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September 2014
Issue: March 1. 2014

Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel'

By: Marc Loftus
BURBANK — Jill Bogdanowicz, senior supervising DI colorist at Modern Videofilm (www.mvfinc.com), here, worked closely with director Wes Anderson to create the look of the new Fox Searchlight film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. The feature was shot on film and centers around the adventures of a concierge at a grand hotel before the war, and the lobby boy who looks up to him. 

Ralph Fiennes plays concierge Gustave H., who has a special relationship with the hotel’s guests. The film also stars F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, and Bill Murray, among many others.

According to Bogdanowicz, the feature has three distinct periods, and each was given a unique color treatment to match Wes Anderson’s vision. In addition, each time period was shot in a different aspect ratio.



The 1930s sequences, says Bogdanowicz, were shot in the 4:3 aspect ratio. Much of this period takes place at the hotel, which is noted for its vibrant colors. “There’s a lot of production value, there’s pink and red, and purple suits,” she explains. “There was an amazing color palette that they wanted to retain, but make sure that it has a different feel than the ‘60s, so we focused more on a little bit of desaturation. The colors we focused on were purples, pinks and reds.”

The scenes reflecting the 1960s were shot in 2.35:1 with anamorphic lenses, she recalls. “There’s a very warm look,” says the colorist. “We enhanced the yellow and green, making sure it was a very saturated picture.”

The film’s 1980s-era scenes were shot in 1.85:1. “It was more of a straight-forward palette,” says Bogdanowicz of the color treatment. “Nothing really too fancy and no saturation one way or the other.”

When working at Modern Videofilm, Bogdanowicz’s set-up includes a Linux-based Da Vinci Resolve, from Blackmagic Design, along with a 4K digital projector. “It offers immediate feedback,” she says of the Resolve set-up. “There’s no stopping or rendering. You can add many layers. It’s seamless for the creative — they don’t need to sit and wait. It’s very important that they see it fast.”

She also travelled to London four times to meet with the director, working out of a theater at Molinaire. Bogdanowicz had collaborated with the director on 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom. She spent several months, beginning in June of 2013, working on The Grand Budapest Hotel.



“Wes is very particular, of course, and very detailed,” she says of the collaborative DI sessions. “He’s very interactive and attended every session in London.” While Anderson never came to LA, the team was able to communicate via emails using QuickTime files and still frames. Bogdanowicz says the director paid close attention to making sure all of the film’s small details were completely visible. 

“We spent quite a lot of time making sure small details that were part of the storyline were all visible,” she recall. “Also, we worked with the visual effect company (Look Effects) very closely in order to fine tune the day-for-night scenes and the visual effects. The main visual effects in this movie are the type that are supposed to be invisible — speed changes, split screens, things that help Wes tell a story. He uses visual effects quite often to tell a story.”