Magazine article Metro Magazine

Digital Intermediates-Getting It Right

Magazine article Metro Magazine

Digital Intermediates-Getting It Right

Article excerpt

The Digital Intermediate

The task of any intermediate process--tical or digital--is to capture and maintain all of the information (detail, sharpness, colour, and even grain structure) of the original image with no loss, so a print from a duplicate negative will be as good as a print from the original.

Not all digital processes work at the same exacting level of quality. 35mm film and conventional photochemical duplication sets a very good standard and represents the best value in the cost versus quality relationship, with speed and simplicity on its side too. Digital intermediate processes, at their best, compete with this quality. Lower cost digital processes offer the convenience of the same range of post-production tools, but with some compromises in image quality.

Film Scanning

In the digital intermediate process, the original negative is first scanned into the digital realm. The most accurate way to scan film, naturally enough, is on a film scanner--such as the Imagica Imager XE. Each frame is locked into the gate with precisely-fitting register pins, for optimum sharpness and steadiness. All the detail and colour depth of the original negative is captured with no compression or loss.

High definition (HD) telecines offer an alternative real-time method for digitizing. However, they provide lower resolution and compressed data, sacrificing some image and colour precision and depth. Arguably this is adequate for a final product, but it does limit the extent of digital manipulation or correction that can be done.

Film Recording

At the other end of the process, of course, is the film recorder. Some film recorders are based on a CRT with a relatively slow-moving flying spot--most of these shoot onto original camera negative stock. However, the Arri Laser recorder has become established as the benchmark machine, with well over 100 in use worldwide. The brighter laser beams mean that much finer-grained duplicate negative stock (specifically designed by Kodak to match the characteristics of laser recording) may be used. The Arri Laser recorder comes with 2000ft magazines so that complete splice-free reels can be output.

Digital Colour Correction

Traditional film graders have always worked miracles with just the primary colour controls at their disposal, and often this (the photochemical route) is the most effective way to go. Digital Colour Correction brings an expanded palette, such as secondary colour correction, restoration of faded colours, and dynamic grades. …

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