DaVinci Resolve Desk Refresher

Last year I launched a personal investigation into cinematography and colour grader, this year I am continuing to build upon this skills but shape them and specialise further for future employment. I opted to take a refresher workshop on the DaVinci Resolve work surface, last year I ended up using the desktop ‘Lite’ version so I am eager to use the dedicated sweet, hopefully this will avoid any file issues I faced attempting to conform RED footage on a standard Mac desktop.

It was worth while attending the session to jog my memory, nonetheless I have a strong working knowledge of the fundamental functions of DaVinci Resolve. However I am not experienced using the desk for these tools so I may try and get into the sweet and practice using the desk in order to get quicker. The main things to remember on the desk in terms of colour correction is the ‘Add Serial’ on the left panel, then the joyballs controlling luminance and colour levels for Lift, Gamma, and Gain. The RGB Mixer can be found at the top of the centre panel along with the Printer Lights, both useful for shifting individual colours for balancing.

As Dipo Ogunmodede is also specialising in Colour Grading I have found it useful to have discussions with him about techniques and software, I think both of us may try and arrange additional sessions with Dave where we can pick his brain about particular functions, personally I want to get my head around key framing (e.g. moving a node and fading/changing the colour mid scene).

Initial Proposal

Role – Producer

I never intended on producing a project this year, however Daniel Morgan and Nathan White approached me with a strong idea that I really loved, also between us we have assembled a very strong and reliable team that I have complete confidence in. I feel like this year may be my last opportunity to produce a film for a while, it is unlikely that I could walk into a job straight after university, and also I want to focus on lighting and colour grading. Nonetheless I feel producing generally provides a diverse set of skills that can be applied to a range of jobs in the future.

As a producer I will be continuing to build upon my organization, communication and team skills, all of which are generic skills for any type of job. I have produced two projects during University prior to this year: ‘Alcoholic Chocolate’ (UWE Y1 Drama), and ‘The Creative Carnival’ (UWE Y2 Documentary). After the success of ‘The Creative Carnival’ I felt like I was finished with being a producer, however knowing the confidence others have in me I feel like I should give it one last go for a really ambitious project. The potential success of this project would be a great credit to have under my name as a producer, and at the same time it means I can still focus on my craft as a colour grader for the same project.

Dan and Nathan are still developing the film; I have already provided feedback on the first draft of the script and now wait on further versions. We will soon start building our production schedule and I will start meeting with the crew, I feel like this will be shot earlier in the semester allowing room to focus on any other projects whilst it goes through a lengthy post-production process.

In terms of the future I do not anticipate on looking for experience as a producer and don’t have any intention to walk into this style of job. However it will provide a good fully rounded skillset that can accompany my pursuit into lighting design and colour grading. It also allows me to have an alternate focus whilst the rest of my efforts go into the grand idea for 3rd year that I am naming my investigation into light and colour.

Initial Proposal

Role – Colour Grader

I am still relevantly new to the role of a colour grader, having first fulfilled this role last year in my 2nd Year Documentary ‘The Creative Carnival’. Ever since then I have loved the idea of it and been really passionate for the craft. I love the ability to enhance an image and make it the best it can possibly be. As with lighting, I enjoy being able to convey a tone through the use of light and colour alone. I feel colour grading completes a full investigation into light/colour alongside my role as Lighting Designer and my dissertation. I want to have a full understanding of the principles of colour grading and colour science. I also want the ability to be able to use various colour grading applications, currently I have only learnt DaVinci Resolve. I am hoping through practice I can lessen the boundaries between grading and visual effects, having a stored knowledge of grades for quicker processing times.

I have been studying ‘The Color Grading Handbook’ in depth as I have found it to be a Bible for everything to do with the role. My research from last year into colour grading (www.jwakley.wordpress.com) can be used as a starting point to build upon this year. I have also started to look into how to use Adobe Speedgrade as this will help for anyone using an Adobe Premier workflow; I need to look into alternate software choices that are popular in the professional industry.

