Anna Friel plays Marcella Backland, a police detective who returns to the force after a career break to solve a high-profile murder case. Unbeknown to her, the case bears similarities to one from her past, and before long Marcella is dragged into the hunt for a serial killer that becomes dangerously all-consuming.
Penned by Hans Rosenfeldt, the mastermind behind acclaimed Scandinavian drama The Bridge, Marcella was green-lit by ITV at short notice to fill a watershed slot, with Netflix securing the rights to stream internationally. This left production company Buccaneer Media with a dilemma: Netflix commission stipulates the need to capture 4K RAW, but the acquisition finance would not be released until the project hit post-production. Marcella was calling for a big-budget look but functioning on British drama money.
Given the choice of cameras for the shoot, cinematographer Ula Pontikos opted for the Sony F65, using the RAW Lite codec. This option offered better value in comparison to ProRes (which produces a greater quantity of data), whilst having all the benefits of working with a RAW file format.
In order to stay within Marcella’s budget, Mission Digital was tasked with providing a mobile cart capable of handling a minimum of three hours of footage per day whilst being nimble enough to operate on set. It needed to be a catch-all setup, and pushed our workshop team to new levels of innovation in order to create the perfect solution.
The show went into production extremely quickly and tight deadlines required fast turnarounds. Mission Digital technicians Ash Daniyan and James Ian Gray split the responsibility of Marcella’s four month shoot, with Ash looking after block one with Ula and James on blocks two and three with our old friend Jonathon Teplitzky, director of The Railway Man. Between them, they were able to manage and QC up to five hours of graded dailies per day, before handing off to editorial.
Post Production Supervisor Pete Oldham managed the unforgiving post schedule, but described the 4K delivery to the edit suite as “seamless, and “no different to a HD or 2K acquisition”.
With 4K RAW acquisition becoming the norm on UK TV shows, there is a need to ensure the media management pipeline is both efficient and watertight. Marcella went from green light to transmission in eleven months, and even more so than usual, ensuring that all members of the team were confident in how their media was captured and handled was imperative.
Moving into the future, Mission Digital is now proud to offer clients a streamlined, efficient method of capturing RAW 4K formats that combines the system built for Marcella withan LTO Store and Restore package. This package allows our clients to take advantage of a storage medium that is much more cost-effective per GB than hard drives (LTO), and a workflow that has minimal impact on post budgets and schedules.