According to Blackmagic Design, Mercy Robinson, Senior Colorist at Nice Shoes, a New York-based film and television post-production studio, used DaVinci Resolve Studio for HBO Films’ docudrama “Reality.” She used DaVinci Resolve Studio to perform color grading for the show.
Since much of this work takes place in a single room, Robinson has a very challenging task for a colorist: creating distinct nuances while maintaining consistency.
“Reality,” which had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2023, shows Reality Winner (played by Sydney Sweeney) and is based on the true story of an FBI interrogation. Director Tina Sutter created the successful play “Is This a Room” from recordings of actual interrogations, and then used word-for-word audio recordings of FBI interrogations to turn the play into an excellent chamber film.
According to cinematographer Paul Yee, “Reality” is intentionally narrow in scope. Yi commented:
Mr. Yi: A certain house is the stage of the work, and the story unfolds in a room with almost nothing in a few hours. By limiting the visual stimulus at the beginning of the film, I wanted to make it clear that the movements of the camera, the characters, and the lighting changes were intentional. As the story of “Reality” unfolds, the visual language gradually shifts from procedural and objective to subjective and intuitive.
During the color grading, Robinson focused on nuanced adjustments, such as making a person stand out from a drab room a little, and sometimes emphasizing color slightly, sometimes clearly. What’s more, Robinson says he spent most of the grading process maintaining consistency. Robinson commented:
Robinson: One room was the main stage, but I had to pay attention to the fine continuity because I was worried about it. The room is fairly drab and lit with fluorescent lights. I wanted to make it feel authentic even though it was tough, and at the same time, I wanted it to be visually appealing, so I made subtle adjustments during grading. I wanted the room to have a universal beauty, but the room itself wasn’t very clean, so that was a challenge.
Paul did some great camera effects and we had to match some of them in the grading. For Resolve, I made heavy use of some of the OFX glow and tilt tools. I also used the keying tool to keep the windows and fluorescent lights balanced.
Mr. Yi: At first, I thought the grading wouldn’t take long because the filming locations were limited. However, due to the limited shooting locations, it was extremely important to maintain color consistency. For example, a change in overall brightness in one shot can affect several minutes in both directions on the timeline.
I think one of Marcy’s greatest strengths in working together is that we can discuss grading abstractly rather than technically. She understands color theory and has the ability to work with Resolve, so she can combine the thoughts and atmosphere of the set and project it onto the screen.
Robinson: “Reality” is a great movie and a project that I have a special attachment to. I really enjoy working with Tina and Paul. They are talented collaborators.
“Reality” is currently airing on HBO and streaming on Max.