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Stephen Nakamura interview


For colorist Stephen Nakamura, handling the digital intermediate for Spider-Man 3, Sony Entertainment’s revenue-spinning summer blockbuster, presented both a new challenge and an opportunity.The DI for Spidey 3 was done in 4K, the first major 4K film for Technicolor Digital Intermediate as well as for Nakamura, who has previously done about 20 2K digital intermediates for the Technicolor division on films such as The Aviator and The Departed, both directed by Martin Scorsese, and more recently, director David Fincher’s Zodiac.The demanding Spider-Man 3 project also presented a perfect way to put Technicolor’s new state-of-the-art Westside DI facility, located on Sony’s backlot in Culver City, through its paces. “On a 4K DI you have more tools to work with and they’re more powerful,” says Nakamura. The most sophisticated new tool he employed was the latest da Vinci Resolve color corrector, which provided the latitude and options to enable a 4K DI. More software-based than earlier versions, Nakamura explained that “with the Resolve, I have more control over the picture. It’s cleaner. And I can do more things selectively. “It’s possible to latch on to individual colors or highlights, say a character’s skin tones, as well as secondary colors, and do a blur or a defocus on almost an unlimited number of channels,” he explains. “Now at the same time, in the same shot, you can have a defocus blur on four, five, or six different keys that you’re trying to pull, which is something that the 2K doesn’t have. On a 2K you have basically one defocus board.”Nakamura estimates he spent 10 weeks of 12- to 15-hour days working on the Spider-Man 3 digital intermediate. Director Sam Raimi was frequently present throughout the long slog as was Bill Pope, the film’s director of photography. The DI was finished in April, a few weeks before the film’s worldwide launch on May 5.”Effects-heavy movies like this one always require spending much more time in the DI room than a normal movie,” the colorist notes. Spider-Man 2 also underwent a 4K DI. That was done by competitor EFilm, and at the time, it was a first for any feature film.Sony’s switch to Technicolor for the sequel was the result of the new strategic relationship between Sony and Technicolor Digital Intermediate that led to the construction of the new DI facility at the studio. However, the facility was so new that its laser recorder was not yet fully integrated, so EFilm in Hollywood handled the filmout. Deluxe Laboratories in Hollywood made the prints.Sony has made a major commitment to 4K digital intermediates, but other studios are also coming around. For Technicolor, its new satellite DI unit at Sony is the company’s first studio-based digital intermediate facility. It has three DI suites, two with the Resolve platform, and one with the Autodesk Lustre color corrector for 2K digital intermediates. It is connected to Technicolor’s Burbank and Hollywood operations by a 10-gigabyte broadband pipe that is large enough to send finished films. It also offers access to the 14 Arri Laser film recorders housed in the Burbank facility.Doing the DI at Sony conserved time and energy for director Raimi. “It saved him hours of driving across town,” notes the colorist. “He could walk over here in two minutes.” It’s proximity to other Sony postproduction units on the historic Culver City lot, especially Sony’s world-class sound mixing facility as well as its special effects unit, was another big plus.”One of the great things we did on this was to calibrate our look-up table for film with Sony Imageworks, where the effects were done,” says Nakamura. “So when Sam was signing off on his effects there, he was seeing the same thing here. When you see an individual shot by itself, it doesn’t mean that you may not tweak it later. But when he’s in here, he has a confirmation that the shot looks like what he signed off at Sony Imageworks.”Next up for Nakamura: He’s furiously finishing the DI for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer which Fox releases June 15. Then it’s another sequel, The Bourne Ultimatum, with Matt Damon.

Written by Jack Egan

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