Post Magazine

July 2014

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Page 14 of 51 13 POST JULY 2014 PRIMETIME oming up on six seasons as one of TV's hottest series, ABC's multiple Emmy Award-winning com- edy, Modern Family, offers a unique look at the very "modern" lifestyles of patriarch Jay Pritchett and the families of his two grown children, Claire and Mitchell. The show, created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, has been critically acclaimed for its outstanding writing, acting, and wit, as well as noted for its distinctive "mocku- mentary" style of storytelling. Key to achieving its look is not only the shoot and use of lighting, but also the techniques and tools used later in the post production process. According to Modern VideoFilm's Aidan Stanford, colorist on Modern Family, the show is meant "to look realistic." Here, Stanford discusses how he relies on Blackmagic Design's Da Vinci Resolve to give Modern Family its trademark look. What are your challenges as colorist? "Technically, it's probably when the show travels, which they did a lot this season, and shooting in less-controlled environ- ments, like hotel lobbies, malls, schools, the beach. As great as the crew is at their jobs, they still can't control the weather." How is the look and style of Modern Family different from other TV shows? "What makes Modern Family different is the fact that the documentary-style comedy is meant to look realistic. It has a very clean, neutral look that at times can be more difficult to achieve than a show that has a heavy look. The show is shot extremely well. The creatives, such as Chris Smirnoff (producer) and Kyle We- ber (associate producer), are on-set and have a tight grip on what moments need in order to enhance a joke or capture a certain time of day, etc. So really my job is to just keep it simple and balanced and get every scene to a place where DP Jim Bagdonas (ASC) intended it to be." Can you discuss the documentary style in a bit more detail? "The look of the show is to look like there is not a look. We try to keep the docu- mentary feel while sliding in some tricks under the radar. The treatments that we give to the show are actually meant to not be noticed. More of an enhancement of what reality would look or feel like. Filmic, clean and neutral, with nice skin tones and readable shadows. "I do a lot of secondary work with highlights depending on what Jim wants. There is so much range with the Arri Alexa — which I still consider the gold standard — footage that Jim will usually have to guide me on a scene as far as how much, if any, to let the exte- rior blow out or be toned down in order to see a joke that may be happening on a street sign just outside." What type of color treatment do you apply to the show? "It's important for the show to keep its 'mockumentary' look, which is realistic. I try to stay away from any grade that makes it feel stylized or over treated. I have a few basic LUTs that I will use from time to time as needed, but for the most part it's just graded with some very sim- ple ideas in mind. Keeping the look filmic and gentle, not crushing the blacks. The only time there is a treatment given to a scene is if it happens in a dark bar, etc. But really it's enhancing the realism, not creating a look." What are some techniques you're using? "Some of the techniques used on this show are tracking a soft window on the actor's face, then using dynamics, brightening the face for the awkward glance at the camera, making sure eyes are readable. Sometime I'll use the same technique to help with a subtle gag. I use Da Vinci Resolve's interactive tracker not just to help funny moments, but also enhance the feel of a scene." What tools you are relying on most? "I rely a lot on Da Vinci Resolve's interac- tive tracker. I still think it's the best one out there. I use the custom curves on almost everything I grade. I really like how precise and adjustable the curves are. The other feature I like is being able to use a LUT in a node, either in the clip mode on the shot itself, or in the track mode, which allows me to put a correction on an entire section. The track mode is nice because when there is a room full of creatives and they want to see the whole scene with an alternate grade, I can instantly give them a before/after on every shot. Da Vinci Resolve has so many tools that make grading so quick and painless." MODERN FAMILY'S DOCUMENTARY- STYLED LOOK BY LINDA ROMANELLO MANAGING EDITOR LROMANELLO@ POSTMAGAZINE.COM A FILMIC, CLEAN AND NEUTRAL STYLE. C Colorist Aidan Stanford (above); the Modern Family cast on location in Australia (right).

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