A24's <I>The Humans</I> graded at Harbor
November 18, 2021

A24's The Humans graded at Harbor

Senior colorist Roman Hankewycz of Harbor graded A24’s new feature film The Humans using DaVinci Resolve Studio and a DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel. Hitting theaters and Showtime on November 24th, the film follows patriarch Erik Blake and his family as they gather to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan.

The film was directed by Stephen Karam, who adapted the project from his Tony Award-winning play. The Humans explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together. Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun and June Squibb make up the cast. Hankewycz helped bring the play onto the big screen by using color to create and build a darkness and sense of dread that surrounds a normally-festive holiday.

“The film takes place in a duplex apartment over the course of one evening, so the environment is quite limited in area and time,” explains the colorist. “Despite the limited environment, there are progressions in the look of the film and various palettes. The film opens in soft daylight, slightly cool but rich, as all the light comes in through the windows. As evening falls, a few new color palettes emerge: the incandescent warmth of the dining room, the harsh coolness of the kitchen, and the silhouetted upstairs lit only by the fading light of the day.”

Hankewycz relied heavily on DaVinci Resolve Studio’s Power Windows and qualifiers to control highlights and specific colors. 

“Since there are lots of long shots in the film, many of these corrections had to be tracked and keyframed to adapt with the scene,” he explains.

According to Hankewycz, there were also a few shots in the film that were scaled up a great deal. 

“For these shots, I used DaVinci Resolve Studio's spatial and temporal noise reduction to remove the enlarged noise pattern. I then composited 35mm grain over those shots to bring some texture back into them. This was a helpful technique for making these opticals fit in with the regular footage.”

Hankewycz was tasked with managing many versions of each of the film’s VFX shots. Relying on DaVinci Resolve Studio’s edit page, he was able to stack all the VFX versions to keep them organized and available for comparison at any time while grading. 

“DaVinci Resolve Studio’s NLE structure also allowed me to achieve some sophisticated composites,” he recalls. “For example, I combined different parts of multiple VFX versions into a single element using compound clips to create the best version of the effect in the DI theater.” 

Hankewycz  says the best part of the project was working with the group of filmmakers. 

“Stephen (Karam), cinematographer Lol Crawley and editor Nick Huoy are incredibly thoughtful and rigorous,” he states. “It's such a joy to work with people who elevate the craft of filmmaking the way they do…Together, we combed through every frame and weighed every decision to create a film that will remain beautiful and poignant throughout time.”