Asa Shoul on creating epochs through tone shifting in “Last Night in Soho”

Asa Shoul, Senior Colorist at Warner Bros. De Lane Lea in London, is known for the nuanced hues and tweaks that can conjure up a stifling Buckingham Palace in “The Crown” or a ghostly time lag in “Last Night in Soho”, which is increasingly difficult to book .

A veteran of the post-production of around 50 feature films, Shoul joined Framestore in 1994 as a telecine colorist before receiving a BAFTA TV Craft Award for the hit Netflix series “The Crown” and working on the Emmy-winning miniseries. Shackleton ”and“ Generation Kill ”for HBO.

With a work that also includes The Constant Gardener, United 93, Ex Machina and Baby Driver, it’s no surprise that Shoul is one of 14 nominees for a new EnergaCamerimage Film Festival award, the FilmLight Color Awards, is an honor created by the UK Post to highlight the critical work of the best colorists in the business.

While color grading can take a movie or series in a variety of directions, it is not essential for directors and DPs to know exactly what hues their work will be before starting production.

“The grading software we use is so powerful that it can change the look of a film a lot after it’s been shot,” he says. “Ideally, the lighting, set, costume and makeup will dictate the cameramen’s vision for the film, but many would like to keep the option to change this during the exam.”

If the cameraman has a strong look in mind, Shoul adds, he may want this to be applied during the day-to-day process to ensure that the studio or streaming executives understand their intent and are in agreement before the final assessment.

At the same time, Shoul says, there is still a limit to the magic of post-production, and he warns against embracing the old saw “we fix it in rework” as the solution to any unexpected problem that comes up during a shoot.

Even a master colorist may not be able to correct an underexposure after the daylight subsides and the footage doesn’t match what was previously captured, says Shoul.

Another hazard that is best resolved in the field is overexposure to details in lights, often through a window or into the sky. But of course he adds: “If possible, I put together new sky or curtain details from other takes or archive images.”

Planning and coordinating from the start is the best strategy for avoiding surprises, says Shoul.

“If possible, I would like to have read the script before the test begins and discuss the shooting schedule with the DP so that we can find solutions to difficult scenes.” Frequent challenges, shooting day after night, filming in places where the crew does not add atmosphere can, or to have specific colors that the filmmakers may want to change for story purposes or complex VFX sequences.

“Then we test cameras, lenses, costumes, fabric and wall colors, hair and make-up,” says Shoul. “We try to involve the entire production team for these tests so that the art department, costumes and makeup can see how the lighting and the intended quality will affect them. It is much quicker for them to change a lipstick color before filming than I am for a 10-part TV series or movie. “

Shoul recalls a vivid display lesson while working on Isle of Dogs, he says. “Wes Anderson asked me to change the color of a dog’s nose from brown to pink for the entire film, and it took many hours of frame-by-frame work.”

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Courtesy Parisa Taghizadeh / Focus Features

Great colorists like to work with any lighting approach, Shoul adds, but cautions that some have their own dangers.

“When discussing the dos and don’ts of HDR,” he says, “I would advise not to place actors in front of windows, as the extra brightness seen in the sky could make the actor less visible.”

But the technology and software currently being used for grading help filmmakers create stunning effects through color, Shoul adds. When he started Last Night in Soho, he explained, Shoul wanted to know two things: how the two worlds of film – modern Soho and the dreamy Soho of the 60s – worked together, and whether the filmmakers wanted them to blend seamlessly or different Have looks.

“And when they could cross and how we could achieve this.”

And Shoul says he asked director Edgar Wright to share reference images and that he himself researched images from horror and thriller films from the 1960s and then discussed them with the director and DP Chung-hoon Chung.

“I showed what parts of these films we could mimic in the note – diffusion and halation, for example – so they were sure they could shoot a particular scene ‘cleanly’ if VFX were to be involved, and I was able to do that later use .”

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