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Death Comes to Pemberley: post by LipSync

LipSync Post provided grading, online editing, sound, vfx and titles for BBC One’s three-part drama Death Comes To Pemberley, based on PD James’ sequel to the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice.

The drama, produced by Origin Pictures for BBC One, is scheduled for broadcast on 26th, 27th and 28th December.
The photography had to rely on a lot of natural light due to rigging restrictions in period locations and stately homes. Selective grading by senior colourist Stuart Fyvie helped to enhance or shade parts of the image that would ordinarily have been lit on set. The drama also features flashbacks of a previous incident, remembered from several characters’ points of view. Fyvie added subtle nuances such as glows, highlights and desaturations that would help the audience know where they were in the story.
For the sound mix, re-recording mixer Rob Hughes aimed to bring the feel of a working home to Pemberley, with details such as distantly heard servants and passing conversations. A lot of the foley tracks were recorded on location, augmented by recordings shot in a 15th century music shop in Surrey that had just the right amount of creak to the floor. For the flashback narrative, the sound mix sought to complement Fyvie’s grade with an ethereal treatment.
The vfx work also needed to maintain the reality of a period production. Key shots included the compositing of a period cottage into an ideal riverside location, complete with chimney and smoke, and bringing exterior shots of Pemberley to life by adding the glow from a single light source, shining through windows at various angles.
LipSync has previously worked with Origin Pictures on productions including The Crimson Petal and the White, The Awakening, Hidden and The First Grader. For Death Comes to Pemberley David Thompson was the producer.

Posted 20 December 2013 by Pippa Considine

Ed Morris directs Tony Kaye on Tony Kaye

This is not an interview with Tony Kaye

This is what happens when you go to interview an icon of the advertising industry and, by the end of the interview, he's pondering the possibility of turning the experience into a doc feature and entering it for an Oscar.

This week, a few of us got a sneak preview of work in progress, directed for The Creative Circle by ad creative-turned-director Ed Morris, who apologised in advance for the film's unfinished state. Being more modest than Kaye, he didn't declare that he was going along with the Oscar idea, but it seems that he and his team from Rattling Stuff Productions are pretty chuffed with what they've got so far.

In January last year, Morris and a small crew flew to Kaye's glamorous home in LA and spent a day following Kaye up and down the stairs, into art and music rooms and across the garden. The living room is huge, dotted with to-die-for 'seventies chairs and one wall is floor to ceiling glass doors looking out across the Hollywood Hills. Every available surface is stacked with canvases of Kaye's wild artwork and there seems to be paint everywhere. Though mysteriously the white leather upholstery of the chairs is pristine.

"All I'm interested in now is painting and trying to find my way through, like Jackson Pollock," says Kaye.

Half the canvases have graffiti scrawl across them and Kaye is full of philosophical thoughts, many of them about madness. But while having a reputation for his diva behaviour and maverick, creative intransigence, there is a sane man close to the surface. Back in his advertising director heyday, he was reportedly commanding £10,000 a day in fees and has clearly created a nice nest for himself in his Californian home.

More recently his directorial career has moved on to actors and the chemistry of getting great performances. "Good actors like to work with eccentric people who don't know what they're doing and create chaos with every footstep and I act that role very well," he says.

This unfinished film nicely reflects Kaye’s style. Intercut with footage of Kaye scrawling headlines in oozing pink and black paint on a white board, the not-yet-finished film, shot on 5D, begins with quite a lot of Kaye’s nose in a stark, honest close-up portrait and frequently goes out of focus, especially when Kaye gets his hands on the camera.

Having become caught up in the idea of the interview becoming more than just that, Kaye came along to watch the current cut in a Soho edit suite and footage of Kaye watching Kaye is also cut into the unfinished edit.

We were told by Ed Morris that the film won’t be going on the web. Not now that is. To be continued…

“I suppose it is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have one's doubts. “ ~G.B. Burgin

Posted 13 December 2013 by Pippa Considine

BBC Worldwide steps up original commissioning

BBC Worldwide Channels is stepping up its commissioning, after the recent announcement of three new channels.

Vice president of commissioning Tracy Forsyth has a clear brief for the sort of new programming she’s looking for on new natural history channel BBC Earth and a male-skewing channel which is yet to be named.

BBC Worldwide Channels has emerged in the last couple of years as a serious commissioner of factual entertainment content. Mox, Outline, 360, Wildfire and Furneaux and Edgar Productions are all suppliers. With the launch of three new channels, the demand for programming has moved on again.

Now with a content investment budget of £200m annually, which includes spend on original commissions, BBC Worldwide is increasing its interest in co-productions of major factual shows and drama and seeking more factual entertainment to feed the expanded bandwidth (approximately 80 hours).

