How LockitNetwork together with Webgate.io is stepping on the gas behind the scenes for the sequel of the cult classic. We spoke with script supervisor Carmen Stuellenberg, DIT Ronny Langer and assistant editor Nils Radtke.
After more than 30 years it's time again for "Uschi, I've got a reputation to lose!” - Bertie pulls the old Manta out of the garage: With "Manta Manta - the second part" the cult classic gets a well-deserved sequel.
Since the first part, the technology on the film set has received a real tune-up: Instead of paper and pencil, many processes are done with digital tools, and instead of physical footage, there are only digital clips. Director, editor and actor Til Schweiger likes to be in the fast lane when it comes to the production of his films. Luckily, LockitNetwork’s script supervisor app and metadata workflow and Webgate.io's dailies and editing services do just that: speed up.
Precision at the Speed of Light
With all the fast-paced work on the set, precision must not suffer: Carmen Stuellenberg is responsible for that. She is an experienced script supervisor; Manta Manta 2 was her eighth project with Til Schweiger. So she knows his way of working: "Til has a core team around him that is a real pleasure to work with. He doesn't rehearse, but develops a lot during the running take, tries things out, directs in front of the running camera.”
Much was changed or rewritten during the shoot: "We had to react to changes overnight, in the morning on set, and throughout the day." Keeping track of things, even during 10 or 20 minute takes, requires experience, good nerves and a lot of composure. The LockitNetwork team was able to handle this spontaneity well, and Carmen is grateful: "LockitNetwork was able to respond to the many spontaneous changes and additional requests, sometimes at really ungodly hours".
One of the most challenging scenes was the big showdown - a car race where three different units and 14 cameras were shooting action scenes simultaneously for a week - a battle of material that included broken down cars with overheated engines and actors in quarantine.
Three script supervisors for three units that shot in parallel:
Carmen Stuellenberg, Eva Lechner, Henrike Stockhausen (from left to right)
The script supervisors found a good solution for the three units: each worked in LockitScript on her own shooting day. Day 31 was called 31 for main unit, 31 2U for the 2nd unit with the action scenes, and 31_DU for the drone unit.
However, we had to come up with a different idea for the images: working with a regular shooting schedule would have led to hopeless confusion, since all the teams were working on the same scenes. So the script supervisor team generated new additional scenes: Carmen created different variants of the scenes for each of the other two units. In the editing room, this made it easy to distinguish between the drone shots, the actor scenes, and the action shots.
Carmen also used a lined script for the showdown. Scenes could not be shot according to the storyboard, or new opportunities arose. The script supervisors were able to react flexibly and independently without having to consult with each other.
Thanks to Til's openness to her ideas, Carmen was also able to contribute her experience as a writer, writing a scene for Wotan Wilke Möhring and Til Schweiger. You can still see her enthusiasm: "That was a highlight of the shoot. To see two actors of that caliber playing a scene I had written was just wonderful."
Discovery at the touch of a button
For DIT Ronny Langer, his first Schweiger project began at home. While preparing, he had time to browse LockitNetwork's interface, where he discovered a new feature still in the testing phase: the ability to connect LockitNetwork to Webgate. Webgate.io is a cloud-based platform that can be used to sift through dailies, evaluate edits, and share data of all kinds with external parties.
Ronny explains, "I'm normally not a fan of trying out new workflows on an ongoing project. But this sounded so promising that I really wanted to do it.” No sooner said than done: together with the production company Constantin Film and the associated post production company PHAROS - The Post Group, the feature was tested. The very next day, LockitNetwork and Webgate.io were connected and busy exchanging data. "It was the ideal feature for the project at hand," adds the DIT. Instead of uploading metadata after each day of shooting, he could merge the day patterns he had created with the camera metadata and script supervisor Carmen's metadata with one click. Now directly within the Webgate.io Dailies directory, the complete scene-shot-take naming was applied and also Carmen’s scene descriptions were added to the shots. "This gave us better filtering capabilities and allowed us to work easier and faster. It was a huge help to us," adds Ronny.
New territory for the assistant editor
For assistant editor Nils Radtke, this was his first project with LockitNetwork: his job is to set up the sound, label, sort and maintain the metadata. "Normally you get the proxies and sounds from the DIT and an editor's log from the script supervisor for each day of shooting.” Together with the script and the clapperboard, he then checks that all the takes have been transferred correctly and where they need to be sorted. Important information such as director's comments, audio comments and technical metadata is transferred in a form that can be used in the post-production pipeline. This creates a searchable database in the editing suite that helps editors find the right takes faster. Typically, this process takes about half a working day per day of shooting. "The ease of matching the Alexa ALEs with the LockitNetwork data saved me a lot of manual work and time."
