"How the Light Gets In"

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MTI film recently provided a package of post-production services for How the Light Gets In, a cerebral crime drama about a New York City detective, under investigation for his involvement in a suspicious shooting.  The independent film marks the feature directorial debut for Steven Fierberg, ASC, well known for his work as a cinematographer on such shows as The Affair and Entourage. The script was written by Jude Severin, who also stars. MTI Film’s Barbara Marshall is among the film’s producers.

Produced on a micro budget, the film was shot in an improvised manner in various locations around New York. Fierberg notes that much of the film was captured with a Nikon DSLR as it allowed him to work quickly and operate unobtrusively in Central Park, the subway and other public locations. The production also employed several other camera systems, either owned by Fierberg, lent by manufacturers or borrowed from friends. They included ARRI Alexa, Canon C300 Mark II, RED Epic, Sony A7, and Canon 5D Mark III.  “the crew was typically me, our D.P. Nick Coleman (succeeded by Erin Henning for the second half of the film), a sound man, the actors, and, maybe a friend who’d act as P.A. for the day. That was it,” Fierberg recalls. “Nick and I would discuss the shot, then he’d set up the camera, while I set up the light. It was a tiny, tiny shoot.”

Having worked on mainstream television productions with hefty budgets, Fierberg says that he enjoyed the challenge of a project with lots of heart, but limited resources. “I’ve done a couple of shots on The Affair that cost as much as this whole movie,” he notes. “In shooting a party scene for television, you might have two cameras, 100 crew people and 150 actors. In this movie, I had one light that I had to carry up a flight of stairs and plug in myself. But there’s joy in that too. This movie was a miracle.”

MTI Film provided dailies services during production and later handled editorial conforming, color grading and deliverables. Colorist Tanner Buschman applied the final grade. “Tanner had the job of making material from all the different cameras and lenses look consistent,” Fierberg says. “He did a phenomenal job, not just technically, but creatively.”

Fierberg notes that How the Light Gets In was conceived in the tradition of classic New York cop films with their seedy locations and colorful cast of characters. During the grading sessions, he and Buschman worked to draw out the city’s quintessential vibe. “We captured the edgy, street-feel of New York,” he recalls. “The movie has a big fight scene in a parking garage and another fight in a bar in Harlem. It needed a gritty, realistic feel.”

Working in a theater environment, Buschman graded the film on a Digital Vision Nucoda system in P3 color space. That allowed him to achieve a filmic look, accentuated by the subtle introduction of film grain. Recurring flashback scenes, set in a bar, were pushed slightly further to make them stand apart from the central narrative. “We didn't want hyper-realism for our flashback footage,” Buschman explains. “So, we went in the opposite direction and made it de-saturated and smoky to distinguish it from the present and give the bar an uncomfortable feel.”

Fierberg has high hopes for the film as he works to secure distribution, but he says it couldn’t have happened without the support of many other parties who believed in the project. He cites the contributions of editor Phil McLaughlin, assistant editor, Jacki Trinh, and MTI Film Executive Producer Barbara Marshall. “Barbara, Phil and Jacki helped us take material that was shot over two years with different camera systems and form it into a coherent whole,” he says. “There would be no movie without them.”

Restoring a Jim Henson Classic

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MTI Film recently completed a 4K restoration of Time Piece, a 1965 short film written, directed and starring the late Jim Henson. The story of a man’s desperate attempt to escape the passage of time, the short received an Academy Award nomination and is a testament to Henson’s underappreciated work as an experimental filmmaker.

Restoring the film presented formidable technical hurdles. The original film negative had been lost. Searches conducted by The Jim Henson Company turned up several 35mm inter-positive and inter-negative prints, the best of which was an IP made in Germany during the 1960s. MTI Film technicians scanned that print in 16-bit 4K HDR using a Lasergraphics Director high-speed scanner, and used it as the basis for restoring the film’s live action scenes. The film’s colorful graphics elements were restored from scans made from inter-negatives.

All the original elements were compromised by the passage of time. “The problem with the print was that it had faded a lot,” recalls MTI Film Director of Restoration Wojtek Janio. “When you look at the raw scan, it’s completely red. But, thanks to the magic of modern grading technologies, we can draw a lot of information out of the picture that you can’t see and bring back the original color.”

