Independent Filmmaker's Guide

Episode #3

July 21, 2020


"The Last Dance": From Your Living Room to Netflix

When it comes to finishing the last stages of your film, many filmmakers can run into surprises. If you didn’t plan accordingly to have enough funds and time to properly color, mix, master and deliver the film, you find yourself scrambling.

Today we talk with a senior colorist Rob Sciarratta and finishing producer Stephanie Pacchiano from Sim International about their journey overseeing the final touches on countless projects, including ESPN’s mini-series THE LAST DANCE, just released on Netflix – as the pandemic forced them to finish and deliver from their own living rooms.

Watch the video version of this episode:

Full Interview

Rob Sciarratta:         I basically went to college in upstate New York, RIT, film and video was my master. And, basically moved down to New York, and started as a junior colorist, at a company called Tape House. And from there I started coloring in the evenings, working on music videos in the early nineties, I’ve been at colors for around 30 years now. And from that point I would venture into other areas of, color correction, into feature films for Miramax, commercials. And basically I was in New York, and then I relocated to Los Angeles, for about 17 years, worked at a few companies out there. And then I’ve been back in New York now, for about 10 years. And, basically at that point, in my career where I was probably doing mostly commercials and music videos in the mid nineties, now at this point in time, we’re branching out where we’re doing documentaries, feature films, TV shows. So the market has really changed, and everyone now is basically doing every format that is out there. We’re all kind of being a universal renaissance men type of workflows.

Steven Pierce:          Yeah, you’re a masochist man. You started in New York, went to LA for the nice weather. And then you came back to New York? I mean that most people don’t make that transfer back East.

Rob Sciarratta:         I know, some people get really addicted to the weather. It was nice out there, and I have a lot of friends, but both New York and LA both have a lot of great things to offer, in the post world, in the environment world, and you basically try to make the best and enjoy the best of each scenario.

Steven Pierce:          Stephanie, how did you get to become a finishing producer?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Yeah. An odd path for sure. I studied at UConn in Storrs, Connecticut and, Human Development, Family Studies was my major, and Communications. Knew I liked working with people, got an internship at MSNBC, and fell in love with TV. Ended up pursuing the Page Program at NBC, pre Kenneth from 30 Rock, I like to say. Then from there just met people through the industry. Joined Broadway Video, was there in their post team for 10 years, and then came over to Sim for the past two years. All along different avenues of production and post, a lot of, once the transition to over the top, digital delivery became more common transitioned from tape to digital. And really I’ve been focusing on the post delivery process finishing, for the past years.


Steven Pierce:          So what is a finishing producer?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   It’s a funny title. There’s many hats, let’s just say that covers that role. So in our world, a lot of, from post working with that offline team, working with the editors, helping them foresee what they need to transition smoothly when they get to finishing. And finishing, being everything from, color, mix, visual effects, QC through delivery. So, those components are what, makes up the finishing end, once you’re in your online phase. But starting before that, starting through the offline to make sure things go through smoothly, through the online phase, through delivery, and all the additional hiccups that come up along the way.

Steven Pierce:          Rob, what it is and why do you need a colorist?

Rob Sciarratta:         Well, basically a colorist, when it was first started people, before video was active, people would shoot film. And then that film would basically need to be transferred digitally, in order to transfer from film that goes through a projector, to a video that shows up on a screen. That process, when film was shot, it doesn’t already have the complete grading, the environment at the scene. Most scenes are shot in a log world, even film’s shot log. And it’s a flatter image, which is basically intent on capturing the environment. Color adds, I would say probably the flavoring to a scene. The specialness, the emotion. And that’s one way to think about film. A lot of times, with coloring, it’s very subjective. There’s really no right or wrong. You might like something that’s a little more warm. I might make it a little cool and de-saturated, no one can say that’s wrong or right. But what I do when I’m working with the client is everybody has a vision. A lot of people have an emotion of what they’re trying to, basically communicate to the audience. I try to take their visual cues, their emotional cues, and bring it to the screen. And, it’s technical, it’s artistic, but I also consider it psychological. Because you are bringing the human mind, closure. Because like I said, it’s very subjective, everybody has different opinions, and when you have different opinions in the room, how do you bring that room and say, “Yes that image looks the best for that scenario, it transcends the emotion that I’m trying to do.” So that’s what I try and do. A lot of people just think it’s artistic, and it’s technical, but I almost feel like I’m part time, psychologist in there as well, because I have to basically make the person feel like, “Yes this image, it looks good, it matches the next scene, and the whole piece flows, from one to another.”

