Senior colorist Mark Todd Osborne has maintained a busy schedule as an independent, following years of work at studios that include Company 3 and Light Iron. His home studio — MTO Color Inc. (mtocolor.com), in the area of Redondo Beach/Torrance Beach — is set up for 6K and 8K workflows, as well as 4K UHD. In addition to a calibrated 55-inch LG monitor, his studio is based around Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, running on an iMac Pro that’s supported by a Blackmagic eGPU. He also works with local post houses, such as Fancy Film (www.fancyfilm.com), when support services are needed, making it a win/win scenario for all involved.
Recently, Osborne graded Netflix’s upcoming documentary Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali about the legendary icons. Inspired by the book “Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X”, the project was directed by Marcus A. Clarke and will debut on the streaming platform on September 9th.
It was cinematographer Justin Janowitz who brought Osborne on-board. The two have a long history of collaborating, having worked together on indie features, short films and commercials in the past.
“At first thought I’d do it at MTO Color, but since it’s for Netflix and it’s HDR Dolby Vision, I would have had to rent a Sony X300 1,000-nit monitor,” Osborne explains. “It takes support and a team to do this.”
Osborne called Fancy Film in Silverlake, CA, where he is also working on Season 2 of Trafficked for Nat Geo and Hulu, knowing they are set up for the necessary TV workflow.
“We did seven days of color, and it looks great,” he says of Blood Brothers, which incorporates both archival footage as well as newly-shot material, captured by Janowitz on Sony’s Venice camera. The grade was completed using DaVinci Resolve 17.
“It’s very important to the documentarian how a colorist treats archival (material),” says Osborne. “It’s a question that gets raised every time. I was really happy with what we came up with.”
After talking with director Marcus A. Clarke, the pair agreed that they didn’t want the look of the archival material to bounce around and risk taking viewers out of the story. Osborne says they came up with a universal look that tied all the material together while reflecting the film’s early 1960s timeframe.
“Since the opening credits had beautiful sepias, I said, ‘Let’s tie them all together. We’ll make everything black & white, and I will add a gentle sepia — just a smidge, a dash and a tasteful amount.’ Every time we see archival, it all felt that it was in the same time zone, and almost from the same source, although it was many sources.”
The newly-shot Venice footage received just gentle tweaks.
“[They were] painted so well with light by Justin that I just had to enhance them with tiny little things,” he explains. “Balance, and Power Windows to knock down some highlights in the corners, but other than that, they were shot so beautifully. It made my job easy.”
Osborne’s recent Netflix work also included grading for the limited series Brand New Cherry Flavor, which debuts on Friday, August 13th.
MTO colored the first two episodes in order to set the look, tone and feel of the series, which is set in 1990 Los Angeles. There, an aspiring film director embarks on a mind-altering journey of supernatural revenge.
He’s also working with Buffalo8 (https://buffalo8.com) on a number of their independent features, including Castle Falls, which was directed by and stars Dolph Lundgren.
“He was super specific,” says Osborne of Lundgren’s vision, noting that he wanted to stay away from the look of modern digital cinema cameras and instead make the feature look like it could have been shot in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s.
“I came up with a film emulation LUT and built my color grade on that, and he was in love with it,” Osborne recalls.
Beyond the feature realm, Osborne recently completed work on the new music video for the country band Hot Mondy. Directed by Brad Tobler and shot by cinematographer Gareth Taylor, video doesn’t feature the band at all. Instead, the song’s theme is visualized by dancers, who perform elaborate choreography. The Pale Ember video has a muted tone, with light blues and whites that emphasize the loft space in which it was shot, along with the lighting and dancer’s flowing dress.