“The Pink Cloud” – Color Grading With Davinci Resolve Studio
By Daniel Dode, Colorist and Lead Post Production Supervisor, Post Frontier – Brazil
In a film which carries the name of a color in its very title, it was clear from the beginning that the role of color as a narrative tool was going to be of paramount importance in order to achieve the look and feel that director Iuli Gerbase had in mind for her super stylish debut feature.
THE PINK CLOUD tells the tale of a deadly cloud that mysteriously takes over cities all over the world, forcing the entire planet into an extended period of lockdown and isolation. Sounds familiar? Well…you’ll be surprised to hear the film was written and shot before the COVID-19 crisis hit us all.
D.O.P. Bruno Polidoro and I have a long history of collaboration. We had worked together on over a dozen film projects previously, and we are used to having a very close and intense process of creative exchange, but this was on a whole new level.
Almost all shots in the film are set inside the apartment in which our characters are trapped. On top of that, the director’s vision was that the cloud should give off its pink light, which almost constantly comes eerily from outside the windows. This in itself set the first challenge for the photography: how to provide enough visual variety for over 50 scenes set in the same apartment and pretty much all featuring a pink light coming from the outside?
Also, the very tone of the cloud’s pink color changes along the narrative arc in a way that carries the story forward, turning the cloud (and its color) into an actual living breathing character in the film.
With all of that in mind, Bruno and our team at Post Frontier (a shout-out to my fellow colorists Gustavo Zuchowski and Arthur Bovo) worked together even on factors such as the choice of camera. We had a lot of discussion and did a fair bit of testing possibilities of what could / should be done on set and how the grading tools could help the photography in achieving that difficult balance between variety and unity while creating the necessary arc for this character that didn’t even exist physically during the shoot.
Bruno chose to work with a huge number of different light sources, mixing different color temperatures in order to provide a highly dynamic environment, even within an extremely limited set geography.
During post-production, the flexibility of DaVinci Resolve Studio’s color selection tools was extremely important in order to fine tune all these different light sources. They also made it possible to manipulate the tone of the cloud’s pink light with great precision, which enabled us to achieve perfect control of what that pink color should look and feel like, every step of the way.
With relation to the pink light coming from outside the windows, we used DaVinci Resolve Studio’s Power Windows (along with its incredible tracking tools) in order to fine tune the direction of the lights when they were produced on set and even create some new lights in post when they were not there on the original shot.
One added challenge to the color grading workflow for THE PINK CLOUD was the fact that, in a film in which one color is emphasized in such a conspicuous way, we had to consider the adaptation capabilities of the human visual system and the fact that our spectators’ eyes (and even our own) would get increasingly desensitized to how pink each image really was. In fact, during the work we had to be even more strict than usual when it comes to a neutral viewing environment and making extremely frequent eye breaks in order to keep desensitization at bay. In order to keep our audience’s eyes fresh all the way through the film, we needed to be extremely aware of the balance and variation between the different temperature light sources, as well as always approach cuts between scenes with that issue in mind, always striving for an “eye reset” whenever possible.
In my experience, the grading work on THE PINK CLOUD is a great example of how color grading can be put to the service of a great story. It always fills me with pride when we’re able to use the amazing technical resources in our grading toolbox to bring to life such a bold and stylish creative vision such as the one Iuli Gerbase had for this film. As a colorist, (and I speak for myself and my team on this) I feel nothing comes as close to artistic bliss and professional mission accomplishment as collaborating with such talented artists in order to help bring their vision to the screens of the world.
Check out THE PINK CLOUD at SUNDANCE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2021.