Reliance MediaWorks teams with Imagica

Will provide restoration, processing, HD conversion

LAS VEGAS -- India's Reliance MediaWorks has partnered with Japan-based lab and postproduction facility Imagica to grow services for Japanese broadcasters and studios.

The Mumbai-headquartered film and entertainment services company, a member of the Reliance ADA group, will team with Imagica to provide film restoration, image processing and enhancement and HD conversion services.

Initially, Imagica will work with Reliance MediaWork's Burbank-based film restoration subsidiary Lowry Digital, whose services and R&D were used on digital restoration of picture elements for Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon." The proprietary technology at Lowry -- whose name is being phased out and replaced with the Reliance MediaWorks moniker -- was also recently used on James Cameron's "Avatar."

"The needs of the Japanese marketplace is growing for film restoration of aged and deteriorated great pictures for digital broadcasting," said Hiroyuki Tatsumi, director, managing executive officer of Imagica.

Added Anil Arjun, CEO of Reliance MediaWorks: "By combining Imagica's local leadership, know-how and expertise with our experience and versatile technology, we are geared to provide next generation services to the Japanese filmmakers and broadcasters."

Imagica's services also include film processing and printing, inter-media transfer, digital and optical composite, visual effects, CGI, editing, sound, DVD authoring and duplication, image restoration, digital intermediates, digital cinema, stereoscopic 3D, and Blu-ray disc authoring.

For Reliance MediaWorks, the deal is the latest step in its global growth initiative.

The company's creative services include motion-picture processing, digital intermediate, visual effects, film restoration and image enhancement; 2D to 3D conversion; digital mastering, studios and equipment rentals. It operates expanding television venture Big Synergy, as well as cinema chain BIG Cinemas. Reliance is perhaps best know for its high profile financing deal with DreamWorks.

"We intend to offer everything to do with creating a film as well as exhibition. So we are a B2B service provider -- and also B2C," explained Arjun, whose plan is to offer a global footprint.

Reliance is also planning to expand in its own backyard. "India is underserved in terms of content," Arjun said. "There has been an explosion of content because there has been an explosion in the population." He reported that India now produces 800-1000 films annually, and budgets, he said, have increased nearly 50% in the last few years.

For use for both domestic and international production, Reliance is building a studio complex consisting of eight soundstages, the largest encompassing 21,000 sq. ft., on a seven-acre plot that will also house support facilities including makeup rooms, green rooms, production rooms, costume rooms and dining options.

The company expects to complete phase one mid year, and phase two in October.

Reliance's head of studios and rentals Ashish Chakravorty reported that the complex would follow Hollywood technical benchmarks and best practices including fire protection and safety standards. To create the facilities, Reliance turned to companies including Nadel Architects and studio planners Wylie Carter Architects, who have been responsible for some of Los Angeles' soundstages.

In Mumbai, the company also operates a new 90,000-sq.-ft. Business Process Outsourcing operation for media services. It now houses extended Lowry Digital image processing and restoration services. It also houses 2D/3D conversion services though a recently announced deal with U.S.-based 3D company In-Three, whose credits include Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" and "G-Force."

Reliance MediaWorks recently launched a London operation.
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