Orange County post
production company specializes in high definition telecine services as a high
quality/low cost means of commercializing, restoring and preserving film

LAKE FOREST, California—While most
Hollywood movies and television shows are now produced on digital media, one
Orange County, California post production company has built a thriving business
using video systems that the newer digital technology was meant to replace.
specializes in telecine services, a process of converting film
imagery to high-resolution video. Although Hollywood film and television
studios rarely employ telecine processing anymore, demand for the now
hard-to-find service remains greater than ever among organizations with large
film libraries, including universities, stock footage houses, government
entities and historic archives. For them, telecine remains the best and most
affordable alternative for preserving and making commercial use of their
valuable film assets. In catering to this ongoing need, Electric Pictures has
built up a national clientele that includes such groups as the University of
California, Santa Cruz, the Pacific Film Archive, the Prelinger Archives and
the Cotton Bowl.

As studios, production companies and post production houses
rushed to embrace the digital revolution, Electric Pictures founder Grace McKay
spotted a business opportunity forming in its wake. “The migration to digital
affected all of the major post production houses in L.A. and worldwide,”
explains McKay. “Many of them began divesting themselves of their telecine
equipment—and we began to buy it. While large post production facilities focus
on feature films and television, we serve a niche that includes archival, stock
and documentary filmmakers. Very few companies do what we do.”
Grace McKay
Telecine was a standard service in the days
when video ruled television. Major studios and post production companies
maintained million dollar telecine systems for use in preparing motion
pictures, television shows, commercials and other media, originally shot on
film, for airing on television or release on home video. That changed over the
past decade with the advent of digital cinematography and digital systems for
post production processing, all of which store and manipulate imagery in the
form of digital files.
While most new films and television shows are produced with
digital technology, there remains a backlog of more than 100 years of
film-original media. All those film assets need to be transferred to an
alternate form before they can be shown on television or other media outlets,
as well as for the purposes of restoration and preservation. Studio-produced
films and television shows are often converted to digital format through the
use of film scanners. The film scanning process, however, is slow and costly
putting it beyond the reach of organizations whose film assets lack the
commercial value of a Hollywood blockbuster. Faster and less expensive,
telecine processing provides an ideal alternative.
potential market for the services that Electric Pictures provides is virtually
endless. “There are millions, perhaps billions of feet of film in the world,” McKay
points out. “Some of it has been transferred to standard definition video, but
those assets should be re-transferred at a higher resolution. Film and
television are migrating to 2K, 4K and higher resolutions. A high definition
transfer holds up well in that world; standard definition transfers do not.”
Electric Pictures operates Thomson/DFT Shadow
telecines—among the best telecine systems ever built. Augmented by a variety of
film handling and processing technologies, the company’s telecines are capable
of transferring film to SD, HD an 2K digital and video formats, making it
suitable for television, DVD, Blu-ray and other high-end applications. The
company services virtually all film formats (positive and negative) including
35mm, 16mm, Super8 and Regular8.
“We have a lot of unusual tools,” McKay notes. “We have
wet-gate telecines, we have Cinnafilm Dark Energy restoration software, we have
Teranex Image Restore hardware and Da Vinci Resolve for color correction. From
film cleaning to film transfers with all these special tools, we produce
imagery that looks much better than it did on film. We provide our clients with
footage that can be accessed and used more readily.”
Electric Pictures is currently
preparing a series of films directed by the late Burt Balaban (Murder Inc.) for release to the home video market. “They include 12 feature
films that were rescued by Paul Allen from an estate in New York,” McKay
explains. “They were produced in the early 50s for the European market.” Other
recent projects include archival film and video transfers for the up-coming
documentary The John Penton Story
from Pipeline Digital, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Penton is the
motocross pioneer who founded and raced Penton Motorcycles.
“There’s a lot of life in these old films,” says McKay
noting that she is currently eying the purchase of additional telecine systems
to keep pace with demand. “We’re growing and we want to continue to grow, but
without sacrificing quality,” she insists. “We don’t want to be overwhelmed
with work.  We want to continue to
satisfy our clients and do great work.”

For more information about Electric Pictures, contact Grace
McKay at (949) 838-0001 or Alan Davis at (310) 441-3880, or visit
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