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Kodak Digital Film System Receives Sci-Tech Award

Five scientists earn kudos for developing Cineon Digital Film Workstation (February 11, 2005)

Lindsay Arnold, Guy Griffiths, David Hodson, Charlie Lawrence and David Mann will receive a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences here on February 12 for their role in developing the KODAK Cineon Digital Film Workstation.

The workstation and integrated software were key components of the Cineon Digital Film System that Kodak introduced in 1992. The system included a high-resolution film scanner and recorder. The scanner converted analog images recorded on film into digital files that could be manipulated at workstations. The recorder was used to transfer the digital picture files back onto film without compromising image quality.

"It was a revolutionary concept that drew on decades of proprietary KODAK Color Science, film and hybrid imaging technologies," says Richard Sehlin, chief technology officer for Kodak's Entertainment Imaging Division. "The success of this ambitious endeavor required ingenuity, teamwork and the total dedication of these five outstanding scientists."

Sehlin notes that Kodak announced in 1989 that the company was developing a digital film system for the motion picture industry. Over the next several years, many cinematographers, visual effects artists and other professionals in the postproduction industry participated in focus groups, workshops and other discussions that helped to define parameters for designing the Cineon workstation and digital film system. Key features included resolution-independent digital film scanning and recording technologies, scaleable workstations designed for use in a collaborative environment, and open systems software that enabled third parties to develop specialized applications.

Kodak opened a digital film center to test the new technology in Burbank, California, in September 1992. One of the first major applications was the restoration of the 1937 Walt Disney animated feature SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. Visual effects practitioners quickly embraced the hybrid technology because it made it practical and possible for them to create illusions that were previously beyond their grasp. These former Kodak scientists accurately predicted that the hybrid system would also become a commonplace tool for film restoration, and that in the foreseeable future, digital intermediate technology would be used to produce entire motion pictures.

"Looking back, that seemed like an impossible dream to many people," Sehlin comments. "However, this team of scientists had a clear vision of the future. They envisioned how the convergence of advances in emulsion and hybrid technologies would expand the vocabulary of filmmakers. They deserve this recognition because their work made a profound impact on the art and craft of filmmaking. Kodak remains dedicated to our commitment to exploring new frontiers."

Although Kodak exited the Cineon hardware/software business in 1997, the technology remains the foundation for many digital image processing systems in the motion picture industry today. Additionally, the fundamental imaging science architecture created by this team of scientists is still the foundation in many of Kodak's current hybrid products.

About Kodak's Entertainment Imaging
Kodak's Entertainment Imaging division is the world-class leader in providing film, digital and hybrid motion imaging products, services, and technology for the television, feature film, commercial, music video, and documentary industries.

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