Director’s View: December 2001

Coloring the Magic – the telecine process

Last week, after getting a great rate and deal from our telecine company Company 3, I went in for my first experience with the telecine process. First, I wanted to do the telecine elsewhere, at my friend’s Jackie, whose negative cutting company Magic Film & Video Works also is equipped with a telecine bay. It was my first standoff with my DP Curt, who insisted on using PJ, the colorist at Company 3, with whom he had worked several times before. Well, sometimes you win a few, and sometimes you lose and it’s still a win. You guess right, we telecine’d at Company 3. First round for the DP…


I felt a little better, when Company 3 gave me a great deal, considering this independent filmmaker had to pay for the telecine process out of her won [pocket from the few dimes that were left after shooting the demo and feeding the crew with Flemish Fries in Amsterdam.

While, PJ, our colorist, was just finishing up with a trailer for a major Hollywood film, I could get a good view of how the different color settings changes the mood of the film.

After my Curt, my amazing DP arrived, we started our own coloring process. It was the first time that I saw my footage after we shot it in the Netherlands. Besides trying to set the right color and thus the look of the film was not the only thing in my mind that night. More than ever, while watching the different shots pass by, I was very aware of the whole filmmaking process. How I had pictured certain shots in my mind months before, how we encountered location limitations in trying to match that vision and how ultimately the color, and the vision in my mind differs slightly from the ultimate shot after the film is processed and gets loaded into the computer for telecine. It was clear to me that the learning process never stops when you make a film, from the moment of the inception of the idea till the moment your film, after its release in theaters or on TV, comes out on video or DVD.

We did the telecine process in 2 days, with a week apart, the last week we laid the earlier color corrected work back on Digi-Betacam after syncing the sound. And what a clear sound it was, which was recorded loud and clear by our amazing sound guy Ken King. A man, who once worked with Tarantino on Pulp Fiction, and who graciously, went once more independent, this time with me on the Dutch shoot. Could it have been the project or was it the Fries, once depicted in a Pulp Fiction-scene, and which he needed to try out for himself? (Read more about that in tech talk, the Production coordinator diary).

Well, the telecine process resulted in Digi-Betacam tapes in a vault and 6 VHS-dubs for me work on to make a demo, which hopefully will convince broadcasters and potential co-producers that Disappearance Act is a project that can work magic for them.

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