Sky Original feature documentary Hatton launched on 31st August. ‘Hatton’ is a brutally honest and deeply personal documentary with incredible access to Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, charting his journey from the Hattersley Estate in Manchester to headlining on the strip in Las Vegas. Sky Post Production were engaged to provide final post on the film, which is directed by multi-award-wining Director, Dan Dewsbury, and produced by Noah Media Group (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Finding Jack Charlton), in association with Sky Studios.

Mark Mulcaster (Colourist)
The Hatton grade took place over four days at Sky with director Dan Dewsbury attending, but conversations about the look for the film had started weeks before covering such subjects as film stocks and grain structure to use as a base for the final grade.

From those conversations it was clear that we would separate the look into two aspects; the first was to create an authentic filmic look, part of which was done in camera with the use of Pro Mist filters, with the rest being achieved using diffusion in the blacks and shadows with Baselight’s Textual Equaliser. This was employed to soften parts of the image rather than sharpen, which is what the tool was mainly designed for.

The second aspect was to help the archive footage sit better within the cut using colour and texture. This was especially important as the film was cut together from mixed media with newly acquired interviews shot in 4K, along with standard definition sports archive, and Hatton family DV footage from the 1990s.

The sports archive had its own unique characteristics as well and, as the film would cut from archive to interviews, we were keen to reduce how jarring that transition would be. To help with this we requested a test sequence which was representative of the edit and set to work on the look.

Our experimentation took us from some very authentic film print emulations to something a bit more stylistic with warmer highlights and skin tones whilst pushing cooler tones into the shadows which really enhanced the interviews. Then, after locking in the look, we started to explore the texture of the images, experimenting with different grain stocks and plugins.

In the end we opted for Baselight’s own Grain Generator as this gave us very precise control of the size, intensity and amount of grain as well as which part of the image was being affected. I blended the grain using an overlay function so that it sat within the image rather than feeling like it was a layer over the top.

We also discussed incorporating some halation so I built a film halation layer which could then be blended into some of the shots to try and replicate that quality that you find in many feature films. This was all done remotely prior to the grade which gave us a great foundation to build upon and explore further during the attended sessions, making the most of Dan’s valuable time.

During the grade we spent time discussing how we could enhance the archive footage and push it subtly towards the look of the rest of the film. There were instances where archive from different dates and sources was intercut so we needed to homogenise that footage and reconcile anything that stood out as being too different. In addition to a good balance, we wanted to add a bit more density into some colours, in particular blues and reds, without them popping too much.

The aim was to maintain the ‘video’ feel so whilst I added a bit of grain for consistency, we also added a very subtle amount of Baselight’s Chroma Warping which gave a good basis for any additional effects added in the online. Again, having done much of the legwork on the grade before the attended sessions meant we could focus more on bringing everything together.

The interviews presented their own challenges especially as some were shot over the course of several days in natural light which required continual adjustments from shot to shot as well as having to dynamically adjust for lighting levels during some pivotal interviews. It was a matter of enhancing what was there and tying everything together.

Some of the environments really allowed us to enhance the emotion that we wanted the viewer to feel, from the warmth and security of Jennifer Dooley’s living room in Manchester, to the almost Godfather-like setting for some of the boxing promoters in Las Vegas. Other contributors provided more of a blank canvas and required the use of many shapes to try and add a bit of depth and focus to the interview.

Ricky Hatton’s interview was made to feel a lot cooler and having it set at the end of a long table in the kitchen created a sense of separation and isolation from the story. The cool blues and teals worked really nicely with the chrome of the kitchen. For the most part we kept the film fairly natural although when the story moved into discussing embezzlement, we made some of those affected a bit greener to create an off-kilter perception and then returned to our normalised grade once that story had been resolved.

The documentary also features some abstract scenes that Dan had shot in the middle of a council estate at dawn with Ricky in a boxing ring. These needed to feel totally separate from the rest of the film as they were used to imply Ricky mentally revisiting some of his fights and his internalised thoughts. We didn’t want to use black and white or sepia for this so opted for more of an unsettling magenta tone which really enhanced the early morning feel when the footage was shot.

We increased the amount of grain in a blended layer and pushed the chroma warp a lot harder than we had for the rest of the film. I did some selective sharpening and then blended it back onto the graded image which created this cool blue and purple look whilst giving me precise control over how much we needed to dial in.

I was really pleased with the grade and how the collaboration between myself and Dan went. It’s always rewarding and satisfying to work on a film with a director who has such a clear vision yet allows you the time and space to creatively explore the visuals.

Dan Dewsbury (Director)
I loved working with Sky Post Production who were extremely accommodating to my wants for the Ricky Hatton Film. I felt like everyone pushed to make this film the best it could be, and the motivation displayed itself on screen. I’m known to be extremely pedantic about things and I have to say this is the first film I’ve made where every single element of it has been graded and mixed to how I’ve wanted. Can’t thank Sky Post Production enough.


Pippa Considine

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