Modern
VideoFilm Provides Color Grading and Editorial Services for Golden Globe
Nominee “The Book of Life”

Senior
Supervising Colorist Dave Cole collaborates with Director Jorge R. Gutierrez to
help bring a breathtaking animated adventure to life.

BURBANK,
Calif.—Final post production work for 20th Century
Fox’s and Reel FX Animation Studios’ The
Book of Life,
a Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Feature Film, was
completed at Modern VideoFilm. The months-long effort involved an intense
collaboration between Modern’s team, led by Lead Digital Colorist/Supervising
Digital Colorist Dave Cole, Director Jorge R. Gutierrez, VFX Supervisor Augusto
Schillaci and Art Director Paul Sullivan from Reel FX.  Modern VideoFilm’s work encompassed DI color
grading in 2D and 3D, editorial conforming in 2D and 3D, and the production of
deliverables and marketing media.

A spectacularly animated adventure set against the backdrop
of Mexico’s Day of the Dead, The Book of
Life
is also nominated for five Annie Awards (including for Best Animated
Feature), and a Critics’ Choice Movie
Award (also for Best Animated Feature). The film has attracted wide
critical praise and has won the hearts of audiences in the United States and
around the world for its amazing imagery and inspiring story.  The
Book of Life
is currently available on Digital HD.   Blu-ray and DVD released on January 27th
in North America.
“We are thrilled by the success of The Book of Life,” says Modern VideoFilm President of Creative Services Mark
Smirnoff. “The film was a joy to work on and our team poured their hearts and
souls into it. It’s one of the most remarkable animated films of the past
decade.”
Post production work on the film spanned more than four
months. Modern VideoFilm established a color-calibrated connection linking its
facilities in Burbank and Santa Monica with Reel FX in Dallas to facilitate the
rapid exchange of media and ensure that parties on both ends were seeing
identical imagery.
Color grading assumed a much more detailed and nuanced
approach than is typical for an animated feature. Cole, a two-time HPA
Award-winner (for his work on Life of Pi and
on the pilot for Reign)¸ worked with
Gutierrez and the leaders of the animation team in crafting intricate color
treatments to effect mood and help hone the narrative.
“Jorge often used color to create a mood,” Cole recalls. “He
also used it to direct the eyes of the audience. If something was visually
distracting, we made it appear less present in the frame. Conversely, if there
was something we wanted you to look at, we’d brighten it or give it more color
to become the predominant object in the frame. It was all very subtle. The
audience isn’t aware the image has been manipulated; they are simply looking
where they are supposed to look.”
“That part of the craft can really only be added in the DI
theatre after all of the shots have been placed together and the scene is
allowed to flow naturally,” Cole adds. “The story and performances guide us and
help us make these creative choices.”
Color helps to create a sense of place for each of the
film’s principal locations. “Jorge wanted there to be a distinct difference
between the real world and the world of Mexico that the characters experience
inside the real world and fantastical worlds,” Cole explains. “The town of San
Angel has a dusty feel, the Land of the Remembered is vivid, colorful, while
the Land of the Forgotten seems to have the life drawn out of it.”
Those looks were enhanced in the DI suite. “We did a lot of
key-frame animation to make things more nuanced, interesting and exciting,”
Cole says.
Cole points to scene involving a stampede of pigs where they
created a magical effect by weaving threads of color into the sky. “It’s a
subtlety that audiences may not pick up on but subliminally, it helps to create
a sense of place and time,” he says.
Even as Cole was working his magic, Modern VideoFilm DI
Editor Craig Price was using a Quantel Pablo Rio system to organize picture
elements arriving as Open EXR files from Reel FX and conforming the 2D and 3D
masters. “The editorial team in Dallas was very strong and paved the way for a
very smooth finish,” Price says. “Our biggest challenge was dealing with the
size of the OpenEXR files. It took a lot of processing power to move them
through the system.”
Cole has graded scores of films including Tron: Legacy and No Escape (the upcoming feature from John and Drew Dowdle) but The Book of Life was his first animated
feature. “It was great fun,” he says. “When I’m working on a film that’s
captured with cameras, I spend a lot of my time balancing shots. There was much
less of that here, which meant we had more time for the fun stuff: nuances and
other things that elevate the imagery.”
Gutierrez says that he jumped at the opportunity to work at
Modern VideoFilm, having been a fan of Cole’s “astounding color work” on Tron: Legacy, Life of Pi and other films. “The experience was even better than I
imagined,” he recalls. “Dave became a true creative partner on our film. His
insight in both the creative and technical aspects of DI helped enhance and
plus the look, story and heart of our film. He was truly invaluable! I
look forward to working with Dave and Modern for the rest of my career…or die
trying!”
“It was also a great pleasure to work with Jorge,” Cole
adds. “He is a visionary with a great sense of style. He is also a lovely man
with a wonderful sense of humor and an incredible knowledge of film.”
About Modern VideoFilm
Modern VideoFilm has been providing post-production and
distribution services to the film, television and media content industries for more
than 33 years.  Its clients include all of the major movie and television
studios, as well as leading on-demand streaming services, online digital media
retailers, ecommerce sites, interactive entertainment companies, and other
commercial entities across the United States and around the world. The
company’s staff comprises more than 500 dedicated and talented artists,
technicians, engineers, producers, client representatives and support
personnel.
Modern VideoFilm’s Creative Services division offers complete,
end-to-end resources for the production of original motion picture, television
and media content. Its Content Management division provides comprehensive
solutions for the management, repurposing, distribution and archiving of
entertainment content.
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