Behind the Design of KODAK VISION3 5207/7207 Daylight Film

Merrick Distant
Product Systems Engineer
Kodak Entertainment Imaging Division

Merrick Distant
Merrick Distant

The KODAK VISION3 family of films is the result of a convergence of technical innovations that are designed to give filmmakers more creative flexibility during both production and postproduction. We spoke with Product Systems Engineer and Project Manager Merrick Distant about the introduction of KODAK VISION3 250D 5207/7207 Color Negative Film.

QUESTION: How does your team determine what to focus on when developing new or enhanced features for motion picture films?

DISTANT: Close relationships with our filmmaking customers are paramount in the motion picture division of Kodak. Before we begin any new product initiative, we first ask our customers, including cinematographers and postproduction professionals, what advances they would like to see in Kodak film technology. We also work hard to understand how they use our film products in current workflows. This is the feedback that helps to guide our investment in research and development, and it is the cornerstone of successfully launching new products into this marketplace.

QUESTION: What are the new features of KODAK VISION3 250D 5207/7207 film?

DISTANT: 5207/7207 250D is the second color negative film from Kodak's VISION3 technology platform. We originally launched the VISION3 platform in 2007, with the successful introduction of our 500T 5219/7219 product. This newest addition to the family contains all the VISION3 advancements and imaging characteristics, optimized for an exposure index of 250 in daylight. It is designed to retain the richness in colors and contrast that are characteristic of 5219 with more details in the extreme bright highlight areas and finer grain images in the underexposure areas. This film is intended to deliver exceptional imaging performance in natural daylight, artificial daylight, and a variety of mixed lighting situations, while maintaining a more pleasing flesh tone and color reproduction. Another attribute is lower noise in the underexposure areas that results in more usable details, which is important in digital intermediate and other postproduction functions.

QUESTION: What is the emulsion science behind these improvements?

DISTANT: As with the VISION3 5219 emulsion, we used Advanced Dye Layering Technology and smaller, Sub-Micron Imaging Sensors in the blue, green and red layers.
That results in more discrimination as light intensity increases, improving signal-to-noise response and extending highlight latitude. This new film also uses triple-coated magenta and cyan layers, which gives us increased flexibility for creating a more linear sensitometric response as a function of exposure. VISION3 films also take advantage of new Advanced Development Accelerators. All these innovations allow cinematographers to capture and process light more effectively, which results in more image integrity and accuracy.

QUESTION: Why are these breakthroughs in technology important?

DISTANT: Cinematographers tell us that it will give them more creative flexibility and increased efficiency in real-world production situations. The new emulsion science adds more workflow efficiencies throughout the entire chain. Cinematographers can rate the film at higher speeds - in excess of two-plus stops in the highlight regions - and still expect excellent results. The additional details and heightened signal-to-noise response means cinematographers can be less concerned about blown-out highlights.

QUESTION: How will these new films work with the latest scanners and other digital postproduction technology?

DISTANT: Whether they are transferring film on a telecine or scanning it for digital intermediate applications, our customers should realize improved results compared to our previous daylight-balanced, medium-speed stock. The new film increases their ability to extract more information from the highlights in digital postproduction without the risk of introducing image artifacts. This improvement is due to the more linear tone scale, the higher signal-to-noise response in both the shadow and highlight regions, and the resolution qualities of the film. These improvements will result in time saved and reduced costs during digital post.
QUESTION: If you scan all the information off a frame of 35 mm film, would that result in a 4K file?

DISTANT: If you were able to capture all the information from film, the true result would be a digital file in excess of 4K resolution. Film gives you the highest image quality of any capture medium available by far, which results in elevated picture excellence that is truer to the intentions of the filmmakers when images are displayed on television and/or cinema screens. Of course, if the intent is to display images on an iPod or to stream on YouTube, you are not likely to scan film at 4K resolution. However, if the intention is to display on an HD television or cinema screen and the images are important to telling the story, you should begin with a medium that offers the best dynamic range and resolution. That's why the best digital workflow starts with film.

QUESTION: What's your take on the future of emulsion technology?

DISTANT: The ongoing innovation behind the VISION3 films shows that Kodak continues to raise the bar. As proud Kodak image scientists, we will continue to provide new features that are beneficial to our customers - both filmmakers and postproduction professionals.