A digital intermediate (DI) is a motion picture finishing process that typically involves digitizing and manipulating the color and other image characteristics of the motion picture. It often replaces or augments the photochemical timing process and is usually the final creative adjustment to a movie before distribution to theaters.

Although originally used to describe a process that started with film scanning and ended with film recording, DI is also used to describe color grading and final mastering, even when captured digitally or when the final movie is output digitally.

The DI process uses digital tools to color grade, allowing for fine control of individual colors and specific areas within the image, and for the adjustment of image structure (grain, sharpness, etc.). The intermediate for film reproduction can then be produced by means of a film recorder. The physical intermediate film that is a result of the recording process is sometimes also called a digital intermediate, and is usually recorded to internegative (IN) stock, which is inherently finer-grain than original camera negative (OCN). However, 15/65mm digital negatives are recorded onto original camera negative stock (usually 5213 200T stock), because laser film recording – which is required to record images onto intermediate film stock – is not available in the 15/65mm film format.

Best practice is to keep all material at natively acquired resolution and aspect ratio, scaling up or down as needed when mastering.

A digital source master (DSM) is created as a result of a post-production assembly of the elements of a film composition.

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