MTI Film processed the film through two stages of color grading. An initial pre-grading stage was used to reestablish basic color balance, while a final color pass was used to hone the look and touch up details. Between the two grading passes, the film went through rigorous restoration processing. Technicians used MTI Film’s digital restoration software DRS™NOVA to remove dust and scratches, stabilize and fix warped frames, and eliminate flicker.

“The source elements were badly damaged in terms of dust particles and scratches,” notes Janio. “The flicker tool and other new features of DRS™NOVA proved very effective, allowing us to deal with problems quickly and effectively. The results are excellent. The film looks amazing.”

MTI Film’s Larry Chernoff Honored with HPA Lifetime Achievement Award

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MTI Film takes great pride in announcing that its CEO, Larry Chernoff, is the recipient of the Hollywood Professional Association’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. The HPA’s highest honor, the award is presented to “an individual who is recognized for his or her service and commitment to the professional media content industry.” The award was presented by HPA president Seth Hallen during the annual HPA Awards ceremony, November 6th, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

In addressing the sold-out crowd, Chernoff spoke of the inspiration provided by his parents and about the highlights of his career from shining shoes on Broadway in New York at age ten, through his involvement in the launch of many successful post-production companies, including FilmCore, Encore and RIOT.

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Chernoff shared his special fondness for MTI Film. “MTI is the culmination of everything I’ve ever strived for a company to be,” he said.  “Creative, innovative, and a stable, family oriented environment where customers and employees feel at home.  MTI is a company that has endeavored to punch above its weight.  A company that has its roots in mathematics, its imagination in technological innovation, and its heart in artistic expression.”

He closed by thanking his colleagues, customers and family, stating, “I look forward to going to work tomorrow and continuing what has been a true adventure where I can turn to our customers and say, ‘Shine ‘em up!’”

MTI Film Adds Lasergraphics Scanner

New tool promises to boost efficiency and quality of material worked on in Restoration.

  The Director high-speed film scanner from Lasergraphics

The Director high-speed film scanner from Lasergraphics

MTI Film’s restoration division has gotten a significant boost through the acquisition of a Lasergraphics Director high-speed film scanner. The system can perform high resolution, pin-registered scanning from virtually any film source and includes cutting edge features for safely handling film, managing warpage and detecting dust, scratches and other common artifacts. It’s an ideal tool for restoration and remastering projects, especially those destined for HDR, Blu-ray or other high-resolution delivery.

MTI Film exhaustively tested several leading film scanners and found Director to be the clear winner. “It delivered a level of detail not present in other scanners, especially with color film,” recalls Head of Restoration Wojtek Janio. “It also offered greater flexibility in terms of its ability to handle both film negative and print film.”

The Director has a proprietary pressure plate to flatten warped film. Its unique double- and triple-flash scanning option for extraordinary results in capturing shadow detail in print film.

MTI Film is currently using the Lasergraphics Director in restoring the 1931 Paramount Pictures drama Confessions of a Co-ed. Directed by David Burton and Dudley Murphy, the film is notable for a rare onscreen performance by the Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker).

MTI Film In Asia

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For the sixth consecutive year, MTI Film traveled to China to take part in the Beijing International Radio, TV and Film Exhibition (BIRTV 2017). Company representatives were at China Film Equipment’s booth demonstrating DRS™NOVA v3 and Cortex v4.  DRS™NOVA is the dominant digital restoration software in China with dozens of installations in that fast-growing market.

“We expect to continue generating strong interest from companies involved in restoration and remastering in China and throughout Asia,” says MTI Film CEO Larry Chernoff.” DRS™NOVA version 3 is a significant advance, with new and improved features for flicker, color breathing, stabilization, de-warping, and version export.”

  MTI Film Presence at the BIRTV 2017 Entrance. Image credit to RIEDEL Communications

MTI Film Presence at the BIRTV 2017 Entrance. Image credit to RIEDEL Communications

CORTEX also had strong appeal for producers and post-production suppliers in Asia. Cortex v4 includes a comprehensive toolkit with IMF, AS-02 and DCP packaging, an extended edit tool and officially-certified Dolby Vision metadata editing capabilities.

