House of Cards, a US political drama which features on Netflix, released its
second season to subscribers in 4k Ultra HD. Laura Jans-Fazio, Lead Colourist at
Deluxe Entertainment Services’ Encore, the company handling the show’s post
production, used a Baselight TWO system and Blackboard control surface to
grade the uncompressed 4k footage.
Working directly with Jans-Fazio on the grade was Co-Producer Peter
Mavromates and Post Supervisor Hameed Shaukat.
A product of FilmLight, a company which develops colour grading systems, image
processing applications and workflow tools, Blackboard is a control surface
product which provides functions to simplify the creation of complex grades and
effects. FilmLight’s Baselight range is designed to deliver the necessary power
needed for intensive grading, with Baselight TWO specified to cope with high
definition video, 2K commercials and longform work.
Using Baselight, Jans-Fazio was able to achieve sophisticated colour and
composite control in real time, allowing clients to view results immediately. The
floating-point processing function allowed her to expand her creativity – for
example, windows which appeared blown out, could be graded to show detail
then composited into the rest of the scene.
“Baselight has so many features and the fact that it works in floating-point
processing gives me image quality for a pristine picture every time. We often
used multiple shapes in a single shot, and being able to do that in one layer in
Baselight was a real time-saver. We could also composite through VFX mattes,
and do monitor replacements, in real time,’ said Jans-Fazio.
The grade aligns with Director David Fincher’s vision for the show which included
steering away from over-saturated colours and maintaining the palette
throughout to highlight the story’s tense, internal political intrigues.
Fincher and DOP Igor Martinovic were able to provide Jans-Fazio with feedback
using a digital collaboration tool by PIX, a company which provides collaboration
and project management systems for professionals in the entertainment
Morgan Strauss, Senior Vice President of Encore Operations, commented, “As
episodes were completed, they were uploaded to PIX, which allowed the
producer, director and DP to view content on calibrated Sony OLED monitors.
They returned their feedback, which we could extract directly into Baselight, and
Jans-Fazio finalised the look and delivered the files to Netflix. It was essential to
maximise this asynchronous collaborative process and, along with Baselight’s
sophisticated toolset, it meant we could fully realise the creative needs of the
producers and DP.’
Wolfgang Lempp, Co-Founder of FilmLight, concluded, “Television episodics are
always a real challenge for grading, because you have very little time to finesse
the grade despite the length of the material. The challenges were compounded
on House of Cards because of the need to work at 4k uncompressed. We built
huge processing power into Baselight just to meet this sort of everyday
challenge—so customers like Laura Jans-Fazio and the production and post-
production team at Encore are not wasting time.’