'Dragon Tattoo' color correction presents test for Light Iron

Hollywood post house Light Iron put its two Quantel Pablo color correction systems to the test in carrying out the 4K DI for David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

"Dragon Tattoo" is among the largest 4K movies ever delivered. At 2 hours and 38 minutes, the final DI consists of almost 250,000 frames of 45MB each. Light Iron's Pablos proved more than equal to the task, helping to produce an elegantly cinematic result.

Ian Vertovec, senior colorist and founder at Light Iron, relied on Pablo for all of the color correction and most of the conform process. Pablo "has supported 4K for a long time, but what is interesting is that 'Dragon Tattoo' is 4K plus, and the Pablo was challenged to perform outside of its comfort zone. It did so without a problem," he said.

In preparation for supervised sessions, Vertovec graded and prerendered all of the footage and then video-recorded Fincher's audio and laser-pointer guided notes. Once the director had completed his review and left the facility, Vertovec loaded the video into the Pablo.

"As a result, I had my screen reference with his laser pointer, and I'd split that with the DI. I'd drop his audio in and have that in with the temp audio, and then I would play through the scenes with every note he gave me," says Vertovec. "That kind of structure is what we want to implement to make solid use of his time."

From a technical standpoint, the management and delivery of large amounts of data was a huge challenge for Light Iron. "The key was using two Pablos with shared storage via the GenePool, because it gave us the ability to load materials that were instantly available for Ian's session," says Katie Fellion, Light Iron founder and VP, Technical Post Production. "We had three to four versions of media all loaded in the GenePool shared workspace. To limit ourselves to only one set of rendered materials would have been detrimental to the whole process because we had to constantly refer back to those previous versions."

Few facilities, including Light Iron, have needed to maintain multiple streams of a completely 4K pipeline from start to finish until "Dragon Tattoo;" thanks to the processing power and flexibility of Quantel Pablo, color correcting the 4K+ feature yielded the same speed and efficiency as a 2K delivery.