THE FILM AND VIDEO PRODUCTION TOOLS WE USE
Chris Layhe and CLAi use a large number of tools - both physical and software - on every project undertaken. These change constantly, both to stay on the cutting edge, and to be able to precisely match the tools used by our clients. They pretty much split into two camps, the hardware we use for shooting, and the hardware and software that we use for post-production...
Production Equipment: Cameras
The production side of the equation is mostly about shooting. Chris and CLAi are well known for their work with the 6k RED Dragon camera, and Epic and R1 before that, but this year we decided to switch these out, given the rate of new models being introduced, and instead rent in RED Weapon cameras for 6k and 8k work, along with Arri Alexas for high end 4k work.
Our original buy-in to the RED Digital Film system was totally based on what it brought to the table through the use of RAW recording, and this technology is still at the core of our shooting, but now using Sony and Convergent Design technologies to record in RAW.
So, in-house we have instead bought Sony PXW-F5 / AXS-R5 and PXW-FS7 /Odyssey 7Q+ cameras for lighter weight, more flexible work, with their 4k recording in multiple formats and RAW, and strong high speed performance at up to 240fps – these are coupled with RED PL mount glass. For 1080P documentary type shooting, stabilizers and drones we have bought Sony A7Sii bodies and Leica glass for their unique look – the Leica lenses can also be used with the F5 and FS7.
Production Equipment: Lenses & Lights
In fact Leica feature heavily in our production arsenal, as we run a full set of Leica prime and zoom lenses for their look and light weight, along with a full set of PL RED pro primes and zooms for studio and film work, and several Sony and Canon zoom lenses for flying. All of our cameras and the RED and Alexa can take both PL and Leica lenses.
We also have a full location audio kit, a bunch of gaffer and motion gear, and 20 or so lighting units in both tungsten and LED. Of course, these are only for small, low budget productions, or to provide the core camera requirements on most shoots, we always turn to the pros for the right equipment and talent on CLAi productions with an appropriate budget and needs.
Post-production is all about flexibility and power, and for Chris to be able to interface with any of our production company and film producer clients as a freelance editor he has to run all of the common editing software. So we have five full blown edit systems/bays running on new style heavily loaded Mac Pros, some of the fastest and most flexible computers around, and custom Hackintosh PCs, which are just a little bit faster. Each of these runs Final Cut Studio, Final Cut X, Premiere and Avid Symphony – and we can add any other software you are using – and needless to say we have fast storage everywhere.
Obviously this means that we can always interface with the client, but Chris can also bring in other editors and assistants to help on rush projects, or our clients can work on a system at the same time. We also run After Effects and 3DMax for 2D and 3D animation and compositing work.
Post-Production: Colorist & Audio Sweetening
When it comes to color correction and grading we can switch any or all of these systems over to DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio – our tool of choice for colorist work, which is why we have five seats available. Of course, still having the editing software available on each system makes moving between edit and grade easy, as does the ability to author BluRays for film festivals and kick files out over the internet on a nightly basis so the production team can see what has been done and pass back their notes… Chris has evolved a system that makes geography much less of a factor in who we can work with.
Last but not least, we do handle the final audio cleanup and mixing on many of the projects that Chris takes on – it makes a lot of sense to tie the grade and this mix together as the colorist plays a big part in affecting what elements and movements in a scene impact on a viewer, and the mix should reflect this. For this Chris usually turns to ProTools, and often involves one of our pals from a local sound studio in customizing the shape of the audio.