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How the colourist steered the look of Netflix’s Young Royals season two

Edison's senior colourist Carl Skaff details the work behind the scenes on the Netflix drama, and the importance of maintaining the show's look in season two

Set amongst the fictional elite boarding school Hillerska, the story of Netflix’s Young Royals focuses on the fictional character Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (Edvin Ryding) and his turbulent relationship with fellow student Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg). 

The popular teen drama, directed by Rojda Sekersöz and Erika Calmeyer, and created by Lisa Ambjörn, Lars Beckung and Camilla Holter, returned to Netflix in November, with season one winning Kristallen Awards for Best Show of the Year and Best Youth Drama. 

Senior colourist Carl Skaff and the Edisen (formerly Chimney Group) team were brought back to complete the DI on season two, which included the conform, grade and delivery. Edisen also utilised DaVinci Resolve for on-set work and dailies colour. 

The Edisen DI team, led by Skaff, worked closely with DPs Gabriel Mkrttchian and Lisabi Fridell to achieve the series look, which was inspired mainly by the work of season one DP Marek Wieser and Karl Erik Brøndbo.

“Ahead of principle photography, we gathered for a meeting to look at how we would tackle the sequel,” explains Skaff. “Taking place only a matter of weeks after the events of the first season, we felt a continuation would only be fitting. However, with a new set of cinematographers, there were naturally a lot of new ideas. It was agreed that as the colourist, I would steer the process in post to ensure the season retained the feel of its predecessor.”

In developing a look for the show, director Rojda Sekersöz drew inspiration from Sophia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides and the HBO series Euphoria in season one. “The teenage and naïve innocence met with the challenging themes the film explored were perfect context for the series,” says season one DP Marek Weiser. 

“We had three objectives to achieve with the look; authenticity, intimacy and contrast. It had to feel real but not too elevated. And we wanted the audience to feel close to the characters instead of observing from the outside. 

Malte Gårdinger as August in Young Royals S2, Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

“We achieved much of the show’s look in camera, which Edisen honed in the DI. Natural lighting, costume, make-up, set and production design was all key to this and reflected in the bold palette of the show,” added Weiser.

DP Gabriel Mkrttchian, alongside Lisabi Fridell, carried Marek Weiser’s distinctive vision into season two. “Inevitably, we took a lot of inspiration from Marek’s work as continuity was important. That said, this was a new creative team, and we had our own vision of how the storyline would and should evolve,” remarks Mkrttchian. 

“We didn’t employ a show LUT during production, favouring the standard Arri LUT instead,” explains Skaff. “Instead, I sat down with Gabriel, and we went through scenes from season one, discussing the look and how we should try to light it in a way that would allow us to reach the final look more easily.” 

Mkrttchian and Fridell recced the locations ahead of principal photography to ensure they were familiar with the show’s backdrop. 

“I then worked with two gaffers to ensure the sets were as clean and organised as possible,” explains Mkrttchian. “It sounds simple, but doing so created a more natural flow on set. That allowed the cameras and talent to move around more freely, helping us keep up with the tight production schedule.” 

Edisen’s internal VFX team, led by producer Martin Nilsson, completed more than 150 shots for the series employing a combination of Nuke, Maya and Houdini. At the same time, DaVinci Resolve was used to project manage VFX work. 

(L to R) Frida Argento as Sara; Edvin Ryding as Willhelm in Young Royals S2, Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

“We’d export VFX shots from Nuke as open EXRs and place those on the DaVinci Resolve project timeline. And when VFX had a new shot rendered, they’d overwrite my source, ensuring I always had the latest available to me version in the grade.”

“Season one had a lot of text messages popping up on the screen as GFX,” reveals Skaff. “I initially feared that with the deadlines on season two, we’d run into issues during the grade given the vast amount of graphics needed. But graphic design company Naïve managed to keep the graphics rolling in on time, and any changes in the DI were smooth thanks to our close collaboration and ease of workflow in Resolve.” 

The final deliverable to Netflix was an IMF in UltraHD Dolby Vision HDR.

Young Royals is now streaming on Netflix.