Steven Pierce:          So how do you approach color differently for things like documentary, or a music video, versus a film, where like a narrative film, that has a look, a base underlying feel and look?

Rob Sciarratta:         Well, music videos, I look back on that genre, and the medium as being wide open. You had no rules, you could do anything. You could do anything you wanted. And I almost feel like that was probably the most creative time of my career, because it was no holds barred, and you could do whatever you wanted. I’ve done music videos for Tom Petty, U2, Michael Jackson, Cher, you name it, over the years. And, that was really, wide open. Documentaries are, great because, you’re blending everything in together, you’re trying to create a piece. They’re a little more challenging because you can have all these different sources, and you have to wrap them up into this one recipe, and make it consistent. Sometimes with all different things, different cameras now, everyone’s using a multitude of sources, and codecs and stuff.

Steven Pierce:          And you have archival there too.

graded 16mm film frames from The Last Dance

Rob Sciarratta:         Yeah. So basically, Stephanie will have to rear all these elements in, and put them in a cohesive, good technical form, so then they can be manipulated. And, that’s always, a mixed bag, because especially on The Last Dance, we would get these video files from the nineties, that were trans-coded, probably, who knows how many times over the years. Each time they’re trans-coded, it’s almost like a Xerox copy, it could lose information, the blacks could be stepped on, you could lose highlight details, black detail. So it’s always a mixed bag, and we were getting all of these sources from all over the place, and we needed to basically refine them, make them seem seamless, and also inner cut into, live action footage of 16 film scans. And that was on a documentary like that, what I do, it’s important to make it all blend, but it’s also not so much what I do is what you don’t see. Where if you don’t feel things, not cutting a well, and bringing you out of the message or the theme, or the scene. On Last Dance for example, there was 16 millimeter film, inter cut with, bad archival video from the nineties, and they’re seamlessly intercut with action, so those took a little bit more of time to blend those together.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   As Rob mentioned, just pinging off of that. There’s a lot of work we do in preparation before it even gets to Rob. And we collaborate obviously a lot with Rob when he sees it, but we’re trying to clean up as much as we can, before it even gets to him. Like, he’s saying-

Steven Pierce:          Yeah, I was going to ask, do you spend time digging back for archival, and try to find the earlier versions, or better versions of stuff?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   It’s working with the offline team with that. We have a great relationship to say, they’ve done their best to try to find the best quality footage they can. And as Rob’s saying, when we’re stringing it together and seeing it cohesively, we’ll question, “Hey, is there anything better, out there than this?” Or “Where it falls in line, it’s not smoothly transitioning, is there anything else we can find?” Regardless of if we can find it or not, just what we have, have we done our best to trans-code it properly, to bring it to its best level. I’m trying to think with some of… A lot of the docs with the different archives, even though it’s the same shot, did it come in two different flavors? Why is that? Is there something that we can improve to make sure that everything from that one camera, or that one source, looks as best in its raw source that we get it? So when Rob has it, he has the latitude to be able to creatively play with it.

Steven Pierce:          So what is the difference in a post-World environment? I think it’s interesting to talk about offline versus online and what onlining is.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   I think there’s a divide in people’s understanding where we differentiate. As we say offline is, when you’re in the editorial space, it’s been shot, you’re cutting it now into your feature, your episodic, your commercial. You’re taking your different cuts from set, and editorially, putting the piece together. When we transitioned to online, what we’re saying is, maybe an offline, you were working just in your proxy, in your low-res media, because you didn’t need the high-res yet. You have so much assets to work with, you’re trying to make your storage footprint very small.

Steven Pierce:          Right, like maybe it’s an anamorphic film, it’s 3K, and it’s really slowing down the post process, so you make an HD, offline, or a 720 offline of it, so you can just have more processing power.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Exactly, there’s no need to be editing in your 4k, if you have hours of footage, it’s just gonna slow you down. So for efficiency, most people will cut in their proxy, like you said, any type of low-res. Then when we transitioned to online, what we’ll do is now, instead of having hundreds of hours of content, we’ll take your one hour of content, transition that to your 4k master. And then from there, we’re in our online phase, we’re working with the conform artist, to transition that to 4K. To make sure whatever platform you were editing in, and whatever platform you’re going to finish in, those effects that you use, do those transitions.  Are they slightly different between, let’s say Avid, and Resolve, or Premier, and Baselight. I like to say we’re the executor’s, we want to make sure we’re not changing your creative vision, we’re executing it, and enhancing it, and making sure we’re getting you what you want. So from offline in that edit world and the platform you’re in, does that transition to the exact feel that you want in our online? Online being conform, color, mix, VFX, deliver?

