Kodak refines stock breed

New technology will improve digital transfers

Kodak has announced its first new family of color film stock in six years: an emulsion designed to handle low-light situations with more detail, and to more accurately transfer to digital formats.

The company unveiled its Vision2 500T 5218 negative film at a demonstration to cinematographers Tuesday evening at the Directors Guild of America.

Kodak Entertainment Imaging prexy Eric Rodli said the company plans to release a number of other specialized film stocks based on the same technology, which includes two “sensitizers” to heighten the film’s ability to pick up fine detail in shadow areas.

The stock “sees deeper into the shadows with less apparent grain than other low-light sensitive emulsions, as well as captures more natural skin tones and colors,” Rodli said.

Kodak is aggressively developing new film technologies to blunt the competitive threat posed by high-definition video cameras that don’t require film at all. The new stock’s ability to pick up detail in dark areas would further heighten what already has been an advantage of film over digital video.

The new stock also was designed to hold its colors better in digital or optical transfers, a recognition that even most movies shot on film are digitally transferred for nonlinear editing and eventually for DVD release.

“The 5218 wins hands down,” said Remi Adefarasin, an Oscar nominee for “Elizabeth” who tested the stock against an older Kodak emulsion in low-light situations. “The grain was noticeably finer, and I had the impression that the emulsion was a hint sharper and cleaner.”

Kodak rolled out the original Vision family of stock beginning in 1996. The first Vision2 stock will be available in 16mm, 35mm and 65mm formats, and Kodak plans to roll out a series of other specialized Vision2 stocks in coming years.

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