Post-production facility continues
its eight year collaboration with Alex Gibney and Jigsaw New York with two
ambitious documentaries for HBO and CNN.

NEW YORK—Earlier this month,
final mastering for Sinatra: All or
Nothing at All
and Steve Jobs: The Man
in the Machine
, the latest documentaries from Academy Award®-winning producer/director
Alex Gibney, was completed at Technicolor
PostWorks New York
in preparation for their television debuts on HBO and
CNN, respectively. Editorial conforming and final color grading for both
projects was performed by a small team of artists and technicians working under
the direction of Technicolor PostWorks Vice President/Creative Services Ben
Murray in close collaboration with Gibney’s production team and editors from
Jigsaw, New York.
The same line-up of talent had worked together on a more
than a half dozen previous documentaries over the past eight years, including,
most recently, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, whose
post schedule overlapped the two latest projects. Over the course of that time,
Technicolor PostWorks, Gibney’s production team and Jigsaw, have developed a
tight creative rapport and a unique workflow that facilitates the completion of
these complex productions with razor-sharp efficiency.

“We have it down to a science,” says Murray. “We have an
all-Avid workflow that we have honed with Jigsaw and the Gibney team, and it works
very well. It’s been a great relationship.” Murray’s team included, for Sinatra, colorist Jack Lewars and
finishing editor Allie Ames; and, for Jobs,
Lewars and finishing editor Jeff Cornell.
Sinatra: All or
Nothing at All
, airing on HBO as a 4-hour mini-series, is the first
documentary about the late singer produced with the authorization of his
estate. It tells the story of Sinatra’s life and career leading up to his
famous 1971 “retirement concert” in Los Angeles. Unusually, the documentary is
composed almost entirely from archival material—there are no new, on-camera
interviews. Rather recordings of Sinatra himself provide the narrative thread
with the never-before-seen concert material used as a framing device.
The massive research effort for the project was led by Executive
Producer Blair Foster, who has fulfilled a similar role on a number of Gibney
documentaries. She and her team combed through books, magazines, television
shows and news broadcasts, and also reached out to Sinatra’s surviving friends,
family and colleagues. “We want everything,” Foster says of her research
methodology. “Not just photographs and video, but also the outtakes and contact
sheets. We are persistent, but it’s all in the name of the greater good.” The
project was produced for Jigsaw by Erin Edeiken.
The material collected by Foster was passed on to editors
Sam Pollard, Ben Sozanski, Anoosh Tertzakian and their assistants at Jigsaw who
worked with Gibney in shaping it into a cohesive story. Along with the creative
work of editing the documentary, technical processing was conducted at Jigsaw,
including scanning photographs and converting video material.
Jigsaw prepared a conformed version of the documentary
in-house before passing it onto Technicolor PostWorks for final editorial
adjustment and color grading. Murray suggested this unusual workflow based on
past experience. Gibney and his team want the freedom to continue making
editorial changes virtually to the point of delivery and so it is more
efficient and economical if as many of those changes as possible can be
effected at the editorial house.
“It allows for more flexibility to make changes,” explains
Jigsaw post-production supervisor Kelley Cribben. “Once the foundation is done,
we turn it over to Ben’s team. They do the archival clean-up, formatting,
titling, opticals and some digital effects.”
“There were a large number of stills that we did moves on,”
adds Technicolor PostWorks finishing editor Allie Ames. “We also received a
significant amount of PAL and NTSC footage that we needed to make look as good
as possible.”
Despite the conforming that was done at Jigsaw, additional
editorial changes were required after the hand-off to Technicolor PostWorks.
Last minute changes were predicated by legal or rights issues, or because
better quality archival material had been found and scenes need to be swapped
Such editorial amendments did not, however, slow the
finishing process. “Every project comes down to the wire,” notes Foster, “but
you would never know that at Technicolor PostWorks. Ben and his team are so
cool, calm and collected.”
A very different American icon is profiled in Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. The
2-hour documentary, an evocative portrait of the life and work of Steve Jobs
that re-examines his legacy and our relationship with the computer, screened at
the South by Southwest Film Festival in advance of its television premiere on CNN.
The post-production workflow for Jobs was similar to the one
used for the Sinatra documentary (Jobs
was edited for Jigsaw by Michael J. Palmer and produced for Jigsaw by Viva Van
Loock), but the particulars were distinctly differently. As Jobs was born 40
years later than Sinatra, archival material documenting his life is of more
recent vintage and derives from more modern types of sources. So fewer items
needed significant post-production processing. Additionally, the Jobs
documentary includes newly produced interviews with people who knew and worked
with him in life.
All that made for a different finishing process. One notable
difference involved color grading. Whereas Sinatra,
with its mix of black & white and color material, was given a naturalistic
grade, Jobs has a more stylized look,
particularly in its archival segments. “We colored it in a very electronic
way,” recalls Technicolor PostWorks colorist Jack Lewars. “The colors are
almost hyper-saturated, especially the blues. On computer screens, the blues
are almost bleeding out of their boundaries.”
Lewars says the unusual color treatment has a narrative
purpose and is meant to subtly underscore Jobs’ personality and the digital
revolution that he helped bring about. “It feels like a throwback,” Lewars
says. “While we are describing someone who modernized the world, he’s presented
in a very low-fi setting. The contrast works really well.”
With the two documentaries finishing almost simultaneously,
organizational issues were of paramount importance. Cribben notes that drives
containing elements were exchanged between Jigsaw and Technicolor PostWorks
often several times a day and required careful management. “We were constantly
emailing instructions,” she recalls. “Every time we made a turnover, there was
an email thread explaining every nuance of what needed to be done. Ben’s team
responded immediately.
“I’ve been working with this group for eight years and it’s
become a very efficient, tight ship.”
About Technicolor
PostWorks New York
PostWorks New York is the East Coast’s most comprehensive digital motion
picture and post-production facility, employing an exceptional team of artists,
engineers and project managers to serve our clients through the film and TV
finishing process.
PostWorks New York offers one complete source for every post requirement,
including data workflows, telecine/scanning, non-linear editorial and HD
picture finishing, digital intermediate and film recording, high-volume
encoding and high-speed data transmission, as well as comprehensive film and TV
sound services on nine mix stages.
For more information,
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