Digital Pictures has completed work on Southern Star’s latest Australian television series Puberty Blues, directed by Glendyn Ivin and lensed by DOP, John Brawley. Digital Pictures delivered a full post service including rushes using the Digital Pictures' Ranger Data Cart, online edit, colour grade, mastering and final deliverables. Produced by John Edwards and Imogen Banks, Puberty Blues went to air on Wednesday 15 August on Network 10.
Having grown up in the era when the original Puberty Blues film was released, Digital Pictures colourist Annelie Chapple, was excited to work on the project: “John and Glendyn were very specific about the lenses and lighting on set to help create the look of the era. Glendyn brought in his book of references to our first briefing and he had a very clear idea for how the scenes needed to look in the colour grade. For me, I approached it as a cinematic project, that’s why it’s not super contrasting, but soft and filmic.”
Glendyn elaborates “I started by looking at a lot of mid 70's colour documentary photography from the U.S by photographers like Joel Sternfeld. He was one of the early pioneers in colour photography and his work really makes you look at colour differently and how it actually was back then, not how we remember it was.”
“The focus for me was about honesty and not 'nostalgia'. I felt if we had the colours right, these would create deeper period cues for an audience, as opposed to having certain props or hairstyles. The idea was to keep it feeling untouched, raw and a little bit dirty,” he said.
DOP, John Brawley used four different camera types on this production. Three Alexa cameras were used primarily on main unit. Whilst production also had a couple of Canon C300's on hand which were used for trickier shots in tight spaces, the Red EPIC and Black Magic Cinema camera were also used.
John explains, “Second Unit Director Sean Kruck, who shot a lot of the surfing photography, would often shoot with the C300 himself. Most of the surf photography was shot using an EPIC, mainly because of its higher frame rate options and smaller size in the surf. We also tested an early version of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, mainly as a kind of "C" camera while we were shooting with the main unit Alexa's. A surprising number of shots ended up in the final edit as well.”
The production utilised Digital Pictures’ Ranger Data Cart manned by a Digital Pictures' technician operated out of the production office with the editorial team which was 30 minutes from set. The Digital Pictures' Ranger Data Cart is a customised mobile data system built to service a production’s daily digital rushes from shoot through to editorial delivery on or near set. The series was shot an hour out of Sydney on location in and around the Sutherland Shire. Having the data cart in close proximity to the editorial department meant that the various camera rushes could be turned around the next day.
With a mix of camera's used and the varying quality of vision, John Brawley was impressed with the post production workflow. He said, “The Digital Pictures' workflow was very painless, given they were dealing with ProRes files from the Alexa, RED R3D files from the EPIC, C300 MXF and the Black Magic CinemaDNG files! That's a lot of disparate formats to wrangle. I think most people would be hard pressed to pick each camera and that's hats off really to Annelie for making that all go together so effortlessly.”
DOP John Brawley, did a significant amount of lense tests in pre-production and Annelie Chapple and the Digital Pictures Post team undertook a number of test grades. The biggest challenge for the colourist was ensuring that all the different camera formats used across the project and intercut together in the edit - complimented each other in the final grade.
Annelie matched these various camera formats so the project looked seamless across eight episodes. As she points out “It creates a unique environment when using multiple formats and lenses, in the grade the scenes are obviously different looking, but there is also a different texture so it is much like creating a patchwork quilt as a colourist. I am ensuring that these scenes compliment one another in tone and colour and ultimately look seamless whilst taking into consideration the Director and DOPs vision.”
Director Glendyn Ivin says he enjoyed the process of collaborating with the Digital Pictures team: “Annelie and the whole Digital Pictures team were on board and an essential part of our team from the beginning. Cinematographer, John Brawley and I tested many different formats and lenses and Digital Picture’s Marcus Bolton and the team were more than happy to look at everything with us, discuss the pros and cons, listened to what we wanted and provided guidance on how best to achieve it.”
Glendyn continues “I felt Annelie really understood and appreciated our visual approach and she really tapped into how we wanted the show to 'feel' as opposed to 'look'. The first grading session we went in and she graded the water at Cronulla beach this beautiful green colour which, when I saw it, felt like the Kodachrome images of beaches I had been looking at for months previously.”
“I think a lot of graders would have pushed the ocean immediately into rich 'Bondi Blues', but the greens in the water felt like our show.”
Annelie says “I was complimenting what had already been beautifully shot. Glendyn and John wanted me to enhance what they had filmed and it’s very natural in the look and feel of the series.”
John Brawley concludes “Puberty Blues was such a difficult shoot logistically. We had a period show shooting on location with a multitude of camera origination formats, shooting on the beach amongst the sand and the water under the busiest airport in Australia. At least we knew that the images were very well taken care of once we got them in the can. DP were fantastic partners from start to finish and helped us to get the best out of our images.”
Digital Pictures Team:
Head of Post & VFX Supervisor, Marcus Bolton
Senior Producer, Josephine Tankard
Colourist, Annelie Chapple
Online Editor, Jo Spillane
VFX Artists, Marcus Bolton, Jo Spillane, Bertrand Polivka
Online Assistant, Jolayne Crabbe