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How colour helped tell the story of the Peaky Blinders

Post production house Company 3 reveals how colour played a huge role in the look of the award-winning series

With the sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders now available on iPlayer and Netflix, post production house Company 3 has revealed that DaVinci Resolve was used for the grade and conform, maintaining the show’s iconic look.

Directed by Anthony Byrne, written by Steven Knight and starring Cillian Murphy as the leader of the notorious Shelby crime family, the series follows their often-violent actions in post-WWI Birmingham.

“Colour has been an incredibly unifying and symbolic force throughout Peaky Blinders, and frequently underpins or foretells moments of drama, or gives insight into a character’s subconscious,” said senior colourist Paul Staples, who works at Company 3 London. “Additionally, colour has played a role in highlighting certain folkloric aspects in Steven Knight’s writing. This made it simultaneously a complex and incredibly satisfying show to work on.”

Such visual ideas originate with Knight’s script and then percolate through director Byrne and DoP Mathieu Plainfossé. Digital Imaging Technician James Shovlar played a key role during principal photography helping to ensure that the creative vision was maintained during shooting. He would balance shots before passing them to the cinematographer for his feedback, followed by notes from Byrne. Once episodes were cut, they would pass on to Company 3 and Staples (who also coloured season five) for final colour in DaVinci Resolve.

One of the common visual elements throughout Peaky Blinders has been the colour gold. “Anthony had said that gold was a key theme within the show,” noted Staples. “It is a recurring motif in the show, symbolising the wealth of some of the characters. I did some fine rotoscope work in Resolve, frame by frame to fine tune just the gold elements.”

Colours can take on multiple meanings, Staples added, and the gold is symbolic of more than merely wealth. “Gold also has a presence in Romani custom and folklore,” he explained.

“We always needed to be respectful of both the deeper meanings contained within the visuals, while also balancing visual consistency with previous seasons and to accomplish that while maintaining a sense of progression. This is the type of show colourists love to work on.”