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Nodes and Nordic Noir: Getting the Wintry Grade for “Wisting”

“Wisting” colorist Dylan R. Hopkin wanted create a moody, de-saturated aesthetic for the series.

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A scene from “Wisting,” courtesy of Cinenord/Good Company Films

Currently airing on Sundance Now, the 10-part Norwegian crime drama Wisting has been praised by critics as a superbly layered show. The series follows detective William Wisting, who invites the FBI to take part in a murder investigation after a newly-discovered victim turns out to be American.

The show’s DI requirements, including the grade, online edit and finishing, were completed in DaVinci Resolve by Dylan R. Hopkin and the in-house conform artists at Nordisk Film ShortCut Oslo.

“Norway’s TV drama market has exploded,” explains Hopkin. “An increasing number of local high-end feature film directors and cinematographers are doing television now, which has fed into an appetite for Scandinavian crime series in foreign markets.

“At the same time, the role of the colorist has expanded,” he continues. “We now do more finishing tasks during creative color sessions than ever before, including stabilization, reframing shots, creating camera movement, texture and lighting management, sky replacements and more.”

This was especially true on Wisting. Aiming to create a moody, de-saturated aesthetic inspired by David Fincher, Hopkin explains he frequently used tools such as power windows, combined with trackers, to shape light throughout the drama. This would guide the audience to the most important areas of the frame.

“Director Trygve Allister Diesen and conceptual cinematographer Jørgen Johansson were clear that they wanted the whites to be a little off, without a normal D65-balanced feeling,” Hopkin says. “We embraced grittiness and darkness, not being afraid of greenish-yellow highlights and slightly cyan-tinted blacks. Even for winter exteriors with snow.”

To achieve this aesthetic, Hopkin began by customizing a built-in Kodak FPE LUT to use as a foundation for the show’s palette. “Together with the client, I took a couple of hero shots from each scene to establish a more detailed grade that would suit the story. We began with the wide shots, then moved on to the medium and close-ups,” adds Hopkin, explaining that DI was completed using a Mac Pro with expander chassis, two NVIDIA 1080Ti GPUs, a Flanders Scientific XM551U 55″ UHD OLED monitor, and a Resolve Mini Panel.

Maggie Griffin (Carrie-Anne Moss) and William Wisting (Sven Nordin), courtesy of Cinenord /Good Company Films

“Once we had defined these initial references, we knew the general direction for each scene. After the primary balance, I tweaked the overall look with a Post-Clip Group node-tree. My secondary pass then involved reviewing entire scenes, ensuring the grade flowed well throughout each episode. Final masters were delivered as QT ProRes 4444, 1080p25 files.”

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