Two producers who have worked at Mad Old Nut agreed to sit down with our team to talk about their experiences — and how our innovations have helped their productions meet tough deadlines and transition to our current Work From Home (#WFH) moment.
We spoke first with Dan Menchaca, associate producer for Batwoman, and then we chatted with Jon Wallace, who has over a dozen credits as a producer on everything from The Starter Wife to The Flash and is the current co-producer of All American and Batwoman.
Batwoman was an exciting and fast-paced show. “We had a lot of actions shoots and late calls” noted Dan Menchaca, Associate Producer, “which means the show is shooting at night and the footage isn’t getting to post until the next morning. Mad Old Nut said to our team ‘We will make this feel like a local show’ even though we were shooting in Vancouver, BC and editing down in Los Angeles.”
The traditional way to do a show like this would be to have dailies processed on location. Instead, explained Dan, “What Todd and his crew did was set up a workflow that allowed us to bring all of the media back here to LA.”
And the turn-around time was impressive — “On most days, even with late calls, we would have the dailies ready to edit by 9:00 AM. That way, if we need to see the master clips, they’re already in Los Angeles.”
“This was a unique way of working to me,” said Dan. It also opened up some new creative opportunities. “For instance, our final colorist, Matt Lear, is also coloring our dailies. This means that everyone who is seeing footage — from editors, to producers, to executives — is watching footage that’s closer to the final color from the get-go, which saves us time when we get to final color.”
Work From Home Without Compromise Using the Mad Old Nutbox
“I was working out of my home office a few days a week before the pandemic hit,” Dan explained; “we had Todd’s Box [aka the Mad Old Nutbox] hooked up to a monitor in my home office so I could review uncompressed footage and check color from my desk. It was a big time-saver before the pandemic and now it seems like it will be crucial for any production.”
Jon Wallace picks up the story. “With the box, it’s as if Todd and I are in the same room even though I’m in the valley and it’s fully remote. So this means that I’m looking at the actual desktop and timeline. I can ask the editor to rewind, and they can do it instantly — there’s no lag, and the quality is stunning.”
“There was a time when I had to run over to the post house to review final VFX” Dan recounted, “but using the MON box I can do that from my desk and I can even watch the air-master with the MON box.” Without having to run around town, Dan and other producers can focus on creating a great show.
From a Quick Response to Building the Remote Future
In the Spring of 2020, Jon led his production to a successful finish despite the arrival of Covid. “Right when things started happening with Covid, Dan and I called Todd and told him we wanted to move all of our team remote,” he explained. “We weren’t sure what was possible, but Todd just said to us, ‘Let us handle it’ and they broke everything down and set it up remotely in a few days.”
“In no time, they had set up two editors, two assistants, a VFX artist and a VFX editor” explained Dan. “We were ready to go in just a few days without a hiccup, which is pretty incredible.” But creating a bespoke remote network is only the first step in preparing for a fully hybrid future where productions can have their whole team remote or integrated with one or more spaces at our facilities.
“Apart But Together [ABT] sounds awesome” said Jon. “Going remote using existing systems does pose challenges when we want to collaborate — and we can’t go all cloud based yet due to security issues. So that’s why we are excited to test drive #ABT. It’s going to allow the editors, producers and other artists on the show to collaborate remotely — and collaboration is, at root, the heart of any production. It will also allow them independence from their internet connection, as the encrypted files are all local and available to each editor. This is a huge advantage over VPN or cloud-based solutions.”
“Todd is always rethinking things and he’s always trying to develop new approaches that respect both the technical and artistic sides of what we do,” said Dan — “and that’s a rare and valuable thing.” Jon agreed: “It does not surprise me at all that Mad Old Nut is out in front on #ABT because they are always on the cutting edge. But more than that, I trust what Todd and his engineering team create. My relationship with Todd is simple: Give him space and let him hammer away on a problem — we know that Mad Old Nut will come through with something that works.”