“Princess of China:" Harbor Picture Company Travels Back in Time for Coldplay and Rihanna
Harbor Picture Company recently completing editing and color correction work for Coldplay and Rihanna’s “Princess of China” music video. Based in New York City and founded by colorist Joe Gawler, Harbor comprises an in-house VFX collaborator named COPA Network, 25 editorial suites, a DI theater with Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve and an additional color grading suite for broadcast work, also outfitted with Resolve.
Harbor also employs a Blackmagic Design DeckLink HD Extreme 3D capture and playback card, allowing the company to link to its 2K projector to monitor Dual Link 4:4:4. All of the feeds and media are managed with a Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub, which allows the team to route projects throughout the facility.
Shot on ARRI’s Alexa camera, the music video takes place in ancient China and features Coldplay’s Chris Martin crossing dusty deserts, infiltrating walled cities and fighting swordsmen. Eventually he goes up against Rihanna in a stormy moonlit sword fight. With detailed and often ornate backgrounds, the video evokes a distant time and place.
Directors Adria Petty and Alan Bibby “wanted a grainy film look to the video to help capture the storyline,” explains Gawler. “My past experience coupled with Resolve’s features helped us create that look by using proper gamma curves, crosstalk, colors, shadows and highlights. There was no pure black or white, and Resolve’s custom curves and shaping really gave it the vintage print feel they were looking for. Grain and dirt were added in VFX, further perfecting the gritty film look. The creative fine-tuning power of Resolve is great.”
“The entire video was shot on greenscreen, meaning the environment was completely digital,” Gawler says. “As a colorist, this makes things much trickier. When you’re working with practical photography, you have all sorts of range and directions you can go with things. Digital is more limiting.”
Gawler worked closely with the digital effects team at COPA Network to bring the video to life. Gawler was able to easily drop mattes and masks into Resolve to better control the images and provide the effects team with specific grades.
“I was color correcting before it was a final finished piece, so there were a lot of moving parts, and I was easily able to swap shots out for new versions and update mattes in Resolve,” says Gawler. “It was nice to be able to bounce back and forth with the VFX team, and Resolve’s flexibility definitely helped with this.”