Diving into 2016
I'm not quite sure what happened but somewhere along the way a year has passed. An exciting year it was too. I crossed over from Technicolor to MPC and worked with a whole bunch of great people I've never worked with before.
I thought I'd start this 'Year of the Monkey' by sharing a commercial I graded at the very end of 2015 which has only just been released - I think it's a beauty. It's a spot from Ogilvy & Mather for Adoda called 'LandDivers'
The TVC was directed by Joshua Neale . This is the first time that I have worked with Josh. We both faced the challenge of working from different parts of the world. I've worked remotely before but this was different, this was not a 'connected' session. This meant we needed to communicated via Skype and a series of Tiff's over numerous back and forth emails. It wasn't ideal but it could have been VERY difficult if not for the fact that Josh knew exactly what he wanted, he knew the footage and was clear with his directions. He had also sent me through a great series of references to put me in the zone. The spot had been captured beautifully by cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb. These images were stunning straight out of the camera - I kid you not. Khalid had set a look and direction for each setup and provided these to me as a series of stills. Armed with the references from Josh and the stills from Khalid I was in a good head space despite the two of them not being able to attend the session.
You may think that having the references and the stills was a little too structured and it didn't allow me any room to play but this wasn't the case at all. One of Khalid's first comments attached to the email was "I don't think we should limit Vincent from putting his touch on this spot. Just let him know that this is a guideline for what we're thinking" - this my friends is called teamwork.
The final look was very organic and we were never fighting against how the picture had been captured. Every now and then either Josh or I would simply call it; 'Too pushed' or 'It looks graded' and we would pull it back.
The TVC finishes with a stunning image of an active volcano. It was so active in fact that the crew actually needed to evacuate. No exaggeration. This shot was captured in extremely low light and we were worried that the grain would be just too heavy, especially as the pictures were going to be showing at the cinema as well as online. (Before the Force Awakens throughout China no less!)
After a fair amount of tinkering with different noise reduction levels and then periodically putting the image up in the cinema at MPC I was able to find a balance in the image so that the grain was still present, and maintaining the texture we loved, but also not resulting as a distraction to the viewer.
During the first half of the grading session editor Matt Osbourne was brought on board to put together the cutdowns from the 60 second version. I have known Matt for a while now, he is an excellent editor who I've worked with on a number of projects (He's also a hell of a nice fella) Matt was sitting in the room with me as he waited for a lock off on the 60 second version. So he started to play a bit with his cutdown ideas. In the process he asked me if I would do a temporary voice over for the different versions. I'd never done anything like that before but of course I was happy to help. It turned out that someone in the chain decided my voice actually worked pretty well for the commercial so I was asked to re-record it properly for the English version of the commercial.
Yeah, crazy right?
I went into Green Untied Music (Gum) to do my first ever voice over recording. I wasn't even nervous. Ahem, Much. Luckily I was in safe, and very experienced, hands and everyone there made me very comfortable. The studio at GUM in Shanghai is really lovely and I'd love to do it again. I need to practice my Movie trailer voice; "In a world...etc etc"
So, there you go. A Color grade, a voice over for a mighty fine commercial. Not a bad way to end the year.
Just after finishing off writing this blog post I've heard the tragic news of the passing of David Bowie. What a wonderful and incredibly inspiring man he was. Rest in Peace Mr Bowie and thank you for all of the art that you have left to us and the generations that follow.