FilmLight grades BBC2’s ‘Hillsborough – Never Forgotten’

Monday, July 15, 2013

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50% of the material was newly shot using the Sony PMW-500 and the Canon XF305, but the other 50% was all archive material of varying quality.

The 1989 Hillsborough disaster occurred during the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs on 15 April 1989, at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. 

24 years on, and a year since the Hillsborough Independent Review published its latest findings, a recent BBC2 documentary described the impact on the survivors and families of Hillsborough. The documentary, which was produced and directed by Kevin Sim, was created using a mixture of new and archive footage and provided an extended inside account of the investigation.

London’s Roundtable Films completed the post-production on the documentary. Freelance colourist Jack Jones was tasked with ensuring the archive footage was at its best possible quality while looking natural and true to life. Due to the sensitivity of the story, Jack also had the task of blurring out the faces of the victims in the archive footage.

“One reason I selected Baselight for Avid was its ability to auto track,” said Jack. “With Baselight I was able to blur the entire image, key out selected colours, like skin tones for example and then use numerous circles to qualify it. Every single shape would track really nicely and I was blurring shots with literally hundreds of people in very quickly and very accurately, without effecting the skin tone.”

“We quickly found that the project had some unique challenges,” commented Ben Coulson, company director at Roundtable Films. “50% of the material was newly shot using the Sony PMW-500 and the Canon XF305, but the other 50% was all archive material of varying quality.”

The team knew that fluidity between colour grading and finishing would be key and they selected Baselight for Avid from the Editions range by FilmLight. Baselight Editions provide the same core toolset as full Baselight systems, with the same graphical user interface but as a software-only package, which can be incorporated into an existing NLE or VFX workstation.

This approach delivers FilmLight's grading tools and Truelight colour management directly into a workstation and as the Editions share the same data structures as full Baselight systems, projects can be transferred and shared between users and facilities.

For the Hillsborough documentary, everything was saved within the project and embedded into an exported AAF file for further grading work in Avid if required. The team said the workflow was fully bi-directional, meaning they could work fluidly between online and offline.

As a lot of the content was archive footage, it was received by the post-production team in dribs and drabs throughout the project. “During the online, we were still receiving high-res archive to replace lower quality archive,” recalls Ben. “Ordinarily, this would have made the project fairly complicated, but being able to jump between online and offline so easily meant we could manage the process quickly and efficiently.”


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