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David's Biography

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I was born in London, England on the 29th October 1956, and have since remained a British Citizen, resident in Italy between 1975 and 2007. I currently reside in the UK.


I studied for A levels in Arts and Sciences at Bishop's Stortford College in Hertfordshire, UK until 1974. While still a student, I lived in Oslo, Norway in 1969, and then moved to Mexico City between 1970-75. From 1975 to the present day I have lived in Genoa, Grottaferrata, Milan, Recco, Rome in Italy, and London.


I started my working career as a stills photographer for relatively unknown TV movies in Rome, and, although I was a passionate photographer I could see that even getting paid for the rolls of film was difficult in those years.


However, in my Roman wanderings and looking for work opportunities I contacted a local TV station called SPQR TV. Although my Italian was not all that brilliant then, I remember patiently sitting in the director Giuseppe Coliizzi's office for the best part of a day, watching numerous personalities coming and going with proposals for tv programmes. Anyway, at the end of the day Colizzi turns to me and says that since I'm still there I should come back the following day. Little did I realise then, but this was actually the start of a paid job in a City I had beun to fall in love with.


The most interesting aspect to this was that Colizzi had put together a crew for the television station by utilising his talented editors, directors of photography and crew from his film productions. He had invented the Bud Spencer / Terence Hill franchise and had been very successful with it.


I was priviledged by being able to learn my craft from experienced professionals, and I would have stayed happily along in SPQR except that tragedy struck in 1978 and Colizzi died of a sudden ictus. Unfortunately, the successive battles over Colizzi's patrimony put an end to the station's activity.  


During this period Antonio Balsamo, a successful entrepreneur in the growing post producion sector, often came to SPQR to talk to the station's staff. He must have been surprised by the quality of a programme that I made regularly of the Astrologer Anna Maria Semprini, because he asked me if I'd like to work for him in his new, growing post production company SBP.


Looking back over time I think that Balsamo had made a good bet taking me on, as I poured the technique and motivation I had learnt from the SPQR editor onto his clients. I also travelled the world with him to look at and evaluate new technologies. In the meantime, I was also working on major RAI projects, and that were to gain me some notoriety within the sector.


My, by now, more evolved graphic, aesthetic, and editing talents were used on "Disco-Ring", "Domenica In", "Mr. Fantasy", "Marco Polo" and "Appuntamento al Cinema", and I worked on the RAI's main national news programmes TG1 and TG2.


After five years of working for SBP I was continuously asked by the clients that came from Milan to move there, so I decided to start setting up my own companies, one of which very nearly became SBP Milan.


Once in Milan I worked mainly on high-end commercials which were shot in Cape Town, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris, and Rome - and these opportunities allowed me to develop my visual effects supervision skills working on many different commercials, often using motion control rigs, blue and green screens, and ever more sophisticated combinations of cgi, real and virtual sets. These ranged from the "Mulino Bianco" commercials with idyllic countryside views transported into major Italian cities, to "Zebra Zulu" for the Italian newspaper "Il Corriere Della Sera", and which won a prize for its visual effects, to Italy's first HIV awareness commercial - designed by the renowned and pioneering advertising guru Armando Testa himself, who had drawn a purple line  around "infected" HIV individuals.  The commercial intended to shock the public into understanding that HIV could affect anybody. I was lucky to develop my skills through experience and innovation, satisfying and often stimulating the wish lists that the advertising community continually presented him with.


In essence I was honing the skills the film industry would later seek from me - solutions that could get production value and creative ideas on the screen with ever lower aggregate budgets. To that end I specialized in offering combinations of digital, real and virtual sets, together with set-extensions and matte paintings for feature films, helping creatives and producers in achieving their often challenging goals.


I had spoken to the Venice Film Festival's Art director Gillo Pontecorvo thanks to Maria Grazie Mattei round about then. He agreed that most Italian film directors had little knowledge of what could be done using digital technologies, so he suggested we take over the beautiful Salone degli Specchi of the Excelsior Hotel in Venice, and spend time explaining to many of them that there was a whole lot more than making dinosaurs like those in Jurassic Park; digital visual effects could mean saving money and offering spectacular virtual sets too.


As soon as I explained the possibility that Gillo had offered to us, Mike enthusiastically agreed to bring his motion control systems to Venice so that we could show directors what could be done shooting and post producing with real equipment there and then.


Well, to put it lightly, the ten day demonstrations were a huge success, thanks also to Gillo's continuous effort in pulling over directors one by one to see us. We didn't have to wait for long before a major film project would ask us for our services. The first Italian director to understand the potential and to want to use digital techniques was Giuseppe Tornatore. He said to me that he wanted to make his upcoming film "The Legend of the Pianist" look like a film produced with a much richer budget than it actually had. So, I asked him to explain what he wanted, and we worked at producing story boards on his creative requirements, discussing with Mike how we could make these visual effects and virtual sets. I could feel very confident with Mike's expert cinemographic and motion control experience,  and we came up with numerous solutions to help achieve the goals and save production money overall.


We ended up working on some 450 shots, and I put together a temporary consortium of visual effects companies around Europe to work on them. See "Visual effects with Mike Connors".


A convinced embracer of traditional techniques ever more integrated with digital techniques, I have often consulted in team work with film production designers and creatives. I have offered my services as Visual Effects Supervisor on a large number of major films, following a career during which I also founded and managed successfully many of the principal Italian post production facilities. A pioneer in digital intermediate film techniques, I was involved with early d-cinema trials, innovative digital film restoration techniques, d-cinema mastering, digital and stereo 3d film shooting and post production, and advanced digital lab techniques.


I have been a long believer in divulging knowledge and know-how to my colleagues, and I have related my experiences often, starting with helping de-mystify the various digital processes to the often very attentive and packed audiences in the "Martedi del Digitale" (digital Tuesdays) conferences that became well known in Cinecittà in their day.


have specified, supervised, trained others, and helped perfect the technicalities, work-flow, and creative aspects of the Digital Intermediate (DI) mastering processes in general. In particular, and together with Steve Shaw we sent continuous feedback to Quantel in Newbury from Cinecittà, where we were setting up a digital intermediate process for the lab.


n the last decade I have actively pursued a career in supervising native 3d during shooting and have learned how to use the relative post production equipment.  Recenty, together with Mike Connor, we have designed the 8k Mobile Digital Lab.


David Bush 01/08/2020