Cine Gear: ICG President Steven Poster Says You Can Get 'Better, Faster, Cheaper'

Better, faster, cheaper--pick two. This is a commonly used phrase in production circles, but International Cinematographers Guild president and director of photography Steven Poster believes this is changing. “We are now at a unique moment where you can have all three,“ he asserted. “We can do it faster, cheaper and better."

Poster was speaking of the range of available workflows, during an ICG panel Saturday at Cine Gear Expo. “The tools have taken leaps forward,” he said. “Processing power and software have risen to the point where we can do it on set and save money—and let the director of photography [maintain control of the images]. It should be transparent to the DP and director—to allow us to do the art that we do.”

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Panelist Jeffrey Jur, director of photography on Dexter, emphasized that he finds the DIT “essential” to the on-set team. “The DIT is an ally in the look,” he said. “We design it on set and it is being carried through to postproduciton.  Everything goes through [Dexter DIT Kevin Britton] based on what we talked about.”

The components of the Dexter workflow include shooting Raw with the Alexa, recording to Pro Res, and usig Technicolor’s DP Lights for on set color grading. “It’s about creating consistency—what we see on set translates to post,” he said.

Brandon Trost, director of photography on Townies, and Kevin Stanley, DIT on the production, were also on hand to discuss their work. Shanley claimed that a production could save $50,000-$60,000 on an eight week shoot with a well-planned on-set workflow.

“There is a reason for producers to be excited about these workflows being available on set,” he said, citing as an example that a DIT can check work and make duplicates [of the footage] on set, freeing up the cards on which the footage is recorded. “We are now comfortable to wipe those cards [on set and re-use them]. We could cut the number of cards that we need on set in half. That’s a flat out savings.”

Poster related that he believes the Holy Grail to workflow is an end to end color management system. “We haven’t achieved it yet, but ACES (the developing Academy Color Encoding Specification) will allow use to ‘normalize’ the process and convey the most information."