By Randi Altman
Senior colorist Greg Fisher, who works out of Company 3’s London studio, teamed up with director Sam Mendes and director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema on the latest James Bond film, Spectre.
In typical Bond fashion this film is a great-looking roller coaster ride of action and sights. We recently had the opportunity to throw some questions at Fisher about his work on the film, which stars Daniel Craig as Bond.
Can you talk about working with Sam Mendes? Had you worked with him before?
No, we never worked together before. He definitely has a lot of visual ideas about what he wants the Bond films to look like. I enjoyed working with him.
How did you work with the DP on this film?
I worked closely with Hoyte [Van Hoytema]. He shot the movie mostly on 35mm film because he loves the look of film. Sometimes people want to suppress grain or particular facets of the look of film, but he wants to see all that. He loves it.
How early did he bring you on the film?
I came onboard about a year before we actually did the final color. Company 3 scanned all the film and did the digital dailies, and I was part of the process from the start. We built looks that could be applied in dailies.
As you mentioned, this was mostly a 35mm shoot. What else was it shot on?
It was 35mm spherical [super 35], anamorphic 35mm and Arri 65. We would get processed rolls of film and scan everything with the ArriScan scanners. The ArriRaw from the 65mm was processed by our dailies department, which set up near wherever the unit was shooting.
What was the workflow on this like? What direction were you given in terms of the look and feel?
Hoyte wanted to maintain the look and feel of film, even where he used the digital camera. The spherical scenes were shot that way to have a distinctly different look from the anamorphic portions, which are designed to feel more polished and classical. I worked in post to match the look of the Alexa 65 material to the anamorphic film shots.
Overall, we were looking for a kind of “creaminess,” but within that a clear distinction among the locations. Rome needed to feel warm and romantic. The Lair was uncomfortable and unnatural. Austria was colder, but not too blue and a little overcast. Mexico — hot, harsh and dusty.
What is your tool of choice, and what is it about that system that helps your creative process?
We’re a DaVinci Resolve company, so everybody uses it. I find it lets me do anything I want to and the way it’s laid out is very conducive to working quickly and being able to quickly make changes to very specific attributes of the frame.
Can you briefly describe your workflow for final color?
The basic primary grading is very important. That’s where you get the most out of the neg and balance the scenes. Other than that, it was the usual things, primary, log, curves, keys, windows and mattes.
It was really wonderful that I was onboard from before they started shooting and was able to monitor the dailies and discuss them with Hoyte. By the time we got into the final grade, we were all on the same page.
Was there one particular scene that was more challenging on this one? Or a scene that you are most proud of?
Probably the “Day of the Dead” sequence. It happened to be one of the last scenes delivered by VFX. It is one of the stronger looks in the film and has hundreds of visual effects within it, so as the iterations arrived, they sometimes included big changes from the background plates or previous versions.
We thankfully had mattes where necessary, which helped me fine-tune the live action and the various plates in the theater. Resolve is very good at working with multiple mattes. Projects don’t always deliver separate mattes to the final color session but it’s always helpful when they do because the DI theater is really the first place you can see the whole image projected in context.
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