FotoKem tackles IMAX ‘Wild Ocean 3D’ DI with Pablo 4K

Giant Screen Films’ “Wild Ocean 3D” documents a natural phenomenon of staggering proportion: the annual migration of sardines — billions of them — along the coast of South Africa.

It is a beautiful and moving story IMAX audiences worldwide will soon have the chance to experience in 70mm stereoscopic 3-D thanks to the work of a team of pioneering filmmakers and the Quantel Pablo 4K.

Produced by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, creators of the British stage sensation STOMP, “Wild Ocean 3D” reveals the feeding frenzy among dolphins, sharks, sea birds and other creatures that accompanies the migration of the tiny fish as well as the efforts of businesses, governments and individuals to preserve this fragile resource. Film crews spent nearly two years, working both above and below the water, capturing footage to tell the tale. The film, which recently screened at the Giant Screen Film Conference in London, will be released later this year.

Post-production work was completed at FotoKem, in Hollywood, with conforming and final color grading performed in a DI theater equipped with a Quantel Pablo 4K with the stereoscopic 3-D option. The entire 40-minute film was finished in 4K, for subsequent film out to 70mm film, making it the first Giant Screen 3-D film finished as a complete 4K DI to be graded and conformed in the 4K format.

While 4K files are four times as large as 2K, the massive file size didn’t slow down post thanks to the Pablo 4K-based workflow, said Daniel Rapo, a producer with FotoKem’s Digital Film Services, who oversaw the project. “What we were able to accomplish working in 3-D 4K with the Pablo 4K was simply not possible even one year ago,” he said.

Most of the above-water material was shot on various 70mm film formats, while underwater sequences were recorded with pairs of HD cameras housed in specialty 3-D camera rigs. In preparation for final post, film elements were scanned at 8K and “downrezzed” to 4K. The HD media was “uprezzed” and digitally enhanced.

Creating a balanced, consistent look for the various source media was the focus of much of the five weeks that were devoted to final post. FotoKem colorist Walter Volpatto performed the grade. Cresswell and McNicholas and the films’ underwater and above-water DPs, D.J. Roller and Reed Smoot, attended most sessions. Using Pablo 4K, Volpatto was able to grade scenes for review at 2K that were projected in 3-D onto the DI theater screen.

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