“Avatar: The Way of Water” graded with Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve tool

Blackmagic Design has shared a recent interview with Tashi Trieu, professional colorist, about his work on James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water”. The colorist did his grading process in DaVinci Resolve Studio The development of the esthetics was mainly carried out in WetaFX.

The professional was involved at the beginning of pre-production. A series of very detailed tests were carried out to achieve the best possible solutions. Shooting in stereoscopy – the 3D feel – added a higher level of difficulty. Trieu says that polarized reflections can result in different levels of brightness and texture between the eyes. That can generate gradient effects in “3D.” “I’ve never done such detailed camera tests before,” he says.

Thanks to the intermediation of WetaFX, a wide creative latitude was provided at the digital intermediate stage. Coupled with this factor, the LUT used is a simple S-curve with a basic color spectrum mapping from SGamut3.Cine to P3D65. “These two features provided flexibility in bringing different tonalities to the film,” says the colorist.

The mechanics of the work, in the interest of those involved, were simplified and automated as much as possible. The colorist created on this project, through DaVinci Resolve’s Python API, “a system to index the delivery of visual effects once they were sent to the digital intermediate, so that my editor Tim Willis (Park Road Post Production) and I could quickly import the latest versions of the shots.”

The challenges associated with the production process, highlighted by Tashi Trieu, were not only related to the stereoscopic format, but also to the high frame rate (48 f/s). “Even on a state-of-the-art workstation with four A6000 graphics processing units, it’s very difficult to guarantee real-time operation. It’s a very delicate balance between what is sustainable with SAN bandwidth and what the system is capable of decoding quickly,” details the interviewee.

The careful production and post work in the film make Trieu evoke one of the author’s favorite scenes. One in which the protagonist family is reunited with the family of the host clan. “It’s an absolutely exceptional scene. The cloudy, cold sky envelops the characters, and a dim warm light gives the images a very nice dynamic. It’s amazing how real it looks. You have to remind yourself that everything you see is generated by the artist, that nothing, beyond the performance of the characters, is real “per se”. It’s a generational leap in terms of visual effects and technology. It’s absolutely extraordinary,” concludes the artist.

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