BURBANK, Calif.â€” Blink Digital (
), which provides creative and production services for DVDs, Blu-ray discs and other forms of digital content, recently completed work on â€œBaraka,â€? Producer Mark Magidsonâ€™s and Director Ron Frickeâ€™s spectacular 70mm exploration of life on Earth. Painstakingly restored for its release on Blu-ray, â€œBaraka,â€? produced by MPI Media Group, is being hailed by critics everywhere for its unsurpassed quality. Roger Ebert called it the finest video disc he has ever viewed and added that â€œâ€™Barakaâ€™ by itself is sufficient reason to acquire a Blu-ray player.â€? Blink was responsible for the discâ€™s menu design, as well as video and audio encoding, and authoring. It was provided with a digital master of the film that had undergone a first-of-its-kind restoration process which included scanning the original 65mm film negative in 8K. The digital master comprised an astounding 30 terabytes of data.
Blink developed an innovative approach that allowed them to encode audio and video elements while fully preserving the sharpness, depth, contrast and complexity of the imagery. Compressionists initially performed a baseline encode of the entire feature and then used it to perform a video analysis of picture quality and make fine tune adjustments on a scene-by-scene basis. â€œOn many studio features, the final adjustment process is an easy step as most movies have a consistent look and feel,â€? explained Blink Digital Senior Director of Technical Operations Drew Huntsman. â€œWith â€˜Baraka,â€™ this step was very time consuming as almost every scene had differing levels of detail over a wide variety of content, with considerable variation in lighting, style and depth of field. Many scenes required encoding multiple times using a variety of setting modifications to obtain the best image quality.â€? Blu-ray production was performed under the direction of Digital Restoration Producer Chris Reyna for MPI Media Group. â€œWe employed the best and most advanced technology available in the world today,â€? Reyna said. â€œThe dynamic range, color saturation, sharpness and contrast ratio of â€˜Barakaâ€™ in the home environment now far exceeds anything in the industry. Nothing comes close.â€? The Blu-ray and DVD menu systems employ iconic images drawn from the film itself. â€œThe film images lend themselves quite well to menus,â€? Huntsman said. â€œThe trick was to use the images in a way that entices viewers without over using scenes so that they become too familiar. It also had to meet the high aesthetic standards of Chris Reyna and Mark Magidson. Ultimately, we created a video montage that is simple, easy to navigate and beautiful.â€? Originally shot in 24 countries on six continents, â€œBarakaâ€? brings together a series of stunningly photographed scenes to capture what director/cinematographer Ron Fricke calls â€œa guided meditation on humanity.â€? It was a shoot of unprecedented technical, logistical and bureaucratic scope â€“ detailed in the discâ€™s extensive documentary Bonus Features â€“ that took 30 months to complete, including 14 months on location, with a custom-built computerized 65mm camera. â€œThe goal of the film,â€? said Producer Mark Magidson, â€œwas to reach past language, nationality, religion and politics and speak to the inner viewer.â€? The result is a global cultural perspective unlike anything seen before by audiences. In its Blu-ray form, â€œBarakaâ€? represents a breakthrough in digital technology that will serve as the standard by which other Blu-ray discs are judged for years to come. â€œA DVD of â€˜Barakaâ€™ that was released in 2001 became one of the most acclaimed and popular titles in the formatâ€™s history,â€? observed MPI Media Director of Production Ben Pavlovic. â€œWith the advent of new scanning and Blu-ray technologies, Fricke and Magidson became intrigued with the challenge of capturing the filmâ€™s full 70mm impact on disc.â€? Critical reaction has been immediate. Martin Liebman, writing for Blu-ray.com states that â€œBarakaâ€? â€œrepresents the current zenith of Blu-ray picture quality. The depth, clarity, and color reproduction of the film is incredible.â€? â€œBarakaâ€? is the best looking live action Blu-ray release I have EVER seen,â€? notes Bill Hunt from The Digital Bits. â€œIt's truly an extraordinary viewing experience.â€? â€œThe film looks better than ever on Blu-ray, with sharpness and color saturation thatâ€™s as dynamic as the newer Planet Earth,â€? observes Samantha Clark in Video Business. â€œThe special features â€¦are just as engrossing as the feature itself.â€? Blink Digital has offices in Santa Monica, Burbank and New York. For more information, phone (818) 526-2800 or (212) 661-6900 or visit
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