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                                        SOHO IMAGES
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From the biggest blockbuster to the most modest indie, Collard believes that his company – along with those others that fall under the Ascent Media umbrella – offer a uniquely comprehensive service to satisfy the needs of just about any potential client.
“Although we have individual branding and we are individual compa- nies we’ve worked very hard to remove any barriers between us. We want to make it a very open process going from one company to another, so that peo- ple can work across two or more com- panies and feel comfortable with it.”
With Soho Images facilitating both digital and traditional post- production, others in the group have their own specialisations.
There are the high definition post specialists at St. Anne’s Post; effects house and commercials post compa- ny Rushes; commercials post compa- ny One Post, (which also hosts the only motion control studio in Central London); Todd AO Creative Services which provides film development and post production services for broad- cast television; negative cutting serv- ice Computamatch; and Ascent Media Management Services offering dupli- cation and restoration services for all formats, with dedicated services for their music and agency clients.
The list goes on. Stream Digital Media specialise in DVD authoring for features, while Visiontext provides subtitling and closed captioning for DVD, broadcast, video and multimedia.
Not excluding the cable and satellite transmission aspect out of the equation, they also include Ascent Media Network Services, which have three locations - Charlotte Street, Hawley Crescent and the newly acquired Stephen Street, (for- merly LPC).
“If you walk in through the front door of Soho Images you could fill your basket and walk out with every deliver-
able you might possibly want. That’s the concept anyway,” says Collard.
The aim is to deliver on whatever need a client may have, and it certain- ly looks like the Ascent Media group have most eventualities covered.
“Let’s say a commercial is shot on 35mm. We’re really just doing the rushes on it, the neg developing and a transfer to Beta SP. As a company Soho Images never deals with that film again. It goes into the commercials editor who will work it through on his Avid. From there it will be neg cut, and the selected shots will be removed. That might be done by Computamatch, who are coveniently situated just across the road at Hammer House.
“They’ll probably do the over- length select, and after that it will then come back to a company like One Post or Rushes for the telecine grade of those selects. That will then be laid down onto D1 or digi-beta, if it’s for standard definition. Or on D5 if it’s for high definition.
“Then it will be loaded into an Inferno, or one of the top end Henrys, and post produced as a commercial with all the effects added and titles and everything else. If there’s any CG work involved, both One Post and Rushes have got very strong CG departments and 3D departments.”
So for Soho Images, the business of turning used stock into viewable footage is an overwhelming priority. With the choice of digital post produc- tion and traditional, anticipating just what the client might require is a vital factor in a company remaining com- petitive in a crowded marketplace.
Collard continues: “In our business, we’re sitting in very rapidly changing times and we have to be very alert to those changes. Fortunately we have a foot in both camps, one in traditional film and the other in digital post production.
“And it’s not just the big budget movies that are going digital. Quite a
lot of independent feature films are finding enough money to go the digital intermediate route. It’s more expen- sive, costing at least as much again, but it gives you greater flexibility and the ability to grade a look in whatever way you want.
“You can have any degree of satu- ration on any shot, or combine differ- ent formats together so you can have some DV material, some 35 and 16. You can create any level of de-saturation and de-colouration you like. You can remove faults in pictures, or add little lights, there’s lots of polishing you can do in the video domain that you can’t do in traditional film grading.”
Soho Images offers an efficient service for productions of all shapes and sizes.
Says Collard: “What we do here is operate a very strictly calibrated serv- ice for the processing of the digital negatives, which are shot out on re- recorders, and the calibrated print that goes with that. We have a dia- logue with the individual facilities in terms of measurements and numbers that enables this to be done in a very precise way.
“We run a day bath and a night bath – and we’re the only company to doso–sothataclientcangettwo bites of the cherry with us. What we get in by the middle of the day we can turn round as a rush print by 5 o’clock in the afternoon, which they can then look at and work on some more. At night, they can get more into us and have it back in the morning. That obvi- ously has an impact on how fast they can work.”
Handling smaller jobs on bigger block- busters for clients such as MPC, Cinesite or CFC Framestore carries with it the whiff of Hollywood glamour, but it is only a small part of the Soho Images operation.
“As well as our feature team we’ve got a commercials team, a broadcast team and a students & shorts team,” says Collard. “And another area we
work on a lot is archiving. We’ve got a nitrate vault here and we work with damaged film or film that requires restoration to produce new preserva- tion copies.”
This harks back to an earlier age, which serves as a reminder of just how long film has been with us. And yet the high end of Soho Images’ busi- ness is a far cry from the more humble ambitions of the original Studio Film Labs founded 70 years ago and ulti- mately based on the same Meard Street site.
Bought out and re-branded in 1990, the arrival of Ascent Media a decade later helped streamline the company and prepare them for the challenges ahead. From a time when films were just learning to talk to an era in which they exist in many, many different for- mats Soho Images has witnessed a lot of changes.
Unrecognisable developments to those early pioneers, but essential for the continued evolution of a company determined to stay at the cutting edge.
“Now we’re generating DVD rushes for clients,” smiles Collard, “not only ordinary DVDs but ones that are nice- ly chaptered, enabling you to see a particular camera roll or lab roll. And this is being done at a speed, consis- tent with a rushes service.
“We’re also streaming rushes with high quality encoders, and can do that in just about any format that the client wants – from Windows Media Player through to any form of Quicktime at any resolution.
“We’re actually in the process of doing a feature now, which we’re uploading to a site in the States so the rushes can be down- loaded the next day. These are the kind of demands we find people want now, and we’re rising to the challenge.” ■ ANWAR BRETT
Photos l-r: Scenes from Liam, Last Of The Summer Wine (photo © BBC), Puckoon and Lava
14 • Exposure • Fuji Motion Picture And Professional Video

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