Tag Archives: Encore

Colorist Bob Festa on Yellowstone’s modern Western look

Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, from creator, writer and director Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water), is a 10-episode modern-day Western starring Kevin Costner as the patriarch of the Duttons, owners of the largest ranch in the contiguous United States.

The Dutton family is in constant conflict with owners of the property surrounding their land, including developers, an Indian reservation and a national park. The series follows Costner’s character and his dysfunctional children as they navigate their bumpy road.

Cinematographer Ben Richardson and Efilm senior colorist Mitch Paulson already had a color lock on the pilot for Yellowstone, but brought on Encore senior colorist Bob Festa to work on the episodes. “As a Deluxe sister company, it was only natural to employ Encore Hollywood’s television resources,” explains Festa. “I was keen to collaborate with both Ben and Mitch. Mitch then served as supervising colorist.”

Let’s find out more from the veteran colorist.

How did you work with the director and DP?
Honestly, my first discussions with Ben were quite involved and fully articulated. For instance, while Ben’s work with Beasts of the Southern Wild and Wind River are wildly different looking projects —and shot on different formats — the fundamentals that he shared with me were fully in place in both of those projects, as well as with Yellowstone.

There is always a great deal of talking that goes on beforehand, but nothing replaces collaboration in the studio. I guess I auditioned for the job by spending a full day with Ben and Mitch at Encore. Talk is a cheap abstraction, and there is nothing like the feeling you get when you dim the lights, sit in the chair and communicate with pictures.

The only way I can describe it is it’s like improvising with another musician when you have never played together before. There’s this buildup of ideas and concepts that happens over a few shots, grades get thrown out or refined, layers are added, apprehension gives way to creativity, and a theme takes place. If you do this over 50 shots, you develop a language that is unique to a given project and a “look” is born.

What was your workflow for this project? What did you use tool-wise on Yellowstone?
ARRI RAW and Resolve were the foundation, but the major lifting came from using a Log Offset workflow, better known as the printer lights workflow. Although printer lights has its roots in a photochemical laboratory setting, it has tremendous real-world digital applications. Many feel this relationship to printer lights is very elementary, but the results can be scaled up very quickly to build an amazingly natural and beautiful grade.

The Resolve advanced panel can be remapped to use an additional fourth trackball as a fuel-injected printer light tool that is not only very fast and intuitive, but also exceptionally high quality. The quality angle comes from the fact that Log Offset grading works in a fashion that keeps all of the color channels moving together during a grade. All curves work in complete synchronicity, resulting in a very natural transition between the toe and the knee, and the shoulder and head of the grade.

This is all enhanced using pivot and contrast controls to establish the transfer characteristic of a scene. There is always a place for cross process, bleach bypass and other twisted aggressive grades, but this show demanded honest emotion and beauty from the outset. The Log Offset workflow delivered that.

What inspired the look of Yellowstone? Are there any specific film looks it is modeled after?
As a contemporary western, you can draw many correlations to cinematic looks from the past, from Sergio Leone to Deadwood, but the reality is the look is decidedly modern western.

In the classic film world, the look is very akin to a release print, or in the DI world it emulates a show print (generationally closer to the original negative). The look demands that the curves and saturation are very high quality. Ben has refined an ARRI LUT that really enhances the skies and flesh tones to create a very printy film laboratory look. We also use Livegrain for the most part using a 35mm 5219 emulation for night shots and a 5207 look for day exteriors to create texture. That is the Yellowstone recipe.

How did you approach the sweeping landscape shots?
Broad, cinematic and we let the corners bleed. Vignettes were never used on the wide vistas. The elements are simple: you have Kevin Costner on a horse in Montana. The best thing I can think of is to follow the medical credo of “do no harm.”

What was the most challenging aspect of coloring Yellowstone?
Really just the time constraints. Coordinating with the DP, the VFX teams and the post crew on a weekly basis for color review sessions is hard for everyone. The show is finished week by week, generally delivering just days before air. VFX shots are dropped in daily. Throw in the 150 promos, teasers and trailers, and scheduling that is a full-time job.

