SGO Mistika & Lightbender Case Study
Startup, the Florida-set series, distributed by Sony’s streaming service Crackle in the US and Amazon Prime Video in Europe and Japan is not the mellow tech-industry satire one might expect when hearing its title for the first time. It is a fierce thriller set in the fuzzy world of cryptocurrencies and the dark web.
LightBender, a boutique-size finishing facility in Santa Monica created Startup’s final look, ensuring the show’s murky crime revealed its true colors. “We took care of conform, VFX plates, SDR & HDR color grading, marketing materials, mastering and final deliverables. All of it completed in SGO’s post-production hero suite Mistika Ultima,” told Juan Ignacio Cabrera, lead colorist and founder of LightBender.
Cabrera worked on the Startup series together with two assistant colorists Fran Lorite and Álvaro Barrasa.
An extremely tight schedule was one of the biggest challenges Cabrera, Barrasa and Lorite faced while colour grading the Startup series. “Delivering a quality show without any major issues in three different delivery versions was quite demanding, so having the best possible toolset was essential; It allowed us to be as efficient as humanly possible.”
LightBender had to deliver the UHDTV version first, so the workflow was designed to be UHDTV native from beginning to end. “That requires a lot of bandwidth and we were working on multiple systems simultaneously. Luckily, we have SGO’s Open Storage solution which enabled a centralized working environment with all the machines running at the same time and over the same project seamlessly.”
The original shooting resolution was another of the project’s complexities. “We were working with 6K RED files and needed to create an HDR delivery, so we decided to unify everything to UHD EXR-16 image sequences, keeping all the TC information, tape names and other information to allow a quick re-conform if needed,” continues Cabrera. The LightBender team is about to start the third season of StartUp, this time shot on Helium 8K to make the show even more demanding and dramatic!
Mistika Ultima enables a non-linear modern post-production workflow LightBender Studio completes feature films and also TV series where lately, there has been a significant increase in production. “Mistika Ultima allows us to tackle from low-budgets shows to incredibly complex blockbusters with ease!”
Cabrera has been using award-winning Mistika Ultima for more than eleven years and in his opinion, versatility is one of the most apparent advantages of SGO’s hero suite. “The flexibility you have with an infinite timeline, being able to have numerous versions in the same space, extremely powerful conform tools and the ease to work with multiple versioning and mastering requirements are the things that make your life easier.”
In Mistika Ultima both conform and color grading happen in the same place. “It does not force you to follow any specific order. You can go back and forth as you need. It is a unified environment, not a ‘Frankenstein’ made up of different programs, modules or plugins.”
Mistika Ultima allows making creative decisions right to the very last minute, keeping a solid workflow throughout. “When the pressure is high and the production team start to get nervous, being the facility that helps and makes things easier is what makes the client want to come back. We could not do that without Mistika Technology.”