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FotoKem Puts the Digital Squeeze on "Serenity"

Director Joss Whedon gives old TV series a new orbit in Cinemascope (October 04, 2005)

Director Joss Whedon and DP Jack Green used FotoKems digital intermediate laboratory to do a digital squeeze on Whedons latest film ?Serenity. Green (?Unforgiven, ?The 40 Year Old Virgin), shot the film in Super 35mm for a Cinemascope release and used FotoKems special digital process for creating a Cinemascope image from the Super 35mm negative.

The technique of shooting Super 35mm for Cinemascope has been around for some time explained John Nicolard, head of digital production for FotoKem. ?Super 35mm yields a larger picture area, said Nicolard. ?We take a 2.35:1 slice of that negative then do a 2:1 stretch to create the Cinemascope aspect ratio. In the old days, we would do the format conversion on an optical printer. Now were doing the format conversion digitally which yields a much higher quality image.

The digital squeeze is one element of FotoKems digital intermediate pipeline that starts with film developing in FotoKems own laboratory. The negative is then scanned on the Imagica XE Advanced scanner and routed to the Quantel iQ for color correction, a digital conform and for dropping in visual effects. Finished in the iQ as Super 35mm, the project is then exported and digitally processed with a 2:1 stretch before being recorded back to film on the Arri Laser as a Cinemascope negative.

?FotoKems digital squeeze has made shooting Super 35mm a viable option, said DP Jack Green. ?In a traditional photochemical process, the optical squeeze degrades the image with another generation between the negative and the final print. FotoKems digital squeeze eliminates that extra optical generation and preserves the quality of the image.

Working with FotoKem DI artist Walter Volpato, Green also used the digital intermediate to create a unique look for a dream sequence. ?During shooting, explained Green, ?we didnt want to disturb the image on the set by using filters or treatments that would have locked us in to a particular look. We chose to work on it later in the DI where we would have more options. Walter came up with a digital filter that made it look so pretty that there was no question that it was a dream sequence. The scene goes from a non-filter to a filter within the same shot, something we couldnt have done on the set.

?Serenity, due for release [date], is the feature-length adaptation of Joss Whedon's 2002 TV series "Firefly", set five hundred years in the future, aboard Serenity, a transport ship captained by Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). Whedon is the creator of the TV series ?Buffy the Vampire Slayer and ?Angel.

FotoKem has also recently completed a digital intermediate on Lions Gates ?Lord of War with DP Amir Mokri for director Andrew Niccol. Other recent DI projects include ?Hustle and Flow and ?Lords of Dogtown.

About FotoKem
FotoKem is an independently owned film & video postproduction facility based in Burbank, CA. Established in 1963, FotoKem is a unique full service facility that embraces the entire sequence of motion picture and television postproduction by combining full scale laboratory services with advanced digital finishing. The laboratory offers 65/70mm, 35mm and 16mm film processing, answer prints and release prints, digital intermediates, preservation and restoration of film and video elements, telecine, duplication, large format scanning and recording, and Hi-Def transfers. FotoKem also provides creative editorial finishing for long form television and theatrical motion pictures along with tape-to-film transfer, audio services including audio restoration, and DVD pre-mastering.

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Related Keywords:FotoKem, Cinemascope, Serenity, Whedon, digital intermediate


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