Blackmagic Design - Cintel - Playing with Sharks

Dozens of hours of archival footage shot by naturalist and filmmaker Valerie Taylor were digitized with Blackmagic Design’s Cintel C-Drive HDR scanner to shape the documentary Playing with Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story.

The film, produced by Bettina Dalton of WildBear Entertainment and directed by Sally Aitken, tells the story of the renowned marine, who went from champion spearfisher to passionate shark protector and underwater filmmaker.

Playing with Sharks premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and has won Best Documentary at numerous international festivals. As a prolific underwater filmmaker and star of many films and series, Taylor recorded, in different formats and types of tapes, hundreds of hours of incredible images with sharks and other marine organisms from the 1960s to the first decade of this century.

Blackmagic Design - Cintel - Playing with Sharks

Hours and hours of content

Producer Bettina Dalton was faced with more than 200 hours of archival footage and a wide variety of film formats, which ranged from 35mm to 16 Ektachrome from Kodak, as well as some Fuji tapes and black-and-white images.

“Valerie’s husband Ron Taylor was an extraordinary cameraman, especially when you consider he was often filming holding his breath with sharks cruising by shooting with 100 and 200 foot film rolls that had to be reloaded at the surface. It was remarkable what they were able to achieve. […] We had such a trove of footage, and the Cintel was a fabulous work horse for scanning and respecting this history,” notes the producer about the material used to create the film.

Blackmagic Design - Cintel - Playing with Sharks

Cintel scanner

Dalton and his team decided to use the Cintel scanner to digitize hundreds of hours of film, which was then converted into 47 minutes of archival footage used in the documentary. The Blackmagic solution allows 35mm and 16mm tapes to be digitized in real time at speeds of up to 30 f/s, which made it possible to streamline all the file search and processing processes.

In addition to the Cintel scanner, the documentary’s colorist, Angela Cerasi, used DaVinci Resolve Studio for the color grading of the film, which allowed her to maintain the authenticity of the original material while achieving continuity in the film.


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For • 10 Sep, 2021
• Section: Postpro