The Color of Tulip Fever

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Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:44 -- Nick Dager

MPC's Jean-Clément Soret supervised the color grading of Tulip Fever.Technicolor in London has completed post on Tulip Fever, a romantic period drama from The Weinstein Company and directed by Justin Chadwick. As well as performing the grade, conform and deliverables, Jean-Clément Soret, MPC’s global creative director of color grading, was also responsible for completing the trailers, allowing the audience to be immersed in the look and feel of the movie from the preview onwards.

Set in 17th century Holland, Tulip Fever is based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Moggach and focuses on the relationship between a rich merchant, his wife and the painter appointed to create her portrait. It was shot on Arri Alexa cameras by cinematographer Eigil Bryld, who wanted the film to have the style of the Dutch Masters. The contrast was developed in Bryld’s photography, and then enhanced in post so that the grade evoked natural light, candlelight and sunlight. 

Soret had worked with Chadwick on many occasions, but met Bryld just before the shoot to perform tests on cameras and LUTs. “Eigil wanted to do as much as possible on set,” explained Soret. “And he wanted to make sure that what he intended to use was not going to be a problem for me.” 

The filmmakers wanted the film to have the style of the Dutch Masters.Soret is a perceptive colorist who knows how to develop and enhance the vision and work of the DP. “Very often the eyes of the actors disappear in the photography, and in a movie it is very important to see the eyes because you have to connect immediately,” he added. “So I worked quite a bit tracking the eyes and bringing the details back in. That's what the art of the colorist is—to even out the things that were just not possible to do on set.”

Challenging scenes that were originally shot for day ended up being used for dusk, too, and this involved extensive reworking tasks to maintain aesthetic flow and continuity.  

“On some shots we reworked the light adding vignettes and shapes, changed composition, color temperature to keep a continuous flow that was lost in the edit,” said Soret. “Fortunately Baselight offers an intuitive way of interacting and grading that, to me, has become entirely natural and organic. A trained eye might spot what I have done, but if it’s distracting for the audience it means you’ve missed the point.”

“Rendering and playback are in real time, too,” Soret added. “And if you have too much contrast, you can always work on those edges and bring it into a very filmic colour space. I must say Baselight has amazing features; it’s a revolution to work with.”

Technicolor’s London headquarters is located in central Soho and has eight Baselight systems. Tulip Fever, which stars Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevingne, Christoph Waltz and Dane DeHaan, is scheduled for release in the US September 1.