Steven Pierce:          Absolutely. And if you were using back in the day, if you were shooting something that was, DV cam or whatever, you’d also, or like HDV or something, you might have, proxy files that then have to be re-linked, to the actual original tape at full resolution. And that’s a whole process in and of itself, because now you have tape rooms, you have machines that are really, really specific, and it’s a very complicated process.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Exactly. And we do a lot of, in addition to, commercial episodic features, we do a lot of live to tape events. So a lot of times it’s multi-cam, and they’re filming an event with 12 ISOs. And so that technology there as well, those cameras will be recording a proxy, and a high-res. So we can just split it right off the bat, low-res, go offline, they start doing their cut, all rolled in finishing, and online, we already have the high-res, we’re just waiting for your final sequence, so we can get going.

The Last Dance 16mm color grade

Steven Pierce:          So when you take a series like The Last Dance, what does a typical… What is the timeframe on that for finishing?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   That’s a great question. Last Dance is unique in the sense of, we got three episodes in, onsite before pandemic hit. So Last Dance, a little unique in that we really pivoted our workflow, only after three episodes, and transitioned to remote for the last seven. And what’s also unique about Last Dance is the original timeframe, had us delivering months later. Then of course, with the pandemic and the lack of sports, the void needed to be filled. So the powers that be decided to push up the release, the air date of it, and that condensed our schedule.

Steven Pierce:          What are all the steps? If I’ve made a film, I’m an indie filmmaker. I’ve shot. I’ve spent all my money, all my parents’ money, all my friends’ money, I’ve put everything I have into this thing on a hard drive here. And now I want to hopefully take it to a festival, get distribution, and make a billion dollars. What do I do with my film on my hard drive?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   That’s where our team will come in, and help walk you through that process. So you have your film, you finished it, you’re cut in offline. Now what we want to do is we will have a conversation with you. One, we want to take it through online and finishing. So we’d ask, what were your sources? What did you cut in? Do we need to up-res as that material. We’ll gather your source assets. For Last Dance it was unique that a lot of the episodes weren’t finished being cut yet. So we couldn’t properly consolidate all the media, because we didn’t know what media was going to be used at that time. So we scrambled to, plug as many drives in as we can, copy as much media, so we could remotely access all those assets. Back to what you were saying, just taking those assets, compiling everything, what would we need to, to up-res to high-res?  Do things need to be, converted? A lot of the time, the indie filmmaker won’t know what their final delivery spec is. And we want to be able to set up the project accordingly, so we know what to finish in. A lot of times with the indie filmmakers, the answer is not there yet. So we’ll try to stay as close to the source as we can, and make it as versatile at the end, so we could transition it into whatever type of deliverables are needed, for whatever platform, or theatrical release that it’s going to. Once we’ve, onlined it, then we’ll go through color phase with Rob. Rob would take a look at it. What’s the director’s vision? And Rob will go into all that color, that would go into mix. Does it need different visual effects? Does it need any cleanup work? Assuming everything, is cleared in the sense of, standards of practices.

Steven Pierce:          Materials.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Exactly, clearances. Then, we’d make different finals that, like I said, could be used for many different purposes.

Steven Pierce:          So Rob, somebody hands you a feature film, like my same feature film on my hard drive, it comes to you. And, just for speaking purposes, let’s say it’s a Western, and I’ve given you a bunch of references from, Assassination of Jesse James and True Grit. So I’m really into Roger Deakins, as everybody in the entire planet is. How would you go about, trying to establish what the look is? What questions would you ask, and then how do you create a look for a film?

