Reboot of Iconic Heartbreak High Graded Using DaVinci Resolve Studio

Sydney based colorist Fergus Rotherham used DaVinci Resolve Studio and the DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel to grade the new series “Heartbreak High,” a reboot of the classic 1990’s Australian drama series.

“Heartbreak High” is an Australian television show that ran from 1994 through 1999 and was one of the world’s most popular high school drama series. The new series, which airs globally on Netflix, is a reboot of the show and follows the day to day actions and emotions of a new set of teens and their friends and families.

The series, directed by Grace Otto, Adam Murfet, Jessie Oldfield and Neil Sharma with Simon Ozolins and Drew English as directors of photography, completed production and post production in Australia. Colorist Fergus Rotherham was brought in to help create the look of “Heartbreak High,” which included finding a new modern image while still paying homage to the show’s original feeling.

Rotherham is an experienced freelance colorist who has worked on a large number of commercial, TV and film projects around the world since first learning DaVinci Resolve Studio in 2014. Post production for “Heartbreak High” was completed through Blue Post in Sydney.

“DaVinci Resolve was used on ‘Heartbreak High’ even before cameras started rolling. It started with early discussions with Simon and Gracie where we worked out how to create a nostalgic look with a modern take. We wanted to retain some grit and texture from the original while bringing through some new color to give it a playful contemporary edge. From there, Simon and I spent time in preproduction designing a show LUT on Resolve,” Rotherham explained.

Following production of each episode, Rotherham would start to work on the grade and prepare it for delivery in 4K HDR Dolby Vision. He relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio’s numerous management features and time saving efficiencies to focus on the craft of color correction.

“Resolve is incredibly efficient, and the ability to set the administration rules and use the same node structure on each episode saved a lot of time throughout,” he said. “Also features such as curves, stills management, timeline sorting and the ability to record from multiple sources simultaneously are incredibly powerful when working at such pace.

“I also used the HDR grading wheels heavily throughout the show to retrieve detail or adjust the contrast curve. Split screen was another tool we often used to compare scenes and make sure the look was the same throughout each episode. It also gave us a great storyboard of the look that was developed.”

Rotherham also relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio and the DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel to maintain consistency throughout each episode while working at a fast pace. He explained: “As a freelancer I use the Resolve Micro Panel more frequently than the Advanced, however, for series or feature work that master in HDR and require a trim pass for the deliverables, I find the Advanced Panel’s trim controls save a lot of time during the process.”

“One tool that I did keep coming back to for the series for speed was the shared node. I used this in conjunction with the append node for selected clips, which I had mapped to my keyboard. This allowed us to efficiently try new ideas or tweak a scene in a matter of seconds,” he continued. “We also used a variety of OFX plug ins built in Resolve to achieve disorientation in scenes or enhance lighting setups to elevate a narrative beat, as well as the odd clean up with patch replacer.”

“Heartbreak High” is streaming now on Netflix.

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