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June 2018

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Page 35 of 43 34 POST JUNE 2018 COLOR GRADING avid Fincher's knuckle-biting Mindhunter series for Netflix is based on the true-crime book, Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, an autobiography centered around the establishment of the FBI Investigative Support Unit, the foundation of which would become modern day criminal psychological profiling. Each hour-long show (from the 10-episode run) was graded by color- ist Eric Weidt, who navigated between ultra-modern capture technology, the time and place of late 70s cinema and the very specific needs of Fincher. Weidt started with Fincher as a visual effects beauty artist for the 2014 film, Gone Girl. Before that, he had worked in post pro- duction in the world of Parisian fashion. With considerable experience in Photoshop and the Adobe infrastructure, Weidt brought his retouching talents to motion as photography and filmmaking began to bleed together. Weidt even cre- ated custom film-emulation ICC profiles and scanned grains for photographers transitioning from film to digital capture. Meanwhile, Fincher and his team had been working with FilmLight's Baselight color grading tools and plug-ins since The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and on the Netflix series, House of Cards. Adding an editorial and visual effects team at his facility in Hollywood, Mindhunter was the first time that the auteur established his own in-house DI. Weidt was brought on to lead color. "It's important to note, we had a lot more time to work on this show than most grades," Weidt pointed out during a special HDR presentation at Hollywood's Dolby Cinema Old Vine theatre. He was given a simple brief: The show was set in the late 70s, centered on the FBI inter- views of serial killers. "The 70's and serial killers backdrop brought to mind David Fincher's Zodiac, which is an absolutely brilliant movie; a masterpiece in terms of both content and color," he says. "The 70s has a distinct color palette. You say 70's' and everyone already has an image" he continues. Street photog- raphers William Eggleston and Stephen Shore are personal sources of inspiration for initial color grading. Post and edit began as production rolled in Pittsburgh. Dailies were usually available to Fincher by the following day. The production used FotoKem's nextLAB dailies system and the PIX asset and data management and delivery platform. Due to overlapping shoot and post production schedules, "David looked at things on his iPad for two-thirds of the season," says Weidt, explaining that he had a complex rendering process that allowed him to manage new HDR foot- age as well as sending regular correc- tions from Fincher to view in SDR. The Baselight workflow file was separated into two timelines, one for any creative color adjustments, and another that had stabilizations and lens emulations ap- plied. Weidt would daisy-chain them, run it through the Dolby Vision HDR profes- sional tools, which automatically take his XML trims, and using that, create offline files to view on an iPad or monitor. "All you really need to do is add a trim pass layer to each shot, then hit analyze. It might take 40 minutes to analyze the whole hour's episode. You come back, and you have your SDR version. It's done, except that you are able to then do lift/ gamma/gain, or some saturation adjust- ments on the trim pass. I found that may- be 85 percent of the time it looked like there wasn't really anything to do. Out of the box, it's pretty amazing." He continues that, "You don't want to grade with both monitors, because you'll go nuts. You have to learn to accept that the REC 709 compared to the HDR is going to look more dull." Weidt says that Fincher's color design for Mindhunter was heavily influenced by the organic palette of several classic films, such as McCabe and Mrs. Miller, All the President's Men and the more chromatic yet grittier look of The French Connection. They also wanted a low contrast, information-rich picture, and had first experimented with low contrast optical filtration on set but preferred in the end to "set up the digital chain in a way that Fincher was getting the type of image that he wanted. "Low contrast does not mean low detail," Weidt carefully points out. That required a camera with outstand- COLOR GRADING NETFLIX'S MINDHUNTER A LOOK AT THE SHOW'S UNIQUE HDR LOOK AND WORKFLOW D BY DAVID ALEXANDER WILLIS (L-R) Weidt, Dolby's Thomas Graham and Netflix's Chris Clark at a recent HDR presentation in Hollywood. Weidt

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