Bringing ‘Tom & Jerry’ to life
Tom and Jerry is out now in theatres and on HBO Max in the US.
Colourist John Daro at Warner Bros shares how they built the colour on two continents for these classic characters.
Can you tell us more about the challenges of live-action, animated film?
It’s sort of like grading two separate movies. You have the live action film with its grade, and then the characters are on top. You have to keep the characters separate so they don’t take on the grades from the plate.
Next you grade the characters to be consistent from shot to shot, taking into account the various lighting conditions and local colour from the live action plate.
Remote collaborative work between London and LA was key for the project, could you please elaborate?
Arguably, the most crucial aspect of finishing this film was how Warner Bros Post Production Creative Services was able to support and complete this project during some of the most restrictive months of the pandemic.
Things were looking pretty bad on the Covid front when we started the grade in early December. Tim Story (Director), Chris DeFaria (Producer), and Peter Elliot (Editor) rotated the grade supervision since I was limited to only two creatives in the room at a time. We sent Baselight project files to DeLane Lea so that Alan Stewart (Cinematographer) and Frazer Churchill (VFX Supervisor) could review them in London.
Key to the success was the communication between editorial and VFX in Burbank and London – all via email, Teams and phone calls. The challenge was keeping everyone on the same page between two different time zones. Later on, we found out that having a 24-hour work cycle would also be one of the project’s greatest strengths.
“I couldn’t imagine doing a complex VFX-based show on any other software. Baselight’s layer-based approach is crucial for working with the many matte passes. The tools allow for unbelievable freedom in the grade with great speed of manipulation.”