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March 2016

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DIGITAL INTERMEDIATES 27 POST MARCH 2016 ROUNDABOUT EXPANDS DI SERVICES IN BURBANK BURBANK, CA — Long-known for its high-quality sound work, Burbank-based Roundabout Entertainment began expanding its service offerings two years ago with an aggressive push into color grading, DI finishing, digital cinema packaging and restoration. It brought on industry veteran Michael Smollin as senior colorist (joining longtime staff colorist Juan Zorn) and added a broadcast finishing suite with 4K capability and a 4K DI grading theater. Both rooms were quickly busy with re-mastering and restoration projects. Last year, the company re-mastered a half dozen titles for Disney, including Mystery, Alaska; Mr. Destiny; The Strongest Man in the World and The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit. In a massive project, it restored seven seasons of the classic police drama NYPD Blue. The facility is also working with Paramount Pictures on a nitrate preservation project and with the American Film Institute to digitize its extensive collection. Roundabout is also pushing hard into television and first-run theatrical fin- ishing. It recently delivered its first 4K television show, GunneyTime with R. Lee Ermey for Outdoor Network. The Syfy reality series Face Off is currently in house. The facility has finished documentaries for ABC and Freestyle Digital Media. Several independent films are in the offing. Smollin, whose background includes posts with Walden Media and Mega Playground, says he was attracted by the facility's willingness to invest in top tier technology. "Both of our DaVinci Resolves are 4K capable," he observes. "We use the GeForce GTX Titan panel for multi-layered color grading and we're running in Linux. We're told we've got the fastest systems in town." The new DI theatre is equipped with a 4K Christie projector and has 3D capa- bilities. The SAN that serves the finishing department has a capacity in excess of 200TBs. "We're growing," says Smollin, whose recent projects include The Jungle Book for Disney. "We just need to get the word out." Former Technicolor and Paramount Pictures executive Ron Smith is another recent arrival, joining the team a year ago as executive director of mastering and restoration. He was drawn by the opportunity to build a high-end restoration and finishing department from the ground up. "Management has given us the tools and the people to compete at a high level," he says. "They've also created a great working environment. We're flexible, we listen to our clients and we respond. We're willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done." Roundabout's DI theater with (L-R) senior colorist Michael Smollin and colorist Juan Zorn. Film Festival. Shot on Alexa, A Better Place has more than 150 visual ef- fects. Colorist John Scheer was also in charge of the film's VFX. Its initial deliverables include a 2K DCP package, HDCAM SR and a 2K data package. Another Digital Jungle project is the indie drama Day of Days, directed by Kim Bass and starring Tom Skerritt as a man who dreams God told him the next day would be his last on Earth. Shot on Red Dragon it was graded by John Scheer and has a similar package of deliverables as Broken Memories and A Better Place. "The business of post production, juggling talent, technologies and timetables has never been more demanding than it is with the democratization of digital capture," says Ho. "Expanding our services to include content creation with key filmmaking partners is one ap- proach Digital Jungle has taken in bonding with our clients and their challenges." FOTOKEM Mike Brodersen, chief strategy officer at FotoKem ( in Burbank, finds the DI term is still "ubiquitous" in the industry. "It's a universal phrase — everybody understands it," he points out. "It relates to features, TV, commercials — all forms of content since the cameras and workflows used today are the same and the tools [are used] in very similar ways." FotoKem Burbank has several different environments for DI, includ- ing several large projection theaters, medium-size theaters with both projection and monitors, and smaller color suites with monitors. Color grading platforms are Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, SGO Mistika and Quantel Rio; FotoKem's Keep Me Posted facility in Burbank and its Margarita Mix facility in Hollywood also have Digital Vision's Nucoda. Autodesk Flame and Smoke serve as supporting tools; FotoKem prides itself on developing proprietary tools for conforming and assisting color grading and VFX. FotoKem's DI customers cut across all markets: studio features, indie films, television, documentaries and commercials. What they all have in common, Brodersen notes, is multi-format camera capture, which requires facilities to have expansive and flexible DI capabilities. "Some projects have portions shot on film — 35, 65, 16mm — which go through the digitizing and scanning process. And almost every project uses digital cameras, whether Red, Alexa, Sony, Canon, GoPro, even iPhones. We have to get everything into the same format to do the DI process," he explains. Deliverables can include film outs, 2K and 4K DCPs, and assorted files for television and other distribution platforms. The Christmas-themed horror film, Krampus, with VFX by Weta, marked the first time FotoKem took Mistika project files straight into conform and DI from a dailies project. "The film was shot in New Zealand and dailies and previs were done there with Mistika," says Brodersen. "Making color decisions in production that transfer through VFX and fin- ishing is an important part of the process. Using Mistika project files, we were able to maintain windows, secondaries, key frames and things that typically don't track. John Daro, one of our senior colorists, was able to use all they had done in New Zealand as a starting point for the DI here. Mistika was able to handle the EXR files in a straightforward translation between the VFX and color with complex matte channels." Brodersen points to trends in HDR, high frame rate, stereo, 4K and even 8K finishing. "People are really excited about HDR; everybody's talking about it," he says. "We're doing a lot of testing and are seeing requests from features and TV for HDR. Everything is headed toward higher-quality images, more pixels and more data. That requires big, capable systems that can manage a lot of throughput and a thoughtful workflow starting from pre-production."

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