Director JD Dillard wielded hundreds of hours of HDR aerial dailies to match live-action shooting in an FX-packed bicoastal production.
Set during the Korean war, “Devotion” aims to faithfully depict a unit of naval aviators flying numerous sorties. Authenticity—from the planes to the reproduction of the naval aircraft carrier to the aerial photography—was key to achieving Dillard’s vision, and no detail was spared. To complicate matters, principal photography took place during the pandemic, which meant that the editorial team was working remotely from locations in and around the West Coast, while Dillard was shooting in Georgia.
Basing all editorial on an Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects workflow, the team also elected to use Frame.io. During production, Dillard and Oscar-winning cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt received HDR dailies which they viewed on iPhones or iPads. Through Frame.io, they were able to watch the aerial footage in a way that was closer to what the final product would look like. Editorial also used Frame.io to share assets with both VFX and the music department, as well as to create time-saving workflow automations through the open API.
The speed and accuracy of the HDR dailies gave Dillard and Messerschmidt confidence that they were capturing everything they needed and that it would all come together as envisioned. And because the cloud workflow gave Dillard full access to the edit and to his dailies, he was able to quickly cut things together himself at night or on weekends in Premiere Pro. He even used Frame.io to view the movie with his father, a former naval aviator, at Thanksgiving by sending the cut from his iPad to his dad’s TV through AirPlay.
How Frame.io helped “Devotion” soar.
“Devotion” was a VFX extravaganza with approximately 1,000 shots handled by DNEG. Getting assets to and from VFX quickly was important to keeping the film on schedule, and the team relied on Frame.io as a centralized hub to help them exchange the many elements associated with each shot. Editorial also relied on the speed of the Transfer app to exchange assets with the music department, using Frame.io as an inbox/outbox with dated folders to pass elements back and forth.
Before principal photography commenced, there was an extensive aerial shoot in Washington, yielding a “tidal wave” of footage. Planes were rigged with up to six cameras and editorial received as much as 18 hours of dailies in a day. The second AE was on location and the integration of Frame.io with Premiere Pro enabled her to drop in markers to indicate the best parts for the LA-based editors to view, along with notes from Dillard that then appeared in the Premiere Pro timeline. This approach was vital to helping them get through the volume of footage more quickly and accurately.
The Adobe Creative Cloud and Frame.io workflow helped Dillard feel more creatively connected to his film because he was always able to see it as closely as possible to the way it would look on the screen. From being able to critically evaluate dailies to getting quick confirmation that shots would cut together, this workflow gave Dillard more creative flexibility and confidence.