Contributions Completed

Amongst all of my grading roles this year Implication has offered me the most valuable experience, truly testing my skills as a colourist and building a deeper understanding of colour and representation that can transfer directly to my career path in lighting design.

Being able to work on a film so stylised and focused on visual design was my ideal opportunity regarding my role as a colourist (or for that matter lighting too). Driven so much through its use of colour made me investigate the meaning and associations behind tones, playing on these in order to enhance the narrative and build on the combined vision of Director and DP. My personal approach to lighting with heavily stylisation has really helped me to engage with this piece of filmmaking, and now I feel I can tell the entire narrative purely by describing the changes in colour and equilibrium.

The ambitious nature of the grade made it feel like the most ‘real’ experience of being a colourist to date. It felt like working on an industry production and made me engage with the content, rather than “making things look nice”. The late delivery and inexperienced editor was frustrating at times, thankfully I managed to work my schedule so I could continue to put my fullest efforts into colouring. It will be great to see how my grade couples with the sound design, hopefully both elements will work in harmony and enhance the narrative presented.

Colour Narrative

With Implication fully complete and approved by Tom (Director) I can now reflect upon the final representation of colour in the film in relation to the narrative. The whole idea with colouring the film is to focus the palette on expressing the narrative and an extension of the films themes emotional transitions.

Constructing the palettes each colour embodied a emotional state of play in the film. ‘Gold’ was the warming palette of relationships, starting with Leo & Ingrid, soon progressing onto Leo & Lindsay. The ‘Cold’ palette focuses on blue hues and desaturated tones, associated with the emotional state of individuals (e.g. Ingrid as her relationship deteriorates). ‘Soft Blue’ acts as a natural and neutral palette to contrast stylised sequences. ‘Pink Passion’ is dynamic as it is introduced during moments of passion and intimacy. ‘Dynamic Purple’ and ‘Muddy’ were two unique palettes devised for particular sequences.

Upon review I feel I have stayed true to the emotional play of colour in the film. This works in combination for the three colours Tom uses to define his characters: Leo – Blue, Ingrid – Yellow, Lindasy – Red, as all are dressed in these iconic colours so I could pull them further out from the frame using qualifiers.

Implication Colour Storyboard

Viewing the grade as a series of scene stills I feel the emotional transition through colour is easily apparently. Starting off as a yellow warm/natural state the threat of blue is introduced leading to a growing intimacy and passion as red begins to dominate. With this shift in colour there is a jump between colours as emotional turmoil occurs in the middle, this is reflected through natural light and individual appearances of yellow, blue and red. The third act sees the red character embrace the warmth of a golden palette and further build on the intimacy between her and blue. As this shift in colour occurs simultaneously the coldness of blue starts to surround the yellow.

Towards the end red and blue battle it out inside the blue palette to win the character. This leads to a complete breakdown in colour as darkness surrounds the emotional state of blue. The end suggests a return to the original equilibrium as we are presented with an golden palette again, but the overly stylised nature is sarcastic as it is a faux ‘happy ending’ with red removed from the palette.

Whilst this is a slightly confusing concept to grasp the more you think about these three iconic colours the more you can release their journey in the narrative. At times colour meanings do swap such as blue representing Leo and blue representing coldness, despite this it is still relatively clear.

There is still the ability to break down each sequence individually aside from this overall colour narrative. The initial palettes are still relatively prominent, though at times they have broken away from the intended treatment due to adapting for the state of narrative and film. Colour association continues to be a dominant factor throughout the grade, relying heavily upon western cultural semiotics in order to read the meaning behind their inclusion.

Ultimately the grade is an extension of the narrative and I feel I have encapsulated this effectively. Whilst I had constructed palettes I feel the dominant colours associated with each character is the best connotation for reading the narrative rather than deconstructing colours in each scene. The whole purpose behind this film was its unique visual emphasis commonly associated with fashion and photography, I feel like the grade has fulfilled this production criteria perfectly and I am extremely proud of my input on the film.

Final Grade Export

After all of my various grade export tests I came to the verdict to deliver an Uncompressed RGB 10-bit and a MPEG4 as reference. The debate between RGB and DPX was difficult, but judging by the experience of Tom (Director) as an editor I felt delivering a self-contained MOV file would be an easier concept for him to grasp. I decided to split the film into 4 sequences so no single file would be too large to cause the system to freeze or crash.

The final export took around 16 hours. I also colour-traced a couple of grades for the pickup shots Tom has spoken to me about, one didn’t appear in the sequence whilst the other was a misunderstanding when making continuity edits in DaVinci. Everything is clearly labelled on his hard drive, he now has all of the files so my role on this project is completed.

