The Dark Knight: Deep, Intense, and IMAX Friendly

In 2005, director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) gave an edgy new twist to the Batman franchise with his gritty, realistic Batman Begins. His latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, evokes a similarly gloomy and introspective tone. Starring Christian Bale as the impenetrable Batman, the film also features Heath Ledger as The Joker in a fearlessly sinister performance that redefines the role and has already sparked talk of a posthumous Academy Award.

“This is a dense and complex story. We may be taking it even deeper and darker than Batman Begins,” says editor Lee Smith, A.C.E. “People are really going to have an enjoyable but intense experience.”

Smith has frequently worked with Nolan (Batman Begins, The Prestige) and enjoys the easy repartee that has developed with the director, giving Smith vast leeway to interpret the material as he sees fit. “It’s great to work with the same director on multiple occasions. You develop a sort of shorthand that makes for a streamlined process,” he explains.

Good thing, since this film was enormously complex. Not only did the post team create a conventional film release, they simultaneously created an IMAX film, which included four action-packed sequences shot on IMAX 65mm film. “The quality of the original IMAX photography is stunning,” says Smith. “It gives the whole movie a lift in those sequences.”

Shot by shot, the two versions of the film are virtually identical, with the IMAX sequences scaled down for the conventional 35mm print. The two different aspect ratios in the IMAX film print were initially a concern, so Smith and his staff tested an editing workflow that could accommodate both the 1.44:1 and 2.35:1 ratios. They chose an Avid digital editing setup to handle editing both films, using a single Avid timeline. Creative cuts were done at 14:1 resolution, using as many as eight Avid Media Composer systems connected to an Avid Unity MediaNetwork shared-storage solution with 2.88 terabytes of storage. read more...

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