Local Hero Post Production Aiming For 'Filmmaker Friendly' Efficiencies

Local Hero Post Production - H - 2013

Santa Monica boutique is doing more VFX tasks in its color grading environment.

Leandro Marini, the founder, head of imaging and supervising colorist at Santa Monica-based post production boutique Local Hero Post, thinks there has to be way to make post and VFX more efficient.

“This process of going back and forth to vendors is expensive time-wise,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting that he is looking for ways to create a more “filmmaker friendly way of work.”

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With that aim, Local Hero -- whose recent credits include work on Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia and Pitch Perfect -- has been steadily expanding the amount of VFX-type of work that it completes in its color grading (also referred to as digital intermediate, or DI) environment. The company does have separate VFX capabilities, including CG, but for quick VFX needs, Marini said the DI offers a shortcut.

The type of work that Local Hero might do in the DI suite, Marini says, includes some compositing, sky replacement, digital makeup, object removal, or changing the light in a scene. “It’s a time management issue,” he adds, noting that he picks tasks if they can be done in up to five minutes while the director of photography is supervising a color grading session. “If it’s going to take more than five minutes, it’s probably not worth doing in the DI bay. What is changing is what can be accomplished in five minutes," he says.

At Local Hero, the DI environment is driven by Assimilate’s Scratch, a color grading/finishing tool that Marini explains is being developed to become a “hybrid between a compositing and color grading system.

“Version 7 (the latest version of Scratch software) goes very far into the compositing world,” he says, citing capabilities including precomping and nesting, as well as support for plugins including The Foundry’s Furnace and Gen Arts’ Sapphire. Local Hero is a test site for Scratch.

What impact does the VFX work completed in DI have on a budget? “It's probably about the same in terms of costs of doing it in DI suite [compared with a typical VFX route],” Marini responds, adding that he sees the benefit as being in the time savings. (Local Hero’s DI rate is $400/hour).

Local Hero, in association with Dark Highway Films, is also embarking on producing its first independent feature, I Remember You. Claudia Sparrow is the director and writer of the original screenplay (she is also Marini’s wife).  James Cotten, owner of Dark Highway Films, is one of the owners of Local Hero Post.

Marini, who is exec producing with Cotten, reported that the movie’s budget is under $500,000. “One of our dreams for Local Hero was always to eventually produce our own content,” he said. “Since we now have a large set of resources that we can bring to our own productions, we felt that it was time to pull the trigger.”