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By Bankston, Douglas; Holben, Jay | American Cinematographer, December 2006 | Go to article overview

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Bankston, Douglas, Holben, Jay, American Cinematographer


ASC Technology Committee Update

by Douglas Bankston

The four-year anniversary of the ASC Technology Committee is a mere month away, and though four years might seem like a blip within the grand history of motion pictures, the effect the committee is having on the industry is seismic. As productions shift to digital workflows, the committee has formed initiatives with such groups as the Art Directors Guild, Producers Guild, American Cinema Editors and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - each of which has formed a technology committee of its own, based on the ASC's model. The ASC's goals are simply stated but complex to achieve: how to best implement digital technologies so that data can be easily exchanged while maintaining image integrity throughout the workflow, thus presenting and preserving artistic intent. Though a motion-picture Utopia might not result, at least a friendly working environment will.

Members of the ASC Technology Committee recently shared their observations about the progress the committee has made and what comes next.

Curtis Clark, ASC, chair "We're entering a new phase, one of tighter integration between all the stages of motion-picture production. The interaction between our various Technology Committee subgroups that deal with key constituents of the workflow is becoming more critical, and the Workflow Subcommittee [led by Al Barton from Sony Pictures, Gary Morse from 20th Century Fox and Howard Lukk from Disney] was created to be the "meet-me room" where a lot of the interaction between the other subgroups can help facilitate better integration of their respective accomplishments into the most effective workflow solutions. Focusing on workflow integration has really become the key to success. The workflow subgroup also includes art directors from the Art Directors Guild [ADG] and members of the Producers Guild, with which our relationship is growing. In fact, we're talking about creating an event where the ASC and the ADG put on demonstrations and seminars to help better educate Producers Guild members.

"We're looking at how to weave emerging technologies together into something that makes sense for working out the best visual approach to story-telling for a given project. This includes establishing and managing chosen looks throughout the various stages of preproduction, production and post, from art department previsualization through live-action shooting through incorporating references for the dailies scan and/or telecine transfer, as well as ongoing references used by visual-effects supervisors and digital artists in CGI and colorists for digital mastering in the final stages of Dl [digital intermediate]. This is what the committee's focus will become in the coming months. We've seen the different subcommittees dealing with different facets of one workflow process, and we are now weaving those processes together.

"It's good that we didn't realize how enormous this whole project would be when we started, because the group was nowhere near as advanced as it is now. But the Technology Committee literally is growing with the workflow process, and we've been influencing important aspects of its development since the committee's launch almost four years ago. The committee has been right there at every stage of the DIs evolution, for example, influencing important aspects of its hybrid film/digital image management.

"The DI Subcommittee is focusing on consolidating the advances and the steps of the ASC CDL [Color Decision List], an important means for sharing critical color-correction information between different color-correction platforms, and creating some de facto, openarchitecture standard. There seems to be enough support at the moment to suggest that this will become an industry standard implemented by all the color-corrector manufacturers. It's important foundational technology where we can implement the integrity of the look throughout the imaging chain, through editorial, through digital effects and the visual-effects process - all the things that are critical and increasingly prevalent in the way films are being made.

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