‘Aadai’ and ‘Andhaghaaram’ Graded With Davinci Resolve Studio by G. Balaji5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Blackmagic Design today announced India based digital cinema designer and colourist G. Balaji used DaVinci Resolve Studio to grade the recent Indian hit film Aadai and the upcoming Andhaghaaram.
Working on dozens of Indian feature films and TV shows, Balaji started his career as a film editor before moving to DIT and colourist work. Since 2015 he has used DaVinci Resolve Studio on more than 30 films for both colour correction in post production and on set dailies work.
Aadai is a hit thriller film that was released for theatrical distribution in India and across global streaming networks in 2019. The film follows a free spirited girl, Kamini, who had become famous creating Internet prank videos. One night, she gets the shock of her life when she finds herself alone and naked in an abandoned building after a late night party and is forced to face her past.
Even though a dark thriller, Balaji was tasked with creating a vibrant, colorful feel to the main character regardless of the dangerous situations and grim locations she finds herself in. In particular, Balaji had to ensure that Kamini’s skin tones were in contrast to the gray abandoned building she found herself in, while at the same time ensure the audience felt she was in a very dangerous and hostile environment.
“With the film, we had to stay true to the cinematographer’s aesthetics and visual style and intent in which he shot the film. Soft contrast and more vibrant colours made sure the viewer would relate to it as if it were larger than life. The biggest challenge we had to overcome was how to manage the face and flesh tone of the lead consistently throughout the film,” Balaji explained. “To do this, we needed the main actress’s skin to pop out and used a teal and orange look, with the skin in the orange zone and rest of the gray building in the teal zone.”
To create a vibrant look for the lead character, he relied on DaVInci Resolve’s face refinement OpenFX plugin heavily to soften the face, pop out the look of her eyes and maintain consistent skin tones. He was able to automatically analyse and track the character’s face, with the feature recognising the face’s outline and structure and then being able to grade her face separately from the rest of the scene.
Beyond setting the look for Kamini, Balaji was tasked with creating a sense of grim danger around the actress. “We used Resolve’s film emulsion effect with Resolve’s curves feature to draw the attention of the audience to danger. The curves editor allowed me to work quickly and be able to completely control the creation of a warm look that was different from the look and feel of the lead. We created a single node with the look we wanted and then increased and decreased the look using Resolve’s key output level to match each shot, which was really useful,” he continued.
With the film, Balaji wanted to break the stereotype of how India is shown.
“India is a land of vivid colours and we wanted to enhance them and show it. We did a film called Aandavan Kattalai, where we treated the colours very subtly, whereas in Aadai we pushed it to vibrant. We had a wide spectrum of blues, reds and oranges in both these films, and with Resolve, we used the hue vs sat curves with an built in unique colour waveform to check which of the colours peaked, thereby controlling them to our need,” he said.
Balaji also used DaVinci Resolve Studio on the upcoming dark drama Andhaghaaram. The film follows a blind conjurer’s struggle for survival, a washed up cricketer’s fight for deliverance and a desolate psychiatrist’s quest for reclamation that lead them all to a labyrinth of obscurity while their lives are intertwined in a web of deceit, dismay and darkness.
“I try not to approach these various projects I work on as different films, but rather as different genres with different colour palettes. From neutral nature based visuals to teal and orange to details in deep shadows. With Resolve, I have all the different tools I need to create whatever look I need, and rely on features like Frame.io integration for review, adjustment clip for creating specific looks for a set of clips at one go, image stabilisation in the edit page and the new neural engine features like up scaling footage,” he explained.
“Davinci Resolve allows independent filmmakers like me to move from editorial to digital cinematography to colourist. The accessibility, price range and varied tool sets are not possible with any other software,” Balaji finished.
About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, colour correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.
Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci colour correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.