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March 2015

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DIGITAL INTERMEDIATE 17 POST MARCH 2015 decade ago, many in the film business would agree that a "digital intermediate" was the process that took place somewhere between the capturing of images on film and the delivery of those final, processed images for theatrical exhibition. Film would be scanned, files would be sent to editorial and VFX departments, and once post production was complete, material would be conformed and output to film once again. The "intermediate" stage was not only for editing and effects, but a place where color correction could be applied digitally too. Today, many theatrical titles are captured digitally, posted digitally and presented digitally. So where does that leave the "intermediate" step? "I couldn't agree more in the terms of the 'term' actually meaning something different than what actually happens," says Light Iron founder/VP of post production, Paul Geffre. "In terms of its function, it still functions as the same basic thing — it's the bridge between your offline creative edit and your final high-resolution, high-fidelity output. It is still an intermediate step. Technology hasn't gotten to the point where you are editing in your final deliverable format." "I think 'digital intermediate' is a term that is being carried over from when it was shot film, it was scanned to a digital medium and then it would be shot back out to a negative to make prints that would go to theaters," adds Technicolor- PostWorks NY colorist Jack Lewars. "It was the digital 'intermediate' in between two 'log' type of situations. Nowadays, it's acquired digitally and going back out to theaters digitally. The name just carried on as a term of color correcting." Technicolor-PostWorks NY's head of creative services Ben Murray agrees. "I think the spirit of the digital intermedi- ate carries on in that the entire film is an effect. In that spirit, to this day and even more so, every shot in a film is a visual effect, and is an opportunity to minimize distractions and help storytellers focus their story and fix things until the last second. That wasn't possible before." Here, Post looks at some recent DI work across the industry. MODERN VIDEOFILM FINISHES MALICK'S KNIGHT OF CUPS Modern VideoFilm (, with locations in Burbank and Santa Mon- ica, CA, has been providing post and distribution services to the film, television and media content industries for more than 33 years. Most recently, the studio provided digital intermediate color grad- ing and finishing services for director Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, which stars Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett. The film made its world premiere in February at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. With the list of services the studio pro- vides, it's positioned well to speak on the role of digital intermediates and, perhaps, how the term's meaning has changed over the years. According to Amber Taylor, VP and GM at Modern VideoFilm, Santa Monica, "The original definition of 'digital inter- mediate' is rarely the reality now that the majority of filmmakers are shooting dig- ital. However, many films are still going out to film as a deliverable, so part of the definition is still accurate. Maybe 'feature finishing' is a better term now?" Captured by cinematographer Em- manuel Lubezki, Knight of Cups was shot with "a myriad of digital and film cameras, mainly the Alexa, 35mm and 65mm," says Taylor. "Many filmmakers still do prefer to shoot on film," she adds. Terrence Malick and Emmanuel Lubzeki "chose to shoot a combination of film and digital for various creative feelings and textures throughout the film." Knight of Cups was finished in 4K at Modern VideoFilm. Bryan McMahan was the digital intermediate colorist in his fourth collaboration with Malick, and with services that also included film scanning (in 4K), editorial finishing and delivera- bles (including 35mm film out). "We did all final color in 4K and man- ufactured all deliverables," says Taylor. "Sources and VFX were all conformed using Pablo Rio in their original RAW camera format and provided out for col- or correction. Final color was rendered out as 4K DPX." McMahan, who also colored the dailies, worked closely with Malick and Lubezki throughout the process of finalizing the film's look. He notes that the finished film, which centers on a Los Angeles screenwriter, appears unadulter- ated and natural, and that considerable effort was applied to achieve seamless- ness between elements captured with different camera systems. "It's beautifully shot," says McMahan. "Terry prefers a 'no look' look, as if you're looking out a window. He has a very sensitive eye and is very trusting with his collaborators regarding color." Modern VideoFilm also performed post and finishing services on Fox Search- light and Wes Anderson's Oscar winning feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Shot on film, the movie relied on the studio for telecine dailies, scanning, offline editing, on-site color correction, film out, DCP creation & delivery, home video mastering and on-site engineering support. CINELICIOUS ON SUNDANCE: BOYHOOD AND BEYOND Cinelicious (, with lo- cations in Hollywood and Santa Monica, is a creative studio that offers a host of post services that includes HD/2K/4K color grading for commercials, music A BY MARC LOFTUS & LINDA ROMANELLO Knight of Cups was finished in 4K at Modern VideoFilm. Studio VP Taylor, below.

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