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DI-FX and the DI Process


By Eric Green
In a few short years digital intermediate technology has changed the face of an art by giving filmmakers a greater degree of control over color and contrast. “Digital intermediate is the wave of the present, a marriage of film and digital incorporating the best of both worlds,” says Jordan Kessler VP of postproduction at Nu Image Inc.
One of the first features to use the process, Joel and Ethan Coen’s O’ Brother, Where Art Thou, lensed by Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC used DI as a tool to create the look of the South of the 1930s. Another early DI film was Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie, which transformed Paris’s Montmartre neighborhood into a dazzling array of color.
From those non-FX films the process went on to be used in big-budget blockbusters like Bad Boys II, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. And it was not lost on the world of independent filmmaking either, which looked at DI as another artistic tool. The list of cinematographer that have used the process include Elliot Davis, the late Jean Yves Escoffier, Don Burgess, ASC, Dante Spinotti, ASC and Dean Cundey, ASC.
Price is still an issue for moderately budgeted films. Today DI costs considerably more than traditional color timing. Also, some studios are still hazy about the benefits. More and more post houses offer the service, including Cinesite, Post Logic, Sunset Digital, IO Film, EFilm, Company 3, Ascent Media and Technicolor.
“The future of DI being widely used may be further down the road than we think,” says Ascent Media VP of west coast sales, John Knowles, who asks prospective clients specifically why they want to use the process. For the most part, though, the overwhelming sentiment in the creative community is that DI is a great tool that will be integrated as a standard part of the postproduction process.

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