Gritty Ukrainian movie benefits from flexible Baselight pipeline, supporting fast delivery to enable premiere at Cannes Film Festival
Donbass, a new movie by Ukrainian writer/director Sergei Loznitsa, is to be shown as a work-in-progress version at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Post-production was to a tight timescale – shooting only wrapped in March – and Bucharest facility Digital Cube used a Baselight grading suite to ensure delivery while retaining full creative control over the look.
Donbass is a region in eastern Ukraine. The setting of Loznitsa’s movie is a lawless area, with criminal gangs in conflict with each other, with Ukrainian forces and with the Russian army. The inevitable result is violence, death and the collapse of the civilian society.
The movie was shot on locations in Ukraine with concurrent post at Digital Cube in Bucharest. DoP Oleg Mutu RCS, worked with Digital Cube CTO Sebastian Plamadeala and colourist Claudiu Doaga to create a highly efficient colour pipeline that started with the DIT grading on-set. The DIT and Mutu would then spend the evenings grading and exchanging ideas with finishing colourist Doaga. CDL files were sent to Digital Cube, ensuring that not only did Doaga have a strong basis on which to work, but editor Danielus Kokanauskis could also access graded footage in his Avid editing software with no render time.
Director Sergei Loznitsa said, “It’s been an absolute pleasure for me to work with Digital Cube on Donbass. Baselight is superb, and Claudiu Doaga is a brilliant and dedicated professional, always able to anticipate my requests and to contribute his vision and ideas.”
DoP Oleg Mutu added, “I love working with Baselight because of the fast responsiveness and precise toolset. Claudiu and I have worked on many other projects: he understands the direction I want to go, he builds towards that, and we reach a colour decision that is way over our initial expectations. He is the best I have ever worked with!”
Doaga commented on the practicalities of using Baselight for this project. “Because of the very tight schedule for grading, I relied on the amazing speed of the Baselight hardware and software,” he said. “The colour pipeline was straightforward: I took the CDL information from the Avid timeline straight into Baselight.
“I used a film LUT for a cinematic look, combined with a blended layer of scanned film grain. I created a cold metallic look in the blacks combined with a colourful gamma, brightened skin tones for the actors, and added a vignette layer to enhance depth separation.”
Using LogC dailies, the team were able to retain full colour flexibility throughout the edit. Once pictures were locked, Doaga was able to import the CDL files and camera LUTs into Baselight quickly and simply. It then needed just a few minor adjustments to create the final deliverables.
Donbass is the opening title and part of the official selection in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival. Each year this screen shows 20 original and visionary movies, selected by the festival, which seek to tell their stories in non-traditional ways. Typically coming from outside the movie mainstream, these movies benefit from exposure at Cannes to achieve international recognition.
DoP Oleg Mutu RCS, who is famed for shooting Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Beyond the Hills (Mobra Films), both winners at Cannes, is on his third collaboration with Loznitsa following In the Fog and A Gentle Creature, both of which were previously represented in main competition at Cannes.
Heino Deckert is producing Donbass through Germany’s film production company, Ma.ja.de Fiction, in co-production with Denys Ivanov through Ukraine’s Arthouse Traffic, Marianne Dumoulin and Jacques Bidou through France’s JBA Production. Marc van Warmerdam through the Dutch Graniet Film, Peter Warnier through the Dutch Wild at Art, and Cristian Nicolescu through Romania’s Digital Cube. The Dutch company, Atoms & Void, is the associate producer of Donbass while Eurimages and CNC’s World Cinema Support are supporting the project. The budget for the production is 2.5 m EURO. Post-production takes place mostly in Bucharest at Digital Cube but also in Amsterdam and Halle.
About Avanpost Digital Cube
Avanpost Digital Cube, Eastern Europe’s most comprehensive post-production facility launched in 2010. It employs an exceptional team of more than 50 creative artists, sound & video engineers and the best colourists and project managers in the region to serve clients through the film and TV finishing process. The company’s portfolio is in itself a recommendation of what its teams can achieve. Avanpost Digital Cube is Netflix and HBO Europe’s preferred vendors for the region.
In addition, this year, Digital Cube and Avanpost will give an award in FRONTIÈRES Platform at the Marché du Film section at Cannes, consisting of 150.000 euros in post production services to the selected project for Fantasia Genre films.
FilmLight develops unique colour grading systems, image processing applications and workflow tools that are transforming film and video post-production and setting new standards for quality, reliability and performance. The company’s streamlined metadata-based workflows employ robust products with cutting edge creative tools, allowing creative professionals to work at the forefront of the digital media revolution. Founded in 2002, FilmLight’s core business is centred on the innovation, implementation and support of its products—including Baselight, Prelight and Daylight—in leading production companies, post-production facilities and film/TV studios around the world. FilmLight is headquartered in London, where its research, design and manufacturing operations are centred. Sales and support are conducted through regional service centres and qualified partners worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.filmlight.ltd.uk