Greg Davies wrote and stars in the new dark comedy
Envy Post has revealed the work that went into post-production on new BBC dark comedy The Cleaner.
Greg Davies wrote and stars in the series, which premiered on BBC1 on 10 September. He is joined by Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown), David Mitchell (Upstart Crow, Back), Stephanie Cole (Still Open All Hours), Donald Sumpter (Game Of Thrones), Shobu Kapoor (Four Weddings And A Funeral), Ruth Madeley (Years And Years), Layton Williams (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie musical), Zita Sattar (Casualty), Georgie Glen (The Crown, Call The Midwife), Bill Skinner (Ted Lasso) and Esmonde Cole (Still So Awkward).
The show tells the story of a crime scene cleaner who sometimes gossips more than he cleans and ends up meeting the strangest of people, from the victim’s relatives, employers, neighbours and acquaintances to occasionally even the murderers themselves.
Studio Hamburg UK produced The Cleaner, working with Envy’s colourist Andrew Cloke, dubbing mixer Rioch Fitzpatrick, and online editor Luke Carter on post. The trio revealed the work that went into creating the show.
Cloke said: “To perform the grade, I used Baselight and Aces on a Sony x300 reference picture monitor.”
“We began by using one of the on set LUT’s as the base and worked from here to refine it to achieve a style we were all happy with. I worked on both pre and post grade shots using some of my own custom LUTS to make adjustments and add some finesse. Collectively we came up with a lot of ideas, bouncing them off one another. One example of this is in episode one, where we went from a Scandinavian noir style drama grade on the front to an upbeat aesthetic on the comedy scenes - we wanted every scene to be that of its own and to play with expectations.
“In another example, in the musical number we ramped things up and pushed the colours as far as possible to create a wonderful dream sequence. Alongside pushing the colours, I used a variety of soft vignettes, glow and chromatic aberration, using Baselight’s built in composting tools to create the final finish.
“A unique challenge was matching the mobile footage in one of the episodes with that of the rest of the show – making it sit nicely and feel a part of the same world, while capturing the essence of it being mobile footage. To make this possible I used the same methodology as before but opted for a more careful and weighted approach to the grade.
“Throughout the post process we had regular reviews, tweaking as we went along and on site viewing - the team sat in a separate room using a comparable monitor so that they could see a true representation of the final grade and could give live feedback to me using the speakerphone system.”
Fitzpatrick added on the audio: “To ensure clear dialogue I used a lot of Izotope RX 8 plug-ins, such as de-noise, de-crackle, de-click, de-verb etc, to perform a clean on the dialogue. This workflow consisted of Eqing, de-noising and dialogue isolation, with the latter being layered over the original audio and the collective process allowing the chosen audio to shine.
“There was also a lot of ADR recorded that needed mixing in, for which I used Pro Tool’s Altiverb reverb plug-in - this enabled me to match the audio with the space the character is in, creating the illusion that the dialogue was captured in the on-screen scene.
“I had a lot of fun working on the main title sting and performing the sound design, the team wanted something that sounded epic and cinematic that would reflect the theme of the show – in turn creating a subtle irony due to The Cleaners’ comic nature. To produce the sting, I layered up a number of cinematic hits with the sound of cleaning spray squirting and a bit of steam release, I then followed this up by adding in some reverb and tada!”
Carter said of the online editing: “For this project I used a Sony x300 monitor and I chose to work in flame for the entirety of the job.
“Before discussing the brief, I watched pre-locked versions of each episode a couple of times to get a feel for the show (understanding the dynamics, content and visuals) and looked for anything that may be sticking out or would need a polish.
“On day one I met with the producer Sam Ward, and discussed the creative brief, which was really to make everything as neat and tidy as possible.
“Getting to work I started by removing all the boom mics, unwanted scenery and performing crew paint outs – for example there is an exterior shot of Greg walking in front of a window and where the crew’s reflection was easily visible. To remove the crew, I used action in combination with the paint tool to create a clean plate of the window, then using the 3d projection application I projected the clean plate back on to the original shot, followed by roto-ing Greg over the top. This leaves us with a beautiful shot minus the crew’s reflection – maintaining that TV magic.
“For stabilisation, I used Flame and more so the auto-stabiliser plug-in which is a powerful piece of kit. For each shot I selected the most stable areas and applied the auto-stabiliser effect, along with manually tweaking throughout (from the beginning to the end) to get the perfect finish.
“Finally, I cleared up a small inexactness of continuity in one of the scenes. With one of the prior shots to the scene in question being removed, the presence of smoke no longer had any relevance. I removed the smoke by freezing the frame, followed by comping and tracking the actress back over the top of the shot using flame’s compositing tools (action and paint), leaving us with the desired smoke free shot.”