Mechanical puppet Billy resembling a clown in Saw X

Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures’ Saw X Graded with DaVinci Resolve Studio

Pocket Cinema Camera 6K also used to capture the horror film’s gruesome traps.

Blackmagic Design today announced that “Saw X,” the hit horror film from Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures, was graded by Kevin Camilleri of Toronto based Urban Post Production with DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, color grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software. DP Nick Matthews also used a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K digital film camera for select scenes on the tenth and latest installment of the critically acclaimed horror franchise. The film, now in release, has taken in more than $100 million worldwide.

In the latest film in the billion dollar franchise, John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is back. The most chilling installment of the “Saw” franchise yet explores the untold chapter of Jigsaw’s most personal game. Set between the events of “Saw” and “Saw II,” a sick and desperate Kramer travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer, only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. Armed with a newfound purpose, Kramer returns to his work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way through a series of ingenious and terrifying traps. The film is directed by Kevin Greutert, written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, and produced by Oren Koules and Mark Burg.

During production, Matthews used the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K to shoot select visuals for the film’s terrifying traps, as well as to capture additional camera angles for action scenes. “The Pocket Cinema Camera 6K was used to capture some of the most iconic visuals of the film, as it played a crucial part in several of Jigsaw’s gruesome games. It was rigged like a SnorriCam to John Kramer during the blood boarding trap that placed the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K right into a waterfall of blood. I also used it to capture a number of the visuals for the film’s classic stutter frames, especially in the brain surgery trap and bone marrow trap. This meant shooting at 6 frames per second and 270 degree shutter while simultaneously ‘lens whacking’ where I’d play with removing the lens from the mount and remounting it to create light leaks similar to film roll outs,” Matthews said.

In post, Camilleri had a unique challenge for the film, as it had to look cohesive with the style of the original two films, which were shot almost two decades ago. “This film was interesting because it had such a distinct look built in from ‘Saw’ and ‘Saw II’ that we had to match. We had to go back almost 20 years and examine how the first two movies looked and how they were put together,” he explained. “Obviously, back then they shot on film, so the movies had a very unique grain structure. We wanted to emulate some of that to make it feel like ‘Saw X’ was part of that earlier history of the ‘Saw’ franchise. We relied heavily on DaVinci Resolve’s film grain tools to accomplish this. It’s a really robust toolset that allowed us to dial in the texture and grain size, while controlling whether it affected the luminance or chroma.”

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“Thanks to the tools, we were able to be very specific and go beyond a generic film look, which helped give the project more dimension and depth,” Camilleri continued. “Sometimes in this digital world, we lose some of the nuances that film gave us, like certain patterns and the noise and grains that made it feel special. Having the ability to dial that back in and make it feel natural was cool, and it really helped make ‘Saw X’ look like it fits within the franchise.”

Using DaVinci Resolve Studio and a DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel, Camilleri also helped deage some of the characters that were supposed to be ageless from the original film. “We didn’t want to do an elaborate digital deaging process but just subtly make a few tweaks to help bridge the almost twenty year gap between the films,” Camilleri explained. “Using some simple adjustments in Resolve, I controlled the sharpness in the mid tones to give more of a natural softness to skin tones.”

In addition to the color grade, Urban Post Production used DaVinci Resolve Studio for the film’s online editing, with Camilleri noting that its intuitive end to end approach for post production made it easy to drop in the film’s VFX sequences, keep timelines organized, and handle the final renders and outputs for the P3 theatrical, HDR, and Rec709 versions. With less than two weeks to complete the project’s grade, the software’s ease of use was crucial.

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