Rob Sciarratta:         Well, one thing that is helpful in creating, before you’re shooting a film is having a palette that you would like to strive for, like what you had just mentioned, those films. Bringing in physical references, stills that we can bring in, so we can compare your footage to that footage, and meet in the middle with that, is always an important part. There’s another process now, that before you… Bringing in the word, a LUT type of formula, which has been helpful on a few films where, before you start shooting, you actually do a test shoot, and you come into our studio, and we create a LUT, thinking it is a basic recipe or a formula, that you would then, look at your footage through. And then you could basically be shooting with this LUT applied. You don’t go a 100%, you go like 75%, as far as getting there. That is very helpful, because then this way, the best case scenarios have that mindset. What’s always tough, is when you have someone come in, and they’ve already shot it, and you bring it on your hard drive, and you’re like, “We don’t know what we want it to look like, show us some options.” I can show you three million options if you want, but that takes a lot of time. And that really doesn’t help the process. So, whenever someone has those references, it becomes a key. And then usually the way I set it up is, I go through some certain scenes, benchmark scenes, and apply the grade, do a wide shot, do a closeup, do another closeup. And then you can get a sense, does this feel right, or what else do you need to do? Because sometimes people have one approach, and they actually shoot it, and then when they come in, they’re like, “That’s not really working.” And it’s also, you’re looking at a still image, but then you’re also looking at an image that flows. And some people forget about that flowing that consistency, from one scene to another one, image to another. We don’t want things to be abrupt because, unless it’s intentionally for a shock value, most of the time you want the audience to feel on a seamless, dream, formula, recipe, emotion, story. And those things, flowing is a key to that. And that’s really a key part that I do, is I create a look, and then I make that look flow seamlessly, from one scene, shot to another. Because unfortunately now, getting back earlier to what you said, is when things are shot, things aren’t really shot with that look, there’s a lot of human error. You could be shooting out on a field and the sun’s out, then all of a sudden it gets cloudy. Well, how are you going to make that scene be cohesive, when you’re cutting from the closeup, to the wide shot, and you basically had the sun go behind clouds, in between that. So those are all factors that we deal with in the color correction process.

American Made

Steven Pierce:          Have you encountered either of you guys, especially with films or indie films, because a lot of these are shot in 14, 15, 18 days. They’re shooting 90 a hundred pages, they are like all out. The full bore production. Have you encountered things that have come across to you all, and have been like, “If you’d just known this, and changed this thing, this is something that could really have saved you a lot of time, and heartache?” For instance, like you just mentioned, Rob, paying attention to consistencies in the sun, obviously you’re hoping your cinematographer’s doing that. Sometimes you just have to own it. But are there scenarios that you’ve run into whenever you see it, and you’re like, “Oh man, I’m concerned about this issue?”

Rob Sciarratta:         I’ll give you the one which pops up over and over again is, using the same camera. Basically when it was the film days, everybody would shoot film stock. “Let’s shoot Kodak. Let’s shoot one film stock. Yeah, let’s do that.” Now unfortunately with different cameras, go cameras, iPhones, every camera people think that, they can shoot a scene, on every different camera, and then bring it in, and we’re supposed to make it blend. Well it would be the same scenario, back in the film days, no one would say, “Let’s shoot a scene on AXA, let’s shoot a scene on Kodak, and let’s shoot one of the shots on Fuji. And now let’s see if he can make that all match.” You wouldn’t do that. You would want that consistency. So sometimes now, I would probably say that having… Sometimes you can for budget, and they want coverage, and they have a B camera and stuff like that. But if you could make one codec, one camera, this way things are all being received by one sensor. Rather than every sensor, and every type of camera is different, and the way it receives the image is different. So if you can limit that, I think that’s a huge scenario. Most of my problems over the years, whether it be commercials, or movies, or television shows, or independent movies is then, it seems like using a different camera is used. The lighting usually, we can have little tricks, we can window things, we can play with the contrast to make them blend. But if the image just has a different feel, and it’s technically embedded, it’s a little tougher to come back from.

Steven Pierce:          So I want to ask the same question to use Stephanie, but you may… A question I love to ask colorists, if you had the option Rob, between resolution, or color science. Meaning would you rather have 1080 footage of a certain sensor, or would you rather have 6K footage of this? Which one do you feel like you get more manipulation out of?

