The Technology Behind VISION3 Color Digital Intermediate Film 2254 and 5254

Published on website: June 11, 2010
Categories: Ana Castro , David Niklewicz , Intermediate Film , Lab and Post Production , The StoryBoard Blog

The increasing use of digital workflows to produce feature films has made possible ever more spectacular and seamless special effects.  The movie experience for audiences today is very different from that of just a few years ago.  From Harry Potter to Alice in Wonderland to Avatar, filmmakers have new creative freedoms that produce amazing results for today’s moviegoers.  The industry has also benefited from the many efficiency gains associated with digital post. 

Right now it’s still a hybrid world with filmed or digitally-originated images feeding into a digital intermediate process which is then recorded out to produce film prints or a file for digital cinema display.  Recording out to produce film prints usually  requires an intermediate film.  From the infancy of the digital intermediate process, Kodak Vision Color Intermediate Film has been the standard used to record out images from those digital files for film distribution and display.

As DI use has grown, however, various types of film recorders have been introduced to the marketplace.  These recorders, such as LASERs, CRTs and LEDs, employ different light sources which expose film to wavelengths of light quite different from the traditional white light-through-color-film-dyes that color intermediate film was originally designed for.  In addition to the different wavelengths, these recorders also employ exposure times in nanosecond range (0.000000050 seconds) as opposed to the traditional exposure times in the hundredths of a second (0.04 seconds).  So, minimizing high-intensity reciprocity failure becomes more critical than ever…in other words, having the film give us the same results regardless of the exposure conditions is very critical.

In talking with customers it became evident that it would be very helpful to our industry partners to have a color intermediate film product designed for/optimized for use with these recorders.  And not just optimized for one type of light source, but one designed for ALL of the recorders.  Based upon these discussions, we created a new intermediate film, specifically designed for use in the digital intermediate record-out process: VISION3 2254.  Characteristics of this film product include:

  • More sensitivity (higher speed) to wavelengths of light used by modern film recorders
  • Improved image structure – achieved through reducing flair and improving sharpness
  • Less color ‘cross talk’ (i.e. reduction of density from unwanted exposure, for example the blue light exposing the green record. Reducing that unwanted density formation results in purer colors)
  • Improved short-term latent image keeping or minimized density variations after the film is exposed … meaning for a 2,000 ft reel of film, the first frame recorded out will look like the last frame.

While we were still in development phase, all these goals were discussed by the R&D team. These goals were very challenging, and we weren’t sure how we would be able to achieve them!  But, we all accepted the challenge and dove into the project.  We initially  worked on the new emulsions, which incorporate new, patent-pending dye systems to make the film sensitive to wavelengths of light for all the various recorders.

In optimizing these emulsions, our scientists had to also co-optimize grain size and ‘finish’ (a complex process of adding the right amounts of various chemicals and heat to improve latent image keeping, raw-stock stability on aging, sharpness, granularity, exposure reciprocity, photographic speed and contrast).  This required several rounds of statistically designed experiments with complex data analyses to arrive at the optimum formulation for the emulsions. 

Once we had the emulsions, the challenge was to incorporate them into a film structure that minimized light scatter to provide improved sharpness.  To achieve the reduced cross-talk, a narrow band of green light-absorbing, non-wandering, process removing dye was added between the magenta and cyan records.

We’re very pleased to say that the team achieved all of this while maintaining the superb cleanliness and high-speed printing robustness of the current 2242/5242 products. –
This month we officially introduced KODAK VISION3 Color Digital Intermediate Film 5254/2254 to the marketplace.  It is designed for use with all contemporary film recorders.  The imaging characteristics of this new intermediate film enhance the speed and efficiency of DI postproduction while rendering noticeably sharper images that more faithfully represent the intentions of filmmakers.

VISION3 Color Intermediate Film is packed full of new technology, all to provide the best possible products for our customers, who continue to push the boundaries of creative story-telling for motion picture audiences around the world.

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