Other than color, did you perform any VFX shots?
Every VFX vendor supplied external mattes with their composites. We always color composite plates using a foreground and a background grade to serve the story. This is where the Resolves external matte node structure can be a lifesaver.

What is your favorite scene or scenes?
I have to go with episode one of the pilot. That opening shot sets the tone for the entire series. The first time I saw that opening shot, my jaw dropped both from a cinematography and story background. If you have seen the show, you know what I’m talking about.

Quick Chat: New president/GM Deluxe TV post services Dom Rom

Domenic Rom, a fixture in the New York post community for 30 years, has been promoted to president and GM of Deluxe TV Post Production Services. Rom was most recently managing director of Deluxe’s New York studio, which incorporates Encore/Company 3/Method. He will now be leading Deluxe’s global services for television, specifically, the Encore and Level 3 branded companies. He will be making the move to Los Angeles.

Rom’s resume is long. He joined DuArt Film Labs in 1984 as a colorist, working his way up to EVP of the company, running both its digital and film lab divisions. In 2000, he joined stock footage/production company Sekani (acquired by Corbis), helping to build the first fully digital content distribution network. In 2002, he founded The Lab at Moving Images, the first motion picture lab to open in in New York in 25 years. It was acquired by PostWorks, which named Rom COO overseeing its Avid rentals, remote set-ups, audio mixing, color correction and editorial businesses. In 2010, Rom joined Technicolor NY as SVP post production. When PostWorks NY acquired Technicolor NY, Rom again became COO of the now-larger company. He joined Deluxe in 2013 as GM of its New York operations.

“I love what I’m seeing today in the industry,” he says. “It has been said many times, but we’re truly in a golden age of television. The best entertainment in the world is coming from the networks and a whole new generation of original content creators. It’s exciting to be in a position to service that work. There are few, if any, companies that have invested in the research, technology and talent to the degree Deluxe has, to help clients take advantage of the latest advancements — whether it’s HDR, 4K, or whatever comes next, to create amazing new experiences for viewers.”

postPerspective reached out to Rom, as he was making his transition to the West Coast, to find out more about his new role and his move.

What does this position mean to you?
This position is the biggest honor and challenge of my career. I have always considered Encore and Level 3 to be the premier television facilities in the world, and to be responsible for them is amazing and daunting all at the same time. I am so looking forward to working with the facilities in Vancouver, Toronto, New York and London.

What do you expect/hope to accomplish in this new role?
To bring our worldwide teams even closer and grow the client relationships even stronger than they already are, because at the end of the day this is a total relationship business and probably my favorite part of the job.

How have you seen post and television change over the years?
I was talking about this with the staff out here the other day. I have seen the business go from film to 2-inch tape to 1-inch to D2 to D5 to HDCAM (more formats than I can remember) to nonlinear editing and digital acquisition — I could go on and on. Right now the quality and sheer amount of content coming from the studios, networks, cablenets and many, many new creators is both exciting and challenging. The fact that this business is constantly changing helps to keep me young.

How is today’s production and post technology helping make TV an even better experience for audiences?
In New York we just completed the first Dolby Vision project for an entire episodic television season (which I can’t name yet), and it looks beautiful. HDR opens up a whole new visual world to the artists and the audience.

Are you looking forward to living in Los Angeles?
I have always danced with the idea of living in LA throughout my career, and to do so this far in is interesting timing. My family and, most importantly, my brand new grandson are all on the east coast so I will maintain my roots there while spreading them out west as well.

Quick Chat: Encore Colorist Paul Westerbeck Talks ‘Gotham’

Fox’s Gotham gives viewers a look at the early days of some of your favorite, and not-so-favorite, Batman characters, mostly focusing on a young detective named Jim Gordon… way before he became the Commissioner Gordon most of us are familiar with.