This project has been a fantastic opportunity to push the grade right to the limits of what is considered ‘natural’ and what is ‘surreal’. I love to push colour to become very stylistic and definite narratives through expressionism, this project has enabled me to work this into my craft as a colour grader. Tom took the time to tell the story through colour so I had solid guidance, but at the same time I was able to provide my own creative interpretation and at times break away from his initial verdict (e.g. making shop blue rather than yellow). I really enjoy the subtly of colour at times and think this is a great reflection of my personal feelings and approach to colour grading. I look forward to seeing it alongside the sound to see the final interpretation of the content throughout the film.

Formatting Hard Drive

Due to the large file size of the export Tom needed to buy a separate hard drive in order to get a copy of the film. Whilst I copied the footage through ‘EditShare’ to get the rushes from Mac to Windows I am unable to repeat the process due to disk space filling up and the large export, predicting around 1.2TB.

Mac hard drives will default to OS Journaled as a partition meaning they cannot be read by Windows.  Macs read and write to a format known as HFS+ (Hierarchical File System) supporting file sizes of 8 EiB. Windows drives default as NTFS, this can be read on Macs but cannot be written on, this supports a much smaller file limit of 16TB.

Alternatively you can install open-source software on either operating system in order to enable it to write to the opposing disk format. For Mac something like ‘MacFuse’, for Windows something like ‘HFS+ Explorer’. Whilst these will fix the problem the open-source nature of the design can be susceptible to bugs and errors, results vary between users.

Another suggestion is to partition the hard drive into two separate formats. Effectively creating two hard drives by splitting the capacity to a ratio of disk space. In this scenario it still won’t remove the problem of being able to write on the opposing operating system so it you can’t copy files across partitions.

Partitioning the disk as FAT will resolve the problem as this formats it so it is read and write compatible across both operating systems. The first style of this format is FAT32, this has a maximum file size of 4GB and can be susceptible to disk errors. This is nowhere near the file sizes I will need to copy across.

The second version is exFAT (or MS-DOS FAT), compared to FAT32 this isn’t as common meaning it may not be compatible with third party devices such as games consoles or camcorders. The other problem with this format is its lack of compatibility with older operating systems, only working with OSX 10.6.5 and Windows Visa SP1 or later. However it does offer larger file sizes so I will be able to copy across the relevant files.

I have asked Tom to format the drive as a exFAT. The purpose of the drive is to be able to copy large files between a Windows and Mac computer, this is the only format that can achieve that purpose. This can easily be done through ‘Disk Utility’ on OSX by erasing the disk and partitioning it to the new format.

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4K Grade Exports

Today started off as a simple case of going in to export the grade for Implication, however I saw an opportunity to test file formats and better my technical understanding of the edit workflow between grading and online. The general standard from DaVinci Resolve is to export a DPX (Digital Picture Exchange); this generates a string of individual still files that can be brought in as a sequence into the editing software (i.e. Adobe Premier). DPX provides a great deal of flexibility in storing colour information, colour spaces and colour planes, effectively becoming the still version of a RAW video file.

The main reason for its industry success is the huge amount of information it can store ready for VFX and further editing. However in the case of ‘Implication’ the export was purely being used to synch back up with sound before the final delivery. My theory was if I exported the 4K file already baked then I’m only bringing the compression stage a tad earlier, so Premier would only mimic the same process and not actually affect the image. DPX seemed like an unnecessarily big format for the nature of this 4K grade delivery.

I exported a test sequence from the file of various compressions and codecs available on the system that could handle 4K (technically 4480 x 1920). I opted for the following formats:

H.264 – Dimensions of 4K exceeds limit of DaVinci export ability.
MPEG4 – Should be the most compressed of all selected.
DPX – Great for high quality but huge file size, usually standard but not tested on larger projects in our facilities.
MXF DNxHR 444 – Testing.
Uncompressed RGB 10-bit – Testing, in theory if uncompressed it will remain a large file size.

H.264 couldn’t operate with the large resolution and MXF couldn’t be imported into Adobe Premier. Comparing DPX and RGB 10-bit I found no visible difference in the Premier timeline, I would say both were completely identical. The RGB 10-bit is slightly favourable as it delivers a self-contained file so is easier for organisation than the vast array of DPX files generated, however this does require a slightly longer export time. The MPEG4 appeared slightly clipped on its levels in comparison, almost as if contrast had been digitally increased throughout.

