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Tue 16 Nov 2010 12:00 AM

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Crossing the divide

One village’s attempt to survive the Middle East conflict is captured by DNA and Blackmagic.

Crossing the divide
Palestinian women in the street.

The small village
of Budrus is at the forefront of the
unarmed movement within the Occupied Palestinian Territories
and, more broadly, the Middle East. A recent,
multi-award-winning film documents the very real danger facing this small
village. A documentary of gritty substance, Budrus records forever the
inspirational journey of the residents of the village and their attempts to
bring peace to their corner of the world.

The film documents a man and his 15-year-old daughter in
their unarmed movement to save their village from destruction as Israel
attempted to destroy its historic olive groves in order to construct its
‘security barrier’, dividing and encircling the village in the process.

Along the way, the film shows the human face of Fatah and
Hamas, as well as the many Israeli supporters who come to Budrus  These
very different people all come together in a desperate desire for peace and to defend
the rights of the villagers of Budrus to live their lives in freedom. Their
collective non-violent action is designed to confront the ever-present danger
to the village of
Budrus, and shines a
light on the very best in human nature.

The film is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha
and produced by Ronit Avni, the founder of Just Vision. In ‘Budrus’, the
filmmakers tell the true story of the successful, nonviolent protest movement
that began with community organizer, Ayed Morrar, and his 15 year old daughter
in 2003.

The filmmakers were presented with a powerful story to tell,
but in order to be successful and gain recognition amongst the huge number of
documentaries about the region, Budrus needed to be more than a compelling
story. It also needed to be a well-made, professional-looking film and, of
course, achieve this on a limited budget.

The film appears to have met these criteria, judging by the
international acclaim it has received. Budrus has won awards at the Berlin Film
Festival, Tribeca, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Jerusalem
Film Festival and most importantly, become a powerful educational tool across
the globe. To help make this possible, Julia Bacha turned to post production
company DNA and it’s founder Darius Fisher.

DNA is no stranger to the big issues, having collaborated on
the highly acclaimed, award-winning documentary about the oil industry, Fuel.
It should perhaps come as no surprise, then, to find Fisher once again rising
to the challenge of bringing one of the most controversial stories of our time
to the world.

For Fisher and colleague Olaf Wendt, bringing Budrus to life
involved wrestling with widely varying source footage and meeting the very
tight deadlines imposed by the international film festival circuit. By its very
nature, Budrus is meant to tell a multicultural story. This called for numerous
versions in different languages and formats, allowing the documentary to be
shown on the big screen around the world.

Budrus was offlined in New York
and Washington D.C.
using Final Cut Pro NLE systems, and was then onlined and conformed by DNA in Los Angeles, with the
help of their huge range of Blackmagic Design equipment.

“We were in charge of managing the whole finishing process,”
said DNA’s Fisher, “and this included resolution and frame rate conversion in
addition to Teague Cowley and Olaf Wendt’s entire colour correction process.
With new footage still trickling in and different festivals demanding different
formats under tight deadlines, we could not have maintained our delivery
schedule without our complement of Blackmagic Design equipment.”

In the end, this involved accessing more than eight
terabytes of source material that Fisher and Wendt stored on their
self-designed networked storage systems. “We were able to create a multi-level,
hybrid infrastructure for our workflow, starting with our Blackmagic Design
Studio Videohub router that let us distribute our HD-SDI signals from any
workstation to wherever they were needed. This included the Teranex VC100
Format Converter we relied on for transcoding to HD and the Apple Color system
that was used for colour grading. We would send the video from the Apple Color
system using Blackmagic Design’s DVI Extender to the JVC DLS 35 digital
projector we relied on to evaluate the final result.”

In fact, DNA had calibrated all of the flat panel monitors
and digital projection using probes generating 3D LUTs to Rec. 709 and was able
to feed them with any needed signal out of its Color system through HDLink Pro
high definition resolution monitoring converters. “This gave us consistent HD
visual imagery with a full range of monitoring capability,” Wendt said. “The
Blackmagic Design equipment enabled us to rely on a uniform viewing
environment.”

The DNA facility also boasts four Blackmagic Design
Multibridge Pros and one Multibridge Eclipse system among its external PCI
Express capture and playback equipment. The Multibridge can switch instantly
between SD and HD (or 2K if needed), which, with the help of Blackmagic Design
Mini Converters, provided reliable I/O to any of DNA’s workstations.

“We even had a VHS deck with a component output,” Fisher
said, “and I was able to feed its analogue standard definition video and stereo
audio channels to our Multibridge Pro to mix the video and audio into a SD
digital signal. We could then send it via SDI to the Teranex converter where it
was up-rezzed and de-interlaced into proper 1080P HD, then sent through the
Blackmagic Design Studio Videohub to a Multibridge Pro where it was captured as
a 1080p 23.98 or 25PsF Quicktime file.”

The modular architecture of the Blackmagic Design Mini
Converters meant DNA could always find a way to route a signal to the
workstation or monitor where it was needed.

“A lot of the material we had to work with had interlaced
fields in its video,” Fisher said. “So the ability to route signals to our
Broadcast Sony CRT was very helpful in making sure we took the correct approach
to deinterlacing. The combination of all of these Blackmagic Design systems
together proved to be greater than the sum of their parts.”

“Without the Blackmagic Design equipment in our facility, we
never could have made the deadline we were facing,” Fisher adds. “We feel
bringing the story of ‘Budrus’ to the screen will help the world understand the
significance of this very important event.”

Budrus will be showing in Washington,
San Francisco, New York,
Los Angeles and Michigan shortly, and the makers hope  the story of Budrus will continue to bring
out the very best in people, no matter what side of the political divide they
find themselves.

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