About the colour grading of the television series “Transferts,” cinematography by Pascal Lagriffoul, AFC

By Peter Bernaers

[ English ] [ français ]

Peter Bernaers colour graded the series “Transferts,” cinematography by Pascal Lagriffoul, AFC, whose first episode was selected to compete at the Camerimage Festival in the Television Series’ Pilots competition. In this article, he discusses the colour timing and finishing options for the series.

We colour timed using Mistika and an Eizo 4K monitor, which enabled us to work with 4K. In our project, we treated REDRaw as though it were REDlog, in Dragoncolor. We worked on the Raw natively, but in Medium Decode, meaning that even though our monitor was in 4K, we were actually seeing 2K.
The reason being that the machine was capable of reading Raw natively at that resolution, and not in full-definition deBayerisation. The final calculations were evidently performed in full 4K definition. Colour correction was done using Mistika, and all cropping was done using the machine, so once again using full resolution. We began with a REDlog curve, and didn’t apply a LUT to convert it to a video curve.
In this particular case, we instead created a little curve that added a bit of contrast and saturation and applied it to all the scenes, as though we’d created a “customized” LUT.
That was pretty soft and didn’t destroy anything, and was just to avoid having to look at logarithmic. From there, we perfected it scene-by-scene and Pascal and I created our look together.
Let’s say that it was a real process during which we tried to synthesize everyone’s desires and requests, even though sometimes they were contradictory. That led us down unforeseen paths, but we ended up with a lovely result.

Technically speaking, my approach to colour timing is pretty simple : I look for a good basic contrast, but once I’ve found it, I grade as much as possible using printer light, which means obtaining a good balance between lift, gamma, and gain, and creating a good image with the exposure, meaning the pulling points.

In terms of colorimetry, I do most of the work in the pulling points, meaning I approach colour timing as though I were applying colour filters to the entire image. Then, from time to time, we’d separately add a colour into the blacks. Also, we often created a “key” on skin to refine it, and that “key” would then allow us to make all of the other tints slightly cooler, in order to create colorimetric separation.
Besides that, we only generally used “keys” to refine a few obnoxious colours (like greens !). Because the Mistika doesn’t have a very powerful keyer, we didn’t use it more than we had to.

For compositing, we had the same problem : because the Mistika’s compositing tools aren’t very subtle and its tracker doesn’t perform particularly well in a colour timing session, we’d create the composites in a very classic, photographic way. That means : very blurry or round edges to blend them in. In the absolute, you might say we had a lot of restrictions, but at a certain level, all of those restrictions (and our old-fashioned approach) allowed us to achieve this result !

(Peter Bernaers is a Freelance Colourist We Electric BVBA - Translated from French by Alexander Baron-Raiffe)

  • Also read the interview with Pascal Lagriffoul, AFC, about his work on “Transferts”.