VFX Pulls – Who Should Do Them?

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VFX Pulls – Who Should Do Them
By: Jesse Korosi

Traditionally, for scripted episodic and feature films, VFX pulls have been contracted to the same company doing your finishing work. This made sense as it addressed two critical things:

  • VFX shots coming back to Offline editorial need to match the Color of dailies perfectly
  • Debayer settings used for the VFX Pulls need to match the settings used during the final conform

This philosophy is still sound.  However one critical thing has since changed; It is not uncommon to have Dailies handled by one company and your online by another.

I have heard the debate many times whether to do VFX Pulls at your dailies facility, or your online facility.  The company I work for offers both online and dailies services, and my job spans across both departments.  However regardless of the services we have on the job, I am of the opinion that VFX pulls should be done by your dailies provider!

So how did I come to this conclusion?  To me, it all goes back to those two bullet points above:

  • Color uniformity
  • Render settings

Which is harder?  Matching color uniformity, or render settings?

Having your dailies company do the VFX Pulls and match the render settings that the online facility will be using in post production, is actually pretty straightforward.  This could be handed off from a simple email with maybe 5-8 bullet points.  These settings are also very standardized across whichever software each company is using.  Hate to break it to you, but your finishing company is not doing anything proprietary for render settings  :).

Dailies Color on the other hand, is not so simple.

  • A job may start with a proposed on set color workflow and change mid way through production.
  • Color reprints may get requested at any point throughout production.
    • Often the CDL metadata for this reprint are also not updated in editorials Avid (Therefore CDL’s extracted from editorials EDL no longer work)
  • Several LUTs may be used on non CDL based jobs and only the dailies facility have tracked which LUTs go with which shots.
    • This information is most commonly not shared between vendors as well
  • Special circumstances for converting a certain DSLR camera into the working Color space may occur
    • Maybe a Phantom Camera was brought out and the dailies team decided to convert this to LogC to match the main Alexa format

I could continue adding to this list, but the bottom line is the finishing facility cannot keep up with these constantly evolving changes and requests during production.  Databases with this kind of information are also not often shared between these competing companies.

To me, the best solution to this is to have the same workflow representative that managed the color flow throughout all of production (Dailies), manage this same color process through VFX.  They know the intricacies of the job on a personal level that the finishing team will never know.

One might argue that the finishing facility will have the negative throughout all of post production, online and available.  I would counter that with; So will dailies.  But the online facility you’re referring to, won’t have it during production.  And if they do, it’s on a delay getting sent from the lab to the online facility costing production a lot of extra money to get it there.  Therefore if you want a fast turn around on pulls during production, you’re probably going to the dailies facility to get this done anyhow.  They have the neg online and are totally capable of doing these pulls!  And should you award the dailies facility the pulls, they will keep the neg online throughout the run of post.

Really what all of these arguments come down to from your online facility is they want to bring in more revenue.  But its not actually for the betterment of the job at hand, considering I’ve yet to hear a valid reason it’s better to give the work to online.

Lastly, and most importantly, if there is a problem with color on a VFX shot coming back to editorial, who are you calling to solve the problem?  The dailies facility.  So why not let them handle the work in the first place.

JESSE KOROSI | Director of Workflow Services