Different grades fit different scenes

The Path To Success

What made this project unique to a lot of other projects I've worked on, was using multiple grades throughout the film to tell the story. Another reason why I really liked working on this grade is how well it was balanced in terms of colour and light.

The film was directed by the much talented Annabel Clayton and shot by the wonderfully creative Tavis Pinnington. 



The fire within

Below is a still from the film, my favourite shot and grade. What I like about this grade is her skin tone, the red and the contrast of the image. 

Final Image

Ungraded Image

To achieve this look, I isolated her skin using a power window. From there I used a LUT that I had previously made that was a bleach by pass. This helped to bring out the imperfections in her skin and help to create that menacing look. I isolated her eyes and brought them out a bit more by adding in sharpness, contrast and saturation. This created a sense of her staring into your soul (or the students soul),when she was delivering her speech. 

The red was actually an experiment to begin with, whilst I was playing around with different looks to send to the director, I decided to do one just for fun. The shot is a slow dolly in, from a wide mid to a close up mid.  I added red to gradually fill into the scene as the dolly crept closer. My thinking was that it was probably too much for the scene, even though it looked great. To my surprise and great joy, it was the one she liked the most. This was fantastic beacause often you get told to do grades that are more about balancing an image and making it look "nice". Just like her skin tones I used a power window on the frames in the background and pushed red in. It was very simple to do but turned out really great. It feels like the student is now in the depths of hell, being spoken to by the devil herself.

For the contrast, I wanted to wrap the teacher in darkness. I created a vignette around her and brought down the shadows and gamma. It really gives the impression that this is a situation you wouldn't want to be in as a student. 

Just a side note, her dark red lip stick really looks amazing in this scene. Small touches like that from the director are what can transform films into something much more. 


It's not all doom and gloom

Of course there's more than just one scene in this film, there are several, several that are very different and somewhat rather happier. What the director decided on for the film was a gradual decline in mood. The start of the film is filled with a sense of warmth. Scenes filled with warm orange and locations filled with lots of light. As the film progress's, the rooms become darker and colder. It was a really great and inventive approach from the director and one that was fun to be able to work on.  



The pictures....they're coming alive!

I'm not sure why I do these headings, I don't think anyone is going to get my weak and not so funny sense of humour. For the scene below, the director and DOP wanted the scene to be dark as it was an assembly scene where the students were watching a projector. Initially I viewed this scene all wrong and did a grade that was bright with warm colours. After some feedback I realised that I had made a mistake and made the changes. The scene then became much darker and less saturated. I wanted to give the impression that the projector was the main source of lighting for the scene. Firstly I balanced the shot, then took saturation out and pushed the image to be colder. I pushed up with mid tones to brighten their faces a little bit but brought down the overall brightness of the scene down. The scene turned out great, it was gloomy and dark and transition fantastically into the last part of her depression in the next scene. 



And that's it

It was a great project to work on, one I really enjoyed doing multiple grades and trying new ideas and looks. The best part was working with a director I worked with in the past. Working again with the same people is my favourite part of working as a freelance artist. If you ever get the chance to see the film in a festival or any type of streaming service, I highly recommend giving it a watch, 


Next (not the terrible film with Nicolas Cage but whats coming up next)

For my next blog i'm going to be talking about matching a grade from a Hollywood feature film and how I achieved the same look using footage from a short film. At the moment I'm working on some of my own stuff, I've just finished making a music video that I think is done so I might do something on that. Other than that, Im working on some short shorts for festivals in the horror category. 

Thanks for the read, if you like it give it a comment and like. If not, all good.