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DaVinci Resolve Helps Berke Creative Color the FutureEssiential for Director Mohammad Gorjestani's Short Film "Refuge"
While no one can predict the future, everyone has imagined what it will be like. It's this innate human curiosity that led the Independent Television Service (ITVS) to create its FUTURESTATES program. San Francisco based ITVS funds, presents and promotes award winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable, as well as innovative new media projects on the Web.
FUTURESTATES is a series of short narrative films from veteran and emerging filmmakers that transform complex social issues into visions of the world in the decades to come. Season Four had seven filmmakers envisioning society at a crossroads, where discrimination, environmental catastrophe, visitors from the future and other worlds test the bonds of humanity.
When invited to pitch an idea for the FUTURESTATES program, writer and director Mohammad Gorjestani drew upon his own experiences growing up as an Iranian American, exploring the potential repercussions of a U.S./Iran conflict in the not too distant future in his film "Refuge." In the film, a cyber attack on the United States Immigration database puts a woman at risk of being deported back to Iran. But remaining in the U.S. may come at a greater price than she's willing to pay.
DaVinci Resolve Delivers a Specific Look
Co produced by MKSHFT/CLLCTV, a San Francisco based full service creative company, and ITVS, Mohammad turned to long time friend Stephen Berke, owner and colorist at San Francisco based Berke Creative, for end to end post production services for the film.
"'Refuge' was a very unique film for post because the footage that we received was too beautiful, and we needed to get a darker, uglier look to help tell the story," said Stephen. "The reason I choose to color with Blackmagic Design's Davinci Resolve is because of the robust versatility it gives me to really create a specific look that I haven't been able to really find in other color correction software."
According to Stephen, he was lucky to have Mohammad and DP Mike Gioulakis in the room during the main grade, as they had a very specific look in mind. Having done a small amount of pre grading on set, the majority of the footage still had a LOG look to it. They fell in love with the footage's milky black look and wanted to keep the blacks elevated in the grade.
"One of our goals was to preserve some of the LOG look," explained Stephen. "There was a general feeling that the footage was beautiful, but too clean, so I used Resolve to round and clamp the highlights to crunch it down a bit, bringing down the dynamic range and making it look a little uglier.
"In several very dark sequences, Mohammad and Mike really pushed the edge as far as exposure. There were sequences where the camera followed a character down a long, dark hallway. Mohammad wanted to highlight characters and objects on the sides of the hallway to ensure that they could be seen, and I easily isolated them with Resolve's Power Windows," he continued. "I was surprised because the footage was really dark in a lot of cases, but Resolve's tracker was very strong and able to keep with the camera movement and the movement of the objects it was tracking."
Resolve's Power Windows feature unlimited windows with circle, linear, polygon and PowerCurve shapes. Windows have mask control with inside and outside grading and full multi point tracking.
Stephen also used numerous Power Windows, isolations and qualifiers to ensure lighting continuity throughout the film. With some scenes shot over the course of several days, both during the day and at night, it was up to Stephen to match varying lighting.
"The council chamber sequence was a big scene that was shot over two days, some at night and some during the day, and many of the shots relied on natural light, so it took work to get it all to match," said Stephen. "It's so handy to be able to isolate portions of the frame and adjust them individually in Resolve. The lighting continuity was one of my biggest challenges going into the project, but thanks to Resolve, it was easy to do."
Achieving Interesting Looks Quickly
For more general looks, Stephen relied on Resolve's custom curves, which let him define custom gamma curves applied for his corrections. These can be joined for all channels or set per channel. Custom curves also support YSFX luminance and saturation effects.
"Resolve's specialty curves let me control saturation versus color adjustments, and it's a really easy way to get interesting looks quickly. This speed comes in handy when working on more general looks, as I can complete them in a timely manner," said Stephen.
When it came time to decide on an overall look that Stephen could apply over the course of the entire project, he relied heavily on Resolve's node based toolset. Resolve uses node based processing where each node can have color correction, Power Windows and effects. Nodes can be joined sequentially or in parallel to combine grades, effects, mixers, keys and custom curves.
"I love Resolve's node based toolset because of its flexibility. It was easy to create chains of adjustments and copy those down the line to other scenes with only a few minor tweaks," said Stephen. "I can establish looks across an entire scene or major chunks of the film. The node based approach is a powerful way to work.
"And it's great to be able to show the DP and director each node on and off to A/B them and really demonstrate what's happening with an image. It empowers them by providing a lot more ideas and options of how things can be done," he said.
A Seamless Round Trip
Part of Stephen's deliverable included providing master timelines in Adobe Premier and Final Cut Pro with all audio synced, and he was able to seamlessly export the XML from Resolve and load it into both programs.
"There were no compatibility issues, and it's a painless process to round trip the whole project with Resolve. It's nice to be confident when coming up against a deadline. I only had to worry about getting the color right because I was confident that the export process and relinking the media in Premier and Final Cut Pro was going to be seamless with Resolve," concluded Stephen. "It's such a bulletproof process, and I have the upmost confidence in Resolve to help me get the job done well."
About Berke Creative
Berke Creative is a San Francisco based production and design group specializing in motion picture production and digital media. With in house facilities for production, editing, finishing and audio post, as well as an experienced production staff, Berke Creative handles projects from start to finish.
Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, Davinci Resolve, Color Correction, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, video editing, NLE, post production