Scene from Jacob the Baker featuring a woman walking through a misty Danish town square with a clock tower in the distance

Feature Film Jacob the Baker Shot and Graded With Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design today announced that the independent feature film “Jacob the Baker” was shot using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera, and graded in DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software.

When a young, skeptical reporter is assigned to interview the author of a bestselling book series, she discovers the incredible story of how Jacob, a fictional character, provides help and hope to countless people around the world. Based on the book series of the same name, the film was directed by Gev Miron, with cinematography by Omer Lotan. Colorist Francisco Lorite of Different by Design graded the film.

The challenge of producing “Jacob the Baker” fell to the wide ranging locations that would be necessary to tell the story. “We definitely had a lot of discussions about the cinematography prior to the shoot,” said Miron. “The main reason we had to be even more prepared than usual was that we had multiple units shooting in different countries, and we needed to make sure that everyone was on the same page, both with the visual aspects, as well as every aspect of production.”

Miron and Lotan were already longtime collaborators, and Lotan was excited by the idea of shooting such a challenging story. They chose the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K early in the process of pre production. “Both Gev and I have worked with the camera before and knew all of its advantages,” said Lotan. “I knew we would get the cinematic look we needed despite our shooting challenges. We had such a wide variety of setups to shoot, from day and night exteriors, limited space houses, interior car driving, LED panoramic stage work and green screen. With all of that I felt confident to embark on this journey using the Pocket 6K camera as our main tool for capturing the film’s visuals.”

While both Miron and Lotan were already familiar with the quality of the Blackmagic cameras, they felt it was also perfect for other reasons. “The size of the camera was one of the main reasons we decided to shoot on the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K,” added Miron. “We had to move around quickly, and in some cases shoot in locations that were small, had limited access, or were open to the public. We wanted to have a small footprint while still maintaining a high image quality, with internal recording and a RAW format. The Pocket 6K was perfect in that way, and helped us tremendously in getting the shots we needed.”

For the driving shots, the team needed to shoot 360 degree plates for the LED volume. “We mounted the camera on a car, with a gimbal, and shot 6K RAW at 60fps plates at night, driving on the road,” said Miron. “The camera performed really well under these low light circumstances, and we only needed to do slight grading to the footage before it was ready to go on the LED screens.”

“Shooting with the compact and intuitive camera, we were able to have more freedom in some very tight spaces, as well as being relatively low key in urban areas,” added Lotan. “It was critical not drawing too much attention when filming in sensitive areas, for example, the Old City of Jerusalem. But beyond that ease of use, I personally have always loved the texture of Blackmagic’s color science, and I believe it proved itself again in this project.”

A consistency in image quality and format was a key element in managing the various location shoots. Knowing no matter where it was shot that the camera original would be Blackmagic RAW was critical. “In the Danish storyline, for example, we often had to shoot available light with a combination of daylight and tungsten,” added Lotan. “Because it takes place around Christmas we also had a lot of Christmas lights in the shots, and various warm sources competing with the ambient lighting. That, combined with cool, overcast skies, made color balancing on set difficult. We spent quite a bit of time doing that in the grade, while preserving the skin tones, and maintaining a look we liked. The ability to go into the Blackmagic RAW files and make these tweaks was really helpful.”

The initial grade was created by Lotan and Miron, to satisfy some early screening needs, in DaVinci Resolve Studio. Though both filmmakers were experienced in DaVinci Resolve Studio, they were pleased to discover added flexibility in the Blackmagic RAW format. “During one of our sessions, when we battled with saving a few highlight spots in two scenes, I remember we ‘accidentally’ discovered that we could retroactively change the footage to the Generation 5 Color Science, which wasn’t out when we shot the film,” said Lotan. “One scene was the reporter driving to the interview, and the other was the Danish character strolling outside in nature, around sunset time. Both scenes were shot using only available light and by switching from Generation 4 to Generation 5 Color Science we were able to easily recover some overexposed details we thought we had lost!”

Soon after, Lorite was brought aboard to create the final look. Lorite found the process of balancing shoots from vastly different locations an interesting challenge. “The film goes around the world and every story has its own identity we need to preserve, the uniqueness of light and color, while still needing to coexist in the same movie,” said Lorite. “Working with RAW files was essential to a strong image quality, and having a ‘negative’ with more control and richer plasticity.”

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Lotan and Miron brought a collection of visual references they had gathered throughout the journey of making the film. “We had specific images from each country that gave us overall color directions. When Francisco came in, it then became a discussion on how to take what we had done and improve it,” said Miron.

Lorite was able to quickly adapt the original grade to his style of work. “I created a fixed node tree using serial and parallel nodes, then added compound nodes to organize previous corrections and incorporate them into my node tree. This was really helpful in maintaining order in the process and a cleaner workspace.”

Lorite reflected on the tools that made the grade of this unique film possible: “For this project, my favorite tool was Resolve itself, and the flexibility that it allowed us while transitioning the first pass workflow to the final grade in my suite,” said Lorite.

“A lot of Francisco’s magic came into play when we needed to make adjustments that required preserving skin tones while making adjustments to the picture,” added Miron. “The Blackmagic RAW files and his skills were instrumental in saving some of the more challenging shots that required restoring highlights, comparing the looks of shots that were filmed in different times but needed to play together in the same scene, and getting the right balance between interior and exterior in shots where the actors were filmed against windows.”

Miron enjoyed the process of working with Lorite, as they discovered the look of the final film together. “We spent a lot of time trying to nail the right look for each location, and a lot of that came through discussions about what the story is that we’re telling in each of these locations, as well as the unique look each of the locations had: weather, architecture, light quality, etc. Resolve is a great tool for exploration because it’s so intuitive and allowed us to try different things on our own, even before going into the sessions with Francisco.”

“Jacob the Baker” is now available on Prime Video.

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