July 5, 2018, 02:37 PM
Toby Martisius has been a post production pro for more than 15 years. He is a freelance Colorist, working out of some of the best post facilities in Los Angeles. His website, artisus.tv showcases samples of some of his latest work. His credits include more than a 100 projects, including everything from award winning films, like â€œJasmineâ€ a psychological thriller in Hong Kong, and the first Hollywood production to be filmed in Havana, Cuba since the 1959 revolution, â€œPapa Hemingway in Cubaâ€. Also many TV shows like â€œIdiot Sitterâ€ and â€œBig Time in Hollywood, FLâ€ to national TV spots for brands such as Taco Bell, Bud Light and State Farm.
For six of his 15 years, he has been grading solely on DaVinci Resolve. And for his most recent film, a Netflix original â€œThe Rachel Divide,â€ he relied on DaVinci Resolveâ€™s extensive features and power to handle grading a film whose very subject was focused on skin tone.
The new controversial film, which just premiered at The TriBeCa Film Festival, and is now streaming on Netflix â€œThe Rachel Divide,â€ focuses on Rachel Dolezal, who had become a social phenomenon after it was discovered she had passed herself off as an African American and became the head of her local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. Filmmaker Laura Brownson followed Dolezal and her family over the course of two years as they struggled to deal with the public scrutiny, and living under a microscope.
How Toby Graded â€œThe Rachel Divideâ€
Working with director Laura Brownson and DP Jerry Henry, Toby used DaVinci Resolve for color correction, conforming and online editing where needed.
To start with on any project, Toby always focuses on finding hero shots for each scene and designing a look around those. For â€œThe Rachel Divide,â€ the director wanted the film to be full of color in every scene.
For a colorist, working with skin tones and maintaining a specific look and feel to every frame is a primary task for most projects. For a film where skin tone was an actual part of the narrative, how Toby handled this task became hugely important.
Toby said: â€œSkin tones were a large focus after the looks were set for each particular scene, and surrounding story. Particularly ironic, given the subject matter. We focused on making our scenes pop, and then adjusted skin tones to look natural within our desired looks.â€
â€œI had a great time working with Laura on this doc. It was very interesting to explore the color of skin tones in this film. I actually thought more about analyzing skin than any other previous film. I explored theÂ subtle hues in skin tonality, in combination withÂ lighting conditions, and the protagonistâ€™s desire to appear darker than natural.Â It's interesting to note that technically all of our skin tones fall along the same line,Â interpreted by the computer'sÂ digital vectorscope. So basically skin color is vector blind. Go figure.
It was more challenging, in some ways than previous narratives Iâ€™ve colored. There was a great deal of attention applied to secondary color corrections with regard to the skin tones, especially for Rachel. Laura Brownson and Jerry Henry and I had to concentrate on her hues and tones more specifically.â€
To help adjust skin tones, Toby used HSL keys in DaVinci Resolve, and motion tracked Power Windows. He combined this with parallel and layer nodes in order to further isolate the skin, without affecting the overall approved look.Â He also relied on the softwareâ€™s powerful luma key features, along with parallel and layer nodes, to individually affect specific elements of the image while pushing the colorful look.
In the end, Tobyâ€™s work ended up being more about color correction for the action than around skin tone alone.
â€œYes the skin tone work turned out to not just be a concern, but also a truth telling point. We were designing looks for each scene that we wanted to pop with color and saturation, but would quickly see that it exaggerated skin tone to the point of it being a distraction. So when we fell in love with a look for the scene, we pretty much had to do a separate skin pass, in order for her to look more naturally balanced in the environment. It was definitely a challenge,â€ he said.
He continued: â€œDocumentaries are inherently more hands on, and I believe Resolve helped immensely with itâ€™s enhanced edit capabilities. Itâ€™s ability to alter metadata, changing Clip Attributes, to use the Force Conform option when necessary to override, or to solve a connection problem in order to work around a timecode challenge. And all the while collaborating on a shared network simultaneously, with a tight deadline, as I colored the film in the theater at Local Hero Post.â€Â
â€œFor me, itâ€™s all about finding an emotional connection to the filmâ€™s characters and giving their story the look it needs to communicate the filmmakersâ€™ message.Â My grade, and sense of style provide an added value to final picture, and I am the last artist to creatively affect the movie or tv show, before distribution,â€ Toby said.
“The Rachel Divide”: Colorist and VFX Artist Toby Martisius Grades New Documentary with DaVinci Resolve
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