AlphaDogs Post Brings Out the Color in Songs From The Farm

Shot on location in rural China with limited access to electricity color correction for the film presented distinct challenges in creating the desired look without having a negative impact on the storytelling

Burbank, CA, November 07, 2012 --( The sudden loss of a family member or loved one may be one of the most difficult and painful experiences that will occur at some point in your life. How grief is handled is a very personal choice with family traditions and culture playing a big role. While there is no right or wrong way in dealing with these types of painful emotions, sometimes they are dealt with in ways that don’t always make sense to everyone else. In the documentary Songs From The Farm, Director and Producer Alice Ho, examines the lives of a rural fur farmer and his wife living in Shandong, China as they struggle to cope with life after their son’s suicide, each managing grief in very different ways.

Director, Alice Ho had just moved to Los Angeles after living in Singapore four years and was uncertain where to begin when choosing a post facility to complete the finish on her film. Ho began e-mailing and calling several post-production companies when she found AlphaDogs. “I felt very comfortable when expressing my specific concerns about the film, said Ho. “Not only is the staff friendly and accommodating, but they also made sure I was happy with the end result.”

Songs From The Farm was shot on location in rural China thus creating very distinct challenges when finishing the film during post-production. AlphaDog’s colorist Sean Stack, was in charge of trouble shooting and fixing specific problems during the color correction process. Stack’s technical expertise combined with his creative skills and years of experience as a colorist allowed him to correct colors that were over saturated and mismatched shots that were causing the color to be out of balance due to shooting entirely on location in an uncontrolled environment with regard to lighting.

The biggest challenge Stack faced during color grading were the interior scenes where the only lighting was the dim illumination of a flashlight. When color grading it’s important that the colorist stay within the context of the film or it can have a negative impact on the storytelling. Alice Ho explains “During production there were consecutive days where we did not have any electricity, as we were shooting on a mink farm in rural China. I specifically remember one evening where the characters of my film shared an intimate scene together where Uncle Wong was making fun of his wife’s singing skills. Ho continues, “The DP and I quickly grabbed our cameras to capture the moment and wasn’t sure if the scene would even work because the only source of light in the room besides one LED off camera was from Uncle Wong’s flashlight. I knew this scene would need professional color grading to help me bring out the details in such a dimly lit environment without making the screen too noisy or taking away from the emotion in the scene.”

The film was edited in Final Cut Pro 7 with Stack using Apple color to brighten scenes while still maintaining the effect of low lighting, as to not take away from the sentiment of the story. Apple’s color grading application provided ample control of the images allowing detail to be revealed in some of the darker scenes. Using this application along with use of power windows and matte selection allowed Stack to add just enough brightness in areas without increasing the grain, therefore keeping the quality of the picture. Scenes where the camera iris adjusts automatically making a scene lighter or darker were also minimized to the point of being unnoticeable to the audience. Stack comments, “I loved the general look of the film that already had some really nice saturated reds, particularly in the beginning where there is a nice copper-like tone. I worked on maintaining that unique look throughout the film during the color-correction process. My goal was to highlight the story told by the filmmaker Alice Ho, leaving the audience with as much of an emotional impact as possible.

Songs From The Farm has won the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia Achievement In Documentary Award and the Alan Landsburg Documentary Production Award.

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About Alpha Dogs: Founded in 2002, AlphaDogs is an independently owned full service post-production facility located in the center of Burbank’s media district. AlphaDogs gifted team brings a combination of both creative talent and technical expertise paying extra attention to detail in delivering projects with a personal touch. State of the art editing bays, color correction, audio mixing, visual effects, production offices and equipment rentals are available. To learn more
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Julie Leibovitz