Next G floors 'em in cutting room

25 Jun 2009

From The Australian

The film company behind Hugo Weaving\'s latest film, Last Ride, found that Telstra\'s Next G wireless broadband network made important artistic contributions when they shot film in some of Australia\'s most remote locations.

The film-makers used Next G to coordinate the efforts of the film crew shooting in remote areas and their Melbourne-based film editor. It amounted to far more than just picking up the phone to share a few comments. Executive producer Antonia Barnard said the Next G connections made sending video and images between the two locations possible without spending thousands of dollars on semi-portable wireless broadband links.

Patching separate sequences of film into a single story is a delicate business.

Last Ride took the film crew through some of Australia\'s remotest locations, including the Kimberley, far from any editing facilities.

The company knew it would be shooting on 35mm film, which would be sent 700km back to Melbourne for processing and to its editing suites for post-production.

That presented a problem -- the director and crew could slip into the editing suite to see how the rushes were coming along and adjust their shoots.

That meant that critical creative decisions could be tricky.

Ms Barnard said there could be subtle continuity problems, such as whether a car passed a tree on the correct side of a shot. There could also be much larger issues, such as choosing the landscape to match the mood of a scene or getting an extra shot that fixed a hole in the visual story. That is hard to do when the director and the photographic director cannot race back for a look at the rushes and have a chat to the editor.

The Next G connections overcame that problem.

The editor would ask for something, ``and the director, who had the camera on his computer, would drive past the proposed tree, and the editor could see it real-time\'\' and say whether it would work, Ms Barnard said.

The crew, which moved around its main base at Leigh Creek, would not have attempted the production without the wireless connections.

The company considered investing in a temporary wireless service to cover the production area and found that it would cost about $10,000, out of the film\'s tight budget of $4 million.

A chance meeting with a Telstra executive in a pub led to the new approach.

The Telstra executive said the telco was keen to see how its devices would perform in regions where the crew would be working.

Ms Barnard said that the connections cost the company peanuts to buy, and it appears Telstra provided some support in the form of free air time.

The company estimates it saved about $30,000 on production costs and ``many hours of production time\'\' by using Next G.

The crews were also able to use the connections for administrative tasks on the road, such as paying crew members.

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