Henninger Helps Paint The Picture Of “Art Star” Icon James McNeill Whistler for PBS Documentary

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Documentary Delves into the Life of a Peculiar Artist Who Impacted the World of Modern Art.

Arrangement in gray, c. 1872

Arrangement in Gray: Portrait of the Painter (c. 1872)

viewrs... should expect to learn a lot about the iconic artist that created 'art for art's sake'.

When viewers sit down this September to watch the PBS Arts documentary, “James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty,” they should expect to learn a lot about the iconic artist that created “art for art's sake.” With U.S. and international distribution planned, Henninger Media Services (“Henninger”) provided post-production finishing services in three different television standards.

Produced by award-winning filmmaker Karen Thomas of Film Odyssey, this film takes a look at the multifaceted life of the man whose ways and works grabbed the attention of those around him and catapulted him into the annals of art history. The program is not only unique in its storytelling of Whistler's life, but also in its visual execution. Aiding the narrative about the unconventional Whistler, Thomas incorporated 2.5D animations and nearly 200 etchings, paintings and photographs, in combination with recreations of his life and behind-the-scenes work to further absorb the viewer. Maintaining the color accuracy of the art in the recreated footage with Whistler's original was a concern addressed by Henninger's Senior Colorist, Dave Markun.

“We approached the concept of the re-enactment scenes in two stages. First, we focused on the look and style of the re-enactments themselves. The idea was to give the scenes an old look, yet keep it from looking old-fashion,” shares Markun. Drawing upon his many years of experience, Markun worked to create a warm candle-stylized look of the late 19th-Century, with a modern touch. This established the mood for the conditions that Whistler may have worked in; however, the colors in the art work were then rendered inaccurate Markun recalls the process. “Once we established the look, we had to color correct the art in the scenes to match the original works. In the DaVinci Resolve I created and tracked multiple mattes to reproduce colors.” The final steps of finishing the program required careful media management to create the deliverables in the multiple broadcast standards needed. “I work with colorist Dave Markun and post-production editor Jef Huey because they pay such attention to detail. They are great to work with," says producer Karen Thomas.

Produced, edited and mastered in NTSC 23.98, the Whistler documentary required standards conversions to NTSC 59.94, as well as PAL 50i– each requiring minor modifications to meet delivery specifications. Responsible for the conform, preparation and final packaging was Jef Huey, Senior Editor at Henninger. “Although the conform only took about two days on the Avid Media Composer, the bulk of the process involved the making of the deliverables. Once we converted the program via our Snell & Wilcox Alchemist to the various standards, program credits and textual graphics needed to be reviewed and revised,” recounts Huey.

The airing of “James McNeill Whistler & The Case for Beauty,” scheduled to premiere Friday, September 12 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS, coincides with a series of museum exhibitions that began in May 2014, observing the artist and his work. Additional information and production blog about Whistler is available on the website at [http://www.whistlerthemovie.com and also at pbs.org/whistler.

Celebrating 30 years in the industry, Henninger Media Services provides video editing, audio, graphics, Blu-ray and DVD authoring, telecine, QC, duplication and distribution solutions to a diverse client base; including broadcast, corporate, advertising, non-profit, and government. Located in Arlington, Virginia, HMS offers services in 4K Ultra HD, High Definition, Surround Sound, 3D convergence and finishing, and film transferring. Complete information about Henninger Media Services may be found at http://www.henninger.com.

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Lawrence J. Duke II
Henninger Media Services
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