As with Lighting Design I prefer working on extremely stylized pieces of film as it requires more effort and opens room for more creative opportunities rather than simply colour correcting. Nonetheless colour correction is still a valuable skill and is more likely to be required in mainstream media, but I feel I can touch upon this en-route to applying stylized grades.

Prior to this year I have gained a small amount of experience as a colour grader. I have worked on several student projects: ‘The Creative Carnival’ (UWE Y2 Documentary), ‘Reaching Out’ (UWE Y2 Drama), ‘Arch Angel’ (UWE Y2 Drama), and ‘Crossroads’ (UWE Y2 Drama). I also investigated the role of a colour grader and carried out various tests and experiments during my craft skill module in Year 2. I have previously shadowed a colour grader in Films@59, however this was prior to University and discovering my love for grading as a career so I feel I didn’t fully embrace the opportunity.

I need to learn several new pieces of software, preferably finding out the ones that are most commonly used in the professional industry. I also need to have a good grasp on colour theory; I should hopefully gain a lot of this knowledge through my dissertation. The best way to achieve this is to read up and play around with the techniques learnt through various software choices. I want to try and find some experience shadowing or working in a post-production studio as a Colour Grader. I may try and find some professional projects going on that I can contribute towards as a grader.

Potential Projects

So far I am only committed as a colour grader on the film I am producing, Daniel Morgan and Nathan White’s script ‘The World Of The Willows’. This Sci-fi style drama will provide great opportunities for me to play around in the grade; I also have great confidence in the cinematographer I will be working with. I have had a few projects approach me able grading their work but I am yet to confirm roles as nothing as immediately stood out. Grading is a relatively simple process so it is likely I can pick up a few additional projects and balance it into my post-production period.

Initial Proposal

Role – Lighting Designer

I have always had an interest in lighting having worked in theatre prior to University. I am interested in the technical and creative applications of light, especially stylised. I feel this role opens various opportunities beyond the medium of film and television. I want to be competent in all methods of lighting, especially gaining skills in practical and naturalistic lighting this year. I want to be able to physically deconstruct and create my own rigs, but at the same time understand how to apply this in its creative form.

I have currently been reading a lot into Cinematography, admittedly this goes beyond the application of lighting and into camera; however I have focused on the lighting and composition aspects more so. I have recently been made aware of Vittorio Storaro, a cinematographer who focuses on light so I plan to investigate his work further. The ideal role to study is almost a Lighting Designer or Lighting Director who would work with the director to design the specific look for each shot. Using their advanced technical skills to create the lighting, atmosphere, and time of day for the production in response to the text. This role applies more so to theatre rather than film, lighting design is almost treading on the Director of Photographer’s toes.

My stylistic preferences lean towards stylised pieces of work where I can create elaborate designs. I want to spend time perfecting a particular look as opposed to simply lighting a subject evenly, none the less this is still a vital skill I can continue to perfect.

Prior to this year I have collected a massive amount of experience and skills in the lighting department. I have worked on theatre productions since the age of 14, more recent pursuits include two summers working as a Media Specialist at Timber Lake Camp in New York – this was a fully rounded roll using a variety of equipment including lighting, sound desks, projectors, etc. I have worked with lighting as a Cinematographer through previous student productions such as ‘The Creative Carnival’ (UWE Y2 Documentary), and ‘Crossroads’ (UWE Y2 Drama). I have had very few opportunities to focus solely on lighting and experimenting with it. I worked as lighting on ‘The Intern’ (UWE Y3 Drama) and have always taken the role as lighting whenever working on any exercise in the TV Studio.

I need to learn alternate and practical lighting methods. I will research into other techniques and lighting accessories that I can then experiment with further to understand their implications. This skill can coincide with my investigation into Colour Grading and my dissertation. I will attempt to build up a vast knowledge of types of light and when they are best used. I want to investigation the best methods to light particular scenarios, and in particular know how to best adapt for practical lighting enabling smaller kits (i.e. reflectors). I have already completed work experience as a Media Specialist at Timber Lake Camp, I would like to get further experience in lighting, preferable in television or film as I feel confident in theatre, nonetheless an opportunity in theatre could set me up for a future career.

