The hope is that the 3 x 90-minute films could be the start of a returning franchise for Left Bank Pictures and Kenneth Branagh's Yellow Bird.
The co-production, which stars Branagh and airs in late November, was shot on location in Sweden over 66 days by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle whose credits include The Last King of Scotland.
Dod Mantle and director Philip Martin chose Red partly because of its ability to capture the quality of the Swedish light. The Red records four times the resolution of HD as raw data allowing much more detail in the image for the colourist to work with in post.
Another plus was the ability to set up and shoot quickly. Like a film camera, the Red doesn't have the restrictive cabling associated with HD cameras but unlike 35mm its ability to capture detail in low light meant there was less need for big lighting rigs.
Wallander was edited on Avid and conformed in Digital Vision Film Master at Stockholm's Chimney Pot, before finishing at Soho's The Farm.
“Most productions will downsize straight away on ingest to 2K or 1080p for their post pipeline,” says The Farm technical director David Klafkowski. “The extra resolution makes a big difference at the camera stage, but can become an unnecessary complication afterwards. You don't want to risk losing important image information by rescaling to HD but at some point you have to for what will ultimately be a broadcast output. The original 4K data needs to be stored in case you need to go back to it.”
Processing data can currently take as much time and cost as processing film, he adds. “The problem is simply removed from the lab and into the post house. Consequently facilities must set up efficient data management. In order to maintain a ‘true' data path through the production you need to understand new pressure points such as what to do with your data on location, how many copies to create and which one is the master.”
The idea of an image. going directly to chip seemed “absolutely logical” to executive producer Francis Hopkinson. “It's the future. You can do everything you can on 35mm and in many ways - such as near instant viewing of rushes - it is superior.”
Indeed Left Bank is also behind ITV's first drama shot with Red One. The thriller Father & Son, for ITV and RTE, is shooting in Ireland for transmission next year.
“The key to Red is having experienced technical back-up, so if anything goes wrong they can deal with it,” says Left Bank chief executive Andy Harries. “Inevitably with new technology there are challenges. Nonetheless it's exciting for a new company such as ourselves to take a lead in cutting-edge technology.”
Broadcast's next Digital Workflows conference, covering many of the issues raised in this article, takes place on 26 and 27 March 2009. To register for more information on the event email firstname.lastname@example.org