Blackmagic Design has detailed how the latest MCU series on Disney+, Ms Marvel, was graded and finished in DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Marvel Studios’ original series, Ms. Marvel, has been one of the best recent MCU offerings for the small screen, and it certainly does some good things when it comes to the overall diversity of the MCU in general. It is also a very rich and dynamic watch.
In an effort to craft a unique look for the new show, Marvel Creative Finishing Supervisor Evan Jacobs worked with the filmmakers on the colorful styling. “The creative team of ‘Ms. Marvel’ really wanted to lean into using vibrant, saturated colors,” Jacobs said. “We really pushed the look of the show to be unique within the MCU, and we’re very proud of the end result.”
Colorist Matt Watson got involved with visual effects at DaVinci Resolve Studio early on. “Here at Marvel, we spend a lot of time with the VFX teams, starting as early as possible during post-production,” Watson said. “As soon as VFX have early ideas they want to play with, we bring them into DI to see how they will work and how we can help plate photography and VFX work well together.”
Working with visual effects supervisor Sandra Balej, Watson and Jacobs helped create a dynamic yet grounded look at the show and Ms. Marvel’s powers (Iman Vellani playing Kamala Khan, a Muslim American teenager growing up in Jersey City, NJ).
“We worked closely with Sandra and her team to design a workflow that would allow tight integration between vendors providing graphics and DI,” Jacobs said. “We needed to retain the ability to control the underlying color of the plate without compromising the graphics. We’ve used Resolve to do a lot of comping in the live note to allow for this. We really relied on Resolve’s compositing capabilities for this project.
“We built as much as possible in Resolve,” added Watson. “All split screens and graphic overlays were compiled in Resolve for complete flexibility. The graphic edit for Episode 1 was comprised of 14 layers of compositing tracks and graphic overlays, and while it required careful navigation when grading all the layers, the flexibility in the final DI stages really paid off.
Set the tone
An early scene set at AvengerCon combined massive visual effects with colorful art direction. The first time Khan showed off his powers, it was essential to balance himself properly. “The look of Kamala’s energy was something we played with a lot, both in VFX and DI,” Jacobs continued. “It was dubbed ‘hard light’ in the show, and it was easy for it to drift off looking like ice or crystal.”
Watson focused on making the images stand out without becoming muddled or confusing. “We spent a lot of time with Sandra and her team at AvengerCon, making sure the two colorful worlds were still separated enough to show the power of ‘hard light’. We used lots of mattes to create subtle separations in between,” he said.
Marvel’s post-production team was able to further integrate DaVinci Resolve Studio into their pipeline by using the DaVinci Resolve Developer Application Programming Interface (API) to create custom tools to aid their workflow. “We have built a robust set of proprietary tools, called JARVIS [nice touch – Ed], to automate a lot of our upstream processes,” Jacobs said. “For example, we can leverage Take Selector to transport all VFX releases, as well as base VFX plates, for every shot in the timeline without any effort from our compliant editors. We can compare old versions or even switch VFX versions live in the room without having to go back to compliance, which can really save time when working to a deadline.
Watson also liked some of the built-in features of DaVinci Resolve Studio. “The magic mask was a game changer. This opens up so many more options for ranking. Resolve also works very well with Sapphire, which we use a lot. We also really used the multi-user collaboration mode, with multiple users all working on the same project. VFX shots could be updated in the background or color notes could be processed as I continued to work on the episode. This makes sessions with clients very smooth and efficient. »
Jacobs and Watson relied on all the tools and features of DaVinci Resolve Studio, from compliance to final delivery. “We really tried to get creative and use the Resolve toolset in interesting ways to expand the capabilities of what we can do in the room. That means creating really efficient workflows and adding automation, so we spend more time creatively evaluating and less time waiting for support tasks to be completed,” concluded Jacobs.
Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+. And it’s pretty good.