The Ugly Truth, the movie starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, was directed by Robert Luketic and shot by Russell Carpenter, ASC, with 35mm film–and a little bit of the RED One. DI artist Siggy Ferstl created the Digital Intermediate at SiggyFerstlCompany 3, which also handled the dailies. The movie is slated to open on July 24. DI artist Siggy Ferstl spoke to Studio Daily about creating the DI.

Have you worked with the director before? The cinematographer?

I hadn’t worked with Robert or Russell before. I got this show through Lakeshore Entertainment, which I do a lot of work for.  It went pretty smoothly and was a good experience, from the dailies right through to the DI, and Russell was very happy all the way through. I didn’t actually meet or actually talk to Robert, that’s how hands-off he was. Russell came in for a couple of sessions and was very happy with what he saw.

ugly_truth_ver2How involved were you in the dailies?

I oversaw the correction of the dailies. Company 3 never really worked with the director and DP before, so I was pretty hands-on with the dailies. I didn’t do them but was very involved with the process. I do this typically and this show was no different. I worked with the dailies colorist. The first couple of days are tough, but once the look was established, it went smoothly. Russell was happy with the look of the dailies.

Was a color management system used on set?

Not on this film. But I believe we supplied on-set HD playback monitoring. When they get the dailies back, it’s all menu-ed so they can just jump between takes and scenes easily. There was no color correction done on set.

What was the look they were going for?

Being a comedy, they didn’t want to go for a strong stylized look – everything had to be bright, open to see the expressions and make sure no comedy was missed.

Russell is a great cinematographer and you can see that working with him for the first time. His work was very consistent. it was a relatively painless DI, because he lit it very nicely and consistently so once we established the look, it was straight forward.

What were the biggest challenges?

To keep the faces bright and open, so everyone could see the expressions and not miss the comedy, we got involved with often darkening the surrounding areas. In some locations, where you see their faces, we kept the face and expressions lifted while we darkened down the walls so they wouldn’t be too bright.

Russell would shape the interior walls;  we got into drawing windows around objects and walls, just to push the walls back a little bit, by darkening them.

Generally speaking, it was a warm film, with warm skintones throughout.  We stayed with the warm tones and nice red skintones.

I understand that some of it was shot with the RED. Tell us about that.

The end sequence was shot on RED. They were basically some background plates, which were shot after the main shoot had wrapped. I think it was easier to shoot on RED, rather than take out a whole film crew, but I’m just guessing that’s why they did it. The foreground was shot in film. So there’s a scene, for example, when they’re going up in a hot air balloon. The sky and scenery shots comped in the background were shot on the RED.

Was it problematic to mix the 35mm film and RED footage? Didn’t the RED footage look softer in comparison?

No. They blended in pretty seamlessly. There was a certain degree of tweaking the colors in the foreground and background to get them as good looking as possible.  Because they were background plates, they were for depth of field reasons, so some of them were even thrown out of focus, so resolution-wise, it wasn’t an issue.

Any other challenges?

There was a scene in the control room of a TV station, so there were lots of different monitors and we had to insert the material in the monitors and make sure they looked good. We put windows around them to make them look their best.

What gear was used?

The dailies were done in a traditional telecine suite with a Spirit and Da VInci 2K.

The DI was done on a Da Vinci Resolve with a Barco 2K projector.