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October 2017
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  • The Facilities 50
    Jon Creamer launches Televisual's 30th exclusive annual Facilities 50 survey featuring the top post production houses in the UK and 52 pages of analysis of the sector
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    Hiring top talent and investing heavily in development have been key to growing his Bristol indie Plimsoll Productions, says founder Grant Mansfield
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    What ever genre you work in, you need to be lens savvy. Here three DoPs guide us through the lens market, picking out the models they like to use in drama and factual
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    The growth of Netflix and Amazon is proving a boon for UK indies, but broadcasters are starting to panic. Tim Dams reports
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Film 40, 2014 Back to Reports & survey Listing

The Colourists

The work of a colourist has a great deal of influence over a film’s final look and feel. Jake Bickerton talks to some of the UK’s leading colourists to reveal how they created ‘the look’ on four of the year’s most strikingly graded features


Being Llewyn Davis

Peter Doyle, Technicolor

“I worked closely with [cinematographer] Bruno Delbonnel to enhance the particular quality and light that evokes the feeling of a cold, bitter NYC in February on the big screen,” explains colourist Peter Doyle. “The Cowens were inspired by the early Bob Dylan album covers and Bruno and I gravitated towards the style and tone of NYC street colour photographers of the 1960s, especially Saul Leiter. I was familiar with his work having bought some of his prints a few years ago. I took that look and feel and began building a colour process that would emulate the hue response of those photographs.”
Doyle says he worked with Delbonnel and the production team to define the look of the production pre-shoot, helping ensure a straightforward grading process:”We’d tested, built and evolved the looks with production and costume design, and agreed the look and feel before the shoot started so the rushes were delivered with those pre-locked looks.”
“Given the critical success and audience acceptance of what is a very visually strong ‘out-there’ grade, I feel the film is an affirmation that colour design and DI, when treated as an integral part of the production process and overall film design, can be a tool production teams, the DoP and director can access to help shape the look and visual emotion of a film,” adds Doyle.

Mandela: A Long Walk 
To Freedom

Jean-Clement Soret, MPC

The director Justin Chadwick wanted a modern film with a contemporary look and no vintage replications except when matching original archive footage. He also wanted a rich, colourful and contrasting look; bold and generous ambiances that enhanced the story,” says colourist Jean-Clément Soret.
“We started to talk about the project when Justin was directing his short film Boy for the Olympics back in 2011. We discussed how wonderful it would be to work on 35mm film and how much it would add to the image and complement the story.”
“The sequence with queues at the polling stations, or dealing with white walls in interior scenes (especially in the prisons) and catching actors’ eyes in dark scenes when in shadow, these all held their particular challenges. But there weren’t really any specific challenges apart from the usual matching different times of the day,” says Soret.
“Overall the light was beautiful and we were very lucky with the weather. Having shot on film made it really easy to tackle any difficulties. I am sure it was challenging from a production point of view, but what a reward back in the studio – we spent four weeks purely grading and enhancing with no repairs.”

Rush

Adam Glasman, Company 3

“Our brief was to give Rush a 70s period feel. We took inspiration from archive footage of the 1976 championship and introduced the same desaturated colour palette to the digital footage, giving it a coherent look throughout,” explains Claire McGrane, director of operations, Company 3.
The Company 3 team was involved from the pre-production stage, creating LUTs from the test shoot to be used throughout the post process. When it came to the final grade, the main challenge was “creating a consistent look for both the film archive material and newly shot digital footage,” says McGrane. “We also worked hard to enhance the drama by adding more saturation to scenes such as the opening scene, where we created quite a menacing feel as the action builds up to the crash, which was achieved by careful manipulation whilst not crushing the detail out of the shot.”
“In addition to the 70s look and feel, [cinematographer] Anthony Dod Mantle wanted to introduce strong bold colouring to the cars. Each Grand Prix race was given its own look and feel to enhance the drama and reflect the build up of tension as it moves towards the final race of the ‘76 season.”

The Two Faces Of January


Gareth Spensley, Molinare

“The main challenges with the grade were unwanted weather changes,” says colourist Gareth Spensley about his technically complex grade. “I did some sky replacements in the grade, sourcing a more desirable cloud pattern from our library of sky plates and keying this into the original sky area, around buildings and trees. I then matched the original camera move through tracking.”
“One particularly tricky grade sequence was an underground scene that had to appear to be lit by the flame of a lighter,” he adds. “The director wanted the characters to appear and disappear into the gloom so I had to use shaped layers of black tracked over individual actors, which were faded in and out gradually to envelope them into the darkness. This avoided the artefacts that patches of crushed grading windows would have introduced.”
“We utilised the Baselight’s compositing capabilities throughout the film; straightening some attention-grabbing crooked streets in the background of shot, tracking in cracks and broken plaster into modern looking walls and ageing the houses and buildings of Crete,” says Spensley. “I also spent time addressing the non-period items that invariably get spotted once you’re in the big screen DI process, removing things like modern boats, buoys and the ubiquitous alarm box.”


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