Gotham tells some dark stories, and the look of the show matches that dark narrative. To talk more about the color of the show, which will shortly come back from hiatus, Encore colorist Paul Westerbeck was kind enough to take time out and answer some or our questions.

What unique challenges does Gotham present?
Starting with the pilot, we were required to do rolling conforms. We colored each version as if it Continue reading

Deluxe post companies unite in Creative Services division, Sonnenfeld now CEO

Deluxe has combined its post entities — Company 3, Beast, Deluxe New York, Encore, Efilm, Level 3 Post, Method Studios and Rushes — into a new Creative Services division that will centralize operations of color, editorial, visual effects and all other post services across multiple platforms, including feature-length movies; web, cable and network television programs; commercials; web content; and everything else Deluxe’s clients require. So, for example, you might see a feature colorist working on a television series or a spot colorist working on a feature.

All individual company names will remain.

Stefan Sonnenfeld, founder/president of Company 3, becomes CEO of the division while still continuing to do color work. In fact, he just completed Michael Mann’s upcoming Blackhat, and worked on The Imitation Game.

Bill Romeo will move up from his post as executive VP of Encore to become CMO, and Joshua Touber, who held a similar role at Ascent Media a decade ago before co-founding Xytech and Xymox, will serve as COO.

Bill Romeo

Bill Romeo

“As the division among different types of content continue to blur,” explains Sonnenfeld, “our new, centralized Creative Services division will offer clients greater efficiency and flexibility — and our incredibly talented artists will no longer be locked into working only on features, episodic TV or commercials.”

Additional staff changes include long-time Encore employee Jay Bodnar being named CTO, and Lawrence Kelly is now senior VP of finance. Bodnar served as SVP engineering, TV for over a decade. He spearheaded the television division’s transition to file-based workflows for all post and VFX work as well as the near-set dailies service (MobiLabs) pipeline. According to the company, he has been instrumental in unifying multiple engineering teams to maximize resources and efficiencies among multiple facilities. Kelly, who joined Deluxe in October as VP of finance for Method Studios, has 20 years of experience on the studio side of the business. He was at Warner Bros. Universal and Paramount Pictures.

Main Photo: CEO Stefan Sonnefeld.

 

Colorist Thor Roos named VP, biz strategy for Encore Vancouver

Encore’s Vancouver studio has named senior colorist Thor Roos VP of Business Strategy. Within the new role, Roos will focus on expanding Encore’s presence in Vancouver and will continue color grading select projects. Roos has been working in the Vancouver post industry for more than 20 years, and has been at Encore since 2012 when the Vancouver location was established.

Currently using Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve for his color work; he recently completed grading the first season of The Intruders for BBC America, ABC reality show The Quest and The Weinstein Company animated feature film Escape from Planet Earth, which was done in 3D as well as 2D. In addition to Encore, Roos has held various positions at Technicolor and Command Post.

“I look forward to building on my long-standing relationships and introducing clients to our well-honed 4K capabilities,” notes Roos.

The Vancouver arm of Encore is currently working on The Flash, Arrow and Once Upon a Time, among others television series.

https://www.encorepost.com/

Encore moves Jennifer Tellefsen to biz dev, VFX, role

Encore, which specializes in post production and visual effects, has named Jennifer Tellefsen (JT) VP of business development, VFX for Encore offices worldwide.

Having served as VP of business development, post, at the Hollywood location since 2009, JT helped Encore complete its transition to file-based workflows and will now focus on piloting the company’s thriving visual effects department under SVP, VFX, Tom Kendall.

“JT comes from a diverse background rooted in VFX and has a deep understanding of how projects move through our facility,” says Encore EVP Bill Romeo. “She’s incredibly conscious of the time constraints studios face in delivering episodic content as well as the effort required by our artists to craft compelling visuals for a given series.”