Rob Sciarratta:         I would probably say the 6K footage is nice, but for me is the image FiLMiC. There are some scenarios out there where people tend to, love the resolution and say, “Yeah, that’s great.” But if the sensor is not FiLMiC, and it doesn’t handle the highlights, and the shadows close to film, I would rather take a FiLMiC HD image than a non. I’m just going for full-out sensor stuff. And I’ve even had that conversation with some special effects, supervisors. They always tend to go for the higher resolution because they want manipulation and for the mattes and, for all the pixels and stuff, but at the end of the day, as a colorist, how does that image feel? And the integrity of that image, and does it feel FiLMiC, or does it feel artificial? That’s the thing that’s going on now, a lot with his HDR image, this High Dynamic Range. A lot of shows now, Last Dance wasn’t High Dynamic Range, a couple shows that I’m doing now, we’re delivering in High Dynamic Range. So instead of, basically, SDR is dealing with thinking of it as a football field of zero to 100 yards. With HDR, you’re dealing with a football field from zero to a 1000, of tonality. And, it’s a different venue because people find that, even though it might be more real, and you might be capturing that tonality, it’s not as FiLMiC. So some people don’t really feel that that is, a representation. And in fact, I haven’t really met too many DPs that like the HDR images, but now we’re trying to be future-proof with all these deliveries for all these different shows that we’re doing. We’re doing SDR as well as HDR, and all these different specs.

The Night Of

Steven Pierce:          I want to talk about HDR in a few minutes, but first Stephanie, let’s dig back to that first initial question. Things that you’ve encountered in your past, that would maybe be good, or be got yous for first-time or early filmmakers.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   One thing for sure that came to mind is, just making sure, as much pre production as you’re doing, making sure you’re using the right camera for the right look you want. There’s a lot we can do in post, we can clean up a lot of things, but we’re limited to what the source you’re giving us is. For example, if you’re using a camera, that’s going to inherently embed a lot of noise and that’s the look, but you didn’t want that look, there’s things we can do to clean that up, but we’re limited. We can’t remove 100% of it. Things like-

Steven Pierce:          Not without sacrificing other things in the image also.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Exactly, you then, might make it more soft, or what you’re taking away from your image.

Steven Pierce:          Absolutely. So Stephanie, digital delivery, you’ve been working in it for quite some time. I think for as long as I’ve known, you were in very, very early with the iTunes deliveries, and even Netflix deliveries, those are not easy.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Yeah. And actually one of the things we had started with, because it was so overwhelming that, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix had all their different specs. The technical specs can be very overwhelming for a producer, who’s looking at this as a filmmaker. That’s not something they’re aware of, that they need to know that, we have to deliver in certain frame rates, and certain text less, and international, and each delivery has its own needs for different platforms. So we were originally, trying to create a way to, combine all the different needs, and make it easier, for a filmmaker to understand, the basics of what you need to deliver.  You’re going to have to deliver your file. You’re going to have to deliver possible, different metadata of each of those files. Closed captioning, are filmmakers aware that that may be a thing? Localization needs. Different images, different publicity. And each of those have their own different needs. Also how to redeliver are you making changes? And it’s not just a simple, “Oh let me redeliver everything again.” There’s different steps that each of these platforms have.

Steven Pierce:          And managing all of that can be quite overwhelming. Talk just briefly about… because I think one of the big hopes of most filmmakers is international sales, to recoup film, or recoup their costs. And I remember doing my first international deliveries ever, and they all came back with crazy QC notes, and things that I just wasn’t expecting, and it was very overwhelming as an artist the first time.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Yeah. I think for international, a lot of different things that, even from your mix, is there a different censorship need you need? Are there different translation needs? A more common thing now is audio description, which was more prevalent in Canada, in Europe, not as much here, but are you going to need, and what audio description is, is essentially describing what’s happening for the visually impaired, who are watching television. Character, A throws this to character B. That’s a whole other set that needs to be created. That needs to be scripted, recorded, timed properly, and delivered. Different frame rates. People may not be aware that, US has different frame rates than other parts of the world. So when converting your film, is that going to introduce different cadence issues, different mix issues, different pitch issues, if it has to be shortened, because of the different frame rates. So these are things that people aren’t aware of. And again, we’re still going to get you the film you need, but there are just these different steps and different manipulations that need to happen, to get it to its final destination.

