Filmmakers who have spent any amount of time in Hollywood are already familiar with FotoKem, which has been providing post production services to the industry for five decades. From early on, the facility has been a trusted resource for studio projects, television shows, independent films, and commercial production. Headquartered in Burbank, Calif., FotoKem enjoys a unique role in the industry as an independently owned-and-operated post facility with a global reach. Their process embodies technological innovation and a passion for supporting filmmakers.
Today, emerging filmmakers and seasoned pros alike continue to rely on FotoKem’s wide range of expertise for navigating the many creative choices available for storytelling. "We are extremely proud of our history in the post production industry, and our longstanding relationships with so many gifted filmmakers,” says President and CEO William Brodersen. “Our transition into file-based workflows was led by the talented people that work here. Over the last decade, we have been able to grow technically and build an incredible, professional team of experts that has made FotoKem what we are now."
FotoKem opened doors in 1963 as a 16mm black-and-white laboratory. Since that first day, the company has continually operated a high-quality, full-service laboratory. Over the years as technologies have advanced, FotoKem has kept pace with innovation, evolving from a lab to a state-of-the-art, end-to-end post facility with services from production through asset management. To maintain its leadership position in a changing industry, FotoKem established an in-house software development team that has developed a number of significant products. For example, FotoKem’s award-winning nextLAB® system is a proprietary workflow solution that manages media, provides RAW format playback, quality control, metadata management, dailies functionality, color, and archive.
In the midst of vast changes in post production, FotoKem has remained dedicated to providing high-quality film services, and is a leading facility of choice for filmmakers and studios opting for celluloid. “It’s about creative choices,” says Chief Strategy Officer Mike Brodersen. “In spite of changes, film remains an important option for filmmakers, who continue to want to shoot film for many reasons. There are a plethora of productions today that rely on digital and analog formats to convey certain emotions or poignant story points, and we want to support whatever they chose to do.” Recent projects include Transcendence, Tammy, Star Trek Into Darkness, Low Down, and Fruitvale Station, to name a few.
FotoKem has also played an important role in the preservation of the cinema as well. Mike Brodersen adds, “Preservation is always at the heart of the discussion. Not only are treasured films from the past revived, but current digitally acquired masterpieces are recorded to motion picture film for long-term archive. The company’s expertise has been enlisted for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; Hello, Dolly! and All Quiet on the Western Front, among others.
“We’ve had LTO tapes less than 8 years old come in to us that don’t work,” Mike Brodersen relates. “We’ve had to unlock old decks and equipment to access content that really isn’t very old, even by today’s fast-moving standards. Formats change all the time, but film is still the only proven archival medium that can last 100-plus years when stored properly. It gives content owners the ability to rescan their assets to whatever delivery format the future holds for release opportunities. There is intrinsic value in this as we sort out the technology and process of migrating and preserving digital assets in a cost-effective way.”
FotoKem’s focus on supporting the creative remains laser clear. “The changes in workflow will continue, and every advancement will bring changes and different responsibilities for filmmakers and post production,” says Mike Brodersen. “The future will not take a singular path. That’s why FotoKem is committed to putting the best solutions in place. Whether developing file-based workflows for emerging camera technologies, designing 70mm film pipelines, supporting multi-format film/data projects, managing color, restoring classics, finishing color, or providing non-linear production services, FotoKem never loses sight of its customers.”
Mike Brodersen continues, “I believe we are experiencing an unprecedented evolution of the creative community. And our job is to harmonize their creative and technical choices.”