Magazine article American Cinematographer

Post Focus

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Post Focus

Article excerpt

Inside Technicolor's New Hub

An August story in the Los Angeles Times declared that Technicolor had recently "invested more than $200 million in its production facilities" at a time when "much of Hollywood is scaling back." The article referenced the debut of Technicolor's new, six-story headquarters in Hollywood and expansions at other Technicolor facilities around the world, and alluded to Technicolor's goal of "keeping pace with the digital revolution that has reshaped the entertainment industry."

The new building does retain some familiar components, such as two floors dedicated to traditional telecine systems and the company's servicing of tape-to-tape color-correction. The building's physical location, near the venerable Sunset-Gower Studios, is where the film industry was born more than a century ago, and its interior walls, adorned with vintage photos, spotlight Technicolor's rich Hollywood history.

Still, a tour of the facility makes it clear that the company has embraced the industry's inexorable move toward digital production and post workflows and is offering comprehensive ways to manage those new paths. In truth, Technicolor was pursuing that agenda long before it moved into its new headquarters, which has become a foundation upon which the company's various digital initiatives can finally come together. For the first time, Technicolor is able to plug its Creative Bridge on-set service and equipment-rental business, its DP Lights previsualization service, its data-centric Fanfare dailies-mastering system, its HD Dailies on Demand viewing system, and its evolving Web-based, remote color-timing collaboration system for digital-intermediate workflows directly into a single, centralized, digital hub for clients in all sectors, working in all formats and using a myriad of workflow approaches.

"The concept is that we should have a data-centric model, but one that is agnostic," explains Marco Bario, vice president of theatrical reproduction for the company. "Once you build your hub, it doesn't matter if the material was acquired on film or digitally, or what your production workflow was. You can connect to our systems and we can turn the material into data, perform the services needed and make it all look good coming out the back end.

"I'd like to say this was all figured out exactly when we drew up plans for the new building, but in some ways, the egg came before the chicken," he continues. "We wanted a new headquarters, but we couldn't build it just for today's workflows. This was an opportunity to start with a blank piece of paper and integrate all these different solutions into one building. We've essentially built a pipeline that resembles a Dl pipeline, except it runs from the very start of the process to the very end."

In planning the new facility, Technicolor knew many of its customers would continue acquiring on film while a growing customer base would be capturing digitally. "They would all need different workflows, so the idea was to build something robust enough to let them do whatever they want to on the front end, knowing our pipeline here could support it," says Bario.

DP Lights, a front-end prévis system designed to give cinematographers more color control throughout production and into the Dl process, now enables productions to emulate different film stocks, grades and saturation levels during early testing, dailies, the editorial process and so on, all without altering the original data. "We've updated the system to export information in the industry-standard ASC CDL format all along the chain," says Brian Gaffney, vice president of Technicolor Creative Bridge. "On set, clients can shoot however they want and get a color-correction system that has real-time, dynamic film emulation integrated into it. They can switch back to their original picture to see the blacks or the highlights with some true, meaningful value, and they can plug all of their data into our pipe with increased options. …

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