Digital Filmmaking as it Was:

Digital Film post production was first developed out of the TV-Based, post production techniques pioneered specifically for TV Production. Those technologies were developed out of the weird and complex world of TV Broadcasting, and required the use a ‘Telecine’ chain, which was designed to convert Film into TV Signals with resolutions far inferior to that of the original 35mm film, along with non-film frame rates of 25fps or 29.97fps, as used in Broadcast TV. This meant that the original 35mm film was converted into a sub-standard version of itself, and either sped up a bit for 25fps editing, or slowed down a bit to 23.976fps with a complicated 3:2 pattern introduced to allow that to be displayed as 29.97fps. This is very complicated stuff.

Even the advent of High Definition TV, which has a resolution closer to Film so the actual output retains a lot of the original resolution of the film, the frame-rate issues still remain. The reduced color-space of HDTV also puts limitations on the color-grade process, resulting in limitations on the creative process. Even the highly expensive Tape formats, developed to handle TV images in real-time, add to these problems by using compression to the data they store.

There is, in fact, no existing tape format which does not add its own form of compression to the captured media, and some, such as HD-Cam-SR re-sample the 1920x1080 square-pixel format frame down to 1440x1080 rectangular-pixels, to match standard TV pixels, thus introducing an extra ‘acceptable’ level of compression prior to compressing the image even further using Jpeg style compression. Added to this is the NTSC frame-rate of 29.97fps, which forces a ‘compatible’ 24fps film to be slowed by 0.1% to 23.976fps - well it all gets stupidly complex and expensive.

Add to this whole process the added requirement that once your decisions on editing have been made, those decisions are then used to perform the Telecine process a second time – as the first Telecine is usually done at lower quality settings on your entire footage, as a ‘one-light’ transfer, and then each shot in your final master must be re-transferred at higher quality for your final output – as a ‘selects’ transfer. This adds enormously to the overall costs, and slows the entire process down with an overly complicated work flow.

Obviously these techniques are not ideal for Film in any way, and are artifacts of the Television standards developed in an ad-hoc way over the last 50-60 years. For Film, these are relics, and custom Film-based techniques will quickly make them as extinct as a dinosaur.

Digital Filmmaking as it Can Be:

Enter the process called “The Digital Intermediate” (DI) work flow. It is developed specifically for Film post production, and provides a complete and affordable alternative to old-fashioned one-light Telecine, with its expensive, linear videotape formats, and non-standard frame-rates. DI maintains the original quality and subtlety of the Film throughout, allowing the full power and image manipulation capabilities of the modern digital computer to be brought into the Film post production process.

Gone is the expensive Telecine, with its ‘direct from the film’ color-grade requirement, along with multiple passes of the film, which also required expensive film cleaning and handling. Instead of this, our Digital Film Scanner scans your Film straight from the processing laboratory, and produces pristine, full-range DPX files, which are highly accurate, digital representations of the emulsion contained on each frame of the original Film itself. At the same time, it will also make a lower resolution, ‘proxy’ file (Quicktime ProRes422, Avid DNxHD or any other standard format) ideally suited for editing and other critical decision making tasks.

Gone is the need to use expensive, TV-styled, linear videotape formats. Instead of this, the DPX files and ‘proxies’ are stored on inexpensive, portable, external hard-drives for subsequent manipulation using computer software tools, such as Avid Media Composer or Final Cut Pro for editing, DaVinci ‘Resolve’ or Apple ‘Color’ for Color-Grade work, Autodesk ‘Maya’ or Softimage ‘XSL’ for CGI, Adobe ‘After Effects’ or Avid ‘DS’ for compositing/finishing, etc.

Once the editing decisions are made, the final film is simply ‘conformed’ (re-exported), using the original DPX files along with any VFX or CGI scenes provided by your VFX experts, and your Titles and Credits. Color-grade may be done to finalize the look directly to the resulting master, or may be performed at any stage prior to that – for example, you may need to color-grade prior to any CGI work so the critical look of final effects work can be determined.

Final theatrical versions, DVD versions and TV versions are quickly made from this Final master, using well defined, standard techniques. Frame rates for differing TV standards are just as easy to export from this 24fps master.

Our scanning services are
available 24/7
(pre-booking required)
with a fast turnaround time,
so you can receive your dailies
only a few hours
after your film has been processed.

For more information, call us at
310.593.4444 or e-mail us at

Or visit our LA office to see our
scanner in action.