Blending analog and digital for Wes Anderson’s Montblanc “Meisterstück”

ARRI Solutions supported campaign’s LED volume shoot with consultancy on color calibration and playback workflow development.

Jul. 5, 2024

Montblanc’s innovative “Meisterstück” campaign, directed by Wes Anderson, transported fans to a studio set supposedly located at the snowy 4,810-meter-high summit of the brand’s namesake mountain.  

The short film, social clips, and accompanying stills shoot took place at Studio Babelsberg, using a 27 meter x 6.5 meter LED wall installed by ARRI and Dark Bay’s virtual production experts. DP Linus Sandgren captured the film’s vintage, quirky feel with an analog 35 mm ARRICAM ST from ARRI Rental.  

ARRI Solutions’ specialists were brought on board to ensure the analog and digital workflows were correctly integrated, to meet the production brief that the LED wall environment was conducive to keeping shooting smooth.

Prior to the shoot, ARRI Solutions integrated the film camera into the otherwise entirely digitized workflow of a volume at its dedicated Munich-based virtual production lab. Color calibration was an important element, with the Solutions’ specialists extensively testing various film stocks and how they react to the LED wall, while calibrating the wall’s output to match the stocks’ sensitivities. For the final shoot, Kodak 35 mm Motion Picture Film was selected. 
“Although merging analog and digital workflows does require careful testing, one benefit is that genlock and scanlines can be less of a concern than with digital cameras, particularly when the camera remains static or has limited movement,” comments Richard Muller, Virtual Production Supervisor for the shoot. “Everything had been carefully prepared and prescribed in advance of the shoot by the Solutions team, so when combined with the testing and Linus’ prior experience working in other volumes on 35 mm, it meant that shooting was smooth.”

ARRI Solutions also developed an effective and flexible 2D playout operation based on DaVinci Resolve Studio, in collaboration with Holobay. “Using a grading program to take content onto the wall enabled the DP and director to have a large amount of creative control over the content and aesthetic with little complexity,” continued Muller. “The final tweaks could be made almost like painting on the backdrop.”

Following the main shoot, production then segued into stills product photography and clips for social media content supporting the campaign. Each photographer had different equipment and different requirements for what they wanted to do with the wall, so there was a new conversation each time to make sure the products and talent were captured in the best possible quality. 
“As with every virtual production shoot, we learned a lot and confirmed again that communication is crucial throughout the process,” concludes Muller. “We recorded every set up, because then you can jump back to wherever you need, at any time. And this also gives you a definitive truth – your eyes are continually adjusting to the white balance, so it’s important not to just trust that, but have the measurements and positioning captured.”