Unit’s Film & TV team delivered the full picture post and colour grade on the new BBC1 Drama series This Town, which premiered last week with all episodes available to watch now.

The new series from Peaky Blinders and SAS Rogue Heroes creator Steven Knight, stars Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, Anatomy of a Scandal), Nicholas Pinnock (Life, Marcella), David Dawson (My Policeman, The Last Kingdom).

The six-part series is produced by Kudos (Banijay UK) and Nebulastar for the BBC, and co-produced with Mercury Studios, in association with Kudos North, Stigma Films and Nick Angel. It is directed by Paul Whittington and produced by Charlotte Surtees and Tim Whitby.

Filmed on location in the Birmingham area, and at Steven Knight’s new Digbeth Loc. Film and TV Studios – This Town tells the story of an extended family and four young people who are drawn into an explosive and iconic music scene. It further delves into a band’s formation against a backdrop of violence, capturing how creative genius can emerge from a time of madness.

This Town opens in 1981 at a moment of huge social tensions and unrest. Against this backdrop, it tells the story of a group of young people fighting to choose their own paths in life, and each in need of the second chance that music offers.

Unit Head of Film & TV Louise Stevenson says of working on This Town: “This Town was a fantastic project to work on. We always love working with Kudos – some of the team have worked with them for over 20 years! Dan ensured the grade played a key part of the atmosphere and storytelling, transporting us to the 80s, Sion ran the online side completing multiple VFX shots, whilst Greg worked closely with the whole team to bring everything together to ensure smooth delivery to multiple broadcasters”.

Unit Film & TV delivered the full Picture Post and Colour Grade across the series working closely with DOP Ben Wheeler, Production Company Kudos and the BBC to bring the VFX to life with Unit Colourist Dan Coles carrying out the Grade.

The colour grade carried out by Coles ensured a filmic feel, strong in contrast and bold in use of colour – not overly saturated, but not muted either. The team fundamentally wanted to celebrate this unique time and place with a warmth and vibrancy that was both naturalistic and inviting. Dan enhanced colour separation, and added shape and depth to characters where possible, using a soft highlight and shadow roll off, and embracing the natural texture provided by the lenses.

“DOP Ben Wheeler BSC and I have collaborated many times before,” says Coles. “We were able to do a pre-production camera test on the Alexa35 using vintage Hawke anamorphic lenses. We looked at most of the key cast members with makeup and in costume – this was an invaluable part of the process and allowed us to make some subtle changes to Ben’s shooting lut giving us something more appropriate for This Town. Once in the grade Paul Whittington (Director) along with Ben and I decided we wanted to enhance the stunning and authentic ‘80s feel to this drama. Whilst incredibly cinematic and at times quite gritty we wanted where possible for the images to convey a strong sense of optimism, hope and joy.”

The Unit Film & TV team worked to deliver the invisible VFX, cleaning up shots and ensuring the series was period accurate by removing any modern elements from key shots. There was a mix of matte painting, clean up and compositing to guarantee the viewer felt fully immersed in the 80’s era of This Town.

Steven Knight says of the BBC drama: “It’s about an era I lived through and know well and it involves characters who I feel I grew up with. It’s a love letter to Birmingham and Coventry but I hope people from all over the world will relate to it.”

Unit Film & TV’s other recent work highlights include The Tourist season 2, Grantchester and Vera.

The launch of the new Unit eight-storey facility in Fitzrovia, on Margaret Street this May sees the Film & TV department expansd, with more colour suites and VFX suites.



Pippa Considine

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