More Bangkok for the postproduction buck

Technicolor aims to lure post work with new facility

More Filmart news

UPDATED 12:30 p.m., March 25, 2009

BANGKOK -- In a bid to increase its role in the growth of the digital filmmaking business, Technicolor Bangkok's new multimillion-dollar digital postproduction facility could, depending on the project, save customers "as much as 20-30%," managing director Paul Stambaugh said.

As testament to the popularity of Thailand as a postproduction destination -- there are several other major post houses in the Thai capital -- Stambaugh last week hosted 250 filmmakers from 15 countries from across Asia and around Europe at the unveiling of Technicolor's new state-of-the-art digital intermediate equipment.

Giving away tens of thousands of dollars in free services to three guests winning a lucky draw, Stambaugh said the new facility would host modest Asian productions as well as films from the U.S. boasting bigger budgets. "American Gangster," "Bangkok Dangerous" were edited and mixed at Technicolor Bangkok.  The  Japanese prints for "WALL-E" were made there, too.

Guests at the opening appeared excited about the DI equipment, which will allow filmmakers to adjust images and manipulate the color grading of movies shot using ultra-high resolution digital video cameras such as those made by the Red Digital Cinema Camera Co.

Thai producer and director Nonzee Nimibutr ("Queens of Langkasuka") said he'd like to try shooting with a Red camera and allowed that Technicolor had made an excellent impression.

"Their dedication is a very good sign to those making films in the region who want to have the highest quality but who may not have so much money," Nimibutr said.

Film and video outputs also may be stored in digital formats at Technicolor and displayed on digital projectors at a quality considered on par or better than traditional film projection.

To further promote its new services, Technicolor on Wednesday in Hong Kong will award two film projects worth $20,000 each as a part of an annual Filmart contest.

Oriental Post, which takes in about 15 films a year, also offers high-end DI services and gets a steady stream of work on Thai television programs, commercials and film projects produced by its parent company, Kantana, a local family business.

It may not have the worldwide presence of Technicolor, but Oriental Post has worked on films such as Wong Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights," "Rambo IV" and Jean-Claude Van Damme's forthcoming "The Eagle Path," and it has served as a key station in the process of making films that don't agree with China's censors.

Chinese writer and producer Fang Li said he worked at Oriental Post on Chinese director Li Yu's controversial 2007 film "Lost in Beijing" in part because he enjoys working with Thais, whom he finds friendly. Another reason: He wanted to avoid Chinese state-owned post houses whose workers, he says, would have been obliged to report his film's racy content to authorities. In the end, in order to show "Lost in Beijing" in China, Fang agreed to drastic cuts before Beijing would allow it to screen at the Berlinale.

John Galvin, director of postproduction, said Oriental Post upholds a strict confidentiality agreement, something he sees as an important factor to filmmakers concerned about "someone looking over your shoulder."

But, Galvin added, it is Thailand's other charms that make it a "hub of the postproduction industry in Asia."

"Thais are creative people with a good work ethic and I think they do want to prove to the rest of the world that Thailand can do these kinds of things," he said. "There are cheap hotels here and people love the food."