Picking up where it left off on “The Closer,” Hollywood post facility handles post work for Shephard/Robin’s new digitally-captured crime drama.
In the continuation of a highly successful partnership begun last year, MTI Film is providing final color grading and other post-production services to Shephard/Robin Company and Warner Bros. Television for the inaugural season of the new prime-time drama Major Crimes. MTI Film first teamed with Shephard/Robin ten months ago, midway through the final season of The Closer, when that show made the switch from 35mm to digital capture.
Major Crimes, a spinoff to The Closer centering on the same Los Angeles police department unit, has gone digital from the start with cinematographers Kenneth Zunder, ASC and David A. Harp using ARRI Alexa cameras to capture principal imagery as ProRes 4:4:4 data (Log C). MTI Film processes the dailies and prepares editorial, review and back-up media at its facility in Hollywood. Following editorial, the show returns to MTI Film for final grading and conforming prior to air.
Like The Closer, Major Crimes aims to provide viewers with a portrait of the workings of a high profile crime unit in a realistic and visceral manner, and it does so, in part, through fluid camerawork and organic imagery. Zunder explains that much of the show is shot hand-held. “They're not Hollywood cops, we try to make them real detectives,” he says. “It's active. Whether in the office or on the street, we want to be in the mix, in the fray, and hand-held gives it that feel.”
Zunder notes that he does not use LUTs to apply color treatments on the set, but rather lights the set the way he wants it to look and relies on MTI Film dailies colorist Mauricio Tassara to expand upon the look based on his instructions and the rapport they developed while working on The Closer. “We don’t always have ideal conditions to view a monitor on the set and I don’t want to impose a look that might not be the best possible,” he explains. “Mauricio knows what I like and I want to give him a chance to make it better. That’s what we always strive for—to improve the show.”
The MTI dailies workflow allows ASC CDL metadata to pass through to final grading. As a result, MTI Film senior colorist Jeremy Sawyer can focus on refinement and nuance. Shephard/Robin’s Sheelin Choksey, a producer and director of the show, says that the final grade can become highly detailed. “This is television, so we want to see into people’s eyes,” he observes. “The show has a lot of great cinematography, but in the end it comes down to the close ups, and we want our people to look good.”
MTI Film’s software-based color grading system offers many more tools for perfecting such details than are available in hardware-based systems typically used to grade shows shot on film. “With all the windows that they can apply, we have much more control over the look than we had when we were shooting on film,” says Choksey.
“It’s been a spectacular experience,” adds Zunder.
It’s also been a very efficient experience, Choksey notes. Although the process of producing a new show can sometimes be complicated by unforeseen circumstances or last minute changes, MTI Film has helped to ensure that Major Crimes maintains its delivery schedule.
“MTI Film maintains a family atmosphere and that makes it a fun place to work, but they are very professional. They thread that needle very well,” notes Choksey. “If I need something at the last minute, it always shows up. They find a way to do it.”