The Digital Intermediate - Miscellaneous


When I commenced building this website which trust me feels like a very long time ago considering it is now on its third facelift and has officially moved domains to a more appropriately titled one. I remember having a list as long as my arm, covering the areas I felt would fully represent the Digital Intermediate in any kind of scope and depth, hopefully to be useful or at least informative. Plus trying not to be overly technical or worse, dull, although in my heart I know there are a few sections which need a little more interest - how you make calibration sexy though is beyond me?

I realised as this website grew, the way technology progresses will continually change the DI workflow. When I first started in the industry as a Data Operator, eons ago in FX, the production disks myself and my colleagues were responsible for, numbered I believe around 4 terabytes! Which let me tell you was an astronomical figure back then. When ever I mentioned the size, friend’s mouths would gape. The cost alone of the production disks were the cost of a small house back then too!

When the companies DI Lab (I believe the first in the UK) opened, our disk space more than doubled over night, a further 6Tb came online. Data management was excruciating. Even simply transferring data between production disks and the DI lab, which in essence were separate entities but housed within the same building, was frustratingly slow. Transfer was approx 2 frames per second (anyone remember HIPPI), which now horrifies me, especially when you can transfer 2K in real time and faster. Also most of this happened in the wee small hours, doused to our eyeballs in caffeine and now I have a caffeine intolerance I wonder how I would survive? The data transfer had to happen late when the main operators were tucked up in bed because any access time to disk affected the front end user, slowing the interface or worse freezing it completely. Now all of the back room jiggery pokery can happen in the background because bandwidths are so much bigger, unsung heroes we were.

During my tenure within the industry it has amazed me how digital data and speeds have increased to such an extent it certainly has changed the way things work. To view an effect which was being composited in 2K, back then dailies meant either crowding round a calibrated computer monitor while each low resolution set of images were loaded into a flicker book and reviewed. Or alternatively, every shot was printed back to film and viewed the following morning on the optical projector. An expensive, labour resourceful and painful procedure, especially when you need to review the shot again and again, some may not have even been 24 frames long! Blink and you missed it. Fortunately the facility I worked in had a specialised projector which could run at lower speeds and could 'rock n roll' - go forwards and backwards, which normal projectors simply cannot do. Many years later I purchased that original projector second hand (by accident) for my own DI lab - it still had my hand scrawled labelling on it (fond memories).

Today we can watch 'data' dailies via a fully calibrated projector in real time 4K, or two streams for stereoscope. Even when I first joined Quantel and they were playing High Definition in real time, which is smaller than 2K, I was utterly amazed at the progress and could see what their innovations could and would do.

The point is I realised the subject is vast and open ended. The landscape is always changing along with the operating technology. What does seems impossible today will probably be the standard tomorrow. Which is ultimately what this Miscellaneous section is all about, it will allow me to additively expand the website with innovations and new ideas or workflow, plus any fun stuff I can think of adding, so please keep checking back for new additions, or if you have any idea you would like to see please drop me an email.