When audiences first saw “Snow White and The Huntsman” on the big screen, they were blown away by the breathtaking look of the film. More fantasy then fairy tale, this $175-million fable had a setting equal in magnitude to Middle Earth. It boasts haunting visual effects, elaborate battle scenes and a transmogrifying Charlize Theron. “We wanted this Grimm’s Fairy Tale on a similar scale to Lord of the Rings,” the filmmakers told Comic-Con fans. What many audiences won’t see is how this epic retelling was achieved. It involved shooting many sequences on 65mm film, on location (Marloes Sands beach, Wales), with the combined skills of almost 18 visual effects companies. No easy task considering first-time director Rupert Sanders was given only half the time-that’s usually required-to complete a project of this size.
That’s where FotoKem’s large format services played their most vital role, collaborating with Snow White’s creative team. To ensure acclaimed producer Joe Roth and award-winning commercial director Rupert Sanders (Sears, Toyota and the video game Halo 3: ODST), could bring their vision to U.S. theaters on schedule for Universal Picture’s summer slate.
Australian born D.P. Greig Fraser opted to use 65mm film, because the team felt it had “a more classic look, that better served this story.” With the Pembrokeshire village, forest and countryside, providing the perfect story book backdrop. Although the action was being captured in the U.K., FotoKem handled the 65mm negative processing, telecine and scanning. With the negative being processed and transferred within 24 hours of receipt at FotoKem’s facilities. This started with a series of sample frames sent directly to Fraser. By corresponding with FotoKem’s (on staff) team of 65mm film handlers, he was able to successfully track the condition and exposure of the negative. As well as providing the high-resolution, (8K) scans of the 65mm/5-perf negative necessary for a feature of this calibre and proportion. Recent FotoKem projects include Terrence Malick’s “Tree Of Life” and Brad Bird’s “Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol”.
Andrew Oran, FotoKem’s V.P. of Large Format Sales and Operations, discussed why this process worked so well. “We take the initiative to be co-partners with productions, engaging in testing to assure that the various formats they shoot will all blend seamlessly. We consider it our job to demonstrate the usefulness downstream of larger format origination.” Oran added, “we have a few main objectives we focus on when working with 65mm” on a production. “The first objective is to make it simpler-as if they were shooting 35mm or digital-eliminating as many of the post-production complications as possible.” Adhering to the timeline restrictions is also critical, because FotoKem has established itself “in the industry by providing trustworthy reports and quick turnarounds.” Another goal is to always remain true to the original intent of the filmmakers. “We operate two high-res IMAGICA 11K 65mm scanners. By doing up-front testing at various resolutions-4K, 2K, HD, and even encoded to QuickTime-makes sure that 65mm is serving the clients intended purposes, from cinema mastering right through to BluRay.”
FotoKem’s methodology comes by being the premier industry provider, Oran explains “we’ve been doing this a long time now. Our 65mm high-def telecine bay is in continual use, we have extremely high-res scanning capabilities and provide expertise in the operation of all cameras and formats (including 5-perf, 8-perf and 15-perf).” Making them “very familiar with all the technical issues that can arise when a production opts for large format capture,” and able to support that work from start to finish.