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The “L'amica Genial” (My Brilliant Friend) project was a great opportunity for Frame by Frame to renew its production processes and improve the tools already in the company. There was a lot at stake: a series that is already being broadcast in the USA before Italy in 4K UHD format and in Dolby Vision HDR.
The focus on quality was extremely important and led to the extension of the use of calibrated monitors to the entire VFX department, which had traditionally been reluctant to upgrade monitors as other departments took care of the final colour. It was decided to provide the artists with the ColorEdge CG2730 and CG2420 monitors, which use the same technology as the models used in grading, but with a smaller diagonal and at a more affordable price.
All the time, except on set and in editing, EIZO CG series monitors were used where colour fidelity was a must. For online editing/conformity checks, CS series monitors were used. For several years, with the advent of 4K, Frame by Frame has been colour grading with the ColorEdge PROMINENCE CG3146 and CG319X, which have proven to be highly reliable tools. The advantage of having separate departments for colour correction and VFX enabled a dialogue already in the preparation of the projects and a shift in focus to colour and quality already in the compositing phase.
Colour Space - Reference Monitor EIZO ColorEdge CG3146
The cinematographer defined a "look" together with the colorist by working with "test shots" at the director's suggestion.
Set Monitor Provided by Production - Rec.709
On set, during the filming of the series, it was possible to preview live and watch shots where the "look" was integrated into each shot, with corrections made and saved on the fly.
Grading Suite - Reference Monitor CG3146
Each day, the colourist uploaded the footage along with the look and correction from the set and perfected the scene for editing if necessary.
Cutting Room - Large Format TV Supplied by Production
In the editing phase, the editor and the director see an image on a preview monitor calibrated to BT.709 that is already very close to the final result and has been approved by the cameraman and colourist.
Frame by Frame - Control Monitor CS2740
Once the edit is complete, the online editing/conforming department extracts the shots for the VFX department based on the timelines to create the so-called "plates", i.e. the camera files exported in high-definition and without compression, not colour corrected, in EXR format together with the look file and the CDLs (Colour Decision Lists) for each shot.
Frame by Frame VFX Department - Reference Monitors CG2730 and CG2420
When creating effects, each compositor has the "plates" with the CDLs, and the "look" applied to them on the screen so they can see the image as the cameraman, director and colourist saw it. However, all work is done directly on the plates to remove objects and add a whole district of CGI to the set or reconstruct the surrounding landscape.
There are so many elements added to the shots in the scene that for them to blend perfectly it was necessary to see the images in their almost final appearance, with the "colour" created on a monitor of high reliability and quality.
Conformity - Control Monitor CS2740
Meanwhile, in the conforming department, the colour projects were put together by combining the raw files from the camera with the files coming back from VFX to enable the final colour.
Grading Suite - Reference Monitor CG3146
By re-opening the files and applying the "looks" and CDL files, the look returned to the look that had already been addressed with the director and cinematographer. At this stage they had to accentuate the scenes by "re-lighting", artificially adding shadows and highlights, creating blur, and increasing drama, or brightening from scene to scene by correcting dominant colours, reducing or increasing contrast, darkening or brightening areas or whole frames.
Completion Room - Reference Monitor CG3145
After the colourisation of the individual episodes was completed, they were completed with sound, graphics, and titles in the final phase. The result of the completion is the delivery files, which are first checked for quality internally and then with the client for final approval. At this stage of quality control, we decided to use the ColorEdge PROMINENCE CG3145, which has been approved by Dolby as a mastering display for Dolby Vision.
Credits: "L'amica geniale" (My Brilliant Friend)
The HBO rai fiction series from Saverio Costanzo, produced by Fandango, The Apartment and Wildside, both part of Fremantle, in association with Rai Fiction, HBO Entertainment, in co-production with Mowe and Umedia.
Read about Frame by Frame's "Full True-Colour Workflow" here!