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DIT – Digital Imaging Technician Professional Film Crew

Many people are confused about the role and responsibilities of DIT. In the heydays of 35mm film we had a camera loader, but things have changed drastically since the introduction of digital technologies. Now the vast majority of cameras record digital data and it is important to understand that we need to treat this data as the most precious asset. All the effort, resources, crew, equipment and even (and perhaps especially) the artistic performances of the actors – all of that results in the final images captured into this digital data. If we lose this data – everything was for nothing. So in many ways – handling and management of this data is the most crucial aspect of modern digital workflows. But DIT’s role goes well beyond the management of the data. Here is a quick look at full range of DIT’s responsibilities…:

Camera setup

Based on DoP’s instructions and production requirements – the DIT will organize and implement all camera settings, including resolution, frame-rate, sensor settings and calibration, color, time-code and many others. He will also pre-format and label all digital media to be used during the filming. This is in direct contrast to the responsibilities of 1st AC – who actually setups the physical camera configuration and optical path (lenses and filters, camera support, etc…).

Video monitoring setup

Following the proper camera setup – the DIT will prepare the required monitoring solution for the director / DoP and the client (when applicable on commercial shoots). He will make sure that the image shown on the monitoring stations represent the image acquired by the camera based on production and/or director’s / DoP’s requirements…

DIT station setup

This is the main working space for the DIT on the set. He needs to prepare the necessary computer and monitoring hardware and software, including adequate storage solution to safely hold the master digital data and all required backups. He will also make sure that the station has adequate power supply (ranging from compact battery-powered field solutions to a proper UPS protected mains power and/or power generators)…

Data management

This is the main function and responsibility of the DIT. It starts with proper management and labelling of the digital media (also called as digital magazines) which needs to be pre-formated for proper use in the respective camera. The DIT needs to always have sufficient amount of ready-to-use media as not to hold the production down through what is called “media backlog”. Once the imagery is recorded on the media in camera – the DIT will replace the full media with another empty media and make sure it is formatted in camera for proper use. The media swap never takes longer then the “traditional” change of film magazine. In most cases this is under a minute. The DIT then proceeds to “off-load” the digital data from the full media. This is a very crucial step and it involves creating multiple backup copies and various checks to ensure the integrity of the data. Once this process is completed and verified – the media is then erased and prepared to be re-used in the camera. Some production even require for media never to be erased – in which case the DIT (upon previous request) has to calculate and prepare adequate amount of empty media to cover the needs of the production. While the DIT now has a wide range of digital tools to help with this crucial process – we always recommend to allocate adequate time to also re-check all footage visually. After all “seeing is believing”…

Following the verified “off-load” and backup of the media – the data is then managed by the DIT. It is organized in predefined folder structure based on the production requirements. Detailed meta-data and camera notes are added and inserted into DIT’s data report…

Camera notes

The 2nd AC is responsible to record physical details for each shot – including which lens and filters were used, when and how was the camera positioned, any movement of the camera, etc… The level of detail is specified by the needs of the respective production. The 2nd AC then passes this data to the DIT, who then rechecks all settings against the meta-data recorded in camera and incorporates this data into the DIT report…

On-location edit & color

Our DIT’s are also trained to provide basic editing and color-grading services on the location. Using industry-standard software the DIT can edit the basic sequence to help the Director to evaluate the coverage of each scene. This is even easier if we have an access to storyboard / animatic from the pre-production stage. In addition to editing – the DIT can also process basic color-grade and even quick composites (when filming with green/blue screen) to help both the DoP and the Director judge the quality of the imagery captured by the camera…

Dailies, Off-line, and Post preparation 

When requested – the DIT can then output reference media (along with audio, any meta-data and time-code information) that can be used as “dailies” and/or off-line media for the editor. All the choices made by the DoP and Director on the location in terms of look (color), composition and edit are then prepared by the DIT to be pass-through to post-production either as meta-data and/or included in the final DIT report…

DIT report

At the end of the shoot (or daily where required) the DIT will prepare a detailed report that will include complete shot list along with all the information mentioned above. It will also include the report on the various backup copies and verification processes and any relevant log data from the camera(s), the digital media and the DIT applications used. The DIT report is then handed over along with all the master data and requested backup copies to the production team. DERYL Group also retains one backup copy for safety reasons and long-term archival of this data can be arranged upon request…

 

Customised DIT

We understand that each production has unique requirements. All the above info is for reference only and helps to guide our clients in selecting (and understanding) the various tasks and responsibilities. We are able to customise the DIT package to suit any requirements. But no matter how small or how big the production is – you can rest assured that your data is safe…


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