Noise Annoys

The two companies soon partnered and gave birth to their first joint product, ARRI Relativity, a de-grain, de-noise software program distributed globally by ARRI, under the branding Relativity. That stamp of approval heralded Cinnafilm’s arrival in the industry.

Ultimately, due to economic and other factors, Cinnafilm and ARRI mutually decided to part ways, and in August 2010, Cinnafilm re-released the software as Dark Energy.

“It’s the 2.0 version of Relativity, and we’ve added quite a bit of power and speed,” says Maurer. “And our time with ARRI really opened up our eyes as to how the camera market is un-folding, what with the ALEXA, the RED and Canon’s HD DSLRs all competing in the marketplace. We realized that we really needed to tap into the artistic vein of that marketplace, and as a small, very flexible company, we’re well set up to do that.”

Recognizing the big interest in Canon’s HD DSLR system, Cinnafilm reached out to director Shane Hurlbut, ASC, whose Act of Valor project, a drama about the Navy SEALs, is due to be released sometime this year.

“We shot 78% of the film on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II to get a real immersive look at a SEALs op,” reports Hurlbut. “We got cameras in places never done before, and then in post we began dealing with the digital compression noise. That’s what has held a lot of people back who have embraced the D5 technology—the compression. But, for me, the compression is what makes it look more filmic as it softens the edges. It gives it a texture that all the other high-end HD cameras don’t have.”

Notes Maurer, “It takes a lot of work in post to get frames real clean, and our Dark Energy technology was perfect for that workflow. And our software doesn’t care what camera is used. Noise is noise, whether it’s old movies from the ’20s, TV, or modern digital and film cameras. So we contacted him and ran some tests on Shane’s short film, The Last 3 Minutes, and then decided to team up.”

“Lance came in with his texture artist, and we did a pass where he stripped all the compression, scrubbed it and then layered grain over the top,” recalls Hurlbut. “And the results were amazing.” In any event, Cinnafilm gave Hurlbut free access to Dark Energy.