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How Birdman’s Colorists Pulled Off the Film’s Look

Link, Movies, Technology

Bill Desowitz at Thompson on Hollywood goes into the nitty gritty of how Technicolor pulled off the invisible cuts in Birdman:

Stepping out of their comfort zone, the Technicolor DI team had to disregard where the official editorial cuts were located, and instead, subtly insert cuts designed specifically to meet their own needs as it related to the color grading process exclusively. This was a process that Technicolor eventually came to refer to as subtly “stitching” color-corrected sections together.

Desowitz really goes into the weeds on how they did it; a video showing the process would be nice, and maybe coming one day down the line.

I work with AutoDesk’s tools (the piece metnions Lustre; I use Flame, which as I understand it has subsumed Lustre’s toolset) and I can attest to the fact that what they’re talking about here sounds like a nightmare. Many, many moving parts, which is to say many points of failure. The end result is seamless though, and it plays much better than Hitchcock’s hiding cuts in opaque objects.

The “stitching” technique reminds me of the “Camera Pan From Hell” in this Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind VFX reel (at about 2:14):

I can’t wait until a Birdman VFX reel surfaces. Glad to see the work of those ususally left out of Oscar plaudits get some love.

Update February 24, 2015: Thanks to Neil Cronin on Twitter for pointing me to this video that features some visuals as well as an interview with colorist Steve Scott.

(Also, that this video is from November kind of throws cold water on the aforelinked piece by Desowitz, which plays up the idea that Technicolor is revealing something new in light of Birdman’s Oscar win. Ah well, interesting stuff nonetheless.)

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