With a background in software development and a passion for storytelling, the role of DIT comes quite naturally to Facundo Ferreira. However, he finds that not everyone on set places the same importance and value on the role of the DIT. In this interview, Facundo shares his DIT cart personalized with neon tape and Robocups for Mate, as well as the challenge of having unclear working dynamics on set.
First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview with us! To start, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your professional life?
I am a DIT and Data Manager living in Montevideo, Uruguay with my cat Lily.
Since I took my first tech job as a Software Developer, one of my colleagues there, now a dear friend, noticed my interest in writing, photography, and music, and casually suggested that I go to film school. That’s when everything clicked into place for me.
After I recieved my degree in filmmaking from UCF Film School, I became a freelance Data Manager and Colorist. I worked on small commercial and video clip projects. In parallel, I worked as a camera assistant and video assist for a short period of time until I started teaching scriptwriting courses at different schools, which I still do to this day.
Finally, a few years ago I joined the company where I am today, MontevideoAssist, the only company in Uruguay that provides specific DIT, data management, and digital video laboratory services. Thanks to the emerging growth of the industry in Uruguay, we were able to work on large-scale industrial projects, allowing us to expand throughout the region. We now have a branch in Argentina, and one of the founders works as a DIT in Europe, too!
Can you please share some details on your work?
Since my passion is storytelling, I try to work on more narrative projects. As a DIT, I find that this is the best way for me to contribute creatively to each project. In recent years I have worked on several television shows and films for platforms such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO, and Disney’s Star Plus. Depending on the time of year, I might take a few freelance Commercial Projects.
I also like assisting colleagues with their passion projects, especially when it comes to color grading for short films and small documentaries. That is, of course, when I’m not busy writing and directing my own small projects.
We’re aware that every DIT’s setup varies. Overall, how would you describe yours?
My setups are always based on the cart and the practicality of being able to move around any type of set. If the project exclusively requests data manager services, I focus on solutions that prioritize download speeds.
At MontevideoAssist, we have two types of carts. I generally equip the larger ones with LUT boxes and signal distribution devices, and the smaller ones with RAID disks and a waveform display. In addition to this, when the budget permits it, I prefer to include a calibrated monitor, to ensure the DP and the gaffer have an accurate view of the video exposure.
To learn more, could you please walk us through the bits and pieces of your overall setup?
I always work with carts, and I organize everything in wheeled cases in order to hasten disassembly, in case I have to work in locations with stairs or elevators.
I try to keep my setup as movable as possible. At least one case has wheels, either the case for the monitor or the one for the RAIDs. In addition, of course, the ProAim cart itself gives me the mobility I need, regardless of the terrain. However, I can’t deny that it is a bit complex sometimes.
MontevideoAssist accommodates projects of all sizes, ranging from small to large-scale productions. Depending on the budget, we try to include at least an iPad HDR for preview and a Sony OLED or Flanders monitor. When it comes to TV shows and movies for big streaming companies, we usually have two identical monitors each with its own LUT box (FSL, Teradek, COLR).
I work with a MacBook Pro laptop. Depending on the project it can be an i7, i9, or M1 Max. In addition to this, I add OWC RAID 0 drives for storage, all wired by Thunderbolt 3 cables through a HUB. For traffic disks, we use OyenPro cases with Samsung EVO SSDs. If we have heavy rendering, we work with Mac Studios at our lab.
The main software we use is Silverstack for downloading and organizing the footage and the corresponding metadata for each project. It’s essential during a shoot and also serves as a link to the post-production crew.
On top of that, I use Livegrade Pro when I work as a DIT. I hook it up to LUT Boxes and Blackmagic SDI recorders. This allows me to work on color and exposure live with the DP, and deliver the metadata with approved chromatic decisions to the data manager or the Lab to ensure continuity in the look and mood that we create on set.
Power Supply on Set
Data managers usually stay in the camera truck connected to a generator or to a fixed power source on location. When I work as a data manager or a DIT for narrative projects, I usually plug the cart into the closest outlet wherever we are shooting, or to the nearest generator. I always have to factor in what is made available by the production.
Cart Accessories/Special Features
I always have more than one traffic disk available, in addition to having specific software to problem-solve in certain situations. One thing that is never missing from my cart is colored tape and markers to help me stay organized. When I work as a DIT, the distribution video device is essential to control the color for all of the video outputs on set.
Do you have one fixed setup that you bring on every job? Or does the setup vary depending on the job requirements?
I have a small setup consisting of two cases. One has a MacBook and the other has solid-state drives, USB C and Thunderbolt 3 cables, and a small CalDigit HUB. This never fails me, and I have a lot of confidence in it, so if I have a last-minute shoot, I take those two cases and I’m ready to work.
Personally, what is your favorite component of your setup and why?
Without a doubt, my favorite component is the Flanders monitor, although it always depends on the budget. However, a close second would be the CalDigit HUB which allows me to connect to slow USB 3 drives for advertising and Thunderbolt 3 disks for traffic and render in specific on-set situations and service demands.
I’ve recently added a couple more Robocups to keep my indispensable “Mate” (infusion) always at reach, and my SetWear bag that’s now always hanging from one of my cart posts.
Are there any notable stories that have happened with or to your setup that you’d like to share with us?
Last year during the filming of an Amazon Prime TV Show, we were shooting with two Sony Venice cameras. The heat was so intense that we had to come up with a USB air conditioner, using water and ice to cool down the machines so we could download the files to color-correct the footage.
Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like to add?
I have learned the importance of properly defining the DIT role and ensuring everyone on the crew is on the same page. This is especially important in this region where the role is relatively new and constantly evolving. We are in the process of understanding how the dynamics between the camera crew and DIT work. It’s essential to emphasize the importance of the job in the circumstances of today’s digital world where everything is basically just one big computer.
It’s often difficult to communicate technical details to the rest of the team. I believe that over time, we have managed to establish certain foundations, boundaries, and responsibilities, but there is still a long way to go.
Furthermore, I don’t want to miss the chance to express my gratitude to the co-founders of MontevideoAssist, Leandro, and Rodrigo. Without their invaluable contributions, my venture into the industry with state-of-the-art tools wouldn’t have been possible.
Also, I’m very proud and grateful to the DPs who have invited me to their latest projects, trusting in the necessity of the DIT role on set, and with whom I continue to work extremely comfortably and happily.
A big ‘thank you’ to Facundo for sharing the details of your cart with us!
Facundo Ferreira , DIT
Facundo was born in the northernmost city of Uruguay, deep into the countryside, but he's always embraced my inner geek and nerd. He loves video games, books, bicycles, and, of course, cinema. But more than anything, he's a believer in the power of storytelling.