Chinese Film The Eight Hundred Graded In Resolve

Colorist Zhang Gen completed LUT creation for on set previews, color management, workflow management and grading for the Chinese blockbuster The Eight Hundred with DaVinci Resolve Studio and Resolve Advanced Panel.

The Eight Hundred is a Chinese war drama film directed by and co-written by Guan Hu, and starring Huang Zhizhong, Jiang Wu, Zhang Yi, Wang Qianyuan and Du Chun. Premiered on August 21st, 2020, the film has made $434 million worldwide, making it one of the highest grossing films in Chinese history.

The film is about the defense of Sihang Warehouse in 1937 Shanghai. 500 officers and soldiers defend it against the Imperial Japanese army on a suicidal last stand for four days, during the Battle of Shanghai and the Second Sino Japanese War.

Gen was asked to create a look that was inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period and was different from any other war film ever before.

He said: “This project started in June, 2016. Before the production officially began, the director and crew did a test shoot and ended up with a two minute short film. We worked with DP Cao Yu and produced three different graded versions using Resolve to give major creative members an idea of what look the director was aiming for.

“After the test shoot, the film crew decided to try the IMAX camera instead for the project. The DP tested the camera and lenses thoroughly and we created another three LUTs with Resolve accordingly,” he continued.

“Speaking of IMAX, the huge amount of footage was a challenge. For ‘The Eight Hundred’ particularly, we upgraded our host computer and storage subsystem to meet the hardware requirements. Also, we used Resolve on Linux, because it gave us much more processing power and reliability. The DP also made adjustments to the previously created LUTs in Resolve on set according to lighting conditions and then passed the project file along with media files to me, so I could keep track of the changes as the production went on.”

It took several years to complete the whole production and post production of the project, and Gen used a number of different versions of DaVinci Resolve Studio, going from v14 to v16.

“Grading a feature film like this was not something that could be done by only one colorist. My team of 13 took care of production, assistance work, data management and workflow management,” he said.

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