It sounds straightforward, but nothing’s really simple when it happens on this scale. Costa was working to keep on top of assets from a panoply of VFX facilities — a supergroup including BUF, Digital Domain, Whiskytree, Evil Eye Pictures, Fuel Visual Effects, and Luma Pictures worked on Thor — as well as to coordinate the workflow with DI facility Efilm and 3D-conversion house Stereo D.

On a typical morning, Costa would face anywhere from 3000 to 5000 individual files (mostly image sequences) that arrived overnight. By the end of post-production, between 200 and 300 shots per day were being reviewed, and the playlist for a single shot could point to nearly 1000 media clips in different formats. How’s that for some serious head scratching?  I’ll be on the couch, eating my bowl of cereal and watching cartoons, thank you.

Scratch automated key functions like playing shots in the correct aspect ratio (the film was shot in anamorphic Panavision), selectively applying LUTs (Look Up Tables) to the appropriate assets, and applying the correct frame offsets to accurately align scanned VFX plates and comps.

VFX supervisor Wesley Sewell and his team were constantly ingesting and reviewing shots-in-progress, then preparing afternoon shot reviews that took place with director Kenneth Branagh, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, BSC, and other key members of the production team, including Marvel and Paramount execs. At Marvel, Scratch was the in-house stereo playback system, with left-eye and right-eye playlist stacks created automatically for playback in dual mode.  Nice!

The fine folks at Assimilate assure us that Scratch isn’t just for beefy 3D fantasy warriors. It was used for post-production on the recent Camera D’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival for best debut feature, Las acacias, an Argentinian road movie shot with the Red One and graded at Alta DefiniciónTake Shelter, the Cannes Critic’s Week Grand Prize winner, was shot on Super 35, scanned at 2K, and graded in Austin, Texas, at Stuck On On. Cannes Jury Prize winner Polisse, shot with the Sony EX3, and Best Actor winner The Artist, shot on 35mm and scanned at 2K, were both posted with Scratch at Duboicolor in Boulogne, France.

The new version of Scratch will list for $17,995 when it ships later this quarter; the stripped-down Scratch Lab will be $4995. Something for Studio and Indy, alike.  Pricey, but not ridiculous. Thanks to the Gods for Scratch Lab, I say!

Have a look at the Scratch Lab, it’s actually pretty cool, so don’t despair you’ll find something unuseable- lots of case studies to study, tutorials and white papers to lead one thru the chilly, frozen wastelands of anxiety. Excelsior!
Assimilate’s Scratch
Scratch Lab
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