Jun 20, 2018

EFILM and Encore saddle up for epic modern-Western series Yellowstone

The past and present collide in Yellowstone, which follows the Dutton family as they push back against the modern world’s encroachment on their Big Sky Country ranch and unadorned way of life that extends back four generations. The series premieres on the Paramount Network on Wednesday, June 20th, and boasts a veritable band of Western veterans in its creator -- Taylor Sheridan, who is coming off his critically acclaimed directorial debut in Wind River, and star Kevin Costner, director of Academy Award-winner Dances with Wolves and Western masterpiece Open Range. Sheridan describes the partnership with Paramount Network as artistically freeing, “Technically we can do anything. And creatively we can explore anything.”

Production of the show took place in Utah and Montana, where cinematographer Ben Richardson captured the land’s awe-inspiring natural beauty on the Arri Alexa XT. Richardson turned to EFILM and senior colorist Mitch Paulson for the series’ color finishing.

Paulson and Richardson had previously collaborated on Netflix’s Sand Castle and Sheridan’s Wind River, allowing the pair to draw upon their creative shorthand in post. Working out of EFILM’s facility in Hollywood, they graded the series pilot and would send finished passes to Sheridan, who remained in Utah. Paulson explains, “The trust between Ben and Taylor trickles down to post. And Ben is a special cinematographer. He creates his own LUTs that are always very filmic. He also puts together some of his own visual effects. My background in compositing and visual effects really lends itself to his style.”

For both Paulson and Richardson, Yellowstone presented a unique opportunity to bring their cinematic sensibilities to the episodic world. After completing the pilot, they enlisted Deluxe’s episodic post company Encore and Senior Colorist Bob Festa to finish the remaining eight episodes, with Paulson serving as Supervising Colorist. Paulson and Festa worked closely to create a seamless Log Offset workflow, a cinematic approach that Paulson uses for feature films.

Festa describes the workflow, “Log Offset is a three-color super elegant workflow – using discreet red, green, and blue channels – that keeps the color curves aligned in a logarithmic fashion that moves linearly, with no mixing or contamination of the channels. When you stretch, crush, or amplify anything, those colors never get crossed, mixed, or damaged. It creates an image that harkens back to the film laboratory days in the beautiful photo-chemical simplicity of the curves.” Adding, “The show is a cinematic modern-day Western, and that dictates the look. Ben embraced the natural majesty of the locations, let the corners bleed, and it shows up in a classic big screen look.”

Paulson concludes, “The show has a lot of Earthy tones – greens, browns. There’s a scene where a developer has built his golf course that runs right up to the Dutton ranch. We made the golf course lush and green, pushing those colors. Whereas on the ranch side we kept things dustier, brown, and not as well manicured. This contrast is indicative of the theme of these two worlds – the past and the present – colliding.”

To watch Yellowstone visit http://www.paramountnetwork.com/shows/yellowstone


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