Image Systems (formerly Digital Vision), leading developers of high-resolution image processing, film scanning and motion analysis solutions for the entertainment, defence and automotive industries, has announced that The Criterion Collection has purchased a Phoenix Finish system, which will become central to its restoration activities of classic and iconic films.
The Criterion Collection, headquartered in New York, is a highly regarded company revered for its film library, and its management and repurposing of content. Criterion gathers, restores and distributes some of the greatest films from around the world and distributes them in the highest technical quality. Since its installation, the Phoenix has been used on Ken Loach’s Kes, named one of the top ten best British films of the century by the British Film Institute (BFI); Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing and Satyajit Ray’s The Music Room. Lee Kline, Technical Director of The Criterion Collection, says, “Kes was a particularly challenging project with really tough vertical scratches in the original camera negative. We didn’t have any other tools tackle this as well as Phoenix, so we were excited to see the results. It was almost magical.”
Criterion has an in-house unit that completes post production on the titles it distributes. Phoenix is an integral part of an end-to-end restoration pipeline at the film distribution company and was put in place to increase efficiency and improve quality in its mastering and restoration efforts. Kline explains that Phoenix was primarily used for initial scratch removal, light dirt, and some grain reduction with DVO Clarity. The DVO Clarity feature automatically addresses noise and grain reduction through algorithms, grain characteristics analysis, a motion estimation engine, and an innovative spatio-temporal filter. Kline also notes, “As we began to test the Phoenix, I don’t think we realised initially how powerful it could be. After applying its toolset to a few challenging projects, we saw how the Phoenix works in ways that others don’t. It offers us a critical piece of our workflow puzzle to create the best possible masters for distribution.”
According to Kline, The Criterion Collection is continuing its move towards file-based workflows. For a number of years, it had extremely positive feedback from its technical team that was using the Digital Vision DVNR, a comprehensive, flexible, hardware-based system for telecine and tape-to-tape image processing. Criterion’s movement to a 4K pipeline put increased demand in place for the highest quality tools. “There was no other system that came close to the first pass that Phoenix does,” Kline adds. “Every time we start work on a film, we track down the best available film elements in the world, use state-of-the-art equipment, and only a select few colourists are capable of meeting our rigorous standards. It says a lot!”
Phoenix Finish is a complete restoration, re-mastering and repackaging solution focused on creating the highest quality deliverables from film or tape-based materials. Ideal for DI, restoration and archive workflows, Phoenix Finish combines the best in automated, semi-automated and manual restoration tools, with strong editorial and mastering features providing ingest, conform, editing, colour grading and a comprehensive set of delivery formats.
Martin Bennett, Head of Media BU, Image Systems, says, “We are delighted to announce this sale to The Criterion Collection who are major players in the restoration field and have been dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them at the highest technical quality. By using Phoenix Finish – with the inclusion of the awarding-winning DVO image processing software tools – facilities such as Criterion never have to compromise on image quality.”