August 02, 2013

Colour Grading and VFX for The Mill

Darlow Smithson Productions draws in Technicolor’s expertise for Channel 4 historical drama The Mill

Technicolor has lent its colour grading and VFX expertise to a new four-part historical mini-series, The Mill. The drama, commissioned by Channel 4, is set in 1833 and is based on real events that took place at the Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. The show was written by BAFTA winning John Fay (Torchwood, Coronation Street) and directed by James Hawes (Mad Dogs, Doctor Who, Enid).

Technicolor worked closely with the production team both on location and during post production, providing grading, VFX and on location services; Technicolor credits include Paul Ensby, senior colourist; Richard Cradick, on-line editor, Simon Giblin, VFX and Dan Mulligan, on location services, working on the project.

“The Mill was shot using a Arri Alexa digital camera system and the grade was performed earlier this year using Autodesk Lustre,” says Paul Ensby, Principal Colourist, Technicolor Creative Services.

“The setting of the series is rural-industrial England during the 19th century, so our brief was to be as cinematic as possible to ensure a gritty, authentic look and feel. It was shot using 235 letterboxing which suited the feel throughout the episodes and created a real cinematic atmosphere. We selected a filmic style curve to provide a nice black with plenty of highlight detail.”

A large part of the mini-series was filmed at the Quarry Bank Mill, now a National Trust property.

“The Mill is styled in a cool, atmospheric light with a fine contrast. It is set mostly in the winter months so we kept a slightly cool feel for the exterior shots, but with plenty of colour saturation to enhance the tones of the costumes when they appear on screen. For the night scenes, rich shadows with detail were carefully controlled to emulate the naturally low light levels given by candlelight or oil lights. In the more opulent surroundings, we chose a slightly warmer palette which worked well with the set design in these areas,” says Ensby.

Watch The Mill on Channel 4 on Sundays at 20h00.


Technicolor Credits

Colourist: Paul Ensby

On-line editor: Richard Cradick

VFX: Simon Giblin

On Location Services: Dan Mulligan