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Autodesk Adds Lustre to King Kong

Color grading for Universal Pictures' KING KONG was realized using media and entertainment technology from Autodesk Inc. Visual effects facility Weta Digital relied upon Autodesk's Discreet Lustre system to digitally color grade the entire film.

Senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri explained: "Weta Digital used the Discreet Lustre system as part of the entire visual effects color grading process while making KING KONG. We used it to grade at the front end, before the computer-generated elements were added, and also at the very end of our pipeline to grade the final images. As the elements came in, the Lustre system helped us work out the look for complex environments like Skull Island and 1933 New York."

Lighting and color are key aspects of KING KONG. The Discreet Lustre system influenced the film's creative process. The filmmakers knew they had control and flexibility in the digital grading post-production phase, which gave them more freedom while shooting. For example, when shooting took place at various times of day, the lighting could later be corrected with the Discreet Lustre system to match the preferred lighting and time of day.

With five Discreet Lustre systems installed at Weta Digital in New Zealand, digital colorists were able to explore numerous options for the film's look. "Color Bibles" were created in the Lustre system. These Bibles contained two or three digitally color graded shots from each of the film's scenes, establishing color references for the final color grade.

Supervising digital colorist Dave Cole added, "Establishing the right look and feel for KING KONG was an essential part of the storytelling. We achieved this with the Discreet Lustre system. This extremely powerful tool made it possible for the film to appear realistic yet stylized. The grading capabilities of Autodesk's Discreet Lustre system have been used extensively, allowing the creative desires of the director, director of photography and visual effects supervisors to be realized."

Autodesk Inc. (, which recently acquired Alias, is the leading software and services company for the manufacturing, infrastructure, building, digital media and wireless data services fields. Founded in 1982, Autodesk is headquartered in San Rafael, California.