The economy may be faltering, but Hollywood post production facility LaserPacific Media Corporation, which is owned by Eastman Kodak, just announced a new business unit for digital motion picture mastering and re-mastering. Heading up the new unit will be Ron Burdett, founder/owner of Sunset Digital and recent recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Post Alliance, and Lou Levinson, long-time senior colorist at Post Logic Studios.

Burdett will be general manager of the new mastering unit and Levinson will be the supervising colorist, announced LaserPacific CEO Brian Burr, who pointed out that Burdett “literally helped invent the mastering business.

“The expanded unit was born a number of months ago around this realization that file-based delivery and home video re-mastering was going to be a focus of the studios over the next years,” says LaserPacific president Leon Silverman. “Of course we’re already in the mastering business and have done a significant amount of it in the past. But one of the things that was important to us was to have a very focused, dedicated unit that we could leverage some of our existing pipeline and grow some new infrastructure dedicated to this as a separate line of business.”

That meant creating “a world-class team” with people who “have spent their careers focusing on this and have vision on where to take these technical/creative functions into the future,” adds Silverman who notes that Burdett played a major role in creating “this atmosphere and attitude on how creative people are dealt with in the mastering environment and how that evolved into DI.”

“So many directors and cinematographers learned the art of the digital master at Ron Burdett’s “school” and having him join us created incredible depth,” says Silverman.

Levinson has worked with a long list of distinguished directors and cinematographers and digitally mastered numerous major motion pictures. He helped create the Standard Test Evaluation Materials (SteM), which served as the definitive reference for the evaluation of digital cinema systems and standards. He also chairs the Digital Intermediate Sub-Committee of the American Society of Cinematographers Technology Committee where he played a role in creating the ASC CDL (Color Decision List).. “We were looking for someone not just to sit behind a console but to have a strong creative and technical point of view about where these businesses are going and how the workflow needed to be articulated and how they’ll evolve,” he says.

Silverman points out that with Blu-ray and next generation digital displays, consumers can now see every single pixel in a way they couldn’t in a CRT world. “The need for high resolution elements that can serve file-based delivery is apparent,” he says. “LaserPacific is a part of Kodak and we’ve had a role at Kodak in preserving our film heritage by bringing to bear color science technology. One thing we’re doing is to utilize our knowledge of the creative intent of the filmmaker to recreate how that element looked as a film print, translated into today’s digital file-based elements.”

Other members of the new unit includes colorist Tom Forletta, who has 13 years of mastering experience specializing in both motion picture and television titles; veteran quality assurance specialist Fred Johannsen and David Houck, who will head mastering client services. They join LaserPacific’s existing roster of colorists Dave Cole and Mike Sowa, who will also participate in the mastering operations. Sowa is a protégée of Levinson, whom he worked alongside at the industry-pioneering High Definition Center at Universal Studios.