Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Big Buoy and Smoke & Mirrors’ Greatest Grades of 2018

Production Agency
London, UK
Check out the favourite jobs from the post house’s colouring team

Big Buoy/Smoke & Mirrors' Mark Horrobin, Mark Meadows and Jonny Tully pick their standout jobs of 2018. 

Mark Horrobin - Head of Colour

My favourite piece to grade this year has to have been Range Rover’s ‘Dragon Challenge’ film. The challenge itself was completely bonkers, beginning with 11.3km worth of hairpin turns on a very windy Himalayan road and ending with a hair raising 45 degree climb up the steps of a Chinese mountain to ‘Heavens Gate’.

From a grading point of view, the mountain conditions created a very changeable light, as the mist was there one minute and gone the next over a multi-day shoot. This, married with a wide variety of cameras, proved challenging from a continuity perspective.  

The 60-second TVC was graded in a much more aggressively commercial style while the longer documentary film required a little more naturalistic approach. This suited its documentary nature and was more forgiving as far as matching went.

Jonny Tully - Colourist

Earlier in the year, I graded nine Snow Patrol videos for the band’s new album, ‘Wilderness’. They were all quite different videos, so each grade was creative in its own way. ‘Life on Earth’ was a mixture of C300, mobile phone footage and some incredible NASA archive material. The C300 parts were shot at the European Space Agency in Holland, so it was like grading someone aboard the ISS. We tried to make the footage look more like the 16mm archive bits to help everything blend together, giving the video quite a distinctive look. 

The video for ‘Don’t Give In’ had a nice set build with performers running, dancing and jumping around a huge ramp whilst the band performed. The DP, Laura Merians, had done a great job and created a really interesting dark space with beautiful lines of light. Laura also shot ‘A Dark Switch’ which again had some really interesting set ups. The whole video is shot in only a few rooms but each was transformed into something very different with lighting and then we built on that in the grade. The other one that stands out is ‘Soon’ which is incredibly personal to the band’s frontman, Gary Lightbody. The video features him sitting with his Dad who suffers from Dementia whilst they reminisce watching old home videos: an incredibly moving music video.

My other highlight of the year has to the be the Mind charity film, ‘WIT H IN’, created by directing trio, Crowns & Owls. It was shot on 35mm and scanned at 4k, so there was plenty to play with in the grade. The guys are always very open to pushing the look and I think we found something that perfectly suits the final film. Watching it back now, it’s such a powerful piece and I feel proud to have been a part of it.

Mark Meadows - Colourist

L’Oréal Paris teamed up with a group of eleven British ambassadors and influencers including Cheryl, Neelam Gill, Alexina Graham, Nadine Baggott, and Lydia Millen, to celebrate and explore their unique, sometimes complex, but ultimately fascinating relationship they have with their hair. ‘A World Of Care For Your Hair’ features eleven individual films and one hero film, created by McCann London and photographed and directed by Rankin. 

The challenge with this job was managing the coloured backgrounds, skin tones, clothing and hair, creating separation between these elements to craft something glossy and stylish. Three cameras were used in production, resulting in three slightly different colour outputs on screen. Merging these elements was tricky, but finding a solution made it all worthwhile.

Additionally, each background had to be an exact colour, as it represented a specific L'Oréal bottle. Achieving this without creating halos around the subjects and maintaining the correct colour in their clothes and skin proved difficult, but I am very happy with what was achieved.

I always enjoy beauty work and was in my element during this project, also seeing the advert air on the iconic Piccadilly Circus screens made it one of the most memorable jobs of the year for me. 

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