Three stripe Technicolor
At first, David's idea was to give the movie a three stripe Technicolor look, but at the same time, feeling contemporary. My challenge was to fuse both worlds together and make it work. Michael began sending me stills from the dailies and I experimented with different looks on my Davinci Resolve system at home. Once the film was cut and ready for color, I sat in the large theater at Tunnel with Michael and David and we began to try out the Technicolor look. It was interesting, but not exactly right for the film. It was a little over-the-top and too extreme. We didn't want to call attention to the look, so after trying a few different looks, we came up with the one that was correct. A look that had a Technicolor-like feel, but was a little "off normal".
Once I get the skin right, everything else seems to fall into place
- Mark Todd Osborne -
Some directors will bring in a "look book" at the start of the film and that's a good way for me to quickly get inside the mind of the director and what he or she likes to see regarding color and contrast. This was not the case for It Follows. We discussed each scene and talked about what we were trying to accomplish in regards to the mood and tone and created a look that was appropriate scene by scene. It was a great experience and one that I hope to have again soon.
The film was shot with Alexa, and I really enjoyed Michael's framing and the variety of colors he used in his art direction and lighting. The movie has a "timeless" feeling, in that they used props from all eras (older TV sets, etc...). He gave me a great palette to work with and I got to further enhance the look, stylistically. I started creating a LUT that got us close to what was on the digital neg and from there, began the fine-tuned crafting of each image. I worked in the Log toolset in P3 space. I do work with printer lights quite often and It Follows was no exception.
One of my favorite shots in the movie is when they go to this old, abandoned house and as they're walking up to it, our lead character, played by Maika Monroe, looks back and briefly stares at the camera to see what's behind her shoulder. That moment is such a beautiful image in the film and IS the film. When I first saw it, I said: "Guys, this is your poster!" Because that one single frame says it all. That sinking feeling you get when you think something is following you, but you cannot see it.
I also like the scene where she is strapped to the wheelchair. This is the first scene that we began setting and creating our looks for the movie. It has that perfect blend of feeling both 1950s and contemporary at the same time.
In the end pool sequence, we gave it a very ominous, darkish-blue feeling to accentuate the horror that was taking place. It’s a layered process that involves first balancing out the scene as shot, with nice, rich skin tone. Then subtracting the red/adding the blue to get the right look without it looking like a wash or a tint. The trick is to keep the skin tone intact within that “look”, otherwise, it looks like you just threw a layer of blue over the whole scene. In life, you still see colors around you on a cloudy day. Those colors are just muted on the cloudy day, not as vibrant, but they don’t disappear completely.
I do not color any movie the same as I colored the one before. Each movie moves and breathes differently and you have to attack it according to how it was lit, framed and exposed. Once we have the looks set for each scene of the movie, my job is to keep every shot consistent within those scenes and make sure that it flows smoothly, from the shot, keeping the viewer's attention on the story being told.
I always go through the entire movie to make sure that the saturation level we set at the beginning follows through until the last reel of the film. I also usually keep my whites clean unless there is a motivation to add color to them, such as sunlight coming in through a window. Then, of course, there might be a bit of a “sunny” feel to the white highlights.
I do work with printer lights quite often and It follows was no exception!
- Mark Todd Osborne -
Overall, every scene should look like it belongs to the same movie unless there's a reason to go outside of the world you've created in a particular scene or moment. That being said, it's just a matter of making sure all scenes look like they are from the same "world" that you have created. It's quite a shock to the audience if there is a shot or scene that suddenly looks "out of place" from the film they've been watching unless that is the director's desired intention. But, sometimes, there is a reason to have different saturation levels within different scenes.
For me, skin tone is the absolute most important thing in the frame. Once I get the skin right, everything else seems to fall into place. I generally like a warm, yellowish glow for most skin types. But since this film had a dark, ominous look to it, it was more appropriate to let skin tones go a little bit more "rosy" than I normally would. It did fit the atmosphere of the film.
As for skin tones, it should be there already in the digital neg once you’ve correctly balanced the image. If, for some reason, the skin tone is still not pleasing (like pale skin, or skin that’s too ruddy & red) that’s when I apply an HSL key to adjust accordingly to the light in the shot. There are many times I have to “soften” skin with a diffusion key or draw a shape around a blemish, then blend & track it in. I also find myself throwing on Power Windows as a spot light on just the face, in order to lift shadows in the eyes or bring them out a bit to separate them from the background.
Mark Todd Osborne
All images and clips copyright © 2016 Visit Films / Another World Entertainment