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‘Nocturnal Animals’ Color Combines DI and VFX Processes

“Filmmakers expect much more from color grading sessions than they did not so long ago,” says Siggy Ferstl.

When Tom Ford directs a movie, you can be sure that every image in the film has been arranged with the precise eye he developed as a fashion designer. His new thriller, Nocturnal Animals, set in both the remote Texas desert and the high-fashion world of beautiful people, offered colorist Siggy Ferstl of Deluxe’s Company 3 the challenging but rewarding task of finishing the imagery that Ford, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (The Avengers), production designer Shane Valentino and their teams had worked to create.

In order to work more quickly and interactively in the DI process and attend to the level of detail required, an Autodesk Flame artist from Company 3 sister VFX house Rushes was on hand in the grading theater, which was located at Company 3 in London. The Flame artist would roto portions of a frame, pull mattes and create other visual elements, freeing Ferstl to devote his time to color grading in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. Ferstl could work on a scene while the elements were being created, and then input the layers into Resolve and do the actual color correction on each layer individually.

Amy Adams. Photo by Merrick Morton/Focus Features.

“Filmmakers expect much more from color grading sessions than they did not so long ago,” Ferstl notes. “Many people who come to us are looking for a really ‘fine brush’ of color and image manipulation.” The creation and compositing of multiple complex layer effects might normally go to a VFX house, but DI houses are starting to do parts of that work in grading sessions. Ferstl points out that during grading, “the filmmakers can see all the changes play in context and on the big screen,” making these sessions more efficient and also more interactive.

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