November 25, 2006

Digital 007

Casino Royale, the latest James Bond adventure directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, has opened in the UK and the US. Working with director of photography Phil Meheux, Framestore CFC's head of digital grading, Adam Glasman, created Casino Royale's full digital mastergrade. In addition to producing multiple versions (UK, US, and international) of its normal DI deliverables, the project marked another successful step into the future of cinema for Framestore CFC, as the company provided Sony with Digital Cinema Masters of the film.

Casino Royale is the 21st Bond film to be produced under the aegis of Eon Productions, in a series that began in 1962 with Dr. No.


Glasman worked closely with the film's cinematographer, Phil Meheux, for the six-week digital mastergrade. "The first two weeks we spent on the HD version, which was used for the previews," explains Glasman, "At that stage, the final effects were still being delivered and the edit tweaked. Then, once the edit was locked, we moved onto the film DI. We were able to use the HD database as a starting point for our work on this."

Says Meheux, "One of the great things about working with Adam was his background in photography. It meant that I could talk to him about things like contrast and skin tones as a cameraman, in a non-technical way. I'm interested in what is pleasing to the eye, rather than what's technically correct."

One of Glasman's main tasks was bedding in the film's VFX shots. "It's the kind of project that really benefits from the DI process," he says, "We were able to finesse these shots in seamlessly. For one of these sequences, we applied some camera shake in the DI -- something more commonly applied during the VFX work. The VFX people and the film's editor, Stuart Baird, joined us in the digital suite to add the shake to some of the non-VFX shots. It was useful to be able to review the work on the entire sequence in the DI suite, rather than on a shot-by-shot basis and to modify and refine the effect in real time."

The black-and-white pre-title sequence that opens Casino Royale had been shot by Meheux in a dark and film-noir style. Says Glasman, "There was a danger of losing some of the black-clothing details in this sequence, so we tweaked that a bit. In particular, with the flashback fight that occurs, Phil wanted a lot of contrast and grain applied to it, in order to amplify the violence. We really pushed the highlights, making it grainy and gritty."

Framestore CFC's digital lab engineers, Eric d'Souza and Ian Redmond, also had their work cut out on the project, as they produced the company's first DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) deliverables. It involved providing digital files for the universal digital projectors that will eventually be taking over from film in cinemas worldwide. In the US alone, Casino Royale is being digitally screened on roughly 200 screens at 135 cinemas.

These new files involve a new type of colorspace -- Cap X'Y'Z' (pronounced Cap XYZ Prime). Development of this new technology has been going on within the company for many months now, in collaboration with the technicians at Filmlight, who created the hardware and software used by the Framestore CFC DI team.

Casino Royale has already broken all previous opening day UK box office records for a Bond film.




Casino Royale
An MGM, Columbia Pictures and Albert R. Broccoli's Eon Prods. presentation
Produced by Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Directed by Martin Campbell

For Framestore CFC
Head of Digital Lab Ben Baker
Executive Producer Jan Hogevold
Colourist Adam Glasman
Producer Maria Stroka
Conform Editor Mike Morrison
VFX Conform Editor Charlie Habanananda
Assistant Producer Sarah Micallef
Digital Colourist Brian Krijgsman
Trailer Conform Editor Annabel Wright
Scanning and Recording Manager Andy Burrow
Scanning and Recording Operators Paul Doogan, Joe Godfrey, Jason Burnett, Dan Perry
Head of Data Operations Dan Victoire
Data Operators Vishal Songara, Simon Wessely
Compositors Adam Hawkes, Louie Alexander
Digital Paint Nicholas Stanley, Aaron Lear, ODean Thompson, Savneet Nagi, Stuart Nippard
HD Mastering Kevin Lowery, Yan Jennings
Digital Lab Engineers Eric DSouza, Ian Redmond