Part two of Nicki Minaj's trilogy; "Nicki Minaj: My Time Again" airs January 18th on MTV. I am currently working on the color. Please check back for updates about the show. In the meantime, check out the trailer that I colored!
On my reel you can see a lot of the "before/afters" of color grades that I have done…but what exactly goes into creating a look in a color session? In this post, I will attempt to show what's "behind the curtain" for a basic grade that I came up with for Steve Buscemi's new show Park Bench. If your a colorist yourself, hopefully these posts can help you become the best Davinci colorist you can be!
This show was shot on the Canon C300 and the raw files look very flat and bland. Below is the raw uncolor corrected media:
And here is the after:
To create this look, I came up with a simple 5-node color grade. Below is the order of my nodes:
1. Primary color correction. I do a basic contrast/saturation fix. If the shot had an incorrect color cast to it (too yellow for example) I would adjust it here.
2. Skin-tone warmup. I isolated the skin tone by pulling a qualifier on the characters skin and I pushed the highlights towards orange/red to give the skin a nice wash of color. I increase the saturation.
3. Shadow cool down. I isolate the shadows and things with low saturation (like the hoodies and the jackets) and I push the shadows (blacks) towards blue.
4. Primary out. I do another primary color correction to fix any contrast and saturation that might have shifted after I did nodes 2 and 3. From here the look is pretty much set.
5. Vignette. I put a vignette on the shot to focus your eye towards Michael Shannon's character in the middle of the screen.
And that is basically it! Next time you watch a TV show or movie and wonder "Are Leonardo DiCaprio's eyes really that blue?" "Is Brad Pitt really that tan?" you will realize that there was a colorist behind the scenes in a dark room enhancing everything you see. Check back soon for another Making The Grade, and to see this episode of Park Bench, check out the video below:
Bonus: check out this "behind the scenes" photo that Steve Buscemi took of me while I was coloring:
Independent films are one of my favorite types of projects to color. Unlike a lot of the documentary or reality stuff I work on that tended to get a "normal" looking color correction, I can get a little more creative with indie movies. Color becomes another character in the film.
Back in 2011, I worked on a film called "Ponies" staring Sopranos actor John Ventimiglia. Ponies was a film about three immigrants living in post 9/11 New York City. The story revolves around horse betting and trying to make it in America. The world that is portrayed is not the glamorous 5th avenue world of Sex In The City, but another side of New York, a grittier and bleaker one.
The look I came up with for the film was a high contrast low saturation look. It is supposed to make NYC look and feel as bleak and hopeless. We view New York through the lens of our characters eyes. It is a desolate landscape with very little opportunity.
Below are some still grabs of before and after the color grading. I colored this in 2011 using Apple Color.
"Ponies was a New York Times Critic's Pick.