This is how blockbuster `Dangal` got its color palette right
New Delhi [India], Jan 09 (ANI): Two years after the huge success of 'PK', Aamir Khan is back with another Christmas release – 'Dangal' and has already become the highest Bollywood grosser in no time.
'Dangal' was released in a record number of 5,300 screens worldwide, making it one of the widest releases ever for an Indian feature film, and Prime Focus the delivered Digital Intermediate (DI) services for the movie.
During pre-production of the film, DoP Setu (Satyajit Pande) and Prime Focus' colorist Ashirwad Hadkar conducted a host of tests for skin tones and costumes to finalize the principal color palette for the film.
Speaking on the same, DoP Setu (Satyajit Pande), said, "The majority of the film was shot using natural light in order to make it look as raw and real as possible. The color palette was derived from the story setting and milieu. The film starts in a small village in Haryana in the 80s and ends at the Commonwealth Games Delhi in 2010 – that's a fairly large and intriguing canvas. For the first part of the story set in a village, a few factors were a given – like the men wearing white or various shades of it – while the colors came from the dresses of the women."
"The idea behind thefirst part of the film was to keep the sources white hot and the skin tones yellow-warm right from the opening fight sequence in the office to 'Dangals' in the open arena where we had white hot skies contrasting with the warmth of the mud. For night sequences, a consistent bulb warm tone was maintained", he added.
Another important part of the film, albeit very short, was Mahavir's flashback sequence. The challenge was to come up with a vintage look without compromising on Mahavir's sculpted physique during his youth. It was difficult to strike such a fine balance but the DI team was successful in coming up with a grade that was neither gimmicky nor too subtle.
Setu said, "Since we hardly shoot chronologically, the transition between the scenes is apparent only at the editing stage. It is only after we see the film without sound in a DI suitethat we get a sense of the flow of the film."The DI tools help smoothen the flow between scenes and enhance the emotional quotient, making the overall viewing experience seamless."
Another issue faced by Setu was the changing light conditions, which presented its own set of challenges. The training sequence of the Phogat sisters began as early as 5am in the morning and at times much before sunrise, and shooting would sometimes continue till late evening, resulting in changing color temperatures.
By adjusting color temperatures between the highlights and the shadows and seamlessly matching the varying quality of light, the DI team was able to accurately match the lighting. For one such morning sequence on a terrace, selective mattes for the VFX plates were shot at thelocation to which Ashirwad applied the required color effects in order for the foreground to sit seamlessly with the background plate.
"For the Commonwealth wrestling sequence, we wanted to give a realistic feel to the wrestlers and arena," said Setu. "Multiple cameras and lenses and constant change of angle created variations in the texture of the final image. The DI process in this regard helped bring a consistency to the images.The grade was always concentrated towards creating a realistic, earthy feel while keeping the action and the characters foregrounded."
"You should do all you can during the shoot. For me,color grading isn't a 'corrective' process. It's about taking the visual story forward," continued Setu. "More important than matching, it's about enhancing the various elements and make the narrative more fluid and free-flowing."
Talking about his experience of working with Prime Focus, Setu said, "Ashirwad has done a great job with the grading and I really value his contribution to the film. The great thing about coming back to Prime is that I've seen it grow over the years to this huge facility with great cameras and post setup. It's like coming back to meet old friends and it's always a great experience."
Sharing details of Prime Focus' color grading work for his movie 'Dangal', Director Nitesh Tiwari said, "We did extensive homework and research on the locations, production design and costumes of 'Dangal'. We also ensured coordination between production design and costumes as the entire film was shot with a specific colour palette in mind. Our brief to Ashirwad (by Setu) was to make the shots appear beautiful yet realistic. There was this one particular sequence for which we shot the village exterior during the night but while editing we realized that it would be better for the storytelling if we had a night shot of the courtyard as well. Now we could have filmed a night shot of the courtyard in the final schedule but by that time the production design of the courtyard had changed since the narrative had progressed over three decades."
Tiwari added, "So we chose an early morning shot of the courtyard which we had shot previously and converted that into a night shot. Post grading, it was impossible to make out that it was actually an early morning shot. The DI team at Prime Focus has delivered a top class output. They are extremely professional and talented and yet good fun to work with. I had a great time working with them."
Produced under the banner of UTV Motion Picturesand Aamir Khan Productions, 'Dangal' opened to unanimous critical acclaim and record-breaking box-office success. (ANI)