The Helm Creative Uses DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio to Grade Budweiser’s “One Last Ride” Spot

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Lez Rudge, colorist and head of creative at NYC-based post facility The Helm Creative, a Chimney Group Company, used DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio to grade Budweiser’s “One Last Ride” spot, a tribute and farewell to Dale Earnhardt Jr. toasting his retirement. In addition to a three minute web version, a 30 second spot aired during the broadcast of Earnhardt Jr.’s final NASCAR Cup race on November 26, 2017. The spot is an homage to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his career as a NASCAR driver and incorporates archival footage, which helps tell the story of his career, alongside newly shot footage of a car racing around a track at night.

“We wanted this spot to be reverent, but also have a nice gutsy feel without being too stylized as you never want the look to distract from what you’re seeing on screen. We kept the focus on the subject matter,” Rudge said. “For the newly shot footage, I mostly did a primary grade over different nodes, which had a subtle silvery feel in the blue and blacks. The archival footage had a warmer feel to help differentiate it from the newly shot footage. I also had to give the archival footage a harmonious look, since it was sourced from all over the place, from many different years and in different formats. It had to look in sync as we didn’t want it to be jarring for the viewer to watch.”

Rudge noted that the archival footage included clips from the 90s, some HD footage and some with compression. “A few times I had windows around Dale’s car to brighten it and highlight it a bit more than the other cars around it, keeping it subtle enough to draw the viewer’s eye without it being overly obvious. DaVinci Resolve Studio’s tracker was amazing for this even though the footage was older and there was a lot of compression,” he commented. 

Kody Wescott, junior colorist and senior assistant, added that working with archival footage in general can present challenges as the timecode could be erased or it might not link properly because it went through so much processing. However, working in DaVinci Resolve Studio allowed him to seamlessly overcome any hurdles. “I used the Reference Wipe to easily switch between shots, comparing and matching them together. DaVinci Resolve Studio helped me get the exact part of a shot that I needed,” he said. “In addition to grading, its conform and render tools are fantastic.” 

Relinking all the footage before starting the session was a breeze in DaVinci Resolve Studio. “It is so much faster when doing prep and renders. I just made the switch to DaVinci Resolve Studio under a year ago, and I thought other systems were capable, but DaVinci Resolve Studio just has more speed and tools, and its ability to smoothly interface with XMLs and EDLs is much more efficient,” noted Rudge. “Part of what I do on a daily basis involves quickly addressing changes from the client, and I can quickly experiment, add different nodes, tweak things and add that to the timeline. As a colorist, you could have a great session with the client, but you don’t want all that jeopardized if things get delayed. All that hard work you put in could be forgotten because a drive arrives late. It’s why you need reliable tools like DaVinci Resolve Studio, which not only provides the professional color grading features at an amazing price point, but also the front and back end workflow support.”

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