London-based Sequence Post recently completed the grading of E4 spin-off drama series Hollyoaks Later using Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve colour correction software.
Colourist Zeb Chadfield was given the challenging task of grading the five one-hour shows in just one week. “Having worked on the previous two series, Director Alex Kalymnios had a very specific vision wanting to replicate the look of film,” said Chadfield.
Kalymnios wanted to push the visual boundaries in this latest series. “With such an ambitious story we needed the tone and style to match that boldness and create a sumptuous, visual treat for viewers.” She wanted each story strand to have its own distinct feel, camera style and colour palette and so the grade was a very important part of that process.
“We knew from the outset that we had to go big or go home on the colours,” added Chadfield. “It was important to establish distinct looks for the three story lines, each as different as we could make them, and then slowly push them over the course of each strand in the right direction emotionally while keeping scene changes simple enough to follow.”
“For the A story there was a more dusty American road trip feel where the tones and colours progressively become more muted and de-saturated as the characters’ journey continues. We often used wider lenses to get a sense of their landscape and on their close-ups it helped to underscore an intense intimacy,” explained Kalymnios.
“The colours in the Amsterdam story needed to convey a dreaminess and warmth, representing the boys’ hazy drug fuelled experience and a European romanticism, especially with a love story.
"However, towards the end of this journey we wanted to pull back on these softer tones to express the cracks in their friendship and the harder, darker side of drugs. For this we used uncoated lenses, which produced a flarey softness.”
For its Mitzeee Prison Break story “we went for quite an extreme monochromatic look, quite blue and cold, to amplify the heightened, adrenalin-fuelled escape scenes and place them in a darker place, away from the real world. For this particular strand we went with a more erratic handheld style, increased the shutter and had a cooler temperature to distinguish this story from the others.”
“For this production we worked alongside Lime Pictures in-house post department, exchanging project and media files over high speed internet and via portable drives,” said Ben Foakes of Sequence Post.
“The locked cuts were sent to us as FCP7 consolidated projects and we then set about preparing for the grade in our online suite. XML 5 files were exported from the final sequences and conformed into DaVinci Resolve for grading.
“We had to turn around one episode per day including rendering previews for production to view them, make any amendments and render out masters, all the while having changes to the edits and revised GFX coming in. The FCP XML round tripping in DaVinci Resolve was essential for getting this series complete,” he said.
“The whole series was turned around for transmission in one week flat, so a solid, reliable and fast tool was essential for the job. We have simply been blown away by the performance advantage, fluidity and the finished quality of pictures DaVinci Resolve delivers,” added Foakes.
“This was the first full drama series we have approached with our new Resolve system and we were mightily impressed with the results. I can’t wait to sit back and enjoy the programme off air, the whole team at Lime should be really proud, this series is sure to turn some heads.”