BBC Worldwide’s male-skewed channel is looking for primetime programmes, from dude food to action adventure series. The channel is dubbed “nirvana for blokes with brains.” In particular, Forsyth is after very British on-screen talent, “humorous mavericks who are smart with a heart.”
The sort of programming she wants for BBC Earth is described as “natural history’s younger brother or cooler cousin.” Adventure, survival, popular science and extreme natural phenomenon all fit into the brief.
The BBC Worldwide Channels commissioning team has taken on two executives now that the task has got bigger. Tracy Forsyth and her team - Julie Swanston and Lucy Pilkington - are looking to order 100 hours of programming content to play out on the BBC’s branded channels by 2014.
Since Forsyth set out her commissioning strategy in 2012, the emphasis has been on finding primetime formats which are returnable and can work in high volume. The demand echoes that of US broadcasters and, as well as fully funded projects and UK co-productions, she’s up for partnering on projects with US broadcasters.
One project is Wild Things, Season Two with Dominic Monaghan, a co-production with BBC America, made by Canada’s Cream Productions and Wildfire Television in the UK. Working with BBC America is a natural fit, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only potential partner.
BBC Worldwide has a total of 44 channels in over 100 countries and reaches 406 million households. It’s in the same game as Discovery Networks International, which reaches over 1.6 billion in 224 countries and territories, with 46 channels, and National Geographic Channels, which has six brands, available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries.
BBC Worldwide Channels is asking for shows “with universal story-telling appeal and multi-platform potential”; there’s room for productions with international appeal, as well as some made for the local market.

Best in Town, from Mox Productions, sets three local business owners from the same area against each other in a battle to see who is the best operator in town. Factomania from 360 Productions explains factual mysteries, such why cats have nine lives and what is the loudest thing in the ocean. While Million Dollar Intern, made by Outline, features whizz kids from around the world going to work for a week at the bottom rung of a range of businesses which are failing to reach their potential in an effort to re-energise them.

There have also been a number of foodie shows. BBC Bristol is behind Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London which airs across the BBC’s international channels early next year and Furneaux and Edgar Productions produced Bill’s Kitchen: Notting Hill. BBC Worldwide Channels is also investing in the BBC’s Food and Drink, alongside Stargazing and Dara O’Brian’s Science Club.

Posted 12 December 2013 by Pippa Considine

Colouring Borgen: something other than Nordic Noir

The Danish TV series Borgen, its third series now airing on BBC Four, is distinctly Scandinavian in terms of its production aesthetic. But, given the subject matter of the series, it does not rely on the ‘Nordic Noir’ look that characterises so many other successful exports.

Produced by DR, the Danish public broadcaster, Borgen is made by the same outfit that produced hit series The Killing, which has quite a different mood.

A key theme throughout Borgen is the balance between home and work lives; Birgitte Nyborg must juggle her family life with the demands of leading a coalition government, while a journalist and government press officer struggle to keep their relationship separate from their opposing career paths. This juxtaposition forms the basis for the series’ look and feel.

The overall look of Borgen is set by director Charlotte Sieling and DoP Jørgen Johansson was classically cinematic, with a lot of natural daylight and warm skin tones.

Norman Nisbet has worked as colourist on all three series. He has his own balancing act to manage. “Unusually, the series has a conceptual director and DoP who set the tone for the entire series, but every two episodes are shot by a different director and DoP team,” explains Nisbet. “So I had to balance the overall mood as well as entertain individual styles and interpretations and make sure that the finished product had a coherent grade throughout the entire series.”

“Home scenes are warm and friendly with lots of rich contrast, while the scenes in the parliament buildings are much cooler and slightly harder, but detail in the shadows and highlights were important to extract,” says Nisbet, who uses DaVinci Resolve for the grade.

The third series was shot on the Alexa, and the DoP purposely underexposed the material half a stop, which gave Nisbet additional texture in the shadows, which were enhanced in the grade. “The first episode also includes with scenes in Hong Kong, which were gritty but also very colourful, so I used a desaturation of shadows and also complemented the drama on screen with a greener palette with gold highlights.”

Nisbet uses Resolve’s Power Windows together with the tracker. "I’m able to get clean HSL or RGB colour picking for secondary enhancements with gaussian blur in the isolations, which mean the grading enhancements blend in smoothly, without any disruption to the narrative on screen,” concludes Nisbet. “The success of the series has been because of its strong plot lines and believable, fallible characters. So, it was important for me that the grade was clean and crisp, making the images on screen interesting, but only subliminally noticed by the viewers.”

Posted 09 December 2013 by Pippa Considine
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