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“Grading Project Eden Vol 1”

 

I first spoke to Terrance Young in 2013 when he contacted me about coloring his first feature film 500 miles. Unfortunately I wasn’t available, so missed the chance to work together, the film went on to be a low budget success.

Jump to 2016 and Terrance is co-directing his 2nd feature Project Eden Vol1. He has me in his sights for grading but despite the long notice I was in the UK for holidays with the family, so missed out again.

Luckily for me the schedule bounced by a month so I was available, but could I win the job? Terrence sent me a rough cut and asked for feedback.

These stills and text were part of my pitch

At the start of a move it is important to not push the image too far in any direction. A simple raising of contrast, then a very loose vignette to bring the men out of the screen.

At the start of a move it is important to not push the image too far in any direction. A simple raising of contrast, then a very loose vignette to bring the men out of the screen.

I am not a fan of showing before and after images between LOG and a final grade, so you'll have to imagine what it would have been like as a RAW Dragon file. I adjusted ISO and Col Temp from the R3D metadata to knock down the exposure and cool the picture. I always then label the first Node RAW, as a reminder that I have RAW metadata changes on this shot. A tough shot to grade as it has to be dark, but on the other hand we need to see her. This is achieved with lots of window shapes, both darkening and desaturating areas, this means she will automatically pop out of the picture. TIP. Always review at Realtime and check for any obvious windows.

I am not a fan of showing before and after images between LOG and a final grade, so you'll have to imagine what it would have been like as a RAW Dragon file. I adjusted ISO and Col Temp from the R3D metadata to knock down the exposure and cool the picture. I always then label the first Node RAW, as a reminder that I have RAW metadata changes on this shot. A tough shot to grade as it has to be dark, but on the other hand we need to see her. This is achieved with lots of window shapes, both darkening and desaturating areas, this means she will automatically pop out of the picture. TIP. Always review at Realtime and check for any obvious windows.

A baddie, you guessed it. This is warmed a little, unusual as bad guys are normally cooler and more mysterious. This scene was desaturated by about 25%. TIP It is a moody carpark but always remember the eyes, you do not want black holes where the eyes should be, it's how we connect to the character.

A baddie, you guessed it. This is warmed a little, unusual as bad guys are normally cooler and more mysterious. This scene was desaturated by about 25%. TIP It is a moody carpark but always remember the eyes, you do not want black holes where the eyes should be, it's how we connect to the character.

This was an interesting scene as the previous shots were shot in almost darkness on another day! I was struggling to see anything on the reference movie so this meant lots of RED RAW manipulation and NR to get the best result from the dark scene. I then transitioned the grade to ease the cut from the two scenes then slowly upped the colour and saturation to achieved the magic hour look above. One of my favourite scenes in the movie.

This was an interesting scene as the previous shots were shot in almost darkness on another day! I was struggling to see anything on the reference movie so this meant lots of RED RAW manipulation and NR to get the best result from the dark scene. I then transitioned the grade to ease the cut from the two scenes then slowly upped the colour and saturation to achieved the magic hour look above. One of my favourite scenes in the movie.

Again all credit to Chris Lange DP here. I did very little, slight de sat, vignette to darken areas. There was some challenges in matching the scene but overall it really added to the suspense of the film. TIP Don't use 10 layers when 3 will do. Keep it simple.

Again all credit to Chris Lange DP here. I did very little, slight de sat, vignette to darken areas. There was some challenges in matching the scene but overall it really added to the suspense of the film. TIP Don't use 10 layers when 3 will do. Keep it simple.

We exchanged e-mail stills with each other including Christopher Lange DP. Chris had some strong ideas following on from how he had shot the film and sent a number of references via e-mail. He also conveyed the things he had tried to achieve in camera so I was constantly aware of respecting the DP's intentions.

I spent a day creating a ‘Look Book’ for the film. Another round of e-mails and a few short phone calls and we were good to go.

Grading the Raw R3D Dragon files was very helpful. Although very well shot, there are always scenes especially in an indie film that require some extra love. I really dug into the Metadata of the files adjusting ISO, color temp, and saturation on a number of occasions.

Terrance came in on Day 4 of grading to check on the scenes I had roughed out.We watched them all through and I noted comments as we viewed. I like to view a whole scene without stopping even if there are comments, that way you get to judge the flow of the grade. Based on this ½ day session and another round of e-mailed stills with DP Chris in the States, we had a look lock for Project Eden Vol 1.

I had 12 major scenes locked down, just needed to match them, not only within the scene but also the intersecting scenes. 

On day 7 I received 20 DPX VFX shots, they had matching code so inserted seamlessly into the RED material. As they were DPX I had no RAW controls to help me. This was not too much of a problem because the VFX team had taken great care to preserve the LOG properties of the original clip. 

On the morning of Day 9 Terrance returned for the producer lock off screening.

This is probably the most nerve racking part of the whole grading experience as you know changes at this time will be time consuming so not easy to accommodate into both your schedule and the existing budget.

I made a few small changes, they were very pleased, so was I. The work I had done at the beginning of the film to ensure everybody was happy with the direction of the grade had paid off. Of course the ‘Look’ is only part of the process the film has to flow seamlessly if not the viewer will be jolted out of the story.

The film will be released in the US on the big screen.

Project Eden: Vol. I released by Umbrella Entertainment in Australia & New Zealand on August 2 on DVD at JB Hi-Fi, Sanity, EzyDVD

VOD iTunes, Google Play on the same day

Project Eden Vol.1

Co-Directors Ashlee Jensen and Terrance M. Young

DP Christopher Lange

Grade Warren Eagles

Trailer here

IMDB here

Facebook here

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