Blackmagic Design today announced that the first season of streaming service Peacock’s “Twisted Metal” was graded by Senior Colorist Charles Bunnag at post production house Light Iron, part of the Panavision group of companies. Bunnag used DaVinci Resolve Studio editing, grading, visual effects (VFX) and audio post production software, as well as DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, for the final color grade of the show.
“Twisted Metal” is a high octane action comedy based on an original take by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Zombieland) and written by Michael Jonathan Smith (Cobra Kai). The series is about John Doe (Anthony Mackie), a motor mouthed outsider offered a chance at a better life, but only if he can successfully deliver a mysterious package across a post apocalyptic wasteland. Based on the classic video game, it also stars Stephanie Beatriz, Samoa Joe, with Will Arnett and Thomas Haden Church.
Always interested in as much background as possible as he begins a new project, Bunnag wasn’t familiar with the video game series, but immediately began his research. “I haven’t played video games since I was a kid, so I wasn’t familiar with the IP, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that many of my friends, colleagues, even my sister in law, were fans of the series,” said Bunnag. “I learned more about the game, and as I started looking at some of the dailies, I saw that Anthony Mackie was giving a surprisingly humorous performance. At this point, I decided to just go on instinct as I began to grade. In my first session with MJ [showrunner Michael Jonathan Smith] I came to understand that the idea for the show was simply to have a good time.”
“MJ wanted a world full of contrast, saturation, color separation, and anything we could do to make the images more fun, while helping us focus on the characters and do some world building,” continued Bunnag, who found the OFX plugins in DaVinci Resolve Studio to be instrumental in creating the look. “Glow, Aperture Diffraction, Light Rays and Lens Flares all became useful when we had to find solutions for shots that didn’t match because of constantly changing weather conditions in New Orleans. Frame Replacer and Optical Flow were used to get rid of light flickers, fog, haze, and even some rain. I also used Texture Pop to help make some of the nastier characters more… unpleasant.”
Bunnag enjoyed the challenges of the show, both in the sheer volume of shots that comprise the action storyline, but also in the ever changing conditions under which some sequences were shot. “The opening of episode 110, which really begins at the end of episode 109, has a mix of shots with cloudy skies, overcast skies, flat lighting, harsh, directional lighting, skies with big fluffy clouds, and skies with no clouds at all,” continued Bunnag. “This confetti of weather and lighting conditions concludes with a final confrontation between Quiet (Stephanie Beatriz) and Agent Stone (Thomas Haden Church). This scene, unlike all the preceding action, is made up of mostly medium and close up shots with the two actors exchanging dialogue, all under consistent, direct sunlight.”
Bunnag felt he could anchor the scene here, using the natural and consistent lighting to inform the earlier action, and help manage the visual nature of the changing conditions. “My thought was to grade the beginning of the scene at the end of 109 to feel like early ish morning, and then use the chaos of the battle in the beginning of 110 to allow us to transition the look to late morning/bright midday during the final confrontation between Quiet and Agent Stone,” he said. The slow transition helped smooth the sequence, bringing a visual focus to the final confrontation.
Though he had early conversations with cinematographer James McMillan about the look of the show, Bunnag was given free rein to do a first episode pass based on his own instincts. But despite the free rein, he also understood he needed to create a look that worked for all of the creatives. “As much as I have my own sensibilities, I don’t think it’s my place to enforce a look or style on anyone. I think I can use my experience to help guide or suggest ideas, but that is always done in the spirit of helping our fellow creatives achieve the best version of their vision,” Bunnag concluded.
“Twisted Metal” is now streaming on Peacock.
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