Company 3 London recently relied on Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve to color grade Captain Phillips. The film is based on the harrowing true life story of American shipping captain Richard Phillips, swept up in a hostage ordeal after Somali pirates hijacked his ship. The film was directed by Paul Greengrass, with Barry Akroyd as the cinematographer. Company 3’s senior colorist Rob Pizzey handled color correction.
“Barry has a naturalistic style of shooting and Captain Phillips was no different,” said Pizzey. “Everything is filmed handheld, so you never have any locked off shots during the film. Because of that, Barry is right on top of the action. You almost feel like a part of the film.”
“The camera is always moving because you’re at sea, so the tracking tool was perfect because I could hand draw shapes and then grade within that area,” explained Pizzey. “Resolve’s auto tracking would then map to the movement of the camera so we could get on with matching all of the footage. It was also really useful for lining up faces and pulling out eyes. With the auto tracking, you get the shape on there and it maps it all the way through. It really did save me a lot of time.”
The challenge during this grade was the film’s climax, which takes place at night. “Most of the climax was actually shot during the day so we had a big job on our hands matching those shots, which were filmed on a variety of formats, with the night footage.”
A month before the DI, Akroyd and Pizzey had the chance to work on the conformed day-for-night scenes, allowing them to start setting the look.
“We worked through the scenes making sure that we could achieve what we wanted and flagged areas where we could do with some help from VFX. DaVinci Resolve’s unlimited nodes and auto tracking capabilities were a big help during Captain Philips big day-for-night scenes,” said Pizzey. “Having got it in a pretty good place, we then rendered out the DPX files with the grade baked on and sent them over to the visual effects house, who were able to help us in areas where I’d darkened bits down to help sell the look.”
Akroyd attended the main DI for the first seven days, during which time the pair set the look and mood and graded the climax of the film in full.