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A Norwegian twist

Colourist Dylan R Hopkin describes creating a palette for BBC Four crime drama, Wisting

Acquired from Banijay Rights, and produced by Cinenord and Good Company Films, 10-part Norwegian crime drama Wisting has been praised by critics as one of the most superbly layered shows being broadcast on BBC Four. Starring Jessica Jones actress Carrie-Anne Moss and Valkyren actor Sven Nordin, each 45-minute episode follows detective William Wisting, who invites the FBI to take part in a serial murder investigation after a newly discovered victim turns out to be American. 

The show’s DI requirements, which included the grade, online edit and finishing, were delivered in DaVinci Resolve by Dylan R Hopkin and the in-house conform artists at Nordisk Film ShortCut Oslo.

“Norway’s TV drama market has exploded. An increasing number of local high-end feature film directors and cinematographers are doing television now, which has fed into an appetite for Scandinavian crime series in foreign markets,” explains Hopkin. “At the same time, the role of the colourist has expanded. We now do more finishing tasks during creative colour sessions than ever before, including stabilisation, reframing shots, creating camera movement, texture and lighting management, sky replacements and more.” 

This was especially true on Wisting. Aiming to create a moody, de-saturated aesthetic inspired by David Fincher, Hopkin explains he frequently used tools such as power windows, combined with trackers, to shape light throughout the drama. This would guide the audience to the most important areas of the frame. 

“Director Trygve Allister Diesen and conceptual cinematographer Jørgen Johansson were clear that they wanted the whites to be a little off, without a normal D65-balanced feeling. We embraced grittiness and darkness, not being afraid of greenish-yellow highlights and slightly cyan-tinted blacks. Even for winter exteriors with snow,” he adds. 

To achieve this aesthetic, Hopkin began by customising a built-in Kodak FPE LUT to use as a foundation for the show’s palette. “Together with the client, I took a couple of hero shots from each scene to establish a more detailed grade that would suit the story. We began with the wide shots, then moved on to the medium and close-ups,” adds Hopkin, explaining that DI was completed using a Mac Pro with expander chassis, two NVIDIA 1080Ti GPUs, a Flanders Scientific XM551U 55’ UHD OLED monitor, and a Resolve Mini Panel. 

Once we had defined these initial references, we knew the general direction for each scene. After the primary balance, I tweaked the overall look with a Post-Clip Group node-tree. My secondary pass then involved reviewing entire scenes, ensuring the grade flowed well throughout each episode. Final masters were delivered as QT ProRes 4444, 1080p25 files.

Wisting on BBC Four every Saturday from 9pm.