Workflow: AMC's 'Into the Badlands'
Issue: November 1, 2015

Workflow: AMC's 'Into the Badlands'

NEW ORLEANS — AMC’s new six-part series Into the Badlands premieres on November 15th. The show is set centuries from now, at a time when a feudal society has emerged in the wake of civilization's destruction. This area — the Badlands — is divided among seven rival Barons, each of whom enforces their own iron rule with the aid of loyal armies of trained assassins. Sunny (Daniel Wu) is one of the most feared martial arts masters, though his Baron (Marton Csokas) is now being challenged by a new rival (Emily Beecham).

The show was shot in and around New Orleans, and FotoKem’s ( studio there provided dailies services. Illya Laney, FotoKem’s dailies colorist, worked closely with cinematographer Shane Hurlbut to establish a series of LUTs that could be used on-set, and then as a starting point for the dailies color process.

“He had a vision for not just your basic dallies color, he wanted more of a finished product,” says Laney of Hurlbut’s treatment. “He had a very specific look in mind.”

The pair put together more than a dozen different LUTs that could be used for the show’s indoor and outdoor scenes, depending on the need.

“I’d use that LUT as a starting point,” explains Laney. The show’s exterior shoots are often subject to changing cloud conditions, so the preconfigured LUTs helped even out variables in the footage.

“It’s done in Louisiana,” he says of the show, “and there’s a lot of cloud cover down here, as compared to working in LA. So that’s one of the challenges of working down here, and having those options as far as LUTs go…It changes so quickly throughout the day and throughout the scene. It’s important to have various LUTs that you can cycle through, depending on how the lighting is changing when you are shooting an exterior scene.”

Into The Badlands was shot using eight Red Dragons, one Red Weapon, and a GoPro camera. FotoKem then provided primary and secondary color correction for the dailies — mostly adjusting skin tones, the sky, and the greenery. 

Color correction was performed using Version 11 of Blackmagic Design’s Resolve. Laney created a fair amount of sky gradients that helped bring the ‘blue’ back into the sky on cloudy shoots. “Having Resolve for those scenes was very helpful,” he notes.

The company’s NextLab was used for media management and audio syncing. “We’d ingest into NextLab, because it has check sum and really strong media management in there,” he explains. “I’d set up transcodes in Resolve and that would allow the operator to start syncing and adding in the metadata entry.”

The New Orleans studio created Avid 115 files for editorial in Los Angeles, and Pix files for review. They were delivered using FotoKem’s GlobalData software. “It’s custom software that FotoKem created a while back, and we can pipe massive amounts of data anywhere,” Laney explains.

The show’s fight scenes, however, were cut in Louisiana, so DNx36 files, delivered on shuttle drives, were created to accommodate that workflow.

“The fight unit director likes to edit on-set, so there is a small editorial team out here also,” says Laney. “We were basically delivering media for two different teams. It was like working on two different shows at once.”