Magazine article American Cinematographer

FotoKem Takes Lexus to the Max

Magazine article American Cinematographer

FotoKem Takes Lexus to the Max

Article excerpt

Audiences for the Imax 70mm/15-perf film Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk will not only enjoy the giant-screen exploration of human risk-taking, but also experience total immersion in a car commercial. Up on the screen, some 80' or 90' wide (depending on the venue), will be an enormous diptych illustrating the Lexus IS's attributes, alternating between wide shots of the car maneuvering curvy roads and close-ups of the luxurious appointments inside.

Shot by Alex Lemarque and directed by Francois Vogel, the images came out of a shoot done last summer in Prague with a mostly French crew. Shot in 35mm for a DigiBeta finish, the commercial was broadcast in the United States earlier this year. El Segundo agency Team One subsequently decided it wanted a version that could be exhibited in Imax theaters. "There had been discussions about running a Lexus spot in Imax, and this spot seemed appropriate," says Jack Epsteen, executive producer for Team One. "It's designed to make the viewer feel it's a luxury car that handles like a sports car. It made sense to put it in front of Adrenaline Hush."

The agency approached the Burbank post house FotoKem to see if there was a way to transfer the DigiBeta version to 15-perf 70mm. FotoKem's technicians explained that the resolution, latitude and color information would be vastly reduced - even transferring DigiBeta back out to 35mm film would seriously compromise quality and on an Imax screen, there would hardly be anything left. Instead, Andrew Oran, vice president of sales and operations for FotoKem's large-format division, suggested going back to the original camera negative, scanning at 4K, and then re-posting the spot and filming out to 15-perf 65mm negative in 4K. FotoKem had recently implemented a full 4K digital-intermediate (DI) workflow and was eager to increase its share of the large-format post market. "We wanted to be able to show just how good advertising can look in Imax," says Oran. "It's such a tactile experience. That giant screen can communicate with the viewer in ways that television and even regular theatrical commercials can't. But you have to start with high-resolution imagery to get that effect. The rule of thumb is that the 15-perf 65mm format is approximately nine 4-perf 35mm frames. [The effect] is something beyond the typical way an audience interacts with a motionpicture image. When you watch a movie [in a normal theater], you're more aware of the frame. This Lexus ad is 4K and enormous, so there's really nothing between the viewer and what's onscreen."

Naturally, the large format exaggerates the tiniest imperfection, just as it enhances what's good in high-quality imagery. "Perfection is harder to come by in Imax," acknowledges Oran. "Working in this format is very exciting for us, but it's also a challenge."

The agency delivered the original camera rolls, and FotoKem scanned them at 4K on its lmagica XE Advanced "Bigfoot" scanner, translating each film frame into a DPX file of nearly 50 megabytes. Each frame then went through dust-busting using Mathematical Technologies Incorporated (MTI) software. "The tiniest speck of dust will be the size of a basketball on an Imax screen," notes Jose Parra, digital producer at FotoKem.

The material was then brought into one of FotoKem's DI suites using Quantel's new iQ4 and Pablo colorcorrection system. Colorist/digital artist Walter Volpatto conformed the digitized film frames based on film edge numbers and the DigiBeta version. In addition to re-creating the spot in a higher resolution, FotoKem had to finish it at 24 fps, rather than the 30 fps (with a 3:2 pulldown) of the DigiBeta version. …

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