Technicolor-PostWorks New York recently provided a package of postproduction services for Bluebird, an independent feature from first-time director Lance Edmands that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
A drama set in a small Maine logging town, Bluebird stars Amy Morton, Margo Martindale, John Slattery (Mad Men), Louisa Krause, Adam Driver (Girls) and Emily Meade.
The film was shot on 35mm film. During production, original camera negative was sent from the shooting location in rural Maine to the New York lab for processing. Dailies and editorial media were then prepared at the Technicolor – PostWorks facility in the West Village. Services included dailies processing and final color grading.
Technicolor – PostWorks colorist Sam Daley, who performed dailies and final color grading, explained that cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes chose to shoot Bluebird on film as an aesthetic choice. “Film is essential to Jody’s signature look,” said Daley, who previously collaborated with Lipes on Martha Mary May Marlene. “Jody underexposes the negative to create a low contrast image. It more closely resembles a picture printed on photographic paper than one on celluloid.”
Due to the manner in which film was exposed, special attention was required during the scanning process to enhance shadows in the negative. “Our standard scanner settings and logarithmic curve are based on normally exposed negative,” Daley explained. “A good portion of the exposed images for Bluebird sit near the toe of the curve. Nate Davis, our scanning technician, and I determined the optimal lamp level to preserve shadow detail without losing highlight information in the film’s many snowy scenes.”
Final grading was completed in a DI theater at 2K using DaVinci Resolve v.9. Daley worked with Lipes during the grading process to accentuate the filmic quality of the imagery. “On prior projects, we conducted tests to recreate Jody’s look digitally from normally exposed negative, but we could not achieve the organic photochemical qualities of the underexposures,” he said.
“We wanted more from the grading process than simply to make our film look beautiful,” said Kyle Martin, Bluebird‘s producer. “We wanted to use color to preserve and pronounce a feeling and an atmosphere.”