Two Cannes winners used FilmLight colour grading

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Two of the top prizes at this year’s Cannes Film Festival went to movies which used FilmLight colour science for their distinctive looks.

Parasite, from Korean director Bong Joon Ho, took the Palme d’Or, while director Mati Diop won the Grand Prix for Atlantique (Atlantics), the first black female director to take the honour.

Parasite is a dark comedy of social manners and tensions. “There are three major looks for this movie,” said colourist Kevin Kang, who finished the film at Dexter Studios in Seoul.

"To differentiate the mood, the lower class family has a dark and damp look whereas the upper class family is warmer and brighter. The ‘mysterious space’ is very dark with mixtures of punchy, very contrasted colours.”

The whole DI took more than two months: Kang spent approximately the first month grading, and the last weeks finessing VFX shots alongside director Bong.

“I often used the new Colour Temperature operator in Baselight for my primary grading,” he explained. “It allowed me to quickly balance shots prior to adding a look to the sequence. The advantage is that it works by adjusting metadata from the raw file, and so it still retains all the pixel fidelity.”

Kevin Kang and Bong Joon Ho, together with acclaimed DP Kyung Pyo Hong, previously collaborated on Snowpiercer.

Atlantics opens in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal, where a team of workers on a futuristic construction site decide to escape by sea after going without pay for months. Director and writer Mati Diop was supported by Claire Mathon as DoP, and the nature of the story meant that there was a clear distinction between daytime and night scenes.

“After the first on-site tests, the need to shoot with two cameras was clear,” said Gilles Granier, colourist at Le Labo, Paris. “So we had the great sensitivity of the Panasonic VariCam at night, and the clean output of the RED Dragon in daylight.

“The quality of the Baselight pipeline allowed me to easily match these two cameras,” Granier added. “I had no trouble finding consistency throughout the film. The rushes were graded by Inès Sanchez, and I was able to pick up her grades which saved us time. We did it in a few days and were never in a ‘time crisis’.

“A second set of pre-shoot tests allowed us to choose the gels, and this preparation was helpful to better embrace Mati’s artistic visual tastes,” said Granier. “Dust, humidity and sea atmosphere are omnipresent in each image – I mostly worked on maintaining contrasts, keeping the blacks soft to flow with the atmosphere.

“Claire had decided to shoot everything handheld, too, knowing we would have time to adjust movements, to soften the jumps,” he said. “The Baselight stabilisation tool allows me to smooth movements rather than to stabilise perfectly – I find the idea of ‘dosing’ the imperfection very pleasant.”

Wolfgang Lempp, CEO of FilmLight said, “Here are two extraordinary, personal movies, made for a fraction of a big movie budget, yet achieving strong, organic looks which drive the story-telling forward. Congratulations to the teams behind both movies on winning Cannes awards, and of course to Kevin Kang and Gilles Granier for their remarkable contributions.”

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