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Making the Grade Part 2: Colour Grading for the movie A.R.C.H.I.E.

Topics:   Java Blog


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As we mentioned in our news feed on August 24th, one of the most powerful post-production techniques in film and television for creating images that convey emotional tone and mood is called colour grading.

Colour grading is, for lack of a better description, basic colour correction taken to a higher level. The colour and shading in an image is shaped and manipulated - sometimes subtly, sometimes quite drastically - to create a certain visual style and mood.

Colour grading can also be used to overcome a technical issue or challenge, such as having a scene that takes place on a sunny afternoon, but, due to things beyond your control (budget, schedule, etc.), you are forced to shoot the scene on an overcast day. It's not ideal, obviously, but good colour grading can help you work through a visual challenge like that. It's not an easy, guaranteed fix, but it can definitely help.

Here are some examples of of how Java Post Production is using colour grading to enhance scenes in the feature movie A.R.C.H.I.E. - featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox, written and directed by Robin Dunne, and co-produced by Trilight Entertainment and Java Post Production.

Above is the original camera image of our canine title character, A.R.C.H.I.E. (physically played by canine Cosmo) sitting next to our lead female character Isabel (played by Sarah Desjardins). The day was sunny and warm, but this particular image looked a little "cool" coming straight from the camera. There are shades of blue and magenta in the skin tones, which contribute to the overall "cool" appearance.

Here's the same shot after it's been colour graded at Java Post Production. The scene appears much more vibrant and "warm" now. You can almost sense that the sun feels brighter and the sand feels hotter. In addition, the shot has much more contrast and more overall "snap" and "pop" to it. It sounds like we're describing a breakfast cereal, but that's how colourists - the people who colour grade - talk.

Here's a split screen of the shot, showing the "before" on the right and the "after" on the left.

Here's a different camera angle of the park scene between Isabel (played by Sarah Desjardins) and A.R.C.H.I.E. (played by canine Cosmo, and featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox,). You'll note how there is not much contrast in the original footage and it looks "washed out."

Here's the same shot after it's been colour graded at Java Post Production. The scene has much more contrast and colour. There's some blue in the sky, some vibrant green leaves on the tree, and the scene appears much warmer and inviting.

Here's a split screen of the shot, showing the "before" on the left and the "after" on the right.

Let's take a look at one final example of colour grading used by Java Post Production in the feature movie A.R.C.H.I.E. - featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox, written and directed by Robin Dunne, and co-produced by Trilight Entertainment and Java Post Production.

Above is a shot of "the Lindsay's." The two Lindsay's are the mean girls in the movie and we don't like them. Boo! Hiss! But we do like the actors who played them: Laura Hamel  (left) and Laura Abramsen (right). Yes, the two Lindsay's were played by two Laura's. Hey, it's a movie about a talking robot dog. Strange things are bound to happen.

You'll notice that the original camera shot of the two actors has quite a blue-green cast to it. And we mean "cast" as in "appearance," not cast as in the actors. For example, the car dashboard is actually supposed to be gray. But here it looks blue-green.

Again, there's not much contrast in the shot, plus there's the added complication of the actor's faces being behind a car windshield, which are never as transparent or colourless as you might think.

And here's the same shot after it's been colour graded at Java Post Production. The scene looks much more lively now, with warmer skin tones and more contrast between the colours. Now our two Lindsay's (played by our two Laura's) don't look like they've had all the blood drained from them. SPOILER ALERT: There are no vampires in this movie. Go watch Vampire Dog for that.

Here's a split screen of the shot, showing the "before" on the left with actor Laura Hamel, and the "after" on the right with actor Laura Abramsen.

If you'd like to add a little visual drama to your film, TV series, commercial or corporate video, CLICK HERE to get in touch with Java Post Production. To see the official movie trailer for A.R.C.H.I.E., CLICK HERE.

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