Jon Bruce, senior colorist and online editor, Blazing Griffin, was behind the grade for My Old School.

Directed by Jono McLeod and starring Alan Cumming, the film tells the story of sixteen year old Brandon Lee who enrolled at a secondary school on the outskirts of Glasgow in 1993.

However, Brandon Lee was neither sixteen years old, nor was this his real name. ‘My Old School’ relates Lee’s curious story and unravels the curious mystery surrounding him. It features the voices of Lulu, Clare Grogan and Joe McFadden. The film uses a mixture of animation to recreate the story, interviews with Lee’s former classmates and audio interviews with Lee himself, lip synched by Alan Cumming.

“My Old School is a tremendous story, and color was the unifying factor that brought it all together,” said Jon Bruce, senior colorist and online editor, Blazing Griffin. “There are effectively three different parts to the jigsaw: the animated recreation, the interviews with former pupils and the lip-synced interview acted out by Alan Cumming, and color was crucial in making it feel coherent throughout.”

The interviews with former pupils were recorded over a number of days at a semi-abandoned school in Glasgow, but production was interrupted by the Covid-19 lockdowns. The original intention was to let the story unfold using the interviews mixed with drama recreations but restrictions of filming forced Jono McLeod, the director, to look for alternative ideas and he settled on using 90s style animation to tell the story. However, ensuring a consistent look across both the animated and interview segments required some work.

“Most of the interviews were filmed over a period of five days, in various classrooms with large windows and using natural light, so we used Resolve’s HDR tools to make sure that we could get a natural look and avoid too many blown out highlights,” continued Bruce. “We also used a stronger film LUT to create a more retro filmic look for the Alan Cumming interviews as we wanted them to still feel in the world of the interviews, but to still take us out of reality slightly.

A crucial part of the production was ensuring consistency across the animated and interview segments. Notably, that the characters could be recognised across both. Although the director had asked the former pupils to wear brightly coloured clothes, Bruce also used the Resolve 3D keyer on the animations to tweak jumper and hair colors to ensure that the link between characters was clear and didn’t jar the viewer’s experience.

“Tying in the colour of the animation and the real interviews was a lot of fun,” concluded Bruce. “It’s a very colorful and stylish film, which was a clear choice on the director’s part. In other hands the story could have been told in a very dark and bleak way, instead it’s got a wonderful playful and comic feel to it. As such, it was vital that we unified the animations and interviews and lip-sync so that it didn’t feel like three piecemeal projects thrown together. The consistency of colour was a critical part of this. Overall, I’m incredibly proud of the work; they say that truth is stranger than fiction, and ‘My Old School’ proves the adage.”

My Old School is released on August 19, 2022 in the UK.

Jon Creamer

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