- his new short film UNDER THE RUST, filmed entirely with a Canon 5D Mk II and just one lens (the 24-105);
- announcement of the launch of his new production company Rustic; and
- a guest blog post from colorist Jerimiah Morey on how he graded the film.
The film itself is indeed lovely: the story is heartfelt; the imagery beautifully in harmony with the narrative and its tone; the soundtrack perfect; and the graphics wonderfully evocative of – and consistent with – the era.
Enjoy – and Julien, congratulations and thanks for sharing. You remind us of why we fell in love with the Canon 5D Mk II, and what it can still do in the hands of the right people.
From Julien Lasseur:
The short film “Under The Rust” is quite possibly the perfect short to introduce my new media company Rustic. I, along with my co-founder Jamie have assembled a group of artists who've come together to make compelling and engaging work that is also commercially relevant. Our work ranges from written articles, photography, video production, to motion graphics and design. We think of ourselves as one-stop digital studio. That said, the purpose of this post is to feature one of these very talented artists Jerimiah Morey who colored the film and subsequently wrote a post about his process. Enjoy!
From Under the Rust
Shooting the Short Film “Under the Rust”
From Jerimiah Morey:
When I begin a project, I like to watch a cut prior to starting color on the film. The first reason I do this is to see what the film's about and to come up with some ideas in my head about what might work well in terms of color and tone. The second reason I do this is to see how long I estimate the color correction will take. I'm looking for how many cuts there are, how consistent the lighting is, and how many locations/setups there are, because each of these factors will have a big impact on what's involved with coloring.
The next step is to make sure the media is ready to be ingested. The best method varies from project to project. In this case, Julien exported a single quicktime which I used to color. On other projects where I'm able to access and manipulate the camera metadata, I'll conform from an xml or aaf and the raw dailies and vfx files. Under the Rust was shot on the Canon 5d, and in my experience the single quicktime is the best workflow for these cameras.
The film was shot with the Technicolor Cinestyle which is a color profile for Canon DSLRs that reduces the contrast and saturation as compared to the stock settings for the camera. In my experience it’s very useful if you plan to do some sort of color grading on the footage. It provides an image that is easier to manipulate and also works very well if the footage is being combined with a camera that shoots in a variety of log, like the Alexa, Red, or Sony F series cameras.
Once we were ready to start coloring we discussed what sort of look the film is supposed to have. On some films only one look will be established that will be carried out for the whole film. On other films, each scene may have its own look. Usually that doesn’t change during a scene, but sometimes the story may motivate a change mid scene. For Under the Rust, Julien told me that he wanted it to feel nostalgic since that's what the film is about: old and worn train cars and the club of train enthusiasts that restore and maintain them. For the majority of the film we added contrast and warmth, and most of the shots were a bit too bright in the mid tones so we brought that down. We also used vignettes and power windows to shape the frame. I feel it’s important to keep an eye on how much feathering and color adjustments are being done locally. The viewer should be able to feel the effect without seeing it. Often times the ground will be too bright and draw the eye away from the subject, so I'll bring that down the most.
I use the still store and like to try and work from a single master still in addition to viewing stills surrounding the shot I’m working on. This helps maintain consistency throughout the film. If I don’t use a master still, the color can start to shift away ever so slightly on each shot. Eventually, the first shot and last shot are nothing alike, undergoing the same kind of devolution as a word in the elementary school game, “Telephone.”
One of the techniques that I used on the film was a “key just” for high saturation, and then feather it on the shots where that is required. For photographers who use Adobe Lightroom, this gives a similar result to Vibrance when adjusting the keyed nodes saturation and the overall grade saturation. I did a similar technique of just keying out the highlights to and bringing them down to where they aren’t clipping. With DSLR footage, it’s very common even with the Technicolor Cinestyle profile for the highlights to clip. Sometimes I’ll tint the highlights ever so slightly in a certain direction; with Under the Rust, highlights would get a small amount of warmth to give it a rusty shade.
I also keep an eye on framing and camera steadiness. DaVinci resolve has very good camera stabilization capabilities. I usually don’t try to eliminate camera movement; I only reduce some of the more aggressive movement when it’s not intentional. We stabilized a few shots in the film this way. Also, adjusting for the horizon line is pretty common and something we did on a few shots as well.
Once everything has been colored, we watch it back to see if everything’s working in motion. Sometimes shots that played back fine across a cut as I’m coloring won’t look right in context and need to be adjusted due to visual memory.
(cover photo credit: snap from Julien Lasseur)