Workflow Special: The Digital Lab

"We also send top colorists with years of experience out to the location," adds Ross. "A number of cinematographers, particularly, have told us that they appreciate being able to work with our colorists even in these remote locations. They know that the best and most efficient way to infuse their vision into the dailies is to work with a colorist who understands their needs and who has a comprehensive knowledge of the color-grading tools."

Although very effective, the trailer isn’t the answer for every production. "We customize the workflow for every project," Ross notes. "We can also provide simpler setups based around carts for color grading, or even just to store media and create dailies deliverables like discs or Avid media or LTO backups. We can set up in a production office or anyplace they want us. We sent a small setup like that to the Blumhouse production The Town That Dreaded Sundown."

And, if a trailer doesn’t fit the needs for a particular production, the EC3 team can offer another solution, as was the case on the Michael Mann feature, Blackhat. For that project, Mann and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh knew they would be shooting massive amounts of material, in multiple formats (including ALEXA, EPIC, Phantom, GoPro and multiple Canon cameras), and that the production would pick up after two months in L.A. and shoot in Hong Kong and then Kuala Lumpur.

EC3 trailers were designed on the outside by Star Waggons, a company that manufactures luxurious trailers for actors.

"The filmmakers weren’t really looking for the high-level projection environment of the trailer," Ross explains. "They preferred instead to look at dailies on disk whenever they had time. So, for this project, it made more sense for us to create brick-and-mortar facilities from scratch.

"After the shoot moved overseas," Ross continues, "we built a grading facility from the ground up in a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur and another one in Hong Kong. We sent a colorist and a whole support team to these spaces. The filmmakers also wanted the dailies to be graded in P3 color space [used for D-cinema projection rather than the HD color space, Rec. 709, commonly used for dailies], so we shipped over a 10-bit monitor capable of P3 display for our colorist to work with. We were able to give the filmmakers the same level of service as they would have had if they never left Hollywood."

Sums up Ross, "I think what sets us apart is that we don’t just offer one product or service. We customize each setup with the newest, fastest, most reliable tools to match the production’s unique needs."