Steven Pierce:          Yeah, absolutely. Rob HDR, let’s talk about that for just one second. So in my experience, it’s very similar to what you were describing. I’ve never really dug the big whole HDR thing. I think, for me, it feels like 8K broadcast. It feels very technical, and not really mood, or emotion, or story-based at all to me. And in my experience, and I have a very limited experience with this, so this is my question for you. I’ve really only seen it be effective, and highlight areas. Like where the sky was, blown out or you couldn’t get a nice dynamic highlight roll-off, in an SDR image. Has that been your experience too?

Rob Sciarratta:         It has, mostly where you’re going to see it is in the highlights. And really where I feel like as a colorist, most of my bang is in skies, because you get all the subtleties in the sky that in SDR, that area will just be clipped. So it’ll be flat line. You just don’t get that information, you don’t get the subtleties. HDR opens that whole spectrum up. There’s one thing I just wanted to add with Stephanie, which is, on this other show that I’m doing right now, with international deliverables with HDR, is at sometimes each one has their own spec. So I’m doing this show that is actually, you have to deliver in P3D 65 HDR, but the international specs is Rec. 2020. So we actually have to do it twice, once for domestic HDR, versus international HDR as well. I haven’t worked with one DP that really likes HDR. I feel, sometimes the show that I’m working on now for Hulu, the DPs basically… The look of the show is an SDR look. But I’m actually trying to make the show look like SDR in HDR. So how do you do that? Well, the whites, basically, I just bring down. I almost make them, I actually do the opposite because the DPs don’t want those zingy whites that are in highlights and stuff like that. They don’t like the look of it. They find it looks so artificial, and it’s not cinematic or FiLMiC. And that’s really it. I think, which HDR is that, the highlight’s tonality is not FiLMiC, it’s real. But sometimes real is not always good.

Steven Pierce:          Stephanie, one more. I think I mentioned it earlier, but I’d like to know on a typical timeframe, what do you typically ask for to finish a feature film? To do all these deliverables and manage them. And I know that it can vary, but just try to, rule of thumb it here.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   It’s a tough answer Because it completely varies. Sometimes we’re held up just by the schedule, of what it is. And then a lot of it too, depends on QC. Has it already gone through QC? Do we have to factor that in our schedule? And now that’s another week of waiting for it to go through. Have the notes, come back, make the changes and then deliver. A lot of times too, there’s always those last minute changes. Of course, hard to factor in for, but now the technology’s there that you can change things last minute. Not that we always should, but it just adds more time. Also it depends on what the deliverables are. A lot of times now, Rob and I have worked on, oh gosh, multiple projects that have gone from, episodic to theatrical, theatrical to episodic. So when we’re starting, that timeline already varies because we’re creating it in one world, and then Rob has to transition it to another color space world. And ultimately at the end, we have a project that’s ready for both episodic and theatrical.

Steven Pierce:          Do you both make different versions for a theatrical run, and then an online distribution?

Rob Sciarratta:         What we do is for the theatrical, that’s in a different color space. So that’s a P3, that’s the image is basically simulated to be projected reflected light, and, the different gamma, P3, 2.6 gamma. For anything on TV, anything streaming, if they’re going to look at it on a computer, or on a television that needs to be in Rec. 709 HDR, and it’s a different gamma. So each one of those, we usually try and say, “Well, let’s basically start with our hero. What’s our hero?” And that’s where we spend all our time and energy getting that perfect. And then once that is signed, sealed, and delivered, and it goes back to visual closure. Once you lock that in, then we basically create the other versions that are needed for deliverables. The Rec. 709, T3 to Rec. 2020, and down the line, all the deliverables that people request.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   And similar workflow for mix on that, and we will mix it, at a theatrical level, and then adjust that mix, for a broadcast level.

Steven Pierce:          Absolutely. All right. So you guys, where can they find your work at Sim International? If people want to come, have their film finished with you all?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   We’re located downtown, 12 Desbrosses is where we’re at. We have offices in Georgia for filming, Canada for filming. Canada, also for mix, and LA for editorial as well. So we’re all over. And we work, which is great collaboratively, with our other divisions. So during the pandemic, we’ve been collaborating a lot because things are remote. So it’s easier for clients, their Zoom recordings. We’ve done a ton of different Zoom shows, or charity shows, where we’re creating these different remote workflows, Rob’s, doing reviews remotely. We have different technology for that. So it’s been an interesting pivot.

Steven Pierce:          So Steph, if people want to find you, where can they find you?

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Yeah. You can find my work on IMDB, Stephanie, Pacchiano.

