FilmLight's Baselight HD colour grading system will be the centrepiece of a new post production facility launching this month in Kiev. Top Dogz, founded by colourist Jake Blackstone and a group of US-based investors, will thus become the first company to offer high end colour grading in Ukraine.
Top Dogz, which will also offer editorial services, is planning to feed on the country's burgeoning advertising industry, hoping to win business from local agencies that are currently doing their post work in Russia and Western Europe. The company will also offer film restoration services, and has recently won a tender from the Ukrainian government to restore and re-master ten films of local cultural significance.
Blackstone, who was born in Ukraine, but began his career as a colourist and engineer in Hollywood, spent more than a year planning Top Dogz' launch and said that he sees a tremendous opportunity in Ukraine. "There is quite a vibrant commercial industry here," he said. "The clients are very sophisticated. They are used to going to Amsterdam or Berlin for high quality grading. Our intent is to give them the same high quality but without the extremely high price."
The power, flexibility and speed of Baselight HD made it a perfect fit for the company's business plan, Blackstone noted. Its ability to support nonlinear colour grading and to process high resolution imagery in realtime means that commercial projects can be executed quickly. It also enjoys a strong reputation for quality among agencies and other clients in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Blackstone said.
"One of the other features that attracted me to Baselight is that it incorporates FilmLight's Truelight colour management technology," observed Blackstone. "In my work as an engineer, I spent a lot of time calibrating colour and I learned the value of a good colour management system - and Truelight is the best."
In order to keep its overhead costs low, Top Dogz decided not to add its own scanning system. Rather, it has forged an alliance with Turkish post house Sinemaj to provide the scanning and processing service to its clients. Under the plan, film elements will be shipped overnight to Istanbul, with the processed elements returned the following day on portable hard drives for uploading to Baselight.
Although film production is growing rapidly in Ukraine (many Russian production companies choose to shoot there due to lower costs), the country is lacking in many support services. There is not a single motion picture film lab in the country, but in that lack Blackstone sees another opportunity. "I am hoping that this country will bypass film production altogether and will go directly to digital," he said. "Already people are talking about bringing in some RED cameras."
Thinking about the possibilities of such a future is another reason that Blackstone chose Baselight for Top Dogz. "Because Baselight is software-based, it can grow with our needs and the needs of our market," he said. "We are prepared for anything that the market might throw at us."