Work by: Ross Baker
The Missing was set in France across two time periods – 2006 and 2014. The story’s narrative relied on the viewer being able to easily establish which of the two periods the action was happening in. The challenge set by the director was to find a way to communicate this via the colour grade.
The brief from Tom Shankland (Director) and Olë Bratt Birkeland (DoP) was to represent the transition in time in an “obvious but subtle” way, whilst avoiding a super-saturated or high-contrast bleached look. After reading the script it was clearer what Tom and Olë were looking to achieve. Olë and I carried out tests before the shoot where we looked at various options to differentiate 2006 & 2014.
Before the shoot we compared 35mm and Red Epic to decide which would work best for us. Although there’s an organic feel to 35mm that helps adds an emotional element that’s not always possible with digital the Red Epic results were very strong. Nevertheless the 35mm added a richness and texture to the skin that the Red was somehow lacking. After much exploration and discussion we agreed that the ‘look’ of different time periods would be it would only be achievable with some complex grade work. After the first set of tests Olë suggested we might achieve good results with a filter so we tested again… but this time with just the Red Epic and with a combination of filters, lenses and lighting. This was the point at which we felt we were making major progress towards achieving the Tom’s initial brief.
By applying a warm golden feel, but with slightly less contrast for 2006, and a cooler look with more contrast for 2014 we hit the spot.
However to add to the challenge both time periods featured scenes set at various times of day and night; the grade needed to factor this in, i.e. to retain the feeling of warmth in 2006, day or night, and the cool, crispness of 2014 at midday. So to ensure we were preserving the intensity of the drama and coherence of the timeline we approached these scenes with the same palettes of warmth and coolness respectively.
Quite a challenge… but great results. The team have just booked Series 2 in for mid 2016 so we clearly got it right.