NEW YORK— The Room, the boutique
finishing facility located within Technicolor-PostWorks,
New York, recently completed two months of post-production finishing on The Giver, the new film from director
Phillip Noyce and The Weinstein Company. In a project involving numerous
creative and technical challenges, the facility handled editorial conforming
and color grading. The latter included applying the finishing touch to an
onscreen world that undergoes a gradual transition from black & white to
Based on Lois Lowry’s international bestseller, The Giver centers on a boy, Jonas
(Brenton Thwaites), who comes to question the colorless, utopian community he
has grown up in after learning about the “real” world from an elderly man (Jeff
Bridges). The reawakening of the boy’s memories and emotions is reflected in
his growing ability to see in color.

Finishing commenced as editorial elements arrived at The
Room’s facility in Manhattan. Cinematographer Ross Emery, ACS, captured
principal photography with ARRI Alexa cameras, while certain second unit and
specialty scenes were shot with RED Epic, 35mm and 16mm cameras. The film
cameras were used primarily for memory flashback sequences (rendered in vibrant
color). Archival material, mostly originating on HD video, was also used in
Finishing editor Allie Ames conformed all this disparate
source material into a common timeline in preparation for color grading. She
also incorporated visual effects—eventually totally more than 700
shots—provided by Method Studios, Mr. X and other vendors. With new material
and revisions arriving daily, editorial and rendering work proceeded virtually
round the clock.
“It was a complex and large scale project,” recalls The
Room’s Ben Murray, noting that the facility has a 4K pipeline based on Autodesk
Flame software that allows editorial, color grading and rendering to proceed
simultaneously. “Allie did a wonderful job in wrangling it all. While
delivering reels for grading to our colorist, Jack Lewars, she was also
delivering multiple references to the various editorial teams and alerting them
to any issues that arose. That kept us ahead of the curve and helped us deliver
on time.”
The first 25 minutes of The
are fully black & white. The visuals then begin a very gradual
change to color lasting more than 35 minutes. Director Phillip Noyce and
cinematographer Ross Emery began planning this transition in pre-production,
with Emery conducting camera tests and preparing a saturation map covering
every scene. During production, a DIT applied values from the saturation map to
camera footage for review on set. Similarly, a dailies colorist applied Emery’s
saturation choices to dailies media provided to the editorial and visual effects
“We mapped the transition from black & white to color
very carefully,” Emery says. “It was such an integral part of the story and
something that resonates with fans of the book. We wanted to do it justice.”
Although the final grade closely adheres to Emery’s original
plan, it involved slight alteration and refinement. “The DI process is
fantastic as we can react to the changes in story and character that happen
during the editing process,” Emery observes. “You can make subtle changes to
the way you shot things to support aspects of the story that emerged during the
The transition to color isn’t entirely gradual. Jonas first
regains the ability to see red and that change appears suddenly when he is
presented with an apple that he sees as a crimson hue. Lewars created that
effect in the grading suite by isolating the fruit. “The apple is bright red,
while everything else is at 20 percent saturation, so it really pops,” Lewars
recalls. “The difference between the apple and its surroundings makes it look
uniquely beautiful. It is a very emotional moment.”
The effect carries over and is expanded upon in the
following scene when Jonas encounters Fiona (Odeya Rush). “It was one of those
beautiful moments,” recalls Emery. “We are still in the low saturation mode but
then there is a close-up of Fiona and Jonas sees her in color for the first
“I noticed when we were grading that scene that her eyes
were a beautiful blue-green and so I said to Jack, select the color of her eyes
and bring them up more. Suddenly, Jonas was seeing a girl with blue-green eyes.
It changed the scene completely.”
For the most part, the emergence of color is so subtle that
audiences may not be aware that it is happening. “We begin to sneak in the
tiniest bits of colors; at first, it only appears in certain places, the
highlights,” Lewars says. “But it progresses and becomes more and more colorful
and by the end, you are watching a normal color movie. We want audiences to
think, ‘Gosh, when did that happen?’”
Emery says that he found it fascinating to manipulate color
in this way. It increased his sensitivity to the way audiences perceive and
respond emotionally to color. “In one scene, early on, we played with two
different versions, one that was pretty much black & white and one where we
introduced a bit of blue,” he says. “That forces the audience to shift
slightly. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to it, and it
was certainly a lot of fun playing with that stuff in the DI. To do that
successfully, you need a colorist who is very sympathetic to the story and has
a light touch, which Jack does.
“I quickly realized that this was not a story that could be
told solely through dialogue and images; it had to be supported with the color
saturation to lead people the right way.”
About Technicolor –
PostWorks New York
– PostWorks New York is the East Coast’s most comprehensive digital motion
picture and post-production facility, employing an exceptional team of artists,
engineers and project managers to serve our clients through the film and TV
finishing process.
data workflows, film processing, telecine/scanning, non-linear editorial and HD
picture finishing, digital intermediate and film recording, high-volume
encoding and high-speed data transmission, as well as comprehensive film and TV
sound services on nine mix stages, Technicolor – PostWorks New York serves as
one source for every post production requirement.
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