Tran Thanh Huy’s Rom Graded With DaVinci Resolve Studio

Blackmagic Design recently announced that Tran Thanh Huy’s new film ‘Rom’ was graded using DaVinci Resolve Studio. The film was the first Vietnamese feature film to be awarded the top prize at the renowned Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).

Rom’, directed by Tran Thanh Huy, follows the life of homeless children and the main character named Rom, a young boy on the streets forced to survive by picking numbers to buy illegal lottery tickets for his clients and getting commissions when they win. To help create the look of the film, Tran Thanh Huy and the film’s DP Nguyen Vinh Phuc chose Ho Chi Minh City based colourist Bui Cong Anh.

Bui Cong Anh is an experienced colourist with two decades of post production on a variety of films, television shows and other projects. He has also been using DaVinci Resolve Studio for more than five years, and recently coloured the popular Vietnamese film ‘Summer in Closed Eyes’ using DaVinci Resolve Studio.

With Rom, he was challenged with maintaining the gritty look and feel of the slums of Ho Chi Minh City while creating specific looks for Rom and other kids. He also had to juggle between the dark and violent look and feel of the streets while still showing Rom as being hopeful.

“For Rom, we had the looks of the city and crowds and the other was for individuals. First was with the people living in a complex slum in Ho Chi Minh city so Huy wanted a gritty yet powerful look that leaned to the warm side with lots of orange, especially on their skin,” Bui Cong Anh said.

For colour correction for the individuals, Bui Cong Anh had two main focuses: Rom and his enemy Phuc, each one with very different looks.

“Rom was a member of a small community in the film, so in most scenes he looked like any one of them and it was his actions made him different from the rest. Only when he was alone did I grade him differently,” he said. “There were many shots when Rom sat down alone on the roof steps away from his hideout where I really added a strong colour cast that varied from reddish orange for day, blue and pink for dawn to colour his solitude, or blue and pink in the clouds to lend a feeling of youth and hope. I created these looks in Resolve with curves to selectively control the saturations, then curves again to selectively boost colours.”

In the film, two scenes highlight the challenges Bui Cong Anh faced in post production. These included a nighttime fire scene and a chase scene.

“For the burning scene, the characters decided to join a night rumble at the end of the day. As a result, I found myself bringing down everything from the fire to match the night, which was also fun to do. As a night scene it came with blue light in the atmosphere, and I matched it to the day-for-night. I threw some Power Windows here and there to dim down or bring up details in every shot, and I brought characters’ faces up to bring focus on them and qualified fire to add more heat with orange.

The last chase scene combined different locations ranging from a main street to a couple small streets and then straight to a rail track and bridge. It was shot in different months in different time frames and under different sunlight with different cameras. So it took me three days to match every shot of this particular scene. Of course without Resolve’s image wipe and all the primary and secondary colours correction tools available inside Color Page, I could not complete this task,” he said.

The film was shot with a large variety of cameras, lighting conditions, locations, weather conditions and even real life events that filming ran into. To manage the large number of different scenarios and looks coming in from production, Bui Cong Anh used the ACES colour encoding system in conjunction with DaVinci Resolve and its management features.

“To match shots of a same scene, I use primary and secondary tools like any other colourists would. I grouped all shots in a scene and build the look from there. When there was a need to modify the look all I had to do was to go straight Group Post-Clip, dialed some parameters to change,” he said. “With Resolve and ACES, I had an environment where I could quickly manage every shot with a few mouse clicks before primary corrections.

“Resolve was my key tool to do many things from grading, finishing and mastering for this particular project. When I finished the grade, there were many shots I found that I had better comp before handing them to anywhere else. Resolve provides Power Windows, alpha outputs and Warper in OpenFX library. Those were enough for me to make believable comps without even leaving Color page. Then I output shots for VFX houses in ACES EXR. The return shots also came in EXR, I just popped them in my timeline and it was done,” he finished.

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