Pablo Comes to ‘Pemberley’ for Christmas TV Mini-Series

‘Death Comes to Pemberley’, one of the most eagerly anticipated programs in the UK’s Christmas TV schedule this year, was entirely post-produced at LipSync Post in London, with color grading and deliverables carried out on one of the facility’s three Quantel Pablo color correction and finishing systems by Senior Colourist, Stuart Fyvie, who completed the grade on all three one hour episodes in just nine days.

QuantelBased on the novel by PD James, ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ was written as a sequel to Jane Austen’s classic novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’. ‘Pemberley’ is co-production of BBC Drama Productions, Origin Pictures and Screen Yorkshire, and was directed by Daniel Percival (Waking the Dead, Strike Back, Hunted, Crossing the Lines). Set six years after ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in 1803, the dramatization combines the best of classic British costume drama with a murder-mystery theme. The series will air as three one hour episodes between Christmas and the New Year on BBC1 in the UK, with international distribution to follow in 2014.

“This is proper top-end TV – high end drama; the kind of thing the BBC does so brilliantly – mini-films with feature film production values,” said Stuart Fyvie “It’s a logical extension of the kind of work LipSync does for movies – but just with not as much time available so you have to crack through the grade.

“I sat down on the Pablo with the Director of Photography, Steve Lawes (Sherlock Holmes, Hunted, The Street, Skellig, Strike Back), initially to set up looks for certain scenes – ‘blocking’ the grade – daylight, afternoon, evening, day for night etc – laying down broad strokes. We then went through a second pass to smooth it all out across all the scenes – it’s an iterative process. DOPs love working with us at LipSync because they’re in charge and whatever they want to achieve, we have the tools and experience to deliver it, all in a relaxed atmosphere that’s naturally conducive to the creative process.

“Pablo is a fine colour correction system, and it’s perfect in attended sessions. What it also uniquely offers us is a great workflow; I can make subclips and replace shots, and I can edit on Pablo – it has really solid editing tools that I invariably need in grading sessions. Equally importantly, when you’ve finished the job on Pablo, it’s finished – clients can leave with their deliverables. On other systems, you have to wait for the render after the grading session, which also locks up the system, so you can’t then get on with the next job until it’s finished. With Pablo it will import and export in the background while you’re grading, saving further time. All this made it possible for us to grade the three episodes of ‘Pemberley’ in just three days each,” Fyvie concluded.

“‘Pemberley’ was mostly shot on location in stately homes – Castle Howard, Harewood House, Chatsworth House – rich, ‘contrasty’ settings,” said DOP Steve Lawes “Lighting those kind of spaces to any extent is not practical for a production of this size, so I modelled my approach on a technique favoured by the Dutch Old Masters, using contained pools of light and taking advantage of bounced natural sunlight coming in through large windows. I used ARRI Alexa cameras throughout, which are particularly good for low-light night scenes – often illuminated with just candlelight. I had a Sony OLED monitor on-set and used the same LUTs when we went into the grade at LipSync, so I knew exactly where we were starting from. When working with colourists, the most important thing to me is that they can get the results we want out of the system quickly and intuitively, and Stuart Fyvie and his Pablo certainly delivered this. Stuart also brought a welcome ‘fresh eye’ to the material and looked at it from a story-telling point of view; it’s not just about the colour.”

‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ will air on BBC 1 in primetime on Dec. 26, 27, and 28.

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