Uncompressed RGB 10-bit

UNCOMPRESSED UNCOMPRESSED2

MPEG4

MPEG MPEG2

I took the Uncompressed RGB 10-bit and MPEG4 one step further and exported both in a H.264 4K format from Premier to compare the colour on the final output. The MPEG4 continued to appear with the original higher contrast whilst the Uncompressed remained truer to the original grade levels.

Taking all of these factors into consideration I have since opted to export the 4K grade as an Uncompressed RGB 10-bit so that it’s self contained for ease of the editor (director is doing editing). In order to reduce the risk of crashing I have broken the film into 4 smaller chunks that can be pieced together in Premier. I have also chosen to export a MPEG4 as a backup option.

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I discussed my findings with Dipo (Colourist) further as we often talk through grading and DaVinci being the only two specialists in our year group. He tested the format I recommended and agrees the identical file size and quality, once again the case of longer export vs self contained file. Dipo has some interesting findings on the scopes of compressed vs uncompressed and there is very little variation, this subtle variation may not be a issue but it all comes down to a project basis. ‘Implication’ I want to keep as true as possible, my other projects ‘Billy’ and ‘The World Of The Willows’ are 1080HD allowing additional options on export, uncompressed versions is something I am likely to continue for these dependent on time scales.

 

 

 

 

Grade Final Review

Today Tom (Director) was able to come into the grading suite for the final review of the project enabling me to export the final DPX files. He was generally extremely happy with the grade, there were a few tweaks to make but nothing too complicated. The common theme was pulling back the grade to a natural feel as some elements looks too colourful. This was mostly the case of isolating elements with power windows and qualifiers.

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Sky Opening – Tom described the shot as ‘too candy-floss’. I have pulled back some of the pink for a natural feel, but at the same time kept a little for continuity considering the pink skyline over the rooftops.

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Sky Opening – Pulling back the pink and blue once again, also adding a power window over the top left of frame to darken brighter parts of the sky.

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Smoking Close Up – Colour cast on face slightly purple and unnatural, have used qualifier to isolate his flesh tones and pull them back to a natural coldness for added clarity.

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Smoking Thumb – Leon’s hand is too pink and unnatural, have added a power window and qualifier to pull it back towards a more natural skin tone.

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Colour Jump – The transition felt awkward and didn’t look right, I had always queried it and Tom didn’t like it. Have removed the colour change and continued with the pink/dreamy wash throughout the sequence.

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Shop Jacket – Lindsay’s jacket appears off colour (orange), have added saturation and pushed everything towards red. This was a recurring element, likely due to changes in light so I have made this amendment a few times over.

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Smoking Shisha – Leon looks too red faced, have added a window and qualifier to pull back natural tones.

The grade is finally complete and everything is ready to export. I am going through the export process with Dipo to check I have all of the DPX settings correct. As the export is 36mb per frame I am estimating around 1.2TB required for the output. Tom will be delivering a few shots to grade as he thinks one is missing from the edit, also the sequence I re-edited of Leon turning around twice turned out to be a stylistic choice and not a continuity error.

I am hoping to export the film tomorrow morning and grade the last few shots sometime this week.

Grade 2nd Review

Following my discussion with Tom (Director) on March 31st I have been able to carry out the changes to the grade in DaVinci Resolve. Having sent the new screenshots across I received a really positive response from him. I have since Skyped Tom and he expressed his like for the new version of the grade, there may be a few minor tweaks but nothing substantial for me to work on alone.

In theory the grade can be exported now, however I want to make a few tweaks and review all of it again tomorrow. I’ll also use this chance to make the continuity edits and export a version for Jesse so he has the amended time codes to place over his current sound edit.

Tom will be back in Bristol in a few days. We have agreed to spend a day reviewing the grade together in person on April 20th, then we will be exporting the final version. I’m certain after playing around one last time tomorrow I will be completely confident in the content I am exporting.

Editing In DaVinci Resolve

With permission from Tom I am able to make changes to the continuity errors in the film. The few that are obviously present concern jumping movement between shots. In the past DaVinci has purely been focused on grading but as continues to develop as a piece of software it has started to introduce further editing functions, almost suggesting it could soon be a fully fledged independent editing package.

DaVinci Resolve 11 has introduced some major editing functionality improvements including asymmetrical editing, independent exporting and bezier controls. The majority of updates to the latest version are aimed towards the editing functions, further inclusions are trimming tools, keyboard shortcuts, transitions, effects and text editing.

The fact this rivals all other competitors (when you take away cloud-based collaboration) suggests a new entry door for aspiring editors. As the Lite version is almost identical in its editing tools I wouldn’t be surprised seeing it going from strength to strength. The way Black Magic Design is heading it could house the entire post-production process, for example the introduction of ‘Cloning’ that functions as a way to copy files and cards to multiple directories for ingestion and backup.