BIRTV is the largest industry trade show in Asia and one of the world’s premiere showcases for new film, television and broadcast technology. Last year, the show included more than 500 exhibitors, while attendance topped 50,000. BIRTV 2017 highlighted the latest developments in media convergence, IP production, 4K and HDR, and digital post production.

After BIRTV, Chernoff traveled to Tokyo where he was warmly received by several DRS™NOVA customers. He demonstrated v3’s new features and taught a class in the software at QTec, one of Japan’s leading post-production service companies.

He also met current and future CORTEX clients including NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting company. MTI recently helped NHK use CORTEX to convert AAF files for offline editorial use and, based on that success, the company plans to integrate additional CORTEX workstations into its workflow.

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At Photron, an MTI reseller and industry leading technology supplier, Chernoff found more enthusiasm for CORTEX v4.  Japanese users have great interest in IMFs and appreciate the speed and features CORTEX provides in managing them.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Chernoff was thrilled to learn that Photron had facilitated the sale of several new CORTEX seats. “They’re one of our best resellers,” he said. “We’re extremely proud of the work they’ve done on MTI’s behalf.”

Alex Chernoff Applies Brilliant Finishing Touch to New Videos

Young MTI Film colorist teams with Director Phillip R. Lopez for work from Pussy Riot, Cold War Kids and Watt.

   Straight Outta Vagina  by Pussy Riot. Color by Alex Chernoff

Straight Outta Vagina by Pussy Riot. Color by Alex Chernoff

MTI Film colorist Alex Chernoff has developed a fruitful collaboration with Phillip R. Lopez, a young director who’s been garnering a lot of attention for his visually stunning short films and music videos. Recently, Alex worked with Lopez to finalize the look for three new videos, including a release from Russian punk band Pussy Riot with the provocative title Straight Outta Vagina.

A hip-hop feminist anthem, the video is set in a church and a tiled bathroom (the actual shooting location was the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles) and includes a cast of children, dancers and female body builders. “It’s about the power of female sexuality,” says Producer Matthew McCluggage. “It reminds men where they come from.”

Color is used creatively in the video to set the trippy, celebratory mood, establish locations and reinforce the band’s brand. “We drew out the gold in the classical design of the theater to give it the feel of a Russian Orthodox church,” explains McCluggage. “We played against the green in the tiles of the bathroom scenes and went for a warmer look in the mirrored shots. Overall, we emphasized the blues and the yellows, the band’s signature colors.”

“It’s a strong look,” adds Alex. “Phillip and I worked hard on the church scenes and are very happy with how well they turned out. We used a grain tool throughout to give it a filmic look—that’s something I often do with Phillip’s work.”

   Love is Mystical   by the Cold War Kids. Color by Alex Chernoff

Love is Mystical by the Cold War Kids.Color by Alex Chernoff

Alex also applied the final grades to Love is Mystical from the Cold War Kids and Burning Man from the rapper Watt (featuring Post Malone). In the former, most scenes are presented in reverse motion and colored in soft, dreamlike tones. “The goal was to capture that feeling of a first kiss, or first falling in love,” Lopez explains, “the way time can stop, move backwards and you get totally lost in that mystical moment.”

   Burning Man  by Watt (ft. Post Malone). Color by Alex Chernoff

Burning Man by Watt (ft. Post Malone). Color by Alex Chernoff

Burning Man, meanwhile, casts Watt and Post Malone as deliverymen who lace an office water cooler with LSD igniting (literally, as it turns out) a wild party. Alex says that he and Lopez had fun adding a psychedelic cast to scenes of office workers dancing in piles of shredded paper and covered in Post-It notes. The video climaxes with a man running down a hall after he has been set on fire. “We made the fire super-hot to make it feel more real,” Alex says.

McCluggage observes that Alex is a valuable creative partner as he understands intuitively the visual aesthetic Lopez is seeking to achieve. “Alex has really refined his craft,” he says. “And, as a young artist, he relates well to the music and contributes great ideas during post.”

Criterion Collection Employs MTI Film’s DRS Nova in 4K Restoration of Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy.”

Criterion Collection Employs MTI Film’s DRS Nova in 4K Restoration of Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy.”

The Apu Trilogy¸ considered the greatest work of Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, was recently the subject of a meticulous 4K restoration by the Criterion Collection in partnership with The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, aided by MTI Film’s industry-leading restoration software DRS® Nova.

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