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wwo 025 Template v1Partially-completed production still shows the process of film colorization and restoration that took place, to create the film THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.

Four Questions for Mark Simone

"It was incredibly gratifying for all of us involved."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Mark Simone is a successful young post-production specialist in Hollywood, with such rermarkable credits as STAR WARS EPISODE VIII - THE LAST JEDI, STAR WARS - THE FORCE AWAKENS, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, GODZILLA, etc. He was the lead for his company, Stereo D, in their work with the Peter Jackson WWI documentary, THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD. Mark's job was to bring the film alive in 3-Dimensional imaging, which was the preferred format for the director, as he envisioned the film. Mark's company, Stereo D is unique. Stereo D, a Deluxe company, is an award-winning, recognized leader in high-quality conversions of 2D theatrical content into stereoscopic 3D imagery. Our studio works with major award-winning motion picture studios and filmmakers to bring their vision of 3D storytelling to the screen. Our services also include end-to-end 3D production services on feature films, television productions and commercials. Here at Stereo D, we employ the best artists and stereographers in the industry who work with our patented proprietary VDX software to create the most dynamic and beautiful 3D imagery available today. We got a chance to talk to Mark about the film, and his experience working on it. masimoneMark Simone

First -- Incredible, incredible work. What is your background? How did you come to be part of this incredible film project?

Thank you! I've been a Stereo Producer at Stereo D since 2013. I typically (along with a Stereographer) oversee a team working on the conversion of large-scale feature films from 2D to 3D.

About 3 years ago Peter Jackson brought us a "test" - meaning he wanted to see if it was possible to fulfill the vision he saw for the material - the archived footage from the Imperial War Museum. We had worked with his visual effects team in the past on other feature films so he had a sense of our capabilities. The test was to see if we could restore, colorize and convert to 3D this 100-year-old highly degraded footage to look pristine enough to edit together into a documentary that would be worthy of Peter Jackson's high standards in memorializing the sacrifice those soldiers made so many years ago.

Tell us about your specific role in the film project, and how it complimented what Jon Newell and Wayne Stables were doing with the colorization/digitization process.

wwo 054 TemplatePartially-completed production still shows the process of film colorization and restoration that took place, to create the film THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.My specific role on the film was as producer for all the work that Stereo D was completing for the project. We had regular contact with Wayne Stables to review our in-progress material where he would guide us based on his knowledge of what Peter was looking for.

Tell us about your views on the technical achievement you have created. This film could not have been made this way ten years ago.

We all felt very honored to be part of this project and to take the techniques and processes we’ve developed for creating 3D and use them to work magic on 100-old-footage so that audiences can have a better understanding of what those soldiers who fought in WW1 experienced. Our company was formed in 2009 and in that time we have made huge advances to our pipeline and workflows.

For THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD, we were able to find innovative ways using proprietary methods and the work of our team of artists to help Peter Jackson give audiences the experience of hearing soldiers describe in their own voices the patriotism of those enlisting and the horrors of life on the front. It was incredibly gratifying for all of us involved.

What did you learn from your time with this team? Was there culture shock? WWI is not as central to our national conscience as it is in the UK or New Zealand. Tell us about your experience working with this important topic, with people from these places.

Our team made several trips to NZ to meet with Peter Jackson and his team. We had the great opportunity of visiting the Gallipoli exhibit in Wellington to gain a deeper understanding of the war. Additionally, Peter made available to us actual WW1 artifacts such as uniforms, helmets, rifles, and putties so that we could not only see, but feel, what we would be seeing on screen. Access to those items provided a valuable visceral element to our approach when re-creating the color on film. Being familiar with the texture of the shirts gave us a better understanding of how it’s color might look in certain light, for example. My knowledge of WW1 was based on what I had learned in history classes at school and so working on this film represented a huge leap in my education on the war and it’s impact on the people of New Zealand and Great Britain.

TSNGO PublicityStills 06Production still that shows the remarkable finished product after the restoration/colorization work was complete on the film THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.

TSNGO PublicityStills 04Production still that shows the remarkable finished product after the restoration/colorization work was complete on the film THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD.