Netflix series, Tour De France: Unchained,  follows several cycling teams as they compete in the 2022 installment of the world’s most grueling bike race.

Produced by Quadbox and executive Produced by James Gay-Rees, Yann Le Bourbouach, Paul Martin, post production was completed at Picture Shop.


Picture Shop Colourist Will Coker graded episodes 1 and 3-8 in Dolby Vision using Filmworkz’ Nucoda. Picture Shop Colourist Alex Chernoff graded episode 2.

Before starting the grade, Coker sat down with Series Producer, Stephanie Fox and Series Director, Jamie Batten to discuss how they would like to approach the look of the show. They wanted the grade to feel exciting, dynamic and for the races to pop, but also have the colour pallet grounded, and to not distract from the viewing experience. They particularly wanted to highlight the stunning scenery that the Tour De France takes place over.

The Tour De France is set over some incredible locations throughout France, so Coker and the team leaned into this, paying particular focus to all the aerial shots that punctuate the races. The colours were boosted up, the scenery was shaped, and a lot of attention was given to sky work to really get the shots to pop and give a sense of scale when following the riders through huge hills, towering mountains, along rivers and across busy towns. A key highlight was depicting the warmth of summer and playing into all the beautiful geography that continually surrounds the riders, aiming to transport the audience and make them feel a part of the races.

Key attention was spent ensuring the TV broadcast footage used from the Tour De France looked right alongside the newly shot footage by the crew. As the TV broadcast footage didn’t have the same dynamic range or wider colour gamut that newly shot footage had, it limited what could be done with it as it retained a harshness and was prone to blowing out highlights and accentuate garish colour hues. Shots were softened by rolling off the top and bottom ends of the image as well as keying and twisting colours to get them to match the more subtle hues that the other shots had.

Picture Shop Re-Recording Mixer Steve Speed mixed episodes 1, 2 and 4-8 in Dolby Atmos on an Avid S6 console. Picture Shop Re-Recording Mixer Nick Fry mixed episode 3. James Spooner and Ivan Onek completed the sound design.

Before final post production began, the thought of working on the sound for a series about the Tour De France fired the imaginations of the Picture Shop audio team. It presented an opportunity to try to re-create and convey the visceral and raw energy of the riders and bikes during the various stages of the Tour De France, as well as the fever-pitch excitement and passion of the crowds and spectators that love this sport so much.

Early conversations with Quadbox looked at ways that the sound team could get access to as many recordings of the riders during the different race stages of the Tour De France as possible. The lead Re-Recording Mixer on the series, Steve Speed, spent many hours going through M&Es from previous Tour De France broadcast recordings, to edit down any useful elements of bikes and vocal sounds.

The principal Sound Designer for the series, James Spooner, also went out and captured his own recordings of a local race. The team employed the services of foley artists Foley Farmers, based in Berlin, to record more specific bike elements of the gears, chains and wheels. The Quadbox sound location recordists also provided some wonderful elements of audio gold of rider’s breaths, grunts and shouts, as well as of course capturing all the interview and often intimate dialogue recordings of the riders and their teams, in what were often very technically challenging situations.

Picture Shop’s sound design team compiled all those sound elements into a library that could be used to build all the layers for those shots when the viewer is in and amongst the action of the riders and the peloton. The sound for those sequences when the viewer is thrown right into the middle of the peloton, or when we are almost sitting on the shoulder of the riders, is made up of many layers of individual spots and bed FX. The sound of the crowds and spectators passing by were also added during the sound design and Tracklay stage.

The series benefits so much from being mixed in Dolby Atmos. In the pre and final mix stage of each episode, all the elements layered up by the sound design team, were then panned, balanced and thrown around the 3-Dimensional sound space within Dolby Atmos. A huge amount of care and attention to detail was put into the mixes, by Steve Speed, to try to enhance and re-create the energy and movement of the riders and the bikes and the passing crowds during the race sections. That meant meticulously ‘working’ each sound design element at the mix stage, to make sure the sound felt real and glued to the picture.

The soundscape for the series is enhanced by the wonderful music composed by Simon Begg at We Are Golden.

Picture Shop Editors, Jason Chambers, Rich Wilson, and Mark Redfern completed the UHD online using Autodesk Flame.Post produced by Picture Shop Executive Post Producer, Milena Cave.


Staff Reporter

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