In the early days of cinema, color grading (that is, the adjusting of a film's relative color levels) was accomplished through film emulsion alchemy. By the time CRT displays became widespread, movie makers had begun relying on telecine devices to adjust and edit the color levels on a roll of film stock. White light shown through the film negative strikes a prism, which separates the light into its component red, green, and blue lights,which then strike a charge-coupled device. This CCD converts the incoming light levels into electrical signals that are used by the telecine device to modulate a video signal that can be color-graded before being transcribed back to film.
However, in the mid-1980s, digital color grading systems began to appear. Rather than converting an analog medium (film) to another analog medium (the telecine output)—adjusting the colors, then converting back to the original analog medium—these devices instead leveraged a digital intermediary for the editing and adjusting work. But it wasn't until the production of O Brother that an entire film employed this grading method and actually was output to a digital master copy.
“We hired this guy and he came to set with a golf club and what he would do is he would look around for snakes,” added Joel. “If he saw one he would rope it with the golf club and put it in this bag. I asked him what you called somebody with this profession, and he said, ‘An idiot.'”
Switching gears, Clooney and Joel ended the discussion by talking about filming the movie’s infamous Ku Klux Klan rally. “There was a funny moment when we were shooting the Klan scene at night in Los Angeles right below Van Nuys airport. We were trying to picture what the people in the planes flying over would be thinking.”
“What we did was we hired a formation troupe — they were military guys who march,” said Joel. “A lot of those guys were black and they said, ‘This is the freakiest thing!’ The lines to the porta potties had just a bunch of guys holding Klan hoods.”
“By the craft services, table there would be a bunch of black guys with Klan hoods in their hands!” said George, who erupted into laughter and sent the audience home on a high note.
Ulysses Everett McGill: What'd the devil give you for your soul, Tommy?
Tommy Johnson: Well, he taught me to play this here guitar real good.
Delmar O'Donnell: Oh son, for that you sold your everlasting soul?
Tommy Johnson: Well, I wasn't usin' it.
Ulysses Everett McGill: I am the only daddy you got! I'm the damn paterfamilias!
Wharvey Gal: But you ain't bona fide!
As Dewey is preparing to move 777 from D-16 to D-10 at Fuller yard near the beginning of the film, the sound of 777 starting up is from an EMD 645-E3, a two-stroke diesel engine found in a number of EMD locomotives, most notably the SD40 (locos like 1206). 777 is an AC4400CW built by EMD's rival GE and uses the GE 7FDL-16, a four-stroke diesel engine which make a completely different noise.*
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