all the metadata we brought into the DIT cart,” said Mike. “We could then combine it with the notes and information the DIT created for whatever needed to be passed down the pipeline and match it with the information coming from QTAKE, which makes extensive use of metadata. We could then give the team on set the ability to add metadata directly to a live database for viewing on iPads and other devices.”
From Dailies to Editorial
All of that information ultimately served dailies production through Colorfront before making its way into editorial. This colour-consistent pipeline meant that editorial could start working faster. The team worked in the same HDR colour space (P3-D65) in post production that they had monitored on set.
I/O was another important consideration on the project, for which the team deployed AJA Io 4K Plus. It gives The Rebel Fleet confidence that what they are seeing on set matches what they see in dailies, and serves as a very flexible output device, supporting 10-bit video at all resolutions up to 50/60p. It includes 12-bit and 10-bit 3D LUT support and a dedicated SDI HD/SD monitor out.
Being able to switch between HDR and SDR analysis with the AJA HDR Image Analyzer also gave the main DIT confidence that they were supplying the DP with accurate, up to date picture information. As The Rebel Fleet continues to service clients on high-profile projects, innovating its HDR workflow and remote pipelines remains a priority, with AJA gear a crucial part of the design. www.aja.com