Digital Double O

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 opens in the UK on 16th November and in the US on 17th November 2006. The latest James Bond adventure is directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

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. Essentially a relaunch of the franchise, the film takes our hero back to his action-spy roots, as well as introducing us to a new Bond in the form of Daniel Craig.

Grain and Glamour
Adam Glasman, Framestore CFC’s Head of Digital Grading, 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, “And 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.”

Glasman’s aim was, as ever, to serve the film makers. In this case, to complement when possible Phil Meheux’s handsome and glamorous look. 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. He swiftly cottoned on to this and proved very sympathetic to work with.”

One of Glasman’s main tasks was bedding in the film’s VFX shots. “It’s one of the kinds 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 ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® something which is 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 B&W pre-title sequence which opens Casino Royale had been shot by Meheux in a quite 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.”

Elsewhere, Glasman was able to enrich the grade’s colour, suggesting the heat and dust of a tropical Madagascar; and there were a number of weather fixes where the consistency of blue skies and the colour of the sea needed to be preserved.

From RGB to X’Y’Z’

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. This involved providing digital files for the universal digital projectors that will eventually be taking over from film in cinemas world wide. In the US alone, Casino Royale is being digitally screened on some 200 screens at 135 cinemas.

These new files involve a completely new type of colourspace – 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.

With fantastic reviews and word of mouth to match, Casino Royale has already broken all previous opening day UK box office records for a Bond film. James Bond will, indeed, return…

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

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