Company 3 Completes Grading for Multiple Versions of Prometheus

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Fri, 06/29/2012 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Company 3 in Santa Monica used DaVinci Resolve for color grading four different versions of 20th Century Fox's Prometheus. One of the most anticipated features of the summer the science fiction thriller was directed by Ridley Scott the visionary filmmaker behind Alien and Blade Runner who chose Company 3 to help enhance the visual style for Prometheus shot by renowned cinematographer Dariusz Wolski ASC.

 Prometheus a 3D movie event starring Noomi Rapace Michael Fassbender Guy Pearce Idris Elba Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron is set on another planet and has a feeling of lifelessness and much of the action occurs in dark environments. Colorist Stephen Nakamura helped enhance the feeling of Wolski's imagery by further desaturating the already minimal color in the sequences. The filmmakers wanted the environment's darkness to feel somewhat oppressive but not so all encompassing that it would obscure the incredible details of this alien world and the technology employed by the characters. Nakamura combined Resolve's tracking tools and Power Windows with the aperture correction feature to emphasize specific objects in the frame with some additional sharpening. “The filmmakers' vision was of a burnt almost ashen like look. Everything had to be muted and cold looking said Nakamura who previously worked with Scott on Robin Hood but the actors still needed to maintain their human qualities and be seen in warm light without causing the darkness around them to appear muddy. To accomplish this in his films and with 'Prometheus' in particular Ridley likes to make use of the aperture correction feature to subtly enhance the sense that the images have a more limited depth of field. It helps direct the viewer's eye right to a specific person or object without looking like a special effect.”

“Interestingly aperture correction that worked well in 3D viewing situations did not work as well in 2D ” Nakamura continued. “The 3D glasses act as sort of a softening filter so that the amount of sharpness that looks subtle and natural under those conditions can look extreme when watching the film in 2D without glasses. Because of the node based setup of Resolve he added it was not that complicated for the 2D version to go through the footage and just selectively pull back on the sharpening effect without affecting the rest of the image.”

 Nakamura also made use of Resolve's Power Windows to help shape some of the virtual 'lighting' in environments that couldn't really be illuminated with traditional approaches such as creating a kind of 'lighting' inside characters' spacesuits to bring out the actors' faces amid the lifeless environment. I created Power Windows for walls and across the sides of caves said Nakamura and built soft orbs of 'light' around the characters that might not be 'motivated' in the traditional sense but made sense within the world of Prometheus.

 Company 3 also worked with the Prometheus stereography team to refine shot to shot convergence for the 3D version a very important facet of refining the 3D effect and smoothing out what could otherwise be jarring transitions.

Resolve was also used extensively to prepare the film to be exhibited in a variety of different 3D venues. Different 3D projection systems bring varying levels of light (and therefore contrast) to the displayed images. Company 3 was able to build look up tables within Resolve to partially translate the work done for the lower brightness systems and create an additional master designed to make the most of the greater contrast range offered by the higher brightness projection. “That worked fairly well ” said Nakamura “but it still required us to go through and make some shot to shot adjustments for the brighter 3D display and again for the even brighter 2D version. It definitely helps that the Resolve lets me isolate and adjust every correction individually.”
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