Disney Digital Studio GM Outlines "Biggest Challenges" In Delivering Quality Cinema Experiences

Leon Silverman - H 2015
Courtesy of HPA

Leon Silverman - H 2015

With so many ways to see a film — PLF (premium large format), 3D, laser projection, HDR — and then supporting them for a growing number of devices, “one of the biggest challenges” for the studios is the complexity of the workflows needed to finish these numerous and varying deliverables, warned Disney’s general manager, digital studio, Leon Silverman. “The number of color masters would represent a puzzle that I think would challenge Rubik.”

Speaking Tuesday at the Hollywood Professional Association (formerly Hollywood Post Alliance) Tech Retreat in Palm Springs, Silverman told the entertainment technology leaders in attendance, “It’s incumbent on this community to create [a consistent way for filmmakers and studios] to deliver a quality cinema experience.... The ability to leverage a master with a ‘superset’ of assets [could be a benefit], but to get there, we need more predictable color pipelines and more affordable HDR displays.

“Above all, theater-goers are voting with their wallets and expect more. It’s important to have an optimal version for every way a film is consumed — and there are a lot of ways and there will probably be even more in the future."

Citing examples of the various theatrical requirements, he noted that “Imax has its own DMR process, 2D as well as 3D. For some movies, like The Force Awakens, we still made a film version. Imax can even optimize for xenon or laser projectors. And for domestic and international, the versions just keep rising.” He added that the still relatively new Dolby Vision system has a challenge in that supported projectors “are in short supply for postproduction.”

Silverman also took a moment to predict that 3D could get a sort of restart. “3D was once a passing fad; I think it’s returning, on dual laser projectors [with significantly increased brightness]. 3D can be an amazing experience when you’re not viewing it through dim sunglasses,” he said, adding that right now, the optimal brightness is not always met. “It’s been hit or miss, and too often a miss. That’s why 3D has had a bad rap.”