A collaborative colour journey
DIT Simone d’Arcangelo and colourist Anthony Raffaele on ‘Wonder Wheel’
Wonder Wheel, from Amazon Studios, reunites director Woody Allen with veteran cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. It is Allen’s 50th film as a director, and went on general release on his 82nd birthday. Stars include Jim Belushi, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake and Kate Winslet.
Behind the camera, the movie also reunites colourist Anthony Raffaele of Technicolor PostWorks New York and DIT Simone d’Arcangelo. Director, cinematographer, DIT and colourist had all worked together on Café Society, Allen’s last film (and his first shot digitally).
The wonder wheel of the title is the Ferris wheel in Coney Island, New York. Set in the murky underworld of the fairground in the 1950s, the story is told by the beach lifeguard, an aspiring dramatist. Storaro’s vision for the movie was to achieve that bright, saturated view of the long hot days of summer and Coney Island, inspired by painters like Reginald Marsh and Norman Rockwell.
Recreating the look of sixty years ago would inevitably call for a lot of VFX, but Storaro and Allen were keen to capture as much as possible in camera, and a lot of the shoot was on location at Coney Island. Because the look of the movie was so central to the story, Storaro and Allen needed to see what they were shooting in the context of the final look.
Colourist Raffaele and DIT d’Arcangelo worked collaboratively, relying on the Baselight Linked Grade (BLG) render-free workflow provided by the tools from FilmLight. Using the ACES colour space, Raffaele created a set of looks in Baselight and exported the BLG files, which d’Arcangelo could use on site. D’Arcangelo used FilmLight’s Prelight preview tool to impose the grade on the raw footage on location, and to show the results to Storaro every day. Notes and feedback were exchanged back and forth between set and colourist during the shoot.
“We could create looks and know on set how it was going to look and feel, so Vittorio could say ‘we should be less saturated at this point’, or ‘it should be warmer because of the sunset’. Being able to make those adjustments offline and on set at the same time was tremendous.”