Company 3 grades 'Captain Phillips'
November 11, 2013

Company 3 grades 'Captain Phillips'

LONDON — Company 3 London used Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve for color grading solution on the film adaptation of “Captain Phillips,” which stars Tom Hanks. The film comes four years after American shipping captain Richard Phillips and his crew were hijacked by Somali pirates. Paul Greengrass directed the new feature, with Barry Akroyd serving as cinematographer. Color correction was performed by Company 3’s senior colorist Rob Pizzey.

“Barry has a naturalistic style of shooting and Captain Phillips was no different,” explains Pizzey. “Everything is filmed handheld, so you never have any locked off shots during the film. Because of that, Barry is right on top of the action. You almost feel like a part of the film.”

A challenging aspect of the grade involves the film’s climax, which takes place at night. “Most of the climax was actually shot during the day, so we had a big job on our hands matching those shots, which were filmed on a variety of formats, with the night footage,” Pizzey recalls.

A month before the DI, Akroyd and Pizzey had the chance to work on the conformed “day for night” scenes, allowing them to start setting the look.

“We worked through the scenes making sure that we could achieve what we wanted and flagged areas where we could do with some help from VFX. DaVinci Resolve’s unlimited nodes and auto tracking capabilities were a big help during Captain Philips big ‘day for night’ scenes,” notes Pizzey. “The camera is always moving because you’re at sea, so the tracking tool was perfect because I could hand draw shapes and then grade within that area. Resolve’s auto tracking would then map to the movement of the camera so we could get on with matching all of the footage. It was also really useful for lining up faces and pulling out eyes. With the auto tracking, you get the shape on there and it maps it all the way through. It really did save me a lot of time.

“Having got it in a pretty good place, we then rendered out the DPX files with the grade baked on and sent them over to the visual effects house, who were able to help us in areas where I’d darkened bits down to help sell the look. When those shots came back into the timeline for the main DI they were 90 per cent final. The main DI was attended by Barry for the first seven days, during which time the pair set the look and mood and graded the climax of the film in full.”