film reporter

'Spidey' work proof of Technicolor's DI reach

Technicolor used its web of technical and creative talent to complete its first 4k Digital Intermediate for boxoffice champ "Spider-Man 3." The work was accomplished at the company's DI facility that opened in the fall on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City.

Technicolor launched its digital intermediate business in Burbank in 2001 and since has accumulated such DI credits as "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Superman Returns" and "The Departed." The new Culver City locale opened to accommodate filmmakers wanting to stay on the Westside of Los Angeles to do postproduction and film-finishing work, including those working on the Sony lot. Further expansion is planned.

For "Spider-Man 3," renowned colorist Stephen Nakamura worked closely on the color timing with director Sam Raimi and director of photography Bill Pope in a DI theater centering on da Vinci's Resolve color-grading software.

Technicolor also successfully demonstrated the use of an efficient pipeline through the work. Says Nakamura: "Imageworks (the lead VFX house on the film) has a direct fiber line to our facility, so they basically never have to send shots on drives to us, which was really helpful. The could just send them over a line to us.

"We had calibrated our screens to their screens," he adds, explaining that this meant the look was consistent at both sites. "Sam was very adamant about seeing his effects that he signs off on at Imageworks and making sure he is looking at the same thing here."

At the completion of the DI process, the 4k master was used to create all deliverables, including film and digital-cinema versions of the film. 4k resolution represents four times the amount of data than in more generally used 2k resolution. Nakamura says a critical advantage to 4k is as an archival medium for future use.

In addition to the Los Angeles-area sites, Technicolor also maintains DI operations in New York, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, London and Madrid. More sites are on the way.

A DI facility is scheduled to open in Rome within the next two months, as is a new DI operation in Beijing. Moreover, Technicolor hopes to launch a DI company in Bangkok this year or early in 2008.

Ahmad Ouri, president of Technicolor Content Services, says the global growth is prompted by studio requirements and geographic opportunities.

To the first point, he says the studios require a more global footprint. "There are a number of cases where we did DI in London, then finished part in New York, and finished the entire project here in L.A.," he says. "That happened more than once in even the last few months."

Ouri says the company aims to capture business in new geographic regions. "(The Beijing facility), for example, is really in response to a growing market in China for higher-end feature films," he says.

Ouri says the company also is taking a global look at engineering, enabling Technicolor to take its DI know-how and "fine-tune" it to local markets. "Our offerings (at the various sites) are not identical in terms of infrastructure but are transferable from facility to facility," he explains. "For instance, China might have an abbreviated scanning and film out offering … but we are fully capable of starting a project in China and finishing it, if need be, in Toronto or L.A."