Chinese Blockbuster The Battle at Lake Changjin and Its Sequel Graded with DaVinci Resolve Studio
Blackmagic Design today announced that the highest grossing Chinese film, “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” and its sequel, “The Battle at Lake Changjin II,” were both graded by the colorist team led by Zhang Gen of Beijing Shangtian Film and Media using DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software and DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel.
Co directed and co produced by renowned Chinese directors Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam, and starring Wu Jing and Jackson Yee, “The Battle at Lake Changjin” depicts the story of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) fighting the U.S. forces at Lake Changjin, also known as Chosin Reservoir, during the Korean War. Its sequel is about the PVA soldiers’ attack on the Sumun Bridge, a crucial bridge on the retreat route of American troops.
Before the two films, Zhang Gen had graded a large number of popular Chinese blockbusters in DaVinci Resolve Studio, including “The Eight Hundred,” “Legend of The Demon Cat,” “Detective Chinatown 3,” “Hidden Man,” “The Bravest” and “My People, My Homeland.”
Grading “The Battle at Lake Changjin” was a race against time. Shooting ended in late May 2021, and the film was scheduled for release on August 12, 2021 at the time. “As the last stage of post production, there was even less time left for the colorists. Meanwhile, the first film was co directed by multiple directors and filmed by different crews using a variety of cameras. So, the biggest challenge was to meet the requirements by each director and also create a uniform look for the film against a very tight schedule,” said Zhang.
He continued, “DaVinci Resolve Studio’s collaboration features were vital to complete all the work on such a tight schedule, which allowed multiple artists to work on the same timeline simultaneously, dramatically improving our efficiency. For instance, when the assistant adjusted the edit, the colorist was still able to work with the director on color correction.”
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Zhang and his color correction team graded the footage from different directors respectively and did all they could to make sure each director was satisfied with the results. After that, all the shots were put together according to the storyline and necessary adjustments were made to match the color of each scene.
It was easier to unify the look for the sequel because director Tsui Hark completed the film for the most part. Zhang’s work was more about playing up the details the director wanted to emphasize in every shot, for example the nuances in acting as well as the pressure on characters the director wanted to enhance with colors. “A good example was the battle at the pump house scene. The director hammered home the fire’s impact on the scene, and when the lights were out in the house, the scene had to be much dimmer just to create a proper ambience,” said Zhang.
DaVinci Resolve Studio’s HDR tools were used extensively for the two films. “After setting up the color space for the timeline, the HDR tools gave us very precise control over a specific zone, so we were able to adjust the density and temperature of the sky without affecting the ground and skin tones on one node. This was a huge timesaver as we didn’t have to create mattes for different regions,” Zhang explained.
“I also like the clip color feature that sets clips to different colors because each VFX shot had many versions. With clip color, it was very convenient to identify and manage these versions,” he said.
After the support for HDR Vivid, an HDR video standard formulated by the UWA Alliance, was added to DaVinci Resolve Studio 18, Zhang Gen also created the HDR Vivid versions of “The Battle at Lake Changjin” and many other Chinese blockbusters using DaVinci Resolve Studio.
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