The AlphaDogs post house in Burbank color graded the film Gone, from producer/director Mark Kronemeyer of Pargo Media. Gone takes audiences on a journey through Mexican deserts and jungles, from Baja to Oaxaca, on the search for the soul of surfing in Mexico.
Edited in Final Cut Pro X by Kronemeyer, Gone required a roundtrip workflow through DaVinci Resolve before the color grading process could begin in order to match mixed frame rates between FCP X and Resolve. Roundtripping often causes playback judder if not done properly. To avoid this problem, AlphaDogs colorist Sean Stack, who was in charge of creating the look for the film, rendered the footage outside of Resolve using the original source frame rate, then allowed for adjustment in playback quality once the footage was back in the editing application.
Non-native frame rates can sometimes appear jittery, which is especially problematic with action footage. The post house used Cinema Tools on short clips to simply convert the playback rate to match the timeline. Although there is a slight speed ramp applied when using this technique, it is typically not noticeable on shorter clips.
Gone was shot in various locations throughout Mexico, so it encompasses a wide variety of beach terrain. To give each location its own personality and character, Stack made specific creative color decisions, such as making southern beaches more teal and green in color while adding more blue and purple/red into the shadows of the surf on northern beaches. Kronemeyer specifically wanted the sections of larger waves to appear even more dangerous and menacing. Stack achieved this look by punching up the blue in the surf, making the water appear darker and in turn giving the waves a deeper and more hazardous look.
While FCP X and Resolve workflows are mostly reliable when it comes to roundtrip accuracy, Stack remains diligent in making sure he always has a QuickTime reference movie with time code delivered to the color session before any conforming begins.
“Without that roadmap, commonly known as a ‘chase reference,’ I cannot guarantee sync with the original offline locked cut,” explains Stack. “The audio mixer should use the same chase reference as the colorist, as this will further guarantee that the mix stems will sync up perfectly with the color graded final sequence.”
Round-trip workflows also present unique challenges when it comes to audio. Because FCP X cannot export proper materials for a pro mix, specific steps are required so as to not slow down the audio process in post. AlphaDogs audio engineer Curtis Fritsch used workaround methods, such as applying Assisted Editing’s Xto7 app and streamlining the audio tracks to ease the transition from FCP X to Pro Tools. Fritsch then added extra EQ to the low and high ends of each song to help elevate the drive of the music to better match the fast pace and lush visuals of the beaches in Mexico.