Feel the Fire as HDR Engulfs the Screen in Only the Brave

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October 20, 2017
Technicolor and filmmakers found the immersive power of HDR to be the perfect vehicle to convey the intensity of a massive wildfire – and the unmatched bravery of forest firefighters.
Only the Brave
  • Technicolor’s Mike Sowa provided SDR and HDR grades, based on a color scheme that would make flames leap off the screen.

Sony Pictures’ Only the Brave is the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite squad of firefighters who came to national attention in 2013 battling a major Arizona wildfire that claimed 19 of their crew. Director Joseph Kosinski and cinematographer Claudio Miranda, ASC –reteaming with Technicolor Senior Colorist Mike Sowa (Oblivion) – were eager to explore the immersive power of HDR to grip the audience and make them feel the real danger these brave firefighters face.

The color scheme was set early by Kosinski – the greens and golds of the landscape – so that when the fire first appears it rages off the screen. Describing how HDR creates an immersive viewing experience, the director said, “You can really appreciate just how bright and intense fire is. Some scenes…it actually lights the theater up, so you almost feel that heat. High Dynamic Range, when used right, is absolutely my favorite way of watching this particular film.”

Sowa, who provided the HDR grade for the Oscar-nominated Kubo and the Two Strings, concurs with Kosinski’s assessment of HDR and its importance in telling the film’s story. “Joe is very familiar with HDR now,” said Sowa, “[and] he knew it would be perfect for the film if done right. It’s the way to see the movie – a true story that shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Reflecting on working with Sowa again, Kosinski said, “It’s just great to walk in the room and have a first pass made that’s already in the zone. Mike has been fantastic.” No wonder that when Sowa paid a surprise visit to the set during production, the director joked, “Shouldn’t you be in a dark room somewhere.”

Additionally, Technicolor Marketing Services finished three domestic trailers for the film, with Colorist Ntana Key working closely with Kosinski and Sony marketing; an International Cine-Europe piece and graded pulls for additional international spots for Lionsgate; and an exclusive featurette with Kosinski discussing the groundbreaking storytelling possibilities of HDR.

Feel the intense heat of Only the Brave in the exclusive featurette with official footage from the trailer.