Los Angeles-based Encore recently handled postproduction for the second season of the popular Netflix political drama House of Cards, which is available to subscribers in 4K Ultra HD. Lead colorist Laura Jans-Fazio graded the series in uncompressed 4K on a Baselight TWO system with a Blackboard control surface from FilmLight.
The drama was captured on RED cameras, some using the HDR functionality for extended contrast and dynamic range. The floating-point processing in Baselight gave Jans-Fazio new creative options. Windows that appeared blown out, for example, could be graded to show detail then composited into the rest of the scene.
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 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.”
The overall look of the series has a slightly moody cast, 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 real time.”
“Television episodics are always a real challenge for grading, because you have very little time to finesse the grade despite the length of the material,” explained Wolfgang Lempp, co-founder of FilmLight. “The challenges were compounded on House of Cards because of the need to work at 4K uncompressed. We built huge processing power into Baselight just to meet this sort of everyday challenge, so customers like Laura Jans-Fazio and the production and postproduction team at Encore are not wasting time.”