For Your Eyes Only: How NVIDIA Gave Filmmakers an Early Look at ‘Skyfall’

by Joachim Zell

While fans may have waited years for a glimpse of the latest James Bond movie, the professionals working on the film couldn’t wait.

Every day after shooting ‘Skyfall,’ director of photography Roger Deakins would view the day’s work — with full-stereo sound — on a big screen my company, EFILM, had set up in London. It immediately gave us insurance that everything was right.

OSD flight case
Joachim Zell’s post-production facility in a box.

That type of speed is one of the benefits of the shift in movie-making to digital production and away from film. Better digital cameras and more powerful, portable computers have all played a role.

In my own work as the vice president of imaging science and remote services at EFILM, NVIDIA’s GPUs have made possible something I call a post-production facility in a box.

It allows us to ingest and sync raw camera data and audio taken on location by the latest generation of digital cameras, color-correct it, and render it out to formats to be used by editors and reviewed by studio executives.

And we can do things that we couldn’t do before, such as remove wrinkles from actors or get rid of wires used to perform stunts right on the set.

Before, I used to have to rely on colleagues manning a room full of workstations to do the same work. Credit software, called On-set Dailies (OSD), from Colorfront, which just won an Emmy Award. OSD uses NVIDIA’s CUDA technology to do work that used to take five people equipped with high-end workstations an entire day.

Now OSD allows me to put an HP z820 workstation, a Mac Pro or a MacBook Pro into a flight case and I can follow a production around the world, reducing the cycle time between shooting and reviewing.

For more details on NVIDIA’s work on Skyfall, see the CUDA Spotlight Q&A with Mark Jaszberenyi, co-founder of Colorfront, on Friday, Nov. 9. 

EFILM Vice President Joachim Zell has over 18 years of international post production experience. In his current role, he’s designed custom workflows, from on-set through final DI, for features including ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,’ ‘The Avengers,’ ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ ‘The Help,’ and ‘Skyfall,’ among others – and ensures the calibration, matching and accuracy of images across all Deluxe/EFILM facilities worldwide including Hollywood, Toronto, New York, London and Sydney. Joachim holds a Master’s Degree in Film and Television Engineering, as well as two patents for Film Restoration and Color Correction tools.