Prime Focus Chooses Dolby Professional Reference Monitors

“The ease of use and flexibility of the monitor, its robust build, and future-ready technology make it an obvious investment in a growing part of our business.”

Kevin Horsewood
Colorist, Prime Focus

Prime Focus and the Dolby PRM-4200
About Prime Focus

Prime Focus is a global visual entertainment services group. Employing more than 4,000 professionals worldwide and working in 16 facilities across three continents, Prime Focus provides creative and technical services to the film, broadcast, advertising, and media industries.

Prime Focus offers a genuine end-to-end solution from preproduction to final delivery including visual effects, creative 3D conversion, video and audio postproduction, digital content management and distribution, digital intermediate, versioning and adaptation, and equipment rental.

Situation Overview

With the demise of the CRT, Prime Focus needed to find suitable replacements that would equal or better the performance of the CRT. Most current alternatives don’t have the dynamic range or black levels needed for critical color grading.

These qualities become even more critical with the increasing use of new-generation, high-dynamic-range digital cinema cameras. Environmental concerns also played a part.

Prime Focus and the Dolby PRM-4200
Infrastructure Investment

As part of its ongoing infrastructure and equipment investment, Prime Focus chose Dolby® Professional Reference Monitor PRM-4220 units for its facilities in London and New York. The purchase of these revolutionary monitors ensures that Prime Focus has the best creative output and stays ahead of the curve in terms of technological advancements in its commitment to deliver value to its clients.

The 42-inch flat-panel Dolby monitors represent a major step forward, replacing high-end CRT monitors with more environmentally friendly flat-panel displays.

Making the Right Choice

Tareq Kubaisi, Prime Focus' chief creative director, explained, "Everything we do gets seen through a screen, so we need the best and we firmly believe that Dolby is the way to go.

"As colorists we need to see all the detail, and these monitors will enable us to make better judgments creatively. The colorimetry on them is excellent, and having a strong grading team here whose life obsession is the correct representation of colors means that it makes absolute sense to have a screen as good as this."

Kai Van Beers, who oversees film technologies at Prime Focus, noted, "Dolby has made real advances in overcoming the common problems that LCD and plasma monitors have had to date.

"The patented LED and LCD modulation technologies in the monitor allow it to achieve accurate black levels and correct color representation throughout the luminance range.

"This provides the colorists and the clients with precise color representation exceeding the current aging CRT reference monitors-it's about time too! The wide color gamut and 12-bit format support also open it up to digital cinema work."

Prime Focus and the Dolby PRM-4200
Creative Confidence

Referring to the Dolby monitor, colorist Eric Alvarado, in the Prime Focus New York facility, commented, "This is the best monitor I've seen to date. The blacks are very true and the images really jump out of the screen. Every time a client sees their image on the monitor, it is like they are seeing it for the first time."

Alex Berman, Eric's fellow grader in New York, concurred. "There is no image lag or banding problems, which were certainly present in other plasma models that we tested, nor is there any image retention (burn-in)," Berman said. "In terms of image quality, the blacks are so rich and deep, yet the shadow detail and contrast ratio is exceptional. The color rendition is pure and consistent as opposed to the plasmas, which needed constant calibration."

The Dolby Professional Reference Monitor PRM-4200

The Dolby Professional Reference Monitor enables the creative process for colorists and cinematographers by ensuring that the final image will reflect exactly what they see on the monitor. Feature highlights include:

Renders superior black-level performance

Provides highly accurate dark detail with precise linearity across the entire gray scale

Accurately displays DCI P3

Supports 3D LUTs

Emulates virtually any other display device

Allows digital intermediate workflows without an expensive digital projector

“Astonishing Clarity”

The Prime Focus team of talented colorists felt that the Dolby monitors were the best available. “The colors are now so close to what you see with CRTs,” said London-based Graeme Hayes. “This is a real step forward and they will prove to be a very useful tool for us.”

Specialist drama colorist Kevin Horsewood, who has already graded the BBC series Sherlock and Hustle using the new screens, added, “Astonishing clarity is expected, and very much received. I can now see and dig into detail that I wouldn’t touch ordinarily.

“The ease of use and flexibility of the monitor, its robust build, and future-ready technology make it an obvious investment in a growing part of our business. You can see why I’m so pleased to have the Dolby PRM-4200 in the new drama grading room at Prime Focus. Maybe it is possible to get excited about monitoring after all!”