Company 3 colorist P. J. Marsiglia provided color correction services for “Amargosa,” a feature length documentary that recently earned an Emmy Award. Marsiglia performed both dailies and final color correction for the film, working hand in hand with cinematographer Curt Apduhan and director Todd Robinson in finalizing the film’s distinctive look. Apduhan won for Best Individual Achievement in a Craft: Cinematography in Emmys’ news and documentaries awards.
“Amargosa,” which aired on the Sundance Channel, is the story of Marta Becket, a 76-year-old, former Broadway dancer, who with her husband, has lived as a recluse in a Death Valley ghost town since the 1960s. She transformed the town’s crumbling theater into an “opera house” and made it her permanent home for creative expression.
Apduhan shot “Amargosa” on super 16mm film. Marsiglia performed dailies transfers to facilitate the editing process and final color correction of selects. The film was conformed to digital Betacam and then output to 35mm film for festival screenings.
Apduhan used Kodak Vision 200 super 16mm film stock for interview segments, Kodak Vision 500 pushed one stop for opera house performances, and Kodak Vision 320 for the majority of the exteriors.
Bumping up a film from 16mm to 35mm is always difficult, but Amargosa presented a special challenge. “They shot a lot in the desert and with the wind blowing there was a lot of dust in the air,” noted Marsiglia. “If you are not careful, the camera will pick that up and it will appear as an artifact. We were very sensitive to that in telecine and avoided pushing anything that might increase the grain or noise.”
Apduhan has worked with Marsiglia on numerous documentary and commercial projects, including Robinson’s previous film, “Stand and Be Counted,” about political activism in rock music, and has come to appreciate the control offered by the digital process.