London-based post facility The Look recently completed the postproduction for the BBC‘s three-part drama series Quirke on its Quantel Pablo Rio system. Set in Ireland and Boston in the 1950s, Quirke is the story of the eponymous pathologist who investigates sudden death victims. The show has been widely praised for its high production values and film noir look.
The Look’s Thomas Urbye served as colorist on the three episodes. “Each of the three, 90 minute films had different directors and cinematographers,” explained Urbye. “My brief from the series producer, Lisa Osborne, was to create a cohesive and cinematic look and feel across the three stories, while punctuating them with moments of strong color to accentuate particular characters and moods. For example, when the lead character Quirke hits the bottle in despair, I wanted to create a rugged, bleak look across the scenes, reflecting the difficult time he was going through. In contrast, Sarah and Mal’s house is opulent, with her bright orange dress standing out in all her scenes.
“I enjoyed the depth of the story and got deeply involved in the emotion,” said Urbye. “The cinematic approach from all involved combined with the budget helped me to do this. Most TV drama moves along at a great pace with lots of cuts, but Quirke was much more like three individual but connected feature films, giving the viewer plenty of time to embrace the atmosphere.
Urbye explained that he had three days per episode for color and finishing, all carried out in the company’s grading theater on Pablo Rio with the directors and DPs in attendance.
“Using the built-in contrast curves means that we can get a sophisticated look very quickly,” said Urbye. “The speed with which we can apply subtle shapes is also very powerful in quickly building a great look. Furthermore, Pablo Rio’s built-in finishing toolset means that we were able to do all the conform, color, finishing and deliverables within the one system, and it was also easy to drop in VFX and simply apply the chosen grades to them.”