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HomeCraftsPostproductionTrend Spotting-Kodak Digital ICE

Trend Spotting-Kodak Digital ICE

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Since Kodak first came out with its Digital ICE last fall, Arri has sold a handful of scanners outfitted with the company’s infrared dust-busting and scratch-removal technology. Imagica plans to integrate Digital ICE into its upcoming Imagica HSX scanner, but it’s unclear when that will ship. Digital ICE is a system built into the scanner, which uses an infrared light source to illuminate dust, debris and scratches on the surface of the film to generate a defect matte. That defect matte is then handed over to Digital ICE’s correction software which automatically eliminates those defects. The system is built around a portfolio of infrared dust-busting patents that the company acquired in 2004. Post houses are expected to pay a $25,000-per-year license fee to Kodak for the Digital ICE-enabled version of the Arriscan (or the Imagica when it comes out). Version 1.0 of Digital ICE had two settings (aggressive or non-aggressive), but its changes were automatically baked into the output, an idea that made some post houses nervous. So Kodak recently put out a press release announcing the release of Version 2.0 of Digital ICE, which “more fully integrates with other postproduction applications and offers more output options.” “This upgrade enables facilities to create pristine digital picture files faster and more efficiently. It will speed up and enhance the workflow for digital intermediate, visual effects, film restoration and other applications,” said Kim Snyder, general manager, Worldwide Origination Products, and VP for Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division.How so?The upgrade in question is the ability to get the “untouched” information out of the scanner along with a separate defect matte—in other words, the ability to work around Digital ICE’s image correction software, and pass the untouched images off to other third-party applications from companies like da Vinci, Autodesk, MTI, Pixel Farm, Digital Vision or The Foundry—or other software-based dust-busting systems.”Snyder notes that the ‘untouched’ information feature can be more efficient for facilities that have invested in other dust-busting workflow technologies,” said the release.The only catch is that it still costs $25,000 per year, whether it’s on or off.Marty Oehlbeck, licensing and IP manager, Kodak Entertainment Imaging explained that the “untouched” output feature was a key new addition in version 2, and that it was based on customer requests. “We had input from our partner Arri, and they had input from their clients who said that they would be happier if they had that kind of capability,” explained Oehlbeck. “We had a couple of high-end clients in particular that said that they really wanted to utilize the workflow that they had put in place, so they saw that as a useful feature, to be able to [switch] it on and off.”da Vinci Systems was first to announce that it will support the Digital ICE defect matte with the release of Version 4.6 of its Revival film repair and restoration system. Revival’s new “Dirt Matte” feature will read the DPX file with the embedded defect matte to isolate and automatically remove dirt and scratches identified in Kodak’s defect matte. This will help speed things up for Revival. Plus artists can run Revival’s own automatic dirt detection and processing feature in addition to the Digital ICE matte. Revival goes beyond just physical defects on the surface of the film like dust and scratches, catching defects that have already been baked into the film, and offering features like deFlicker and grain noise removal. “Even though a first-level scratch and dust removal is being done by Kodak Digital ICE ‘on-the fly,’ it is crucial to have a strong second-level dust- and scratch-removal software such as Revival for the final touch up,” said Elfi Bernt, ArriScan product manager.Oehlbeck said that he expects other dust-busting developers will support Digital ICE by NAB. “Digital Ice was never intended to replace those,” said Oehlbeck. “It was intended to augment those. And so for a production that was particularly sensitive in terms of cost or turn around time, the amount that you would do with downstream tools vs. the amount that you might do onboard in the scanner might be variable.”Makes sense, but still, isn’t it odd to announce that your latest upgrade is the ability to turn off your product, or bypass it? “Some people might perceive it that way, so it’s important that we address that,” said Oehlbeck. “The actual key feature is the processing of the raw infrared information to produce the proper information in the defect matte. That’s actually taken years of research and significant invention.”Hmmm…

Written by Scott Lehane

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