For season two of HBO’s thrilling sci-fi drama series "Westworld," Deluxe's Encore colorist Shane Harris teamed with cinematographers John Grillo and Darran Tiernan* for both SDR and HDR color grades. A favorite of critics and audiences, "Westworld" examines artificial intelligence, humanity, and morality through the eponymous theme park where guests can indulge their taboo fantasies with lifelike robot hosts. In the highly anticipated second season, a reckoning is underway as the hosts have begun to revolt against their human captors. Harris, who colored season one in SDR only, worked closely with the cinematographers to evolve the look of the show as the story expands into new worlds, including “Shogun World” and “The Raj.”
With the series shot on film, Encore once again handled the 4K scanning of footage, racking up an average of 20,000 feet of film per day. Encore also managed automated VFX pulls and returns via its proprietary service Synapse Portal, which simplifies ingest and automates distribution of original camera plates to VFX vendors with the desired specs, thereby reducing turnaround times and eliminating the potential for human error. Dailies were scanned to HD DPX in Log color space, allowing Harris to have the full range of the negative in final color, which he graded in DaVinci Resolve.
In developing new looks for season two, Harris utilized a “bleach bypass” technique for the new “Shogun World” which retained the silver of the negative when processing the film, creating a totally distinct feel. For “The Raj,” Harris created a warm look with golden hues to differentiate from the familiar Westworld frontier palette. In battle sequences, Harris applied a cooler, de-saturated look to underscore the harsh story aspects.
“Each DP brought new ideas to the table to ultimately create one unified look across season two,” said Harris. “There were instances where we carried over the look from season one, but we also had great opportunities to explore other distinct parks and take the audience on a ride. Working with film was also a rare treat and gave us the chance to push certain looks that you can really only achieve with that medium.”
"Westworld" season two stars Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden and Tessa Thompson. New episodes premiere Sunday nights on HBO at 9pm ET/PT; the series is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.
* "Westworld" season two was shot by cinematographers Paul Cameron, ASC, M. David Mullen, ASC, John Grillo and Darran Tiernan.