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Introducing The Vault

September 28, 2022

As a long-standing industry friend of Technicolor Creative Studios, I was recently asked to curate the ‘Vault’ section of the new studio website. Being asked to do this is a great honor, and I’d like to thank the team at Technicolor Creative Studios for the opportunity to continue my association with this storied brand.

As was the case for many others, the name Technicolor has always held a great fascination for me. I first experienced Technicolor watching movies dating back to the mid-1950s, and it obviously left a huge impression. That said, the company is now a very different enterprise, and what I hope The Vault becomes is something more than just an exercise in nostalgia.

Technicolor Creative Studios has gone through huge transformation over the years. The business now focuses on pioneering visual effects with their leading studios MPC, The Mill, Mikros Animation & Technicolor Games. As much as I love Technicolor’s legacy of color, VFX holds an equal fascination. The next era for Technicolor Creative Studios allows me to go full circle, back to visual effects. When I joined Technicolor in 2001 to help launch its new digital intermediate business, called ‘Technique’, I did so having just left a seven-year stint at Digital Domain…my baptism into the world of VFX. Digital Domain was a remarkable confluence of talent, bleeding-edge technology, great people and cool projects being handled by our theatrical and advertising divisions. Shows like True Lies; Apollo 13; The Fifth Element; Titanic…to name a few. At that moment, the entire media landscape was migrating to digital from analog processes. By century’s end, that evolution was speeding up and clearly, we were moving-on from laboratory processes and celluloid projection. We were witnessing the birth of how entertainment and advertising content would be created and experienced into the future.

In 2006, I had the honor to teach a course on visual effects at UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film & Television. Putting that course together afforded me the opportunity to take a much deeper dive into the history of VFX – to stand back and appreciate rather more objectively the evolution of the technology and talent behind those major milestones of cinematic magic. As part of that endeavor, I had to shed certain prejudices I had acquired at Digital Domain and look at the history of VFX on a more even keel.

My intent for The Technicolor Creative Studios Vault is that it will serve as a portal into the legacy of Technicolor while embracing a clear view of how the past informs the future of entertainment content – of which Technicolor and its VFX brands are principal players. I’ll let you and posterity judge how successful we are with this endeavor.

Something else that comes to mind is the very basic value I learned while attending the American Film Institute in the early 1970s: the notion of giving-back to the industry. One major observation and takeaway from that time was the generosity of spirit exhibited by those filmmakers that participated in seminars with those of us in attendance. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. When considering Technicolor’s legacy, historically there were many key players within the company, over the decades, exemplifing that basic value of giving-back…the bedrock of education.

From its inception, the company maintained a pedagogical bent that drove it forward. It makes perfect sense, as the company was founded by two professors from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Herbert Kalmus and Dr. Daniel Comstock who partnered with W. Burton Westcott – a self-taught engineering prodigy. Shortly thereafter they were joined by Dr. Leonard Troland – also an MIT graduate who taught at Harvard University for some time after receiving his Ph.D at Harvard in Perceptual Psychology. Later, in the early 1950s, Dr. Richard Goldberg joined Technicolor as its principal research scientist. He received a double Ph.D in Chemistry and Molecular Biology from California Institute of Technology. They, along with many others like Legal Affairs executive Tom Tapp, were committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise. Dick Goldberg amassed and preserved the Technicolor archive of over 40,000 artifacts that was donated to the George Eastman Museum in 2009.

In that spirit, it’s our intent with The Vault to share expertise that will be appreciated by emerging talent and seasoned professionals alike as they seek their own path in the world of entertainment, advertising, animation, and games. We hope you enjoy exploring the Technicolor Vault and the iconic projects you will discover – we certainly loved putting this all together.

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