Steven Pierce:          Rob, if you want people to see your work, where would they go?

Rob Sciarratta:         Well, I have a website robsciarratta.com. And I’m on Instagram. And, actually, I’m an instructor as well. I actually teach a color correction class, at School of Visual Arts. I’ve been teaching there, I teach DaVinci Resolve. I’ve been, for three or four years, I’m on the adjunct faculty there. But getting back to one thing Stephanie had said about streaming with the pandemic, which has been crazy is that now everybody’s working from home, and the show like Last Dance, we did three episodes in the facility. Then, we basically had a struggle to move everything to our home operations. Everyone, Stephanie, myself, be online, I finished. So I basically finished five or six episodes from my New York city apartment. Then I moved my studio, or not my studio, I moved equipment upstate New York, because I get out of New York. And I’ve been in Rochester, New York since the beginning of May. So I had actually finished the last episode. I worked on that, I colored that series in three different locations. Sim New York, my apartment in New York, and upstate New York. So it’s like color correction, nomad. And the series I’m working on now, the great thing is, with the streaming is, my clients are an LA, and the DP and the showrunner are in LA, and I have one DP in Nicaragua. So, we’re trying to finish this show, and how do we do it? With Last Dance it was a little different, because the director would download the file and sign off. With these other shows, which a lot of, tends to be the nature now, we’re streaming.

Rob Sciarratta:         So all of the media is, living at the computers, on the Sim media. And we’re streaming this application called Streambox to, one DP who’s in Nicaragua giving me sign off, we’re on a Zoom call. She’s looking at it in real time. The showrunners in Los Angeles, the DPs in Nicaragua, they’re both getting a feed. And it’s just a crazy time now, where all of these projects still need to make their deadline, and get to the finish line. And, we’re all finished… Just trying to figure it out, and fine tuning the system, in the new world that we’re in.

Steven Pierce:          It’s very odd. I did the last three SNL at Home shows. I did a bunch of pieces for that from my office here in my apartment. And then I just did a couple of weeks ago, something for the Tonight Show in Global Citizen. So it’s very odd because, you’re making these pieces that, you recognize the faces and them, you recognize that they are something that, many people will watch hopefully, and you’re doing it from, 16 feet from where I take a shower, which is just very, very post-apocalyptic.

Rob Sciarratta:         I know this is where I’m working here, in upstate New York, and it’s my little makeshift office. And I’ve actually, I think I’m up to about 12 shows remotely since, the middle of March. But, work still needs to get done. It all has to keep moving somehow. And that’s what we’re all trying to do with all our resources, with our online Stephanie, producers, just trying to keep everything moving forward.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   What I would say, just as, thoughts for independent filmmakers. Now, I know we’re partial, but don’t underestimate budgeting for color mix delivery. I know a lot of filmmakers we’ve seen, feel like they can do it on their own, and they try and they do whatever, they get so far, and then we clean it up. It’s just the color and mix with the professionals, just take it to the next level. And it’s just gonna make the workflow smoother, things that they may not even be aware of, that we are just doing on a daily basis to just, efficient and speed up your time, it’s just valuable.

Steven Pierce:          I’ve done a short film three years ago that I colored, was really happy with. Then started working with another colorist and it was like, and revisited it, and he colored it, and I can tell you firsthand, it is absolutely worth it. It is just that extra 10, 15%, don’t care how experienced you are, just having that extra artist play in that, and they can take part in that process. It just makes the work better. It just does. And as far as budgeting, I think it can be very hard to get those numbers. I think what they should do is reach out to your local… Reach out to a company, say, “Hey, here’s what I’m doing.” Try and partner with them before you shoot, when you’re raising your finances, so you can find out how much it will cost.

Stephanie Pacchiano:   Completely agree. And if there’s not a hard deadline, there’s so many different ways to make it work. Maybe it’s holding on while there’s an opening at the facility, and doing it in some downtime for a different cost. There’s so many ways to make it work. And that’s our passion: taking your project to the next level. And we just want to do that as much as we can.

Steven Pierce:          Great. Guys, this has been a blast. This is a whole lot of fun, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk, and do this. Thank you.


IFG is created by Framework Productions. This episode was directed by James Allerdyce, produced by Matt Mundy, edited by Audrey Rae McHale, and hosted by Steven Pierce. The music is by Glass Boy. Find his music on freemusicarchive.org.