UPDATED: Added additional interviews & panels about the process towards the bottom of the article.
Like many in the post production world, my ears perked several months ago when I heard David Fincher's next film, an adaptation of the popular novel "Gone Girl", would be edited entirely in Adobe Premiere Pro & Adobe After Effects. This was a little strange to me at first, considering the same application I paid less than fifty dollars a month to edit lower-budget films was going to be used by arguably one of the most technically demanding directors in Hollywood for his next "masterpiece". In my opinion, not since Final Cut Pro was first used by Walter Murch to cut Cold Mountain  has there been such a massive technological test of a piece of software and hardware synergy. I will admit Adobe has had a much longer time to test out the water, but it is a major leap for a feature film to be edited on anything other than Final Cut Pro 7 or even more common, Avid Media Composer.
I was lucky enough to attend a local LAPPG meeting where Assistant Editor Tyler Nelson and Post-production Engineer Jeff Brue went into some extremely interesting and accurate details about the post production workflow, and how it was like to work with artists like David Fincher and Kirk Baxter on a regular basis.
- Gone Girl is the result of the past 5 yrs of technology and 3 films\shows: The Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo & House of Cards" - Tyler Nelson
- The film was shot on a RED Dragon at 6k (6144 x 3072), ultimately to be used for a 5k extraction (5120 x 2876). The additional space was used for stabilization and re-framing\adjustment of shots in post production. The final film was delivered at 4K (4096 x 1706).
- ~80% of the films shots have been stabilized, split-screened for performance-enhancement, re-framed, or otherwise manipulated, all with the intention of you never noticing. However, no "fake" camera moves were added in post production. Invisible visual fx and editing can be insanely powerful when used in this manner, in my opinion. Tyler details this process more in an fantastic 4-page article on HD Video, which you can find here . (Thanks to Jonny Elwyn for sharing this article).
- Gone Girl had around 500 hours of raw footage delivered to the editing team, compared to 324 hours of raw footage for "The Social Network".
- Gone Girl used 342TB of spinning storage online and 38TB SSD RAID for offline editing. It used between 1.8-2.5Gb/s to play back at full resolution. The average home computer has 2-4TBs of HDD space, at the most. These machines were custom configured and co-engineered with help from OpenDrives & Adobe to ensure real-time playback at all times.
- David Fincher prefers to keep as much of the VFX work "in-house" as possible, which is normally sourced out to third-party vendors around the world. They were able to complete approx. 600 visual effects shots in-house, giving Fincher and the edit team instant access to see and tweak those completed shots as necessary.
- -The film was onlined, or transitioned from offline lower quality editorial files to the original RED RAW original camera media for final color correction and delivery, completely in Adobe After Effects.
- - Transfer to the Digital Intermediate facility, LightIron, for color correction took place via AAF. The 6K RED files were debayered at full resolution using RedLogFilm & RedColor3 settings and delivered as 6K 10-bit DPX files, although it appears they may have gone back to the original camera media based on an interview with Colorist Ian Vertovec. His other work can be seen on Fincher's other recent films, along with films like Ender's Game.
- -For best performance with Adobe Premiere, the engineering team found that centralizing your media databases & cache files to a central SSD hard disk helped improve performance significantly. A tip they suggested all users as well!
- LightIron recently held a Q&A with Post Supervisor Peter Mavromates, DI Producer Katie Fellion, Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth, ASC, and Colorist Ian Vertovec, which shed further insight into the process.
- The film was shot using 2 or 3 camera set-ups, using Leica Summilux lenses with no filtration.
- The RED Dragon camera seemed to be a very important aspect in obtaining the look and feel of the film, per Jeff, although I personally thought he sounded more fond of the EPIC in certain cases. Jeff explained the ability to capture very subtle changes in color, lighting, and deep shadow made the camera very unique and a definite evolution forward in an "ever changing world" of digital cinema.
- Only three shots in the entire film had any noise reduction, and it was completed using Neatvideo in After Effects. "It's the best around" was the general consensus. Funny enough, Cinetic Studios uses Neatvideo extensively, so this was a comforting node to me.
- While "The Social Network" and "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" had very strong & defined color palettes, Vertovec aimed to have a more "natural warm mid-western summer" feel. He comments further, "a great colorist has done his job if no one ever notices a film has been colored".
- ~300GB of media was delivered to LightIron for the final Digital Intermediate. Each frame of footage was approx 75MB.
Expanding the Search
Where is She? Conforming Gone Girl - HDVideo
A 55 Minute Panel regarding Post Production on the film
A 31 Minute Interview with Editor Kirk Baxter
Note: This article is for educational purposes only.