Data Managers

Digital Imaging Technician Daniel Hernandez on the set of The Avengers, in which he captured ARRIRAW files to Codex Onboard recorders.

The Codex Vault series is the next-generation, modular, location-based media-management environment. Fast transfers, automated production management, full reporting, rugged design and a compact size make the Codex Vault the hub of any on-set or near-set file-based workflow. The Codex Vault supports digital cinema cameras made by ARRI, Sony, Canon and other industry leaders. It’s a stand-alone solution requiring no external drives or processing. It’s designed to eliminate much of the complexity involved in designing workflows while taking full advantage of the efficiencies of file-based production and the ability to share rich metadata.

The Vault has its own internal processor and works with Codex 1 TB Transfer Drives for automatic backup of camera-original data. It provides a single, standardized workflow regardless of the camera with a simple user interface that anyone can use. It has the capability to generate deliverables in all formats required for dailies review, postproduction and archive using the groundbreaking Codex Virtual File System (VFS).

THE WORKFLOW

In order to understand how the Codex workflow is implemented, it makes sense to trace the workflow through each step of the production process. On a medium-budget feature film, around two to three hours of ARRIRAW material typically is shot per day. Each recorder has three or four Codex Datapacks associated with it. These datapacks can be 256 GB (25 minutes record time), 480 GB (46 minutes record time) or 512 GB (50 minutes record time). The de-Bayered output of the Codex can be fed to a monitor for a gate check, and the Codex recorder makes it easy to check the last shot recorded by pushing just one button.

Codex/ARRI workflows have been used on over 100 feature films in the past year, including The Avengers.

Datapacks are delivered throughout the day’s production ­­to a near-set environment equipped with a Codex Vault S Process + Archive. The datapacks are loaded onto the Vault and immediately cloned to two Codex Transfer Drives. All metadata is verified and amended or corrected, if necessary. The camera report is checked against the recorded shots, and circle takes are marked. At the beginning of production, the Codex Virtual File System on the Vault was set up to create Avid MXF files for editorial, ARI files for archive to LTO-5 tape and DPX files for visual effects. Metadata from the camera is recorded along with the image files. This includes camera settings, white balance and exposure, but also can include other metadata like lens data that can be used later on in visual effects. Approximately 30 minutes after production wraps for the day, the director and crew can view dailies, editorial has their MXF files, and the ARI files are being written to tape.

So how do all of these different Codex components work together on an actual film set and in post? Daniel Hernandez was the DIT (digital imaging technician) on 2012’s The Avengers, a logistically challenging, multicamera studio blockbuster. "The ARRIRAW output was captured by the Codex Onboard Recorders. I was using color from Technoprops for four cameras, real-time live color. With this system, I was able to have the speed needed to keep up with all four cameras. I could do the color on all of the cameras at the same time or copy from one camera to another. Each time the Codex would start recording, it would grab the CDL [color decision list] for its own camera. When the Codex mags went to EFILM, they had the CDL log, the CDL that the Codex grabbed and some recorded reference video files. For the dailies creation, postproduction was using a Codex lab to back up to a local SAN, LTO and also to do VFX pulls. EFILM had a Codex Transfer Station to do the same."

The Codex CDX-P310 Datapack can record up to 512 GB and can record ARRIRAW, uncompressed HD or JPEG 2000 wavelet-encoded HD.

At this point, it probably bears explanation that Codex also has established a strong working partnership with Avid. As you may be aware, Avid’s DNxHD 444 has become a favorite codec in feature-film production. Codex Digital is one of the first companies to fully integrate the Avid DNxHD 444 codec into all its products, including the Codex Digital Lab, Codex Transfer Station for Mac OS X and the brand-new Codex Vault series. The Codex Virtual File System allows the user to transcode to DNxHD 444, as well as other types of Avid DNxHD for generating MXF deliverables. Codex products allow productions to capture at the highest possible quality—for example, ARRIRAW with the ALEXA—and then provide a simple workflow for archiving the original camera files and making deliverables for editorial. Unlike the DNxHD files produced by other systems, the files produced by Codex systems don’t have to be imported into Avid through AMA (Avid Media Access) and so aren’t linked but accessed directly, streamlining the editorial process.

Looking at the slate of upcoming feature films being shot with Codex Digital recorders and media management systems, combined with strong partnerships with industry leaders like ARRI and Avid, Codex Digital seems to be well positioned to continue its growth as one of the predominant successors to the traditional film workflow in feature and television production.

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