Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Chaogtu with Sarula

Luo Mengzhou (BFA) has chosen Blackmagic Design‘s DaVinci Resolve Studio and Advanced Panel solutions to grade the feature film Chaogtu with Sarula.

Based on the novel The Shepherdess, written by Mo Yue, the feature film tells the story of a Mongolian couple who argue as each member pursues different lifestyles. Directed by Professor Wang Rui, dean of the Directing Faculty of the Beijing Film Academy, and starring Jiritumu and Tana, the film was released on July 31 last year in China. Among other awards, it won the Best Director Award at the 33rd Golden Rooster Awards, as well as the Best Artistic Contribution Award at the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival.

Color grading was carried out and supervised by Professor Zeng Zhigang and colorist Luo Mengzhou in a 4K studio at the Beijing Film Academy’s Department of Cinematography and Television Technology equipped with DaVinci Resolve. The room is 150 m2 and has been part of the Academy’s experimental television center since September 2018.

Chaogtu with Sarula Frame

Inspiration from oil paintings

Most of the scenes were shot by cinematographer Professor Li Wei, dean of the Academy’s Film School, in the steppes of Inner Mongolia (China). Mengzhou appreciates his work: “Prof. Li’s team did a great job of cinematography and they set a great store by color grading in the hope that the colorists would make the image look appealing and reflect the realistic theme of the film,” said Luo. “The film was shot with cameras from two manufacturers, therefore color match would be one of the major tasks for us.”

The story takes place between autumn and winter, which prompted the colorists to use numerous oil paintings as reference before deciding on the style of the scenes for the different seasons. “The look of the autumn grassland we finally decided on was inspired by ‘Shepherdess with her Flock’ by French artist Jean-François Millet and a cold desaturated look was confirmed for the winter scenes,” says Mengzhou.

The team conducted extensive research to create a cinematic style in a ACES workflow, conducting specific tests and creating PowerGrades in DaVinci Resolve Studio. They focused on contrast and brightness adjustments in the primary corrections, which they combined with more precise adjustments in logarithmic mode to make subtle changes in the secondary corrections.

Chaogtu with Sarula Frame 2

Finishing in different color spaces

Mengzhou, who has been working with DaVinci Resolve for a decade, believes that the ACES workflow has made a difference in his daily operations “DaVinci Resolve has been my tool of choice since I started using DaVinci 2K Plus ten years ago because of its powerful pages for specific jobs and elaborate node based workflow. This has made it a stand out major post production tool. Now with the new ACES workflow, it has become more powerful and versatile. The ACEScc AP1 color space I used for this film was very helpful in color matching shots from different cameras.”

What’s noteworthy is that when switched to an ACES workflow, the sensitivity of the rings around the trackballs on the DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel will change, or at any rate, it becomes more responsive and the changes in the waveforms could be more radical but whatever adjustments I have made, the details will be still there,” adds Mengzhou.

In addition to color grading, Mengzhou finalized deliverables in different formats and color spaces. “The Deliver page in Resolve worked with ACES ODT options, and could generate multiple video clips or image sequences in Rec. 709 or DCI-P3 efficiently at one time,” he notes.

“DaVinci Resolve is intuitive and offers colorists a wide range of powerful tools, which can be used creatively with one another to achieve artistic goals. Also, the Blackmagic hardware products we used for the project, such as the UltraStudio 4K Extreme and DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, were also part and parcel that made sure the film was completed with efficiency and stability,” concludes Mengzhou.

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For • 17 May, 2021
• Section: Postpro