As the lead colorist at BENT Image Lab, Jalal Jemison has it pretty sweet, especially when it comes to grading commercials for Nabisco’s new Ahoy! Extras cookies and General Mills’ Golden Grahams® cereal. BENT Image Lab is a Portland, Oregon based production company and creative laboratory, known for melding art, design and storytelling. It is a place where the brightest ideas are driven with an artist’s passion and realized through the use of cutting edge technology, such as Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 9 color correction software.
Little Cookie, Big City
Featuring its new Ahoy! Extras cookies, Chips Ahoy’s “Big City" commercial features a scared looking cookie navigating its way through the streets of a busy city. When a woman confuses the cookie for being soft, sweet and having cute little chocolate chips, the cookie, in a deep baritone voice, lets her know that while he may be little, the chips are actually mouthwatering peanut butter chocolate chunks. Just before the woman can get her hands on the cookie, it’s snatched away and presumably eaten.
"I had a fair amount of notes from the client about skin tone on the female character, as well as the textures and colors used throughout the spot," said Jalal. "I had to reference previous commercials for the colors of the cookie and the chocolate chunks. Also, the lighting in the scenes differed a little, and I had to match the colors between all the scenes as well.
"I think skin tones are always the hardest to get perfect because there are so many subtle transitions between light and dark areas of the skin or skin texture," he continued. "The face reflects the subject and the main focus of a scene when someone is talking, and light falloffs that might look fine in one part of the scene will never look good on a face. In Resolve, I’m able to key highlights as well as base tones, so whenever the character moves between light and dark areas, I can keep a consistent looking skin tone."
By stacking keys, base grades and highlights in Resolve, Jalal was able to achieve realistic face highlights, skin tones and gradients. Resolve uses node based processing, where each node can have color correction, power windows and effects that can be joined sequentially or in parallel to combine grades, effects, mixers, keys and custom curves.
"Resolve gave me the ability to create multiple skin tones to choose from, and the ability to quickly switch between these settings when showing the client made the decision making process even faster," said Jalal.
Resolve also ensured that the general lighting and color of all the scenes matched. Using Resolve’s gallery stills and grades, Jalal was able to quickly save, share and copy color grades to compare shots and keep the scenes consistent. By creating base tones and highlights of different colors in Resolve, Jalal was easily able to cut and paste these settings throughout the different shots, fine tuning each shot as needed. Resolve’s copy and paste feature dramatically speeds up work and saves time by copying grades to any clip or a range of clips. The feature also allows users to copy camera raw metadata.
"Resolve allows us to keep the overall consistency in our campaigns," explained Jalal. "It’s really easy to pull up old spots, look over tones and textures, then apply those settings to the current spot. Resolve’s clip library and the ability to have old spots in other timelines in Resolve save time and help with the overall process."
In Golden Grahams’ “Funny Faces" commercial, two pieces of cereal are sitting on a spoon, with one piece making silly faces at the other. When sunlight hits the silly piece of cereal just right, its flavor crystals are illuminated and prove too tempting for the other piece of cereal, which eats its friend.
"The focus for Golden Grahams was again to make sure all the scenes looked integrated," said Jalal. "There was also a particular purple that we had to match to the ‘product purple,’ and we had to make sure the milk stayed consistent and appetizing. It was a very short turn around, and Resolve’s efficient workflow helped me deliver the shots quickly and accurately."
Using Resolve’s precise secondary color correctors, Jalal was able to target specific colors and areas of the footage with clean edges, perfectly matching the “product purple.” From there, he again used Resolve’s copy and paste functionality to quickly ensure continuity throughout the scenes.
"The deadlines are usually a day to a day and a half, but whenever we have certain revisions, we end up getting client notes or a final note on the actual air date," explained Jalal. "Resolve’s fast interface and easy to control tools always allow me to make any changes that the client wants quickly and efficiently. The client notes are usually ‘this needs to be brighter or darker,’ usually a subtle prop or joke element. Being able to track in real time always helps with this, and since Resolve is extremely fast and renders in real time, we are always able to deliver on our projects.”
About BENT Image Lab
BENT Image Lab is a Portland, Oregon based production company and creative laboratory, known for melding art, design and storytelling. It is a place where the brightest ideas are driven with an artist’s passion and realized through the use of cutting edge technology.
Established in 2002, BENT specializes in wildly creative spots and videos that range from the frenetic to the deeply moving. Koodo Mobile, Golden Grahams, Bing, Diet Dr. Pepper, Mastercard, Modest Mouse, They Might Be Giants, Coca-Cola, Guitar Hero, Cartoon Network, TLC, Hallmark Channel, NBC’s Grimm, IFC’s Portlandia and film directors Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant are just a few of the high-profile clients that have called on BENT for some of their quirky, highly-original work. BENT’s long list of spots, music videos, animated films and promos has earned impressive recognition from top film festivals and industry shows, including SXSW, the Clios, Cannes, Sundance, the Chicago Film Festival, AICP/MoMA, the Rosey awards, the Broadcast Design Awards, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival. BENT’s principals are David Daniels, Chel White, Ray Di Carlo and Tsui Ling Toomer.