On November 17, Sony Pictures Entertainment held a gala party to celebrate the opening of Colorworks, a digital intermediate (DI) facility boasting real-time 4K grading and an end-to-end 4K pipeline. Located on Stage 6 of its lot in Culver City, the facility ColorWorksLogoformerly housed the Technicolor DI facility, which has since moved to Hollywood.

One of the chief benefits of Colorworks is the efficiency provided by its location, a few feet away from several large mixing suites. In this way, the director can attend to both the DI and the sound mix–both of which take place simultaneously at the end of post–within one facility. More typically, the director is forced to drive between facilities.

Chris Cookson, President of Sony Pictures Technologies, was pleased to introduce Colorworks to the industry, saying that “Sony

Chris Cookson

Chris Cookson

Pictures is uniquely positioned at the intersection of entertainment and technology.” He noted that Sony Pictures worked with IBM among other vendors, for a total of what he says will ultimately be 5 pedabytes of storage.

To handle the huge amount of data required for real-time 4K, Sony developed a digital production and distribution infrastructure called the Digital Backbone.  Also connected to the Digital Backbone is Sony Imageworks, the VFX facility. “The operating philosophy is to ingest DPX files at the time of dailies,” Cookson said. “Then they’re all accessible online and we can put the files into play for visual effects or whatever is required. From then on, it’s all handled online.”

The 14,000 square foot center features a full complement of FilmLight gear, including three Baselight EIGHT systems for the 4K grading theater (which are also designed for 3D stereoscopic feature film work);  two Baselight FOURs for use in suites designed primarily for television projects and two Baselight Assists, for pre-grading and other preparatory work. The systems are linked via FilmLight’s high-speed cloud network and Sony’s proprietary network. Each Baselight EIGHT is equipped with 96TB of storage. Each 4K grading suite is outfitted with a Sony 4K projector and a Kinoton film projector. “In building a new facility from scratch, Sony Pictures had an opportunity to deploy state-of-the-art workflows and the most current technologies in
every facet,” said Craig Risebury, President of FilmLight’s U.S. subsidiary.

In addition to the gear, Colorworks offers the talent: colorists John Persichetti, Steve Bowen and Trent Johnson, whose credits include a combined total of hundreds of pictures from across the major studios. Persichetti’s credits include Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Shorts and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Bowen’s credits include Zombieland, Angels & Demons and Frost/Nixon. Johnson’s credits include Michael Jackson’s This Is It, Push, and Zemeckis’ Christmas Carol. In both the DI suites and the mixing stages, Sony artists showcased work from the 3D Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, This Is It and Zombieland, the first three projects to be completed at the facility. The facility will serve Sony Pictures’ and other clients’ projects.

Also featured in the facility, said senior vp Bob Bailey, is a variety of scanning and recording equipment, including the Digital Film Technology Scanity and ARRI recorders. Autodesk Smoke, MTI Control Dailies and The Pixel Farm’s PF Clean are also installed. Colorworks also provides mastering and restoration.