ASC gets into digital

Cinematographers bow standards initiative

HOLLYWOOD — The American Society of Cinematographers has launched an initiative to establish standards and practices in the booming digital filmmaking arena.

“We will cut through the marketing hype about emerging technologies and make informed recommendations that serve both the art of filmmaking and the public interest,” said cinematographer Curtis Clark, chair of a recently established ASC technology panel that includes 50 cinematographers and showbiz tech leaders.

Clark said the ASC’s move comes in response to the explosive growth of digital technology and the attendant expansion of platforms for filmmakers, including DVD, HDTV and digital exhibition. “We see a need for control from the filmmakers’ point of view so the fidelity of the original can be maintained through post-production,” he explained.

The goal, Clark said, will be to go beyond the current practice of “de facto” standard-setting, in which the prevailing technology tends to be established by market forces. The panel also has established subcommittees on cameras, digital intermediate and digital cinema.

Camera group

The camera subcommittee is chaired by visual effects d.p. David Stump and plans to recommend guidelines for imaging characteristics such as resolution, dynamic range and exposure latitude. “We will recommend imaging tools and camera features that provide filmmakers with more creative flexibility and latitude at affordable costs,” Clark said.

The digital intermediate subcommittee is headed by visual effects pioneer Gary Demos and will recommend guidelines for the purpose of enhancing and preserving the intentions of the cinematographers who created the images.

Clark said the ASC technology committee also will recommend guidelines for recording processed digital picture files onto intermediate film and into digital files at resolutions sufficient to retain the artistic intentions of cinematographers’ images.

Projection standards

Jerry Pierce, senior VP of technology at Universal, heads the digital cinema subcommittee to recommend standards for digital projection. Ron Garcia is overseeing the design and production of suitable test footage for the Digital Cinema Initiative group to use for evaluating digital cinema projection systems.

“We are building bridges between the creative community, distributors and exhibitors who share a common interest in enhancing the moviegoing experience for audiences in affordable ways,” Clark said.

Clark’s feature credits include “The Draughtsman’s Contract,” “Extremities,” “Dominick and Eugene,” “Triumph of the Spirit” and “Talent for the Game.”

He also compiled several hundred commercial credits and founded NeTune Communications in Los Angeles, which offers broadband network distribution of digital dailies and real-time video collaboration for editing and visual effects.

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