Potential Projects

I have only fully confirmed my role as Lighting Designer on one project; this is Beth Taylor’s TV Studio piece. I feel like it is a useful set of skills to have running lighting in a TV studio environment, it is the perfect combination of film and theatre. As I have used the lighting rig in the TV Studio previously I am going to really push its limits and find creative and cool ways to adapt the rig to match the genre of each act.

I am currently confirming a role on Tom Barton’s project and Claudia Fischwick’s film. Both have great opportunities for really stylistic lighting, Tom’s is very arty whilst Claudia’s has established dream sequences with a lot of potential. I need to ensure both projects are working with a cinematographer that will allow me creative control over the lighting, until I read a script and start generating ideas I will not fully commit to any project in this role as it can become quite dominant and time consuming.

Feedback Script 1st Draft

Nathan and Dan recently completed their first script draft for ‘The World Of The Willows’. The plan is to be on the third version of the script ready for the pitching presentations, that way putting us ahead of the game and able to work to our own deadlines (still to be discussed between us). Currently the script is only known by a select few individuals, I have given the following feedback which Dan and Nathan were both happy about and are willing to use in their amendments for the second script draft.

Script Feedback 

Jumps back and forth between time a lot, from reading alone I find it difficult to get a grasp on where the narrative is. Some of these are very short sequences what feel like they could be placed in the same scene as other parts of dialogue.

Identified five major parts:

1 – Establishing characters & relationship

2 – Stealing medication & killing gang member

3 – Pursued by gang

4 – Gang killed by machines (why is she left?)

5 – Casey killed by machines

Explore the relationship between Kramer and Freddie, Kramer remains an archetype, could be worth establishing this in order to understand his intent. It is obvious if your brother was killed you’d want to get the attackers, but there is room for further explanation, perhaps showing a softer side to him beneath the strong exterior he presents to his gang.

Casey is the strong and the leader of the group, she has become a parent figure especially for Elly. Elly is the young child who is unaware of everything going on around her, her innocence shields her from the real danger than Casey protects her from. Amber is caught in the middle, she feels like Casey still treats her like a child and feels forced to babysit Elly. She wants to be treated like an adult and help, she is vaguely aware that Casey will go soon but doesn’t want her to.

Page 5 – “It’s her last one” – does this still work with the fact its used again when the gang chases her?

Establishing the gang makes me think of ‘Hobo With A Shotgun’, could be worth watching to consider how to establish and emphasise the extreme violence. How young is the boy who is being attacked? Making the age of the child younger will make this very distressing and show the gang as sadistic, if the person is older the effect will be reduced.

Page 8 – “Who fucking did this?” – he seems to be angry but doesn’t seem too shaken at the death of his brother. May want to clarify in terms of performance, I could imagine him showing a brief sign of weakness in front of his gang before pulling himself together and remaining as the alpha male. Perhaps Morris comforts which snaps him back into the alpha role. Potential for build up when he finds Casey, hears a whimper and announces he knows Casey is there, starts to approach smashing objects until he gets to the point where she is, then he whispers.

How does Casey get to the tent before the gang pursuing her on the car? – Might need proof of her hiding and them driving in an opposite direction.

Scene playing cards works extremely well in defining Ambers relationship amongst the sisters, perfect reflection of her struggle between being a child and an adult. Shows her immaturity.

The bike scene is cute, shows how the innocence of Elly can remove the problems Casey and Amber are facing. May be worth building upon this scene as it feels out of place, heighten his idea of her innocence against their problems or could be removed.

The fish tank scene feels unnecessary, adds another location for the case of a few lines of dialogue, can be removed or dealt with in the previous scene.

Page 21 – “Some birthday ey?” – If it was her 20th birthday why do the machines not take her despite finding her?