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Graeme Nattress

Achieving The Terminator Salvation Look with Nattress Bleach Bypass Filter for Final Cut Pro By Heath McKnight

I've known Graeme Nattress, creator of Nattress Filters for Final Cut Pro, Color, and Motion, for a few years now. He has helped me with technical questions (he's one of the smartest people in the world when it comes to video and computer-related tech), we've had conversations about the future of digital filmmaking, and he's just an all-around great guy.

Graeme joined the RED team in late 2005, makers of the RED ONE digital cinema cameras, lenses and accessories. He took a few minutes to talk with Tech Universe, and he also helps me to achieve the stark, post-apocalyptic look of Terminator Salvation. Graeme was also kind enough to include the Bleach Bypass filter he used to get this look, as a free download for Final Cut Pro users!

Digital Media Net (DMN): Tell me about yourself and your background.
Graeme Nattress (GN): I've always been fascinated by television, and as a baby, crawled behind the TV, knocking it over, to try and find out how it worked. So, although I studied mathematics, I've always loved the medium of television, and what can be done with imaging technology. I'm now a passionate programmer of pixels and developer of image processing algorithms. I enjoy image processing because I can take mathematics, and art, and blend them together to help creative people make better images and video.

DMN: What made you decide to start creating filters and plug-ins for Final Cut Pro via
GN: A number of things came together to start me writing plug-ins. I thought I could do better than some of FCP's in-built algorithms, and I had a need for some specific effects for my own work, and as I've always liked to know how things work, there's no better way for a user to understand the inner workings of an application than to write plug-ins for it.
DMN: What about your 24p plug-ins? One of them keeps video at 60i via a pulldown, but retains the look of 24p (Film Effects); while your other plug-in converts 60i video to straight 24p (G Film Converter).
GN:  24p is 24 progressive frames per second (or 23.976 fps when talking about NTSC based rates) and is a key part to the look of film. Traditionally, when film is transferred to video, it has been done so with 3:2 pulldown, which plays each frame of film for 3 fields, or 2 fields, in a repeating pattern, which spreads out the 24 frames to fill 30 frames per second.

The 3:2 pulldown is great that it allows use of 24p media in a standard interlaced 29.97fps video format, but because it's field based, it relies on interlacing to work. That's why we offer two different ways of getting that 24p look from normal interlaced 60i NTSC video (SD or HD): Film Effects, which converts the incoming 60i to 24p, then immediately adds 3:2 pulldown so that the clip stays the right length in the 29.97fps timeline, and the finished effect is compatible with normal broadcast or tape. And Standards Conversion with G Film Converter, which does exactly the same great quality conversion of 60i to 24p, but does so into a 24p timeline, so no pulldown gets added, and you can keep the video fully progressive from that point on. The quality of conversion is identical for either route, just the end result differs: 24p with 3:2 pulldown in Film Effects [60i], or 24p on a 24p timeline for Standards Conversion. Film Effects has one big advantage though, it's much easier to use.

24p progressive video is great for DVD or Web distribution, because interlace just doesn't work on a computer monitor, and you can achieve better looking compression on a DVD with progressive 24p media. If you can keep a project 24p progressive through it's edit and mastering, you have much more flexibility for high quality delivery options, and you can do a quick and easy conversion to PAL without the need of plug-ins by using the Cinema Tools "conform" option to speed up the 24p to 25p - progressive PAL.
(Heath's note: Check out my article on "Achieving a Film Look" for more details on this subject. Making 60i video 24p doesn't automatically make a digital movie look like film. Click here to read it)

DMN: What new things are you working on for
GN:  I've been investigating some interesting areas of image processing research, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to take those ideas into the form of a plug-in. I'm always looking for solutions to problems, specifically with image quality of affordable video sources, and that's the area where future products lie.
DMN: Tell me a little bit about your work for RED.
GN:  I develop image processing algorithms for RED that are used throughout REDCODE and the image processing pipeline. What's nice about that is that I'm not trying to "un-do" image processing artifacts in a video source (like pre-processed video from a traditional video camera), but instead trying, and I hope succeeding, to do things optimally from the source, and a lot of that comes from the philosophy of RAW and how REDCODE RAW records the raw sensor data so you don't burn in things like white balance, contrast or edge enhancement.

Achieving the Terminator Salvation Look

Terminator Salvation, Halcyon/Warner Bros.

Terminator Salvation ( opens May 21, 2009 and Warner Bros. has been airing the final trailers and TV spots, and I've noticed the filmmakers (led by director McG and cinematographer Shane Hurlbut) have completed the final "look" for the film: stark, post-apocalyptic. 

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Related Keywords:filmmaking, bleach bypass, visual effects, FCP, final cut pro,

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