Media Composer Makes 2012 a Reality Today

In an era when audiences have become largely jaded by action movies overloaded with gratuitous violence and threadbare plots, director Roland Emmerich’s epic 2012 has been critically acclaimed for its striking realism, intricate storyline, and cutting-edge visual effects. For film editors Peter Elliot and David Brenner and assistant editors Rob Malina and Rich Molina, having Avid Media Composer systems at the heart of the production, from beginning to end, enabled them to meet the demands of a tight production schedule, incorporate over 1,400 visual effects sequences, and collaboratively edit in two countries.

The film’s storyline revolves around the apocalyptic Mayan prediction that civilization will end on December 21, 2012. As the Earth’s core rises and the planet’s crust begins to shift, massive earthquakes and tsunamis wreak havoc, cities collapse, and California falls into the sea. While disaster reigns on the big screen, Media Composer helped prevent it from striking behind the scenes.

“Media Composer really played an indispensable role, even during the earliest stages of preproduction,” says Elliot, adding that it “really shines during the pre-visualization process.” Pre-visualization, Elliot explains, is like a moving storyboard, where computer-animated images are used to map out the action before a single scene is shot. “Pre-vis gives me an opportunity to work with the director prior to shooting, to see what he’s anticipating. Particularly for an effects-driven movie like 2012, Media Composer allows me to map out those pre-vis shots and cut them into the film, so I can work more intuitively, without using a greenscreen or having to imagine what it’s going to look like.”

A Tale of Two Cities

he logistics of working in multiple locations always present unique challenges, and 2012 was no exception. “The whole movie was shot on sound stages in Vancouver,” says Elliot. “I was working in Vancouver, and David was in Los Angeles. Roland was working between both locations, so we had Sony’s technical people create the same setup in both rooms for consistency — same monitors, same speakers. We were sending files back and forth constantly, and the [Avid] Unity [shared storage] system made the whole process completely seamless.”

“We’d set up a Skype chat and have both systems online,” adds Brenner. “Working with Unity, we were able to share the same media and maintain a workflow between Vancouver and L.A. that was literally no different than if we’d been in the same room.”

The scalability of the Avid Unity system offered distinct advantages as the project developed and more Media Composer workstations were added. “When we’d fill up a drive it was no problem to just increase the size of a volume,” explains assistant editor Rich Molina. “The whole system is infinitely adaptable.”

That adaptability also enabled the crew to provide director Roland Emmerich with a working environment that enhanced the creative process. “We had the mixing stage and the screening room both connected to the Unity system,” says assistant editor Rob Malina. “Piping the edits into the screening room was a huge timesaver, and the director loved it. He’s very comfortable working in the screening room, and we could work on edits right from there.” read more and watch the video

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