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VTR complete work on BBC’s ‘Deep Blue’

Soho commercials and digital film post house VTR has completed landmark postproduction on ‘Deep Blue’, the 35mm feature-length ocean documentary now on theatrical release in cinemas worldwide.
The work was carried out through VTR’s D-Cinema@VTR division.
Deep Blue was created as a high-quality cinema experience from more than 7,000 hours of raw material shot for the BBC’s award-winning, eight-hour television series ‘The Blue Planet’. It is the first project to harness the power of Digital Intermediate (DI), a feature film postproduction service offered by D-Cinema@VTR to conveniently re-master broadcast programming for theatrical release.
Conceived at the same time as the television series, Deep Blue was green-lit to meet the growing demand in cinemas for theatrical documentaries. The movie was directed by Alastair Fothergill and Andy Byatt at the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit, and produced by BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media.
Key to the visual success of the production are the sharp and vivid images output by the DI team at D-Cinema@VTR, led by colourist Mick Vincent, who conformed, meticulously colour graded, and then mastered the production to 35mm film.
"The demands of working in the oceans meant The Blue Planet television series was shot on a wide variety of different formats,” said Alastair Fothergill. "The DI team at VTR did a wonderful job grading the film and the images look spectacular even on the largest cinema screens."
Mike Fraser, VTR’s cinema consultant, said: "Deep Blue was made possible by the power of DI technology.
"Working closely with the BBC we have helped create a breathtaking filmic experience. Deep Blue demonstrates just how practical DI is in helping producers develop new markets for their programming."
The team at D-Cinema@VTR was involved on Deep Blue from the very first stages of the project, providing technical and creative guidance about optimal ways to repackage the original footage for theatrical distribution on 35mm. The Blue Planet series was shot on a variety of production formats and at different resolutions – including DV, Digital Betacam, Super 16mm, plus 35mm library shots.
BBC editor Martin Elsbury cut the movie to length using selected takes from The Blue Planet series. All of the material, except for the Super 16mm, was upgraded at the BBC to High Definition (1920 x 1080), and delivered to VTR with an EDL. The Super 16mm takes were scanned to the same resolution via Spirit at VTR.
All of the material was then imported into Specter, VTR’s main DI system, for conforming and real-time colour grading. Alastair Fothergill and co-director Andy Byatt spent eight days in Specter, with Mick Vincent, grading the production.
The expertise of VTR’s team in optimising DI for film projection enabled the directors to incorporate practically every shot they had chosen from the raw material.
To ensure the film looked its best on cinema screens, digitally graded sequences were shot out to film on a regular basis via VTR’s Arri laser film recorders and then checked in a screening theatre.

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