‘Retro HDR’ Look for Oscar Qualifying Singapore Film
Finished in HDR, and beating 10,000 submissions from 130 countries, Singapore film Benjamin’s Last Day at Katong Swimming Complex recently took out the Geroge Lucas Award at The Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia and, in doing so, qualified for nomination in the live action short film category of the Oscars.
Colour graded with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, the film is a visual ode to a simpler past.
“Feel was central to showing and not telling the story. Shots in the past had a vintage aged film quality to rewind the audience back to a time before everything became so digital,” says Chai Yee Wei, Director of Benjamin’s Last Day at Katong Swimming Complex. “Muted pastels with a pronounced coral colour lift was a familiar frame in 1970s pictures of Singapore. This turquoise and cotton candy palette set the mood for the film and was responsible for the beautiful even stitch of shots from various days and even from separate locations.”
Chen Jun Bin, colourist for the film, drew inspiration from art and photography from the 50s and 60s, including “… David Hockney’s paintings, and the photography of Slim Aarons, which I felt fit the mood that was discussed with the DOP and Director. Grading the footage was an interesting challenge. I had to somehow sell the overcast scenes as a bright, happy pastel childhood memory, and a combination of an army of keyers, curves and primaries in DaVinci Resolve helped to not only sell the idealised weather, but also in terms of shot matching.
“Resolve’s OFX grain tool was also key to demarcate how deep into the memory we went – I varied the intensity of the grain depending on the scenes. The echoes in the soundtrack inspired me to also give the poolside scene a particular glisten and bloom to the highlights to evoke a sense of reminiscence. I achieved this with a combination of the keyer and the Resolve OFX Glow tool.”
“We wanted the highest quality to future-proof this film, so we shot in 8K,” said Chai Yee Wei, Director of Mocha Chai Laboratories. “We colour-graded the 8K footage on the Mac Pro, dual 1080ti machine first for P3 output for cinema. Then we colour managed and graded a 709 ProRes version for television. We then shifted the DaVinci Resolve project file onto an iMac Pro and regraded the material for HDR output when our facility, Mocha Chai Laboratories, became Dolby certified and our staff was trained to deliver to Dolby Vision HDR standards.
“DaVinci Resolve’s colour management system allowed for seamless workflow across the colour spaces and we were able to process 8K raw footages with great ease. Mocha Chai Lab will continue to use DaVinci Resolve for our future Dolby Vision HDR projects. Being at the forefront of technology allows us to expand the scale of visual products we can offer channel owners.”
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