The cast of The Faceless Lady stand in an old castle courtyard in front of a table

Meta’s The Faceless Lady VR Series Graded with DaVinci Resolve Studio

Bicoastal post production workflow completed using Blackmagic Cloud.

Blackmagic Design today announced that Supervising Colorist Jeff Sousa of Brooklyn, NY based post studio Dungeon Beach used DaVinci Resolve Studio for color grading “The Faceless Lady,” Meta’s first live action VR television series. With Los Angeles based post house Light Sail VR hosting the project, Sousa relied on Blackmagic Cloud to collaborate with the Light Sail VR team while grading six 22 minute episodes of 8K stereo content.

In the series, available in Meta Horizon Worlds, six contestants converge on an old Irish castle to compete in a series of games, with the winner inheriting the estate. However, they soon find themselves trapped on the grounds by a vengeful ghost, the Faceless Lady, and must unravel a centuries old mystery before they end up becoming the next permanent tenants.

“During the grade, I wore a Meta Quest 3 headset and monitored in its native P3-D65 gamma 2.2 color space, often driving live sessions where the director, DP, and producers also watched in their own Quest headsets,” explained Sousa. “We wanted the show to have a creepy undertone without being too ‘looky.’ We added blue/green into the shadows using the primaries but with the node set to HDR mode to take advantage of the extended range for even more tonal separation. The gain was rolled warm, and the gamma pushed until skin tones sat back on the skin tone line. From there, we used the channel mixer luma keyed to the mid tones to skew the skin towards yellow.”

Grading in DaVinci Resolve Studio, leveraging Blackmagic Cloud, and being part of a collaborative workflow increased Sousa’s bandwidth as a colorist. “Instead of wasting clicks reconforming to each new version of VFX shots as they came in, the online editor already had the latest version placed in the timeline for me,” he said. “I was honestly a bit spoiled. Whenever the VFX department created a luma matte to assist in targeted color correction, such as an alpha for a knife prop or a computer monitor in a moving shot, they would place the matte directly inside my node tree on Resolve’s color page. I could easily find which shots had mattes by using the available matte node clip filter and hit any notes they had, such as deepening a blood stain, etc.”

According to Sousa, one of biggest challenges when grading for stereo is duplicating Power Windows between eyes. “If there is a difference in brightness as you dodge and burn, the result can look blurry and even induce motion sickness. I created a custom node tree on Resolve’s color page where any shape I wanted on the left eye was automatically copied to the same position on the right eye. This worked fine for most shots, but depending on the depth, I manually adjusted the disparity at times, and I leveraged the node sizing pan parameter to horizontally offset the right eye’s copy of the left’s alpha matte, monitoring in headset until I watched the stereo mismatch disappear,” he explained.

“I took advantage of the compound clip functionality to house this node tree, which had eight preset node clusters to create stereo Power Windows,” he added. “This compound clip was itself the first node of my master tree. This was helpful because when copying the grade from another shot, I could enable ‘preserve number of nodes: 1’ which wouldn’t overwrite its shot specific Power Windows. I could relight each shot on its own terms but still achieve shot balancing by copying over similar grades. For the times I wanted to replicate a specific Power Window I made on another shot, I’d open the source’s compound clip with ‘display node graph’ and drag and drop the specific adjustments onto the target shot’s compound clip nodes.”

Another challenge when grading in VR is not being able to leverage split screen gallery stills to achieve matching. “This is due to the way Nobe Display, a virtual display plugin, pipes out Resolve’s signal to your headset, and not being able to see the side by side as you do in traditional grading makes it hard to match skin tones or skies, etc.,” noted Sousa. “To work around this, I leveraged Resolve’s multiple playheads. I’d often place one playhead at the hero shot of a scene, another playhead at the shot I was matching to, and another at the shot I was matching from. This allowed me to quickly flash to different shots and make a quick matching move before my eyes had time to adapt. It was also a way for me to navigate the timeline without needing to remove my Quest headset.”

Sousa concluded, “I’ve had the honor of serving as Light Sail VR’s colorist on close to a dozen projects over the past three years, including its past two collaborations with CryptTV. ‘The Faceless Lady’ is exciting because it’s the first longform VR narrative with the production value of a prestige television show. Additionally, working in the same Resolve project with other high caliber artists was my favorite part of the project. I’ve been grading for more than a decade in Resolve, alone. To see other users inside my very same project almost feels like discovering a single player game is actually a multiplayer game.”

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