What’s a DIT

What’s a DIT? What does a DIT do? Do I need one? There are a lot of questions as to what a “DIT” does, but one question seems to be answered; they’re here to stay.

DIT stands for “Digital Imaging Technician.” Unfortunately that probably raises more questions than it answers. I myself once had an incorrect view of what a DIT actually is. The common mistake with this crew member is that it has too many descriptions. To many students, it seems think that a DIT is responsible for taking files from the digital camera and creating backups. In reality this is just a “Data Wrangler.”

Then what does a DIT do? The DIT is in charge of the following:
1. Making sure that camera settings are correct according to the productions agreed upon specifications.
2. Taking the footage and applying LUT, then creating dailies.
3. Making sure you have all the files and backing them up.
4. If there is a camera problem then you are responsible for fixing it.
5. Talking with the DP to make sure the color vision is being captured.
6. There are many more small things that will fall under these ie. (making sdi cables, backing up to LTO, on set editing, continuity lookup, etc.)

The DIT has become a gate keeper for all footage. They take the raw files, store them safely, and create the necessary files for editorial. In a lot of ways they can become the on set technical support. They need to know the cameras they are working with and know how to fix them when problems arise.

What a DIT can and should be responsible for is fluid and can take different forms. In the the professional production environment the DIT would most likely not function as the editor. Usually when I’m practicing my own form of DIT I also typically serve as the editor. What this means is I have more than just color correction input, I have story and character input (If the director is open to it). While on set I can review and look for shot inconsistency or play defense against an AD that is trying to delete shots from the schedule. There very well could be a shot that is very necessary, but because of the pressure of time and money they might move on without it unless your voice and presence is heard and felt.

How do I accomplish this?

The tools in my arsenal are makeshift and serve well for the purposes that I use them. I built a DIT cart (more of a DIY Cart) that I use with my thunderbolt equipped iMac. Here at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) most senior thesis films are shot on RED One MX. The way I work goes like this.

  1. HD-SDI cable from the RED One (720p 59.94 maximum from SDI) into the cart.
  2. I reclock the SDI signal with a BlackMagic SDI to Analog converter box (Any of their converter that have a SDI loop out will work)
  3. I have a BlackMagic Ultrastudio Express that captures the live video feed from the SDI loop out.
  4. I can capture the signal via BlackMagic’s media express or through an editing application like Avid Media Composer 6, Premiere CS6, and Final Cut Pro 7 and X.
  5. I also have RCA audio coming into my Ultrastudio Express so that I can combine live audio with live video into a recorded file.
  6. Next I have a SDI/HDMI cord feeding to a field monitor for the director to watch (If he/she wants to be closer to his/her actors). When the live shot is over I automatically play it back to the field monitor for the director to watch or disregard instantly. This gives them the flexibility to choose without having to ask. This function can speed up the process tremendously.

I could also cut a few shots together and play them out to the field monitor to let the director see how the shots are playing together. The possibilities are very great for this type of technical support on a student set.

One thought on “What’s a DIT

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