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Prime Focus posts 9/11 State of Emergency for Nutopia

9 September 2010

Prime Focus posts 9/11 STATE OF EMERGENCY for Nutopia

~ Two-hour special includes interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers ~

Prime Focus has provided full post production on a major new feature length documentary for groundbreaking production company Nutopia. 9/11 STATE OF EMERGENCY, an arresting minute-by-minute account of the days unfolding events, premieres on HISTORY in the USA on Thursday 9 September at 9pm ET and on Channel 4 in the UK on Saturday 11 September at 9pm. The two-hour special weaves together the many different lives of those affected, through archive footage, reconstruction and interviews.

The programme provides a fascinating and sensitive insight into the events as they unfolded, from the people on the street who were caught in the initial attacks and the split-second decisions they made that kept them alive in a genuine life and death situation. The documentary also feature insights from politicians who struggled to comprehend the enormity of the circumstances and the decisions they took that would shape the future of global politics for generations to follow.

“We started by addressing the difficult question of how to manage the meshing together of the reconstruction footage with the archive footage that everybody knows and is familiar with,” said Prime Focus colourist Duncan Russell, who graded the documentary in Baselight. “The colours were limited and the footage softened slightly so it sat in with the archive reels, but a deliberate decision was made not to match the archive seamlessly.

“We didn’t want it to feel like a completely different world, but we didn’t want people to think we were suggesting it was the same moment either – I'd say we took it about half way,” Duncan continued. “The idea was not to draw attention to the grade, but to allow the reconstruction footage to embellish the narrative – the subject matter is too serious to dress up too much.”

"Gritty realism of archive footage"

Prime Focus sound designer and mixer Phitz Hearne, who recently won an Emmy for his work on Nutopia's America The Story of Us, ensured the aural landscape matched the visual presentation. “The client really wanted to maintain the gritty realism of the archive footage," said Phitz. "We wanted to increase the impact of the sound whilst keeping its realism, so we made sure it stayed within the 'recorded on a camcorder' feel. It needed to feel as though it was amateur, but it also needed to have a broadcast production value to it.”

“A lot of the archive footage audio needed to be rebuilt,” added Phitz, “so we found slightly more realistic sounding clips – bangs, explosions, girder creaks – and built the atmosphere that the badly recorded camcorder sound could lie on. We tried to be very sympathetic to the historical situation - it’s not even been ten years and there are people for whom it is as fresh in their mind today as it was when it happened.”

Nutopia executive producer Phil Craig said, “The blend of visual and audio material involved in this film posed a real challenge to the team at Prime Focus, but they delivered a terrific look that preserved and reflected the integrity of the astonishing archival footage of 9/11, and a wonderfully rich sound mix that was both respectful and exciting.”

Phitz Hearne was assisted by fellow audio team members Rada Danilovic and Alex Bingham. The documentary was onlined at Prime Focus by Ronnie Newman and post produced by Nicola Whitehead.

About Prime Focus

Prime Focus is one of the world’s largest visual entertainment services groups, specialising in creative and technical services for the film, broadcast, commercials, music, games, internet and media industries. It operates nine facilities in India, four in the UK and four in North America, offering clients access to a talent pool of over 600 visual effects artists worldwide.

Prime Focus Limited is a public stock company with shares traded in the Mumbai and National Stock exchanges in India (Symbol - PRIMEFOCUS). Prime Focus also owns and operates Prime Focus London plc (Symbol - PFO), which is publicly traded in the LSE’s AIM market. For more information, please visit