Color grading long-distance

From Cameron to Technicolor, correcting now done from afar

Much of the excitement around digital filmmaking comes from the ability to work long distance. Much of the “Avatar” pipeline, for example, was set up to let James Cameron do such diverse jobs as editing, color grading and sound mixing from a single location. Similarly, Michael Bay was able to do a digital intermediate session for “Transformers 2” via a remote hookup from Japan to Company3 in Santa Monica.

Not to be outdone, Technicolor has formally unveiled its own offering, Technicolor Remote Grading.

The service connects calibrated 2K projectors at Technicolor facilities in cities as far away as London and Hollywood. Marco Barrio, VP of theatrical post-production for Technicolor Creative Services, said: “We have clients working with that colorist as if they’re sitting in the same room. The color matches, it’s in real time, and the quality is the same as if they were sitting in the same room with the colorist.”

Because the projectors and labs are all calibrated, prints also match what filmmakers in the two locations see.

Technicolor says the most notable aspect of the remote grading service is that clients can ask for it on short notice. “We literally are doing a couple of sessions a week now,” Barrio said. “We see a ton of demand for it.”

Lionsgate and Warner Bros. have used the service for trailers, including Warner’s for Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which was finished in 4K.

Anthony Syslo, VP domestic marketing services for Warner, told Daily Variety that using the service “saves us a lot of time and trouble getting a filmmaker from Europe to the U.S.” as well as saving time viewing and approving prints.

It’s saving money in the amount of material that’s output, plane flights, schedules for filmmakers (who don’t have to leave one project to work on the trailer for another) and last but not least, the time issue, because advertising stuff is so time-sensitive.”

So far, Technicolor Remote Grading is available at the company’s London, New York and Vancouver offices. Company expects to bring Toronto online soon, with more locations early in 2010. It will start testing stereo 3D capability early in 2010 as well.

In other Technicolor news, Ahmad Ouri has been upped to chief marketing officer for Thomson/Technicolor. In the new post, he’ll oversee marketing, communications and branding for all of Paris-based Thomson. He will remain based out of Technicolor’s Hollywood offices.

Move signals even greater clout for Technicolor within Thomson, which has struggled under massive debt and has shifted its focus to the Technicolor brand.

Technicolor has also tapped two toppers for its a new business unit focused on integrated digital content delivery and device management. They will focus on “the convergence of content, cloud-based applications and a variety of devices for use at home and on-the-go.” Cloud-based applications are expected to be a major trend in the next decade.

Gudorf is former CEO of Diego Inc. and has long experience in consumer electronics. Lee was CEO of Channel M and has worked at Disney, Fox, GeoVideo Networks and IBM. He won a Technical Emmy in 2005.

The flurry of pre-CES stereoscopic 3D (S3D) announcements is accelerating, and more are expected soon. JVC Kenwood has joined Sony in licensing the RealD format for delivering HD-quality S3D. It will also integrate RealD’s passive-glasses technology, similar to what’s used in RealD theaters, into its LCD displays. A RealD spokesman said it’s too soon to be sure whether free RealD glasses from movie theaters will work with JVC’s televisions.

With Sony using RealD active glasses and JVC Kenwood using RealD passive glasses, RealD is well positioned regardless of which technology emerges as the de facto standard. Like active-glasses rival Xpand, RealD is supporting the DLP-Link system for active glasses.

S3D movies have been taking off, but S3D ads, even in theaters, have been slow to follow. So it qualified as news when an early show of “Avatar” in San Antonio was preceded by a one-off showing of a U.S. Air Force recruiting ad, “dimensionalized” (that is, converted to S3D) by Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based In-Three.

An Indiana U. study years ago said S3D images had greater emotional impact and greater retention. If so, the ad industry is likely to embrace S3D as soon as it’s widely available to it.

Part of MasterImage’s recent announcement that it had been acquired by an American investment group was the news that it would supply technology for more than 200,000 mobile devices with “auto­stereo” screens — S3D without glasses.

One-off demo models of an autostereo iPhone have been seen at tech events in the U.S., but for the most part, such devices have been more rumor than reality.

Not so in Asia. Japan’s Hitachi and KDDI Corp. have developed a mobile phone with an S3D display, named WOOO H001 and announced in February, but it has been sold only in Japan. Using their technology named Cell Matrix, MasterImage provided 280,000 S3D LCD panels, worth $4.3 million, for the phone.

MasterImage and KDC Corp. also announced in August that they made a deal with Chinese mobile manufacturer View Star Technology Co. to supply 19,000 S3D LCD modules (2.2 inches, with the deal worth $450,000). View Star Technology plans to develop an autostereo 3D mobile phone and commercialize it next year.

Another KDC subsidiary, iStation, is developing a new model of its popular Portable Media Player products with an S3D display, again using MasterImage technology.

Sony, which has been upgrading its sound facilities and team, has lured re-recording mixer Paul Massey to the studio. Massey’s credits for 2009 alone include “It’s Complicated,” “Star Trek,” “This Is It” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” … James Cameron has a reputation for being tough on his crews, but there’s some buzz in the biz about a full-page ad he and “Avatar” producer Jon Landau took out in Cinefex magazine, thanking the virtual lab and visual effects teams. It lists dozens of names and says, “We would fly into battle with you any time.” … The vfx industry’s shift away from proprietary software to de facto standards and commercial software continues. Framestore, the largest vfx studio in Europe, has licensed Nuke — the same compositing software already in use at Digital Domain, Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic and Sony Pictures Imageworks. … Brothers Michael and Peter Cioni have set up a file-based post facility, Lightiron Digital, in West L.A. The Lightiron team includes chief technical officer Chris Peariso; exec producers Katie Fellion and Paul Geffre; colorists Milton Adamou and Mark Todd Osborne; and finishing artist Matt Blackshear.

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