Colourist used DaVinci Resolve’s tools to desaturate sequences in the sci-fi film.

Company 3 has used DaVinci Resolve for color grading four different versions of Ridley Scott’s much-anticipated Prometheus with colourist Stephen Nakamura aiming to desaturate sequences in the film that were already minimal in color. The 3D prequel to Scott’s landmark Alien was shot by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, ASC.

“The filmmakers’ vision was of a burnt, almost ashen-like look. Everything had to be muted and cold looking,” said Nakamura, who also worked on Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, “but the actors still needed to maintain their human qualities, and be seen in warm light without causing the darkness around them to appear muddy.”

Nakamura employed DaVinci Resolve’s tracking tools and Power Windows with its aperture correction feature to emphasise key objects in the frame. “Ridley likes to make use of the aperture correction feature to subtly enhance the sense that the images have a more limited depth of field. It helps direct the viewer’s eye right to a specific person or object without looking like a special effect.”

“Interestingly, aperture correction that worked well in 3D viewing situations did not work as well in 2D,” Nakamura explains. “The 3D glasses act as sort of a softening filter so that the amount of sharpness that looks subtle and natural under those conditions can look extreme when watching the film in 2D without glasses.” Because of Resolve’s node-based setup, he added, “it was not that complicated, for the 2D version, to go through the footage and just selectively pull back on the sharpening effect without affecting the rest of the image.”

Resolve was also used extensively to prepare the film for exhibition in a variety of the 3D venues. Company 3 built look up tables (LUTs) within Resolve to partially translate the work done for the lower brightness systems and create an additional master designed to make the most of the greater contrast range offered by the higher brightness projection. 

“That worked fairly well,” said Nakamura, “but it still required us to go through and make some shot to shot adjustments for the brighter 3D display and again for the even brighter 2D version. It definitely helps that the Resolve lets me isolate and adjust every correction individually.”