B efore beginning the shoot, Roger Deakins performed many photo chemical tests at film labs and post facilities to see if he could get the look that he and the Coen Brothers wanted. They were to shoot in lush, green Mississippi during the summer, but wanted a dusty, brown, burned out hand-tinted look that reflected the 1937 Depression era. The only place he felt could give him this was Cinesite at that time. I became involved during the testing.
You have to remember that back then, in terms of color grading for film output, while not exactly the Stone Age, was more like the Bronze or Iron Age. There were no such things as real time conforming, 3D look-up-tables, 2K digital projectors, or real time playback of data files. These things are taken for granted today. It was pretty much the wild west for grading.
It wouldn’t make sense to have the environment be a burnt, dusty look and have the talent be in bright, saturated primaries
- Julius Friede -
We used Silicon Graphics CRT monitors that the engineering staff at Cinesite calibrated especially for film, which gave a reasonable contrast range approaching film, but color accuracy was another matter. We would film out test frames after every session (film recording was very slow and expensive back then) and view the print the next day if the print met LAD AIM (the film equivalent of color bars, so to speak). If not, a new print was struck until it did. Then we would see what we had. The interesting thing was that some scenes we thought would be very straightforward proved to be problematic, while others we thought would be troublesome proved to be no problem at all.
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