Codex equipment is playing a key role in the making of ABC’s series Marvel’s Agent Carter. Codex has provided digital recording for director of photography Gabriel Beristain’s cameras, and has consulted with visual effects supervisor Sheena Duggal on the lens mapping, to assist VFX production. According to Duggal, this is the first TV show to use ArriRaw for main unit photography. Marvel’s Agent Carter marks the first time an ArriRaw workflow has been used extensively in series television.
“Codex technology is impeccable,” said Beristain (Magic City, Dolores Claiborne, The Spanish Prisoner, The Ring Two, Blade: Trinity). “Dependability – what a wonderful thing! Codex has given us the dependability that we had with film magazines. We haven’t had a single glitch – every frame has been there, perfectly done.”
Marvel’s Agent Carter takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Set in the 1940s, with a strong woman (played by Hayley Atwell) who takes on secret missions, at the centre of the drama, the show offers a rich tapestry for period production design, photography and visual effects. An episode is produced over the course of eight days, with roughly half shot on stages and half at L.A. locations that double for the show’s ‘40s New York setting. The cameras are Arri Alexa XTs.
The groundbreaking use of ArriRaw on Agent Carter is typical of Beristain, who was also among the first to pair vintage glass and Alexa XT digital cameras for a television series. On Marvel’s Agent Carter, Beristain worked without a DIT, saying that the Codex/ ArriRaw workflow has allowed him to focus on aesthetics and stay involved with the cast.
“It’s analogous to the film system in some ways, where I know how my negative is going to behave,” said Beristain. “It’s going back to a system that always worked really well for us, and we’re getting phenomenal results. Codex recording technology provides us with the technology to capture everything, and get the best possible image.”
The Codex/ ArriRaw workflow brings additional creative flexibility to post and visual effects while allowing for maximum efficiency. Over the course of the eight-episode season, an estimated 1,000 visual effects shots will be accomplished. ILM, Base Effects and Double Negative are contributing the effects work.
“It was always our intention that the VFX should look photorealistic and seamless and, since we had already done a Marvel One-Shot short, the bar was set to a high standard,” said Duggal (Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games). “The challenge was how to create large volumes of photorealistic VFX shots, at Marvel-feature-quality, but on a network TV post schedule, which ranges from 16 to 20 days, once the picture is locked.
“Gabby decided that we should shoot ArriRaw to capture the best quality images, something that had not been done for network TV before, to my knowledge,” said Duggal. “And when it came to camera shooting formats, we decided together that we would like to shoot open gate for the VFX plates and 16:9 for the non-VFX shots. I consulted with Codex and we came up with camera graticules and a VFX workflow for the image extraction. I had also been working on a lens mapping initiative with Codex, and camera rental house Otto Nemenz, to map the lenses for VFX, and I’m happy to say that we implemented this for the first time on Marvel’s Agent Carter.”
Duggal said, “Gabby and I rely on each other to be the keepers of the vision. We are great friends, we share a vision, and we are able to negotiate and compromise when we need to. It was a passion project for all us to tell the story of Marvel’s Agent Carter.”
Sarah Priestnall, Codex’s VP of market development, said, “Whether the project is a feature film, television series or commercial, our role is to provide rock-solid technical solutions so that the filmmakers can keep their attention on the creative, artistic aspects of visual storytelling. We’re happy to be a part of Marvel’s Agent Carter.”
Marvel’s Agent Carter premiered on January 6.