FilmLook at 25: Company Evolves From Mimics To Maestros

Tech innovator turns to producing and boutique post as it celebrates its silver jubilee

Back in 1989, when videotape was king in TV production and post, filmmaker-engineer Robert A. Faber invented a process called FilmLook — manipulating video to make it appear more like film by mimicking film’s gray scale, contrast, grain and frame rate (24 frames per second instead of video’s 30fps).

“We ran into a lot of opposition,” recalls Faber. “People who were involved in film-shot television thought we were sacrilegious.” But in 1992 the TV Academy recognized FilmLook with a plaque for Achievement in Engineering Development, and the process found a market in TV productions that wanted a cinematic feel.

Today the original FilmLook process is defunct, but the company is changing with the times. “There’s still a perception that the only service we offer is making video look like film, but we’re a full-service post house,” Faber says.

With digital cameras supplanting both film and videotape, Faber sees the 24fps look surviving and thriving. “Extended dynamic range will be utilized in the near future, but will have real value only when skillfully applied as another tool for the cinematographer.”

Faber and co-founder Anna M. Cordova felt that “getting into bed” with their clients was the way to go, so FilmLook has branched into producing. One project is “Captain Daddy,” an animated pilot with showrunner Mitch Schauer (“Garfield and Friends”) attached. The show is at WME, hoping for a pickup. The company is also a producer on a feature thriller, “Murder 101,” with Tom Sizemore.

“We’re trying to do more for our clients; that means championing projects we believe in,” she says. “Post is tough, but so is producing. We’ve met (clients’) needs in order to survive for 25 years. And we’re pretty certain if we keep doing that, we’ll survive another 25.”


25 Years of FilmLook: 

1989 –  Robert A. Faber and Anna M. Cordova found FilmLook.
1990 – Patent awarded for FilmLook post-production process.
1991 – First reality shows in FilmLook: Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” and ABC’s “American Detective.”
1992 – Patent awarded for the 24-frame progressive video camera. FilmLook and Faber receive Academy of Television Arts & Science plaques for Achievement in Engineering Development for the FilmLook Process for Film Simulation. First Saturday ayem children’s show adopts FilmLook: “Beakman’s World” (CBS – TLC)
1993 – First primetime comedy series in FilmLook, NBC’s “The John Larroquette Show” and CBS’ “The Nanny”
1994 – First feature-length documentary in FilmLook, “Hoop Dreams”
1997 – First soap pilot in FilmLook: ABC’s “Port Charles”
1999 – The first FilmLook sports series, ESPN Classic’s Emmy-winning “50 Greatest Athletes.”
2001 – FilmLook begins offering color-correction services.
2002 – Sony licenses FilmLook’s patent to build cameras for “Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones”
2003 – Disney Channel shows begin using FilmLook, starting with “That’s So Raven.” Later shows to use FilmLook include “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” “Hannah Montana” and “Corey in the House.”
2003  – Eminem uses FilmLook for musicvideos for the “Anger Management”  tour.
2005 – FilmLook begins offering audio facility services.
2008 – Forms production company Chautauqua Cordova Entertainment.
2010 – Company name changed to FilmLook Media & Post as offerings expand.
2012 – Co-produced first film, “Murder 101,” with Upper Laventille Productions

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