“With the rise of new original programming from new entertainment platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, television is experiencing a resurgence of content and the demand for VFX is greater than ever,” reports Tellefsen. “Encore’s VFX department has grown more than five times over since I came on board and they recently won an Emmy for their shots on ‘Banshee.’ The work that is being done by our artists is amazing, and I’m excited to be a part of the VFX division.”

In her post business development role with Encore, a Deluxe Entertainment Services company with locations worldwide, JT worked closely with Romeo to expand beyond traditional markets and forge strategic partnerships with outside vendors.

Prior to Encore, JT spent more than a decade at PostWorks Los Angeles and Technicolor, where she primarily focused on television projects. She got her start in the industry working in VFX and is now heading back to her roots.

Encore gives ‘House of Cards’ moody feel in 4K Ultra HD

The second season of Netflix’s House of Cards was made available to subscribers in 4K Ultra HD. LA’s Encore handled the show’s post production, with lead colorist Laura Jans-Fazio grading in uncompressed 4K.

The show was shot on Red cameras, some using the HDR functionality for extended contrast and color dynamic range. The floating-point processing in Baselight, Jans-Fazio’s tool of choice, offered her new creative options. Windows that appeared blown out, for example, could be graded to show detail then composited into the rest of the scene. She was able to achieve the color and composite in realtime so the clients could see the final results immediately.

Laura Jans-Fazio, lead colourist, Encore

Laura Jans-Fazio

Co-producer Peter Mavromates and post supervisor Hameed Shaukat worked directly with Jans-Fazio on the grade, with director David Fincher and DP Igor Martinovic providing feedback via using the PIX digital collaboration tool.

“As episodes were completed, they were uploaded to PIX, which allowed the producer, director and DP to view content on calibrated Sony OLED monitors,” explained Morgan Strauss, Encore SVP, operations. “They returned their feedback, which we could extract directly into Baselight, and Jans-Fazio finalized the look and delivered the files to Netflix. It was essential to maximize this asynchronous collaborative process and, along with Baselight’s sophisticated toolset, it meant we could fully realize the creative needs of the producers and DP.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.17.17

The overall look of the series has a slightly moody feel, reflecting the tense, internal political intrigues of the story. The grade avoids over-saturated colors, maintaining the palette throughout — which was Fincher’s vision for the show.

“Baselight has so many features, and the fact that it works in floating-point processing gives me image quality for a pristine picture every time,” said Jans-Fazio. “We often used multiple shapes in a single shot, and being able to do that in one layer in Baselight was a real time-saver. We could also composite through VFX mattes, and do monitor replacements, in realtime.”

 

Encore ups Robert Glass, adds Augie Melendez

Encore, offering post and visual effects, has promoted Robert Glass to senior VP, sales worldwide. They have also hired Augie Melendez as VP, sales. Both will work out of Encore’s Los Angeles headquarters.

With almost two decades of experience, Glass now oversees sales for Encore locations worldwide as well as Level 3 Post, a Burbank-based post shop also owned by Deluxe Entertainment Services. Part of an overall restructure to help Encore expand into emerging markets, the new post allows Glass to continue developing close ties with studios, while also leveraging the connectivity of Encore’s multiple locations to arrange custom end-to-end solutions.

“At Encore, we strive to ensure that regardless of location, productions have access to our expertise and technology on a local level. Robert has been an integral part of Encore’s ongoing success and is the perfect person to drive synergy across our facilities globally,” said Encore executive VP Bill Romeo.

Augie

Augie Melendez

Brought in by Glass, Melendez joins Encore after spending six years as director of post production at Warner Bros.’ in-house post facility, where he helped establish its TV operation. Having worked on Family Ties supervising post production, Melendez has aided in the creation of shows for nearly every network. His inaugural project for Encore is a 4K 35mm film pilot for Amazon.

In addition to its Los Angeles facility, Encore also holds offices in New York, Vancouver, London and Toronto, and offers near-set services anywhere in the world via Mobilabs, a proprietary compact system for on-site color management and dailies.

Robert Glass is pictured at top.