Twentieth Century Fox’s “ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” is an epic adventure that follows an abandoned cyborg, Alita, as she navigates the treacherous streets of Iron City in search of clues as to who she really is and what’s worth fighting for. Produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau of Lightstorm Entertainment and directed by Robert Rodriguez, the action-packed film pushes the boundaries of photoreal visual effects, with a futuristic aesthetic that references its graphic novel source material. In bringing the film’s visually complex sci-fi world to life, the filmmakers enlisted EFILM Senior Colorist Skip Kimball, who leveraged high dynamic range formats to help showcase even the smallest of details.
“ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” marks Kimball’s fourth collaboration with the Lightstorm team, having previously worked together on global blockbuster “Avatar,” “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” and the “Titanic” remaster. Kimball noted, “With Jim (Cameron), Geoff (Burdick), and Jon (Landau), we’re always pushing the envelope to find new ways to show the most visually stunning story we can. We push the look creatively, and we push the workflow until it breaks, then we fix it.”
In the film, each area of Iron City called for a distinct color palette, with the city itself given warm desert tones, cool blues for Ambush Alley, and a dark and mysterious look for the Underworld. Purple serves to visually connect story beats throughout the film, appearing once Alita acquires her “Berserker” body, then evolves as her journey progresses.
Kimball and the EFILM post team, including DI Editor Tashi Trieu, worked with the Lightstorm team and director Robert Rodriguez out of Deluxe’s state-of-the-art color grading environment, Stage One, to complete the color finish. Kimball explained, “Stage One was an ideal environment for grading this film. It was hugely beneficial to be able to work in Dolby Vision on such a massive theater screen like the one we have here so we can really see those perfect blacks and every detail.”
“ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” was a stereo 3D movie from its inception, necessitating a non-traditional DI process. The EFILM team started with the Dolby Cinema color pass, which required a state-of-the-art color finishing environment like Deluxe’s Stage One. Starting with 3D was critical because the heightened light level and contrast of Dolby Cinema illustrates 3D issues better than in traditional DLP projection, allowing the filmmakers a superior, early preview of their stereo decisions on a big screen, leading to better 3D content than a traditional process allows.
For a streamlined workflow, Kimball and Trieu collaborated with Blackmagic Design to utilize stereo EXRs, streamlining deliveries from visual effects vendors and expediting the conform process. Among EFILM’s deliverables on the film were Dolby Vision and IMAX theatrical, and Dolby Vision and HDR10 home video passes.
“ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” is now in theaters. For information, showtimes, and tickets please visit https://www.alitatickets.com.