Whilst it is a powerful editing tool there are still changes needed to make it a fully fledged contender as an editing package. It’s still missing some functions it competitors use such as multi-cam editing. The audio tools are fairly restrictive with little filters and mixing tools in contrast to the multi-channel support it boasts. Finally the application is heavily reliant on GPU making it difficult to use on lower end computers, if they want to target the amateur market they definitely need to find a way for it to function on lower end computers.

I didn’t realise how powerful an editing tool DaVinci Resolve was, I still find it difficult to think of it beyond its grading abilities. In theory you could completely edit a film on it, potentially exporting the sound mix to a better application. Taking this into consideration I’ve investigated some shortcuts and tools located in the editing section, I think it’ll be the case of playing around further to familiarise myself with the application. For now it will work perfectly for amending continuity issues.

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Tools

Transitions & Roll Settings: Project Settings – Editing
Snapping & Linked Video/Audio: Icons in toolbar
Timeline View & Audio Meters: Icons in timeline
Match Frame: Icon in source or timeline viewer
Access Audio Mixer: View – Audio Mixer
Titles/Transitions: Toolbox (below media pool)
Speed Changes: Cmd + R or Inspector

Editing Shortcuts

Insert: F10
Overwrite: F10
Replace: F11
Place On Top: F12
Razor: Cmd/Ctrl + B
Fit To Fill: Shift + F11
Append To End: Shift + F12
Left/Right Arrow: Move one frame
Up/Down Arrow: Jump between edit
Rolling: Mouse between 2 clips and split by holding Opt/Alt
Ripple: Mouse on side of clip
Slip: Mouse over clip thumbnail
Slide: Mouse over clip name

Grading Log 1/4

Continuing with feedback from Tom (Director).

Opening Kitchen
Deleted all nodes, started by pushing towards blue for daylight feel. Added qualifier to select all the yellow areas and push them back to original tones, also increasing saturation to subtly highlight the colour yellow that represents Ingrid.

Created different version for window parts as dramatic change in light and colour temperature. Went back over sequence and pulled shadows down so the image doesn’t appear ‘milky’.

Smoking
Deleted top layer node that desaturated the image for natural skin tones, played around with other techniques but this was most effective for bluer image.

Cafe
Started from scratch again, focusing on natural light. Shifted towards daylight then pulled shadows and highlights apart for added contrast as image appeared too ‘milky’. Then added the red coat node again plus introduced some subtle gold for added warmth.

Comparing the two I can see how stylised the original was. This film does call for heavy stylisation, but surprising how much difference it makes. Do prefer the cleaner natural new palette for the scene. The red introduction (lowered contrast now) does suggest the romance blossoming strongly.

Masturbation
Started from scratch, focused on natural light. Balancing shot, pulled shadows and highlights apart for good contrast. Introduced some blue to offset the image for added coldness and association with Leon.

Shop
Need to darken intensity of bright light and saturate colours for Lindsay and Ingrid. Reference off REDLog – dialled down temperature, brought down exposure so cigarette stand can be made out, increase brightness to counteract the darkness from low exposure.

Gamma/gain towards blue for artificial blue tinge from the shop, added coldness. Looked at natural yellow from location but case remains that it looks cluttered composition; the blue cools everything and let’s focus be drawn to the two characters.

Exaggerated red qualifier of Lindsay’s coat further. Also added separate node for the yellow of Ingrid’s jacket, brings both characters out of the scene further. Will replicate for all of the shop sequences.

Issues of being too blue when Lindsay is outside in the darkness, have to key frame the intensity to increase as she approaches the shop.

REDLog:

  • ISO 640
  • FLUT 0.40
  • Contrast 0.50
  • Saturation 1
  • Temperature 3200
  • Tint 7
  • DRX 0
  • Shadow -0.29
  • Exposure -1.80
  • Brightness 7.40

Variations in some shots (i.e. 800/0.4/0.4/1/4500/7/0/-0.29/-1.54/7.43).

Had to tidy up qualifier on yellow coat in some shots, added power window to isolate coat in some sequences as difficult to isolate the precise colour without dramatic effect on the rest of the shot.

End Window Kiss
Built similar nodes using REDLog, achieves similar warming effect but cleaner cut.

1/4 Log Summary
I have gone through the entire film to fix everything Tom has suggested, along with cleaning up some minor changes from several times watching back. I have sent Tom the amended shots and will discuss further so hopefully the next session I can get the film exported. Prior to export I will fix the few continuity errors in the edit for movement, Tom has already approved this and I will note the time codes for Jesse’s sound mix.