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Filmlab Looks to Baselight for Grade on ‘Son of Saul’

At Budapest facility Magyar Filmlabor (Hungarian Filmlab), colorist László Kovács used FilmLight’s Baselight system to enhance the stark atmosphere of the feature film Son of Saul. The Hungarian film from director László Nemes went on to receive the 2016 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

To capture the emotions that underpin the movie, Nemes not only shot the feature on film, but he finished and reviewed it on film as well. Kovács then set about achieving the visual style that Nemes and cinematographer Mátyás Erdély wanted in Baselight.

“The look itself may be very simple, but the way it was achieved was very sophisticated,” Erdély emphasizes. “We did not want audiences to even realize it had been graded, which required a subtle approach.”

The 35mm negatives were digitized at 4K resolution with a FilmLight Northlight scanner, allowing the film’s producers to create a 4K digital master from which both 35mm release prints and 2K DCP files were derived. Close collaboration between Magyar Filmlabor’s colorists and color timers ensured the deliverables were a perfect match.

“We never wanted to make a ‘pretty’ film,” concludes Erdély. “We were aiming for something very raw and very simple. It was treated with the utmost care by László, and I was impressed by what we were able to accomplish.”