Digital intermediate (typically abbreviated to DI) is a motion picture finishing process which classically involves digitizing a motion picture and manipulating the color and other image characteristics.
It often replaces or augments the photochemical timing process and is usually the final creative adjustment to a movie before distribution in theaters. It is distinguished from the telecine process in which film is scanned and color is manipulated early in the process to facilitate editing. However the lines between telecine and DI are continually blurred and are often executed on the same hardware by colorists of the same background. These two steps are typically part of the overall color management process in a motion picture at different points in time. A digital intermediate is also customarily done at higher resolution and with greater color fidelity than telecine transfers.
Although originally used to describe a process that started with film scanning and ended with film recording, digital intermediate is also used to describe color correction and color grading and even final mastering when a digital camera is used as the image source and/or when the final movie is not output to film. This is due to recent advances in digital cinematography and digital projection technologies that strive to match film origination and film projection.
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