Atlab shoulders Oz digital post

Co. fills in missing pieces to service offerings

SYDNEY — Although “Moulin Rouge” was shot in Sydney, a big chunk of the production process — the digital recording and scanning — was done in the U.S. because there are no such facilities in Australia.

But that kind of lucrative high-end work soon won’t have to go offshore: Atlab, the country’s dominant film lab, has just approved the purchase of hardware to establish a digital lab facility within its Sydney operations.

Atlab has ordered digital Imagica scanning, ArriLaser recording and assorted digital image processing hardware and networks, slated for installation by August.

Execs say this is a move that gears the company toward being able to both digitally master and distrib prints to cinemas.

“This first-phase purchase enables us to provide a number of much needed new service lines in Australia and further develop D-cinema applications across the group,” Atlab managing director Murray Forrest says.

National manager Alaric McAusland says such full film resolution scanning and laser recording have been “the missing pieces in the feature post-production jigsaw puzzle in the region. Without this investment it will be increasingly difficulty for Australia and New Zealand to secure post-production contracts for international features, particularly from the U.S., where this technology is readily available.”

There used to be a digital recording and scanning facility in Sydney — Dfilm, which handled films such as “The Matrix” and Dark City” — but it shuttered about 18 months ago.

Atlab is part of the Greater Union exhib group, which recently merged its technology and service division (which supplies equipment to cinemas) with Atlab.

Atlab services almost every feature film shot Down Under, handling everything from dailies through to release printing.

As well as “Moulin Rouge,” its current or recent projects include Phillip Noyce’s “The Quiet American,” the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Down and Under” and Warner Bros.’ “Scooby Doo.”