Editing on location was a change for Nils from his usual workflow. Normally at his work at the post house, footage is delivered on a daily basis and he can lay out the entire day's shooting en bloc for editing. However, Manta Manta 2 often delivered footage scene-wise, so he had to work directly on the clips and edit during breaks – which meant that Nils had to be extra fast: Thanks to the benefits of LockitNetwork, he was able to avoid inadvertent mistakes and omit the tedious sorting, searching and filing of PDF editor reports - especially since he was the only assistant editor. "Without optimized workflows and LockitNetwork's tools, working alone would not have been possible.” Carmen also points out, "The assistant editor benefits the most from LockitNetwork.” The LockitNetwork workflow also helped with discrepancies between footage and notes, as Nils explains: "I could tell Carmen directly when I ran into problems in Avid, and she could then correct her LockitScript entries so that at the end of a day's shooting, everything was 100 percent correct.”
Til Schweiger’s “Need for Speed“
While Carmen was already familiar with Til's fast pace, DIT Ronny and Assistant Editor Nils had to get used to it: "For Til, things can never go fast enough - the whole process is optimized for speed. The workflow is crucial for him to be able to edit," Ronny explains.
A hallmark of this working method is the rapid flipping of camera cards, at the latest when changing direction. This is called "tactical flipping" and creates countless cards in rotation. This allows the editor to start editing after the scene has been shot, sometimes while the rest of the shots are still being shot. So Ronny had his hands full loading the footage, grading it, transcoding it, and handing it off to assistant editor Nils, who then had to create the Avid project without errors. "Immediate results are important to Til," says Nils. "Corrections and additions can be shot the same day if something doesn't work in the edit."
The digital workflow was put to the test during last week's showdown: In addition to the two Alexa Minis, a variety of REDs, action cams and DJIs were used. With so many different camera models, the DIT mobile can quickly become chaotic - especially when memory cards are delivered unlabeled and the clips from the consumer cameras are not named correctly.
Another disruptive factor: The two editing mobiles were not always connected to a network, so someone had to go over with an SSD and hand over the material. The action unit was also so far away that a wireless connection to the DIT mobile was no longer possible. "Nils sat with me in the DIT mobile and was able to quickly check via LockitNetwork if the camera had already shot, which reel the footage was on, and how much footage was involved. So we were able to adjust and organize ourselves, for example, to move our lunch break a bit". Nils nods and adds, "It was handy that we could see directly in the browser when the camera cards were flipped - it reduced radio transmissions for the camera department and script supervisors, so they could focus on their real work.”
Despite this dynamic workflow, as a veteran member of Til’s Team, Carmen sees some advantages to his method: "A team that is familiar with this way of working can react quickly and quickly reinstate a direction that has already been shot." It is not always the best solution economically and sometimes difficult for new employees to understand, she says. "Flexibility and openness to unconventional ways of working are necessary skills on a Schweiger set."
Still, Carmen finds this way of working particularly motivating: "You can quickly see if you've made the right decisions - for example, if I accept a continuity error and don't insist on repeating the shot because I think the problem will disappear in the edit." That's why she spends a lot of time in the editing room on set, she says.
Ronny and Nils also benefit from this way of shooting: Til Schweiger likes to absorb the energy of the set and knows immediately which shots he likes without having to sift through the material. Many rough cuts of scenes were done before the samples went online. This meant they could see the first cuts as soon as shooting was finished.
Overall, the three are very positive about their experience with the LockitNetwork workflow. Ronny thinks the common metadata collection makes sense: "I think all metadata should be collected centrally by LockitNetwork and not scattered across different cloud platforms. It should be on one platform that can be accessed with a normal web browser.” LockitNetwork allows people to import this centrally managed metadata into editorial systems or send it to Webgate.io.
"Getting started with LockitNetwork was very intuitive," Nils summarizes his first experience with LockitNetwork. "Since speed was a top priority for the editorial team, LockitNetwork was essential for us."
For Carmen, there is a "weighty" argument for LockitNetwork: "Instead of a heavy bag and endless clutter, I now carry an iPad and a Pencil. My one-sided muscle strain from holding the script hasn't gone away, but it's a lot better because of the lighter weight".
Still, they have a little wish list for LockitNetwork: Carmen would like a button that generates a wild track list; she would also like to be able to assign multiple takes to a clip, such as an outtake. Nils would like a Live Editor's Log and a display that shows the last update of the cloud. Ronny thinks even bigger: He would like to see a complete workflow involving all departments, with a standardized exchange format for metadata - which would require a cross-conversion feature. That may be a pipe dream, but who knows: sometimes it's faster than you think - as Webgate.io and LockitNetwork have proven.
"Manta Manta: Part Two" will be released on March 30, 2023.