Sunday, 24 September 2017
 

Digital Intermediate

What is the Digital Intermediate process?

S.W.A.T.In classic film production, the camera negative is edited together into finished reels that are taken to a film lab for "color timing". Each cut is given a different color correction to even out the inevitable differences in exposure and color that would otherwise make the movie "pop" annoyingly from cut to cut. Recent technological advances have made it possible to do the color timing of the entire feature film on a computer system.

First, each reel of the feature film is scanned and the digitized frames are written to a huge array of disk drives. A digital color correcting system is then used to color correct each shot and the color corrected version of each reel is rendered back to the disk array. From there the color corrected reel is sent to a digital film recorder to be shot back to film. This piece of film made from the color corrected digitized frames is the Digital Intermediate.Traffic directed by Steven Soderbergh

The current state of the technology makes the DI process a little slower and a lot more expensive than classical lab color timing. However, its overwhelming advantage is creative control - the movie just looks a lot better when done as a DI. Digital color correctors have an almost magical ability to selectively correct virtually anything in the shot - make the sky bluer, the flesh tones warmer, bring out the detail in the shadows, or just about anything else you can imagine. Over time the certain advances in technology will lower the cost of the DI process to the point that it will eventually become the only way to color time a movie.


Technical Director for Digital Intermediate

Open Range directed by Kevin CostnerThe Digital Intermediate (DI) process is an exciting and interesting field to work in precisely because it is an emerging and rapidly evolving technology. There is an urgency due to critical production deadlines to meet the release dates of important feature films plus the excitement of working on the films of such great talents as Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic"), Taylor Hackman ("Ray"), Spike Lee ("She Hate Me"), and Kevin Costner ("Open Range").

Blade III: Trinity starring Wesley SnipesAs the Technical Director for the DI process at Kodak's Cinesite (now Laser Pacific), Steve was responsible for addressing a very wide range of technical issues ranging from color science questions to production problems to film format issues. On any given day these are the types of issues that must be dealt with:

  • The client's visual effects house needs help with the linear to log conversion parameters to convert their work from a linear file format such as tiff to the log format of cineon or dpx.

  • Analyze a digital imaging problem from any department (scanning, recording, compositing, paint), determine the cause, work out a solution, and sometimes execute the solution.

  • Write Unix programs to manage the status of 60 Terabytes of digitized film data for multiple concurrent feature films containing over 6,000 shots and well over half a million scanned frames.

  • Evaluate new software that the company is considering purchasing.

  • Work with in-house engineering staff to define new software that is needed, then test and evaluate that software as it is being developed and deployed.

  • Answer whatever questions and solve whatever problem the producer might have from how to crop a super 35 2.40 common top window and resize it to Cscope or how to dust-bust 4k scans using a 2k paint system.

  • Know all film formats and create camera guides for the colorist and outside vfx houses for even arcane formats such as 3 perf, super 35 common top, and super 16.

  • Test and evaluate new Kodak film stocks as to their performance for bluescreen and greenscreen digital effects.

Click here to see all credits for Digital Intermediate Technical Director.

 

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