July 27, 2020

Series Make It to the Finish Line by Color Grading Remotely with TechStream

Productions seamlessly transition to remote workflows and collaborate in real-time with Technicolor colorists to finish new shows without missing a beat.

Many productions were caught midstream when the global pandemic started shutting down our normal way of life. At the time, Technicolor was finishing development on a new app that would make it easy for filmmakers – when they weren’t in town or otherwise available to meet with Technicolor artists in person – to remotely meet with them on their mobile Apple devices, where they could securely and in real-time view their color and VFX sessions. Called TechStream, Technicolor accelerated its release so that clients would not be left stranded in the post-production process as much of the world went on lockdown.

The Stranger, one of the first episodic series on the mobile-first streaming platform Quibi, had been using TechStream to provide mobile color-grading sessions and to directly orient the director and DP on how the show would be viewed and consumed in its completed form. As part of the process, Colorist Tim Vincent received an official phone for his color bay and, using TechStream, streamed his own grading session to himself to see how the grade would ultimately be viewed.

“By utilizing TechStream, I was able to bring in the director and the DP during Pre-Production, and show them how different the grading experience was going to be on this project, a departure from the traditional grading method through the main monitor,” Vincent explains. “TechStream was used to clearly demonstrate how we would be making different choices in the grade than we might for a standard feature or episodic project. It helped for them to clearly see, as they were going into shooting, what we were going to be working with, and what the final output would directly look and feel like.”

TechStream has also been used in a more traditional way for countless series over the last several months including HBO’s runaway romcom Run. The app was used by HBO's production team working with Technicolor London Senior Colorist Dan Coles to safely and securely finish the final color grade for the series.

Since then, here are some other shows leveraging TechStream to make it to the finish line:

Netflix’s Tiny Pretty Things charts the rise and fall of aspiring young adults in the world of an elite ballet academy. At a crucial time in the production, the filmmakers were able to transition to a remote workflow using TechStream. In an exclusive interview, cinematographer Luc Montpellier, CSC, showrunner Michael MacLennan, and Post Producer Julie Lawrence described their experience using TechStream, and working with Technicolor Senior Colorist Mark Kueper, who explains how live grading is performed remotely with TechStream.

Says Montpellier: “For it being such a new system, I was very impressed at how efficient it was – how sessions with Mark and I were pretty much similar, very close to how we were in the suite. The creative feedback, back-and-forth, and the reaction of the technology was very much real-time. So I was pretty impressed with that seamlessness.”

Brave New World – available on the newly launched Peacock – is based on the prophetic 1932 Aldous Huxley novel of the same name, which imagines a utopian society where peace and stability have been achieved at the expense of privacy and other individual liberties. Beewan Athwal, Post Producer on Brave New World, took advantage of TechStream to see the output of Baselight and Flame in real-time after she and her team started working from home.

“Technicolor have set up a process that gives us the best possible way to work remotely,” says Athwal. “We can work collaboratively whilst video conferencing on Microsoft Teams with TechStream open on our iPad Pros in a similar way to how we would work if we were in the suite with our colorist (Technicolor’s Kevin Horsewood) and online editor. The results are instant [and] we have confidence in what we are seeing. Technicolor having this technology ready to go when this pandemic hit has made picture post seamless.”

For Perry Mason, Technicolor’s picture as well as sound teams (Joe DeAngelis, Brad North, Chris Carpenter and Robert Cooper remotely mixed the poignant soundscape) were vital to bringing HBO's hit series to screens amidst the current circumstances. Using TechStream to facilitate client collaboration, Pankaj Bajpai – VP, Finishing Artist and Business Development at Technicolor – provided a stunning color grade for the series, which focuses on the origin story of the famed defense attorney who started out working as a private investigator to make ends meet.

“The idea was to have a [real-time] product that was simple and flawless to operate,” Bajpai said in a recent IndieWire article. “If you can use an iPhone, then that was the requirement that would allow people to collaborate, especially when working on episodics, where DPs can’t physically be with you in the color suites.” He added: “We now have got it to a place where you click on the app and it launches you in with either a pass code or a face ID. And there’s no calibration needed, just a simple adjustment.”

The series was shot on the Sony VENICE 6K digital camera, and Sony is collaborating with the award-winning color scientists at Technicolor to create a new “look library” for the VENICE camera. The library will be available online as a resource for creatives wishing to quickly access select established looks inspired by Technicolor’s cinematic history.

Perry Mason has been renewed for Season 2, and you can catch Season 1 now at HBO.