Video Look Like Film
production house gaining favor with independent producers
though John Sayles' latest feature, Silver
Globeville Studios in
Denver occupy the back part of an old red brick building
a block north from the confluence of the Cherry Creek and
Platte River where the city was founded in 1859.
"We're doing all manner of stuff in here," said
executive director Wm. Allen McLain, Jr. Since the
production and post house opened last autumn to work on
John Sayles' latest feature, "Silver City," McLain says
the facility has been used for television commercials,
infomercials, music videos, and other feature films.
McLain leads a small team featuring head of production
Scott Stevens, creative director Justin Spicer, and
operations director Aleida Junda. While relatively young,
they each have deep roots in the independent video and
film community, attracting to the facility other indie
producers from across the state and nationwide.
Recent efforts by the revived Colorado film industry
has been led by John Sayles, whom McLain praised as the
godfather of independent producers, thanking him for
bringing Haskell Wexler to Globeville for "Silver City"
pot production. "I learned a lot from both of them."
He thanked Sayles for faith in Globeville despite the
look of the studios when he first walked in last autumn.
The long-vacant space, which once housed a construction
company, had paisley wallpaper in the front office, and
behind that was a garage, with grease still thick on the
Today the garage is the screening room with
comfortable couches and chairs before a wide screen
illumined by a Sanyo PLV-70 video projector with native
16:9 resolution for digital video and DVD playback. "With
a T1 pipe into the building," McLain said, "we can stream
video directly to the screen."
Through a door in an alcove of the screening room is
the 1900 square-foot soundstage. The black walls are
covered with padded leather in large diamonds patterns,
tacked up as sound proofing almost a century ago by Jesse
Shwayder, who In 1910 opened there the factory for the
Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company, which later became
the global Samsonite company.
On the ceiling is a basic lighting grid, supplemented
by light kits kept in an adjoining storage room. The
soundstage is fed by 120 and 220 kW power. Said McLain,
"We've found there's no end to the power needs of digital
This power is used for the studio's three cameras, a
Panasonic AG-DVX100. 1/3" 3-CCD 24P DV Cinema Camera,
Canon XL1S Digital Video Camcorder, and Sony DSR 500 WSL
"Anything else we need, we can rent," said McLain. "It
makes no sense for us to buy more equipment right now and
get locked into any technology with things are evolving
so fast right now."
The digital camera most preferred for rental is the
Viper FilmStream Camera from Thomson Broadcast Solutions,
shooting with 27.6 million pixels for 4:4:4 at 1080p, "I
don't know if any film that can capture that kind
resolution," said production head Scott Stevens.
By shooting directly to HD on a rented Viper instead
of shooting to film and then converting to a digital
interneg, Stevens said, "I saved about $500,000 in costs
that would have gone for film stock on a recent feature
Stevens also upgrades the quality of digital video
shot by using a Pro35 digital image converter mounted for
a 35 mm film lens. The spherical optics of the Pro35,
Stevens said, "provides a depth of field that ENG lenses
cannot touch. With a Viper camera and a Pro35 lens, now
even the expert has a hard time telling film and video
For post production, Stevens uses Apple's FinalCut Pro
on a G5 Macintosh with external hard drives. Pinnacle's
CineWave 4 system provides real-time effects with
rendering "that otherwise would take days to get
The edit suite is networked to a 650 GB storage
MaxStor. The system is supplemented by a pocket-size
FireLite 20 GB Smart Disk firewire external storage
He soon will add DVD Pro to Globeville's post
facilities to produce "some SVOD projects" for a new
undisclosed client. He's eager to start working with
MPEG-4 and then MPEG-7 to produce interactive TV content,
"as soon as the market is ready."
Scott also is looking at adding a Teranex ImageEnhance
CineMaker for real-time image processing, grain insertion
and color processing. "If we can do color correction here
in real time, essentially anything a film lab could do
for us, that will be a magic bullet to fully mimic film
at a fraction of the cost," said Stevens.
"I bet that TV in thirty to fifty years will be
radically different than today, Stevens said. "You won't
be able to tell the difference between video and film at
"People increasingly want video to have the look and
feel of film," said McLain, "and that's what we do here
at Globeville Studios."