Santa Monica-based Company 3 recently provided sophisticated color grading and postproduction services for Twentieth Century Fox‘s action thriller, Prometheus. Colorist Stephen Nakamura graded multiple versions of Ridley Scott’s 3-D science-fiction adventure, translating the vision that Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC, designed in subtly different ways to make the most of each of the different projection systems being used for the film’s theatrical release. These include traditional RealD (projected at approximately four footlamberts) and RealD’s higher brightness protocol (designed for projection at six footlamberts). Company 3 also provided additional grading services for the IMAX 3-D and traditional 2-D versions.
Nakamura used Company 3’s dark fiber network to grade sequences from his Da Vinci Resolve theater in Santa Monica while Scott watched the work progress in real time at the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot, where the director was also engaged in the sound mix on a nearby dubbing stage. Scott watched the images projected with the RealD system in the large theater and the two could compare notes via teleconference.
Nakamura graded the first pass to optimize the imagery for the brightness level of the standard RealD system and subsequently adjusted and fine-tuned the material for the higher-brightness 3-D versions. He then completed yet another pass to make the most of the 2-D version, which is screened with brighter projection and is absent the softening effect that 3-D glasses can introduce.
“The difference between the versions is subtle,” Nakamura noted. “But obviously, artists like Ridley Scott and Dariusz Wolksi want their visuals to be amazing at four or six footlamberts and this way of working really helped us fine tune the finishing process very efficiently.”