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Sapphire Brings Finesse to FotoKem

Facility Wide (December 16, 2005)

FotoKem, the premier independently owned film & video postproduction facility based in Burbank, CA., has been providing services to the Hollywood community for more than 40 years. The company 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 services and equipment rental - all offered through its three divisions: FotoKem Film & Video, FotoKem Nonlinear, and Keep Me Posted.  The companys work can be seen every week on top television shows including Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ghost Whisperer, Bones, Over There, and many others; in big-budget and independent feature films such as Serenity, Lord of War, and Hustle & Flow; on DVDs such as King Kong; and numerous movie trailers and station promos seen on television and in theaters worldwide. 

One tool that serves every division, on nearly every job, is GenArts Sapphire Plug-ins, a versatile collection of over 175 state-of-the-art image processing and synthesis effects. FotoKem has implemented Sapphire across all three of its divisions on all of its online finishing systems, including multiple Avid DS Nitris, Avid Symphony, Avid Media Composer Adrenaline, Discreet Fire, and Quantel iQ systems. FotoKem has also purchased Sapphire licenses for the Avid offline editing systems it rents to clients. ?We ordered Sapphire as our premiere effects plug-in toolset when we planned out the equipment wed be using across the FotoKem facilities, said Bill Admans, the companys director of creative editorial. ?There are lots of plug-in packages that offer specific tools. Sapphire is the one package that has everything. 

Admans and his fellow FotoKem online editors use the Sapphire package as both a creative and a corrective tool, to bring realism back into shots that have been digitally manipulated, to give all footage a consistent look, and to add the extra visual interest that makes a shot or image look special rather than just ?fixed.  Admans said, ?We tend to forget that we live in an organic, natural environment.  Too often, when we shoot images or build effects, they can look artificial.  Sapphire allows the digital artist to take that extra step and enter an arena where they can create a truly realistic image thats totally believable.  

One such example is a scene in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which Admans finishes on the DS Nitris system. The production team had set up a complicated shot; a nighttime scene where a character gets shot out of a moving car. Admans explained, ?It was really dark, and there were layers of light and wispy smoke from the gunshot.  While they were shooting, a car drove right through the background, so we had to remove it in post.  But with all of the different depths of light and the wispy smoke to deal with, it was a really difficult fix.  We couldnt just paint the car out it would have looked fake. We used several Sapphire Plug-ins to bring realism back into the frame.  We used FilmEffect to merge the frozen clean-plated elements with the 35mm grain inherent in the rest of the image, and we used ZFog to create a diffusion of mist in the shot to restore an even depth of field and disguise the elements wed pasted in. Using GlowEdges we also added a slight glow on the car we had added in digitally in the foreground. Its those small but important tweaks, which Sapphire does so well and so quickly, that make all the difference. 

Creating realism is also the focus for Admans in finishing the dramatic series about the Iraq war, Over There. ?When you look at photographs of actual weapons firing, theyre not all the same.  The muzzle flashes vary quite a bit.  We use the GlowMask  Mm effect to create muzzle flashes for the show that have an amoebic look, so theyre not just uniform bursts. We dont settle for the obvious. Admans also uses a combination of Sapphire Glow effects to key out highlights and add a soft, rich glow to shots on the show regularly. 

Admans noted that the Sapphire effects he uses most often are the GlowDarks and other Glow effects, when color-correcting faces to achieve a more glamorous look.  ?If somethings poorly lit or shot, I just add an optical mist or a glow to achieve the kind of results that a very experienced portrait artist could produce. 

Over at FotoKems Keep Me Posted division, Sapphire is a key enabling tool for president and senior editor, Andrew Hanges, along with senior Quantel iQ artist Jay Segimoto in their work creating international versions of film trailers for worldwide use and promotional spots for network television shows.  Hanges explains that for trailer work, ?We get text-less versions of the finished trailer, and we add the titles in Thai, Portuguese, Korean whatever foreign language is required.  When we create the titles, not only do we have to match the font, we have to match the look of the title, and the way the text appears, which is usually some kind of an effect.  Maybe it was an EdgeRay, or the title came twirling in.  There are always some light effects, glows, and glistens.  We have to match that exactly.  Sapphire is the tool we use to re-create the look. There is just no way we could handle that work without it.  I guess wed have to create them from scratch if we didnt have Sapphire.  It would make the jobs take much, much longer.

About GenArts' Sapphire Plug-ins
Sapphire Plug-ins provide digital artists with a collection of over 175 state-of-the-art image processing and synthesis effects. They fully and seamlessly integrate into a number of editing and compositing systems including: Adobe After Effects and Premiere; Apple Final Cut Pro, Shake and Motion; Avid Media Composer Adrenaline, Media Composer, Xpress Pro, Xpress, Xpress DV, Symphony, DS, Nitris and Newscutter; Autodesk Combustion; Discreet Flint, Flame, Inferno, Fire, Smoke and Burn; eyeon Software Fusion; Quantel generationQ; and Sony Xpri. Sapphire Plug-ins offer a comprehensive suite of tools and effects that can transform any film or video clip. They are resolution-independent, include multi-processor support for faster rendering, and run on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Irix. Effects in the package range from everyday tools such as Glows, EdgeRays, LensFlare, Glint, Blurs and RackDefocus, to more exotic effects like Lightning, FlysEye, JpegDamage, HalfTone and Textures.

About GenArts, Inc
Based in Cambridge, Mass., GenArts, Inc. is a premier provider of digital visual effects plug-ins for the film and video industry. Introduced in 1996, Sapphire Plug-ins have become an industry standard for high-end visual effects creation at leading studios, broadcast and post production facilities around the world. They are widely recognized for their unrivaled quality and ease-of-use, and have been used extensively to create an array of feature films such as Star Wars-Episode I, II, and III, Sin City, Spider-Man 1 and 2, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Matrix trilogy, I Robot, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, X-Men II, Daredevil, Ice Age, Pearl Harbor, Final Fantasy, Dinosaur, Titanic, and Armageddon. Additional GenArts product information can be found at

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Related Keywords:genarts, sapphire plugins, FotoKem, postproduction facility, postproduction, FotoKem Film & Video, FotoKem Nonlinear, and Keep Me Posted


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