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MAGIA: Hollywood's Post Production House Makes Digital Magic



With a world-class clientele that includes Neutrogena, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Interscope Records, Graham Webb, Publicis, and Grey Worldwide, Magia has grown steadily since it was founded in 1998. From the start, noted photographers Alberto Tolot and Carlo Dalla Chiesa, and partner Drew Glickman, the company's digital production maestro/general manager, have provided high-end digital retouching and compositing for the most demanding professionals in the creative community.

There's no question that having pro photographers onboard at a post-production house is a big plus for Magia.

Says Glickman, "Photographers have a personal understanding of lighting, contrast, and densityelements that transform a good picture into a great image."

OUT OF THE BLUE

An image that's come to represent Magia's diverse post-production capabilities, digital composition, and photographic talents is Blue Reflection (right). Created for U.C.L.A.'s Performing Arts, it soon became an iconic image for Magia, reproduced in promotions, ads, and on the company website. Interestingly, this particular image was an outtake; the client selected another for its final campaign. Originally conceptualized in orange, during digital post-production Tolot began experimenting with color, shifting to blue as an after-thought. When he saw the color, he envisioned the image in a pool of water, as a reflection.

"Still-image digital post-production is very much like making movies: you have infinite possibilities and can create pretty much anything. . ."

Optimum Output

Says Glickman, "The current crop of digital cameras are producing some awfully nice results, with larger, cleaner files. All on the platform of your favorite camera. In my opinion, digital hasn't been fully embraced because photographers' images have so many applications and size requirements." For example, where celebrity syndication is involved, they're concerned that the digital file size could be limiting and the quality has not fully caught up to film."

While shooting film adds scanning to the process, Magia achieves exquisite scans from negs with the Imacon Flex-tight Precision II.

"Wherever we come in on a digital project, once we have an image in digital form, we're ready to roll,"says Glickman.

From capture through output, Magia will produce whatever format the client requires, whether that's prints from a Fujifilm Pic-trography, press-ready digital files via CD, or graphics for the Web.

"Clients in New York, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, and Hollywood can access our FTP site to download their project at any stage," adds Glickman. "We offer secure online proofing through our website, which speeds up production, and allows our clients an instant status report."

Tight Shot: Two Photographers

Complementing the distinctive digital artwork created by Magia's production team are the edgy, provocative fashion/beauty images and celebrity images by Tolot and Dalla Chiesa. A closer look at these two creatives is instructive.

Alberto Tolot finds inspiration for his fashion/beauty shoots everywhere: in the works of Helmut Newton, Melvin Sokolsky, and Irving Penn . . .Klimt, Picasso, Klee . . . from architecture, graphic design, and musicians, classical to pop. "You can be inspired by any of the creative formsbuildings, landscapes, many things. Now, the camera is my canvas." On beauty portraits, of course, "you have a connection with your subject, you can see and feel the emotion."

Since moving from Italy, Tolot has photographed celebrities including Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone, Kim Basinger, and Madonna, and has built a classy clientele that includes Ciba Vision, Sony Music, Paramount, John Paul Mitchell, Warner Bros., Sally Beauty Supplies, Creative Nails, and numerous national and international magazines.

His Sally Beauty Supplies images are classic collaborations between Alberto; his wife, Francesca, a top Hollywood makeup artist; and hairstylist Enzo Angileri. Since red is part of Sally's logo, Alberto and Francesca created a blazing red image (p.3, Contents). Delighted, the client asked for more "red" images (p. 20). The couple is collaborating on a book project featuring their personal images.

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