August 08, 2019

Bringing Horrifying Detail and Life to Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark

MR. X and Technicolor provided VFX and complete picture and sound post, including marketing services, for the terrifying horror fest.

  • Senior Colorist Mark Kueper worked early on with the DP and the director to help set the look of the thrilling imagery.
  • As lead VFX vendor, Technicolor’s MR. X has a long-standing history with Oscar-winner Guillermo del Toro, who produced Scary Stories.
  • The Toronto mix team of Mike Woroniuk and Andrew Tay delivered a robust sound mix that brings the terrifying story to life.

Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark is a can’t-miss horror film based on Alvin Schwartz’s popular generation-traumatizing book series – directed by André Øvredal and produced by Oscar-winning The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro and producer Miles Dale. The film is set in 1968 America, in the small town of Mill Valley, where a group of teenagers discover a book that has transcended time – and the stories have a way of becoming all too real.

The film was shot in the greater Toronto area, where MR. X and Technicolor were enlisted to provide VFX and complete picture and sound post services, plus marketing services out of Technicolor Hollywood.

“I loved working at Technicolor Toronto and really hope to have the chance to come back one day,” said Øvredal. “A great team, state of the art facilities, and great workflow between all the post departments – it made even long post days easy.”

Senior Colorist Mark Kueper worked alongside cinematographer Roman Osin and the director to deliver a color grade that helped translate the iconic and thrilling imagery of the story. Kueper was able to set the look early in production, allowing for optimized color continuity from on-set to VFX and through the complete post-production process.

“Color helps tell the story by creating a sense of time and place,” said Kueper. “André and Roman wanted an Amblin Entertainment vibe from the 80s, so we used a film print LUT to help us take the audience to that nostalgic place.”

MR. X, the lead vendor on the film, has a long-standing history of collaboration with del Toro, working on his films The Shape of Water – a multiple Oscar winner including Best Picture – Crimson Peak, and Mama. VFX Supervisor Matt Glover worked with the producers from pre-production through to delivering the final shots, enlisting a team of 240 artists and production people from MR. X studios spanning Toronto, Montreal, and Bangalore.

"Our biggest task was to help bring these iconic creatures to life,” explained Glover. “Early in pre-production, it was agreed upon to do a fair amount practically – but, each creature would need aspects completely taken over by VFX to bring them fully to life. This was particularly true with the Jangly Man – who would be fully CG in some shots, but would need hero facial animation for all others."

The sound of a scary movie holds equal importance to the thrilling visuals. The Toronto mix team of Mike Woroniuk and Andrew Tay hit the mark, delivering a robust sound mix that brings this timeless and terrifying story to life.

“The creative process on this film mix was truly a sonic exploration and discovery. Working intimately with Director André Øvredal and Sound Designer JR Fountain, we created new and exciting soundscapes to complement the story,” said Woroniuk. “We carefully sculpted scenes with unique sounds, at times building up multiple layers in order to achieve the desired effect. Other times we would strip the sound of a scene back to an almost naked state. This ebb and flow of sound worked really well in creating the suspense and horror of the final mix.”

Turn out the lights and check out the trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark.


The Technicolor POSTCAST is an all-access pass to post-production. Listen to our two part series on “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” to learn about the color finishing, VFX and sound mixing that help bring horrifying detail and life to this film.

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