Danny Holland talks Brain Farm, HP Workstations and HP Bridging The Borders Award


Every January Cinema Without Borders offers its HP Bridging The Borders Award at International Palm Springs Film Festival. HP Bridging The Borders Award goes to a film that helps bringing people of our world closer together. HP Bridging The Borders Award is sponsored and its award provided by HP Workstation department.  Filmmakers such as Andrzej Wajda, Ari Folman, Terry George and Kieron J. Walsh have won this award in previous years.

This is the fourth from a 5 series of articles about HP Bridging The Borders Award and HP’s presence in film industry and we interviewed Danny Holland, a Post Production Supervisor and Colorist at Brain Farm Digital Cinema.

Danny was once grounded for taking apart his parent’s camcorder, he has always been fascinated by the technology behind the tools we use to make great images. Initially, this passion for technology and imagery led to a pursuit of photojournalism. Soon, Danny’s love of storytelling and video led him to film making. His desire to solve problems and fierce attention to detail made him at home in the dimly lit rooms of editorial and color grading. Moving to Jackson in 2009, he started working in post production at Teton Gravity Research; helping craft various post workflows, performing color grading, and finishing over 6 feature films as well as a number of TV and web projects. Danny is an avid skier, mountain biker and adventure seeker.

Bijan Tehrani:  How you first grew interest in filmmaking?
Danny Holland: My interest in filmmaking grew out of a love of photography and technology. I studied photojournalism in college but switched over video/filmmaking after I saw the extent great stories could be told using moving media. The technology involved was also really fun to learn and use.

BT:  What were the movies that inspired you in picking your career?
DH: For me I never exactly saw myself as a Hollywood type. I gravitated towards films that were about doing the things that I was passionate about. I think that is why I found my way into action sports, I love skiing/snowboarding and couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time then working on projects that focused on these types of adventure sports.

BT: Please tell us about your work at Brain Farm.
DH: My role a Brain Farm is as the Post Production Supervisor and Colorist. That pretty much entails everything from making sure our post infrastructure running properly to hiring staff and scheduling projects. I also do a majority of the color grading for the various films and commercials we are producing. Basically I ware a lot of hats.

BT: In projects you have been involved, including the Art of Flight, I could see the pure use of language of filmmaking, use of images. tell us about your approach in filmmaking.
DH: I join Brain Farm last year so wasn’t around when they worked on this project.

BT: Have new tools, hardware and software, made filmmaking any easier than before or more interesting?
DH: It is a bit of a cat and mouse game. As one aspect of the filmmaking process advances it leaves something behind trying to catch up. Camera technology is a great example of this. Four years ago when Red released the Red Epic cameras there was a big leap forward. We were shooting with such a powerful camera but in post-production it was very difficult to work natively with this material. As we sit today the technology both hardware and software has solved a lot of these types of difficulties.  But there is always something new around the conner that will create different types of challenges. 

From the production aspect of things two other areas of technology that we definitely find interesting are aerial drone’s and stabilization systems such as the Freefly MOVI. The kind of shots that can be captured using these tools can really help create some amazing visuals that were all but impossible to create before.

BT: Please tell us about use of HP Workstations at Brain Farm.
DH: We started testing an HP Z820 back in May this year for the first time. We had just started 4K production on three projects and needed to understand more about the challenges involved in finishing at 4K. HP offered the most powerful systems at the time so we started doing some testing. Brain Farm has traditionally been a Mac based facility so it was a new experience using Windows in our environment. Having an HP Z820 really made a world of difference as I started working with RAW footage at 4K and above.

We have been in the process of replacing our old MacPro towers with two additional Z820’s and four Z840’s. The Z820’s are being used heavly for our transcoding needs as we have multiple projects with over 150TB of Raw media. From editing to finishing the transition has been smooth minus some gotchas around codecs which we have worked through.

BT: By speaking to several filmmakers we have noticed that there is a continues relationship between HP and HP customers like Brain Farm that helps to customize and create tools by HP for their customers’ projects, have you experienced such a relationship?
DH: Our experience working with HP has been top notch. It has been really nice to have a partner that is really interested in our feedback and builds and tweaks products around the conversations we are able to have with them. The relationship has been vital to helping solve issues and questions we had before we started integrating the Z Workstations into our environment.

BT:  Cinema Without Borders offers HP Bridging Award at the Palm Spring International Film and Palm Springs ShortFest to an independent films that helps bringing the people of our world closer together. Winners receive an award diploma and a HP  ZBOOK with Dream Color Display, What do you think about this move and award? 
DH: I think it benefits everyone when we put great technology in the hands of award winning film makers. HP from my perspective has always been very supportive of the film making community and it is inspiring to see continued efforts like these to help indie film makers.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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