72 Films’ marquee production All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur for Amazon Prime Video always had promised to be one of the television highlights of the year. Unprecedented access to a global club, created over 10 months, culminating with a launch on the August Bank Holiday. The show was highly anticipated. Now throw in a change of manager mid-season to the highly entertaining and enigmatic Jose Mourinho and halfway through production a change in the world where we all learned a new word – Lockdown. The Covid-19 pandemic was upon us, the world of elite sport was changed immeasurably, and the opportunity to record this was priceless.
This is the sports story of the year and the way in which this show was created in such unique circumstances is a testament to the incredible skill, talent, intelligence and willpower of the production team.
In November 2019, we were invited by 72 Films to meet to discuss the project and to explore how we could work together. With strong historical relationships with the production team, with fixed rig shows and also with working with Amazon on large specialist factual shows, we were delighted that they asked us to come on board.
The show was acquired on a fixed rig in two locations, with multiple PSC crews working around the clubs London locations, nationally and globally, shooting 5500 hours of footage, amounting to approximately 1PB of media. We worked with 72 Films to provide staff, hardware, workflows and consultancy to wrangle, ingest and manage the huge amounts of media. Ensuring that speed, accuracy and security were at the heart of everything we did. With a project of this size, the fundamentals all need to be watertight. Attention to detail, communication and the ability to keep momentum were a priority. It was essential to deliver content as soon as possible into the edit and keep that flow constant and reliable, enabling the production team to craft the editorial, meaning there was no opportunity to allow anything to fall behind, tempo in a production this size cannot be underrated. We also worked with 72 Films to achieve extremely high-level security on this project. Writing and adhering to strict protocols especially when moving to a remote working environment which was essential for such highly privileged material. Working around the clock and integrating with the production team was paramount to the success of this project and over the course of 10 months, we worked to become part of the production team, not just a supplier.
Then, in March 2020, we were faced with an unprecedented change of circumstances and the start of lockdown saw Splice and 72 Films come up against a set of unique problems never seen before.
Splice’s Commercial Director and Director of Post, Richard Folley:
“In my whole career I have never faced such a challenge as the week we went into lockdown, with edits dispersing for home literally overnight we went from a full, buzzing facility in East London to a ghost town, and the need to deploy a secure, remote, collaborative workflow immediately was urgent and essential. Our teams worked non-stop, with no sleep for days and weeks in that early period as we furiously battled to keep productions going. Consequently, it is one of my proudest moments, with editors on All or Nothing turning on their remote systems with full facility workflows on March 25th, two days after lockdown. As they sat down to their remote edits, working fully collaboratively with not only all the other editors but production teams on remote systems and Splice continuing core systems from HQ I started receiving texts and the first one I got will stick with me – ‘It’s Amazing’ is all the text said as the editor turned on his system at 7:30 pm and picked up the edit where he left off 48 hours earlier”
Once we had re-built the offline and data management workflow, we turned our attention to delivery. In UHD, HDR and 5.1 audio and on a very tight schedule, our post-producers continued to work closely with the clients as part of the production team in order devise timelines to achieve this while allowing our creatives the support and time needed to ensure the show realised its full potential.
We also faced the challenge of lockdown in the final post and recognised that while editorially the remote workflow was appropriate, in the final post a show of this size, in UHD and HDR with 5.1 audio the custom-built environments, equipment and calibration of final post rooms were essential, so we provided private rooms for sign off of both picture and audio. This allowed the production team to enter our facilities and go direct to a private viewing room without coming into contact with anyone at all. This provision of additional facilities proved priceless in the making of the show. Unlimited full resolution playouts were also provided on our bespoke review and approval tool SpliceConnect.
In the grade Splice’s Head of Colour, Adam Dolniak, worked on Filmlight’s Baselight to bring the show to life:
For large parts of the show fixed rig material was used, while providing incredible access the rig often presents the colourist with a challenge, variable exposure due to changes in lighting conditions in the first instance lead us to focus on lighting players and staff to even out the balance. In addition, post correction was required to remove video noise where needed.
Where PSC cameras were used and shot in log settings, we could apply more range and in the interviews Adam and the client wanted a vibrant look, with subjects lit warm, Adam used the contrasting background colours to bring the subjects really into focus. Adam preferred to use the 'boost colour' tools instead of normal saturation, which brought out the natural blues and cyan in the backdrops.
In actuality footage Adam’s subtle use of a hue versus hue curve allowed for quick secondary colour corrections, matching the supplied, broadcast match footage with the PSC match footage. Locations were given attention to accentuate geography, for instance away games were given a different look to home fixtures.
In the online Head of Online Tris Lancey and Senior Online Editor Matt Parry worked in tandem on Avid Symphony to deliver the show.
Utilising Boris and Sapphire effects packages and Mocha in conjunction with Boris Effects for removals, blurring and stabilisation and neat video was used extensively to denoise the rig camera scenes throughout the series.
In audio, Head of Sound, Joe Cochrane worked with a dedicated Sound Editor, Elliott Bowell to mix the series.
As the Sound Editor, Elliott Bowell’s focused on a detailed dialogue pass to ensure dialogues had clarity in all the various environments being shot. He layered up a rich SFX bed with attention on the in-game audio spot effects. The later non-audience games proved even more challenging to recreate and enhance the eerie lack of crowds. He tracklayed the series in Protools and worked with Joe to handoff between tracklay and mix. The final episode was extremely tight and required the mix to be handled in parts whilst the tracklay was starting on the next part – this utilised Splice’s connected audio suites to their fullest effect.
At the mix stage, achieving balance with the crowd noise in the stadium was essential. Wanting to keep it natural and bring the audience closer to the action, multilayering atmos and crowd recordings in the mix gave the footage a rich crowd feel without overpowering the scenes and the mix was balanced to reflect the tempo in the games whilst also complimenting the largely original score.
Joe cleaned and reworked nearly every piece of dialogue and interview using Izotope’s RX7 Production Suite, forensically removing as much of the fixed rig noise artifacts to enhance clarity and narrative.
Voiceover in lockdown proved another challenge with the fantastic Tom Hardy voicing the show. Splice designed and deployed a full Protools rig to Tom’s house for a permanent install over the period of the voiceover record schedule. Sessions were conducted by Joe in-suite with a socially distanced director whilst he also remotely controlled Tom’s rig in tandem.