Watch the interview of the Directors Strause from Hydraulx about OpenEXR in Skyline

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Hydraulx is the uniquely designed, award-winning post-production facility based in Santa Monica, California, operated by Greg and Colin Strause, The Brothers Strause. Their innovative company has built an extensive list of blockbuster visual effects credits including Iron Man 2, Avatar and Wolverine.  The Hydraulx team set out to create an end-to-end DI workflow that mimicked the image quality of a visual effects pipeline.  Hydraulx relied upon Digital Vision’s Nucoda Film Master throughout the post-production process for their Sci Fi thriller, Skyline redefining the entire post production in a revolutionary start-to-finish OpenEXR/HDR workflow. 

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To facilitate high-quality manipulation of images, the Nucoda Film Master was used in 32bit floating point processing mode, utilizing the OpenEXR “float” file format. This innovative "Half Float" pipeline, as used by the likes of Pixar, allows the intended quality envisioned by the creators to be retained and delivered. Hydraulx has built a meticulous quality control process for the pipeline they’ve designed by implementing custom, proprietary software that completely automates the process of tracking visual effects shots.  "Our tools and process push our accuracy past our competitors and support a powerful workflow for thousands of VFX shots," explained Greg Strause.

The Brothers Strause’s ambitious film, Skyline, was shot with the Red One MX camera.  From the outset, the directors wanted to work natively with the full dynamic range of the camera’s sensor; this offered them greater creative freedom by preserving all of the precision and dynamic range seen on set through every step of the pipeline.   OpenEXR, directly extracted from the RED native raw format, is a standard visual effects format, and has been implemented by Digital Vision for realtime DI and color grading.  The team at Hydraulx and The Brothers Strause determined that the entire post process, from start to finish, would remain in OpenEXR, making Skyline the first live action motion picture to be completely finished in this format.

Martin Bennett, MD UK / VP Worldwide Marketing for Digital Vision, noted, “The team at RED worked on a new version of their SDK which enabled Hydraulx and Digital Vision to build a production delivery OpenEXR pipeline.  Hydraulx is a major VFX facility, and the team there fully understands that being able to work in HDR mode opens the door to wider creative choices.  Managing and grading every frame of this film in this manner during the DI afforded them greater flexibility and more options by giving them more data to work with in every frame and every shot through every part of the process.  The powerful OpenEXR capabilities of the Nucoda Film Master helped them achieve their goal creatively and with the highest level of precision possible. With this workflow, creative no longer needs to choose which part of the camera range they should work with initially. You can keep all resolution, ranges and precision until the final delivery”.

“The work that we do at Hydraulx is inventive and demanding.  We work with some of the most creative talents in the industry; our tools and methodology have to keep up.  When we met with the team from Digital Vision and dug into the OpenEXR architecture of the Nucoda Film Master, we saw that it would serve both our films and the visual effects clients of Hydraulx in an extremely powerful way.” Greg Strause.

At the heart of Digital Vision’s technology is market-defining color management functionality, highly creative grading tools and comprehensive stereoscopic 3D features for post-production.  Martin Bennett of Digital Vision concluded, “To be working with Colin, Greg and the rest of the Hydraulx technical and creative team has been extremely exciting.  We’re confident that their future is very bright and we are delighted to be on the rise with them.”

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