Goldcrest completed the grade, conform and finish for the HBO Original horror comedy series

Michelle de Swar Sinead Cusack The Baby HBO Sky (4)

Goldcrest Post has revealed its work completing the grade, conform, and finish for HBO horror comedy series The Baby.

The Baby is available exclusively on Sky Atlantic in the UK, and portrays a hilariously sinister examination of motherhood from the perspective of a woman who doesn’t want to be one.

The eight-part limited series was produced by SISTER (Chernobyl, Landscapes) and Proverbial Pictures, with post-production completed by Goldcrest Post and Framestore delivering VFX. DoP Kate Reid BSC (The Nevers, Marcella) led cinematography on the series with Nicole Kassell (The Woodsman, Watchmen) as director and executive producer.

Due to the complexity and requirements of using real-life babies, the production required a heavy amount of VFX work, and in turn, this required particular consideration when it came to the final look and grade of the series . Andrew Daniel, a senior colourist at Goldcrest Post, was responsible for the grade, with Valentina Rutigliano overseeing the online.

Michelle de Swar Sinead Cusack The Baby HBO Sky (2)

Daniel worked closely with Reid during pre-production and principal photography to ensure that a consistent look was carried through the series. He revealed: “We tested cameras and lenses together before establishing the show LUT.

“It was also great that DOPs, Ben Wheeler BSC and Diana Olifirova, were given so much creative freedom when it came to their episodes. However, we always had the shows underlying in the LUT that Kate and I developed. It provided a base to jump from while allowing the later episodes to express the story’s crazy trajectory.”

The grade, conform and finish completed in DaVinci Resolve, and the show was shot in HDR, with the final deliverable a 4K HDR master and an SDR trim pass.

Michelle de Swar Sinead Cusack The Baby HBO Sky (1)

The dark yet comical nature of the series posed Daniel with an exciting challenge in achieving a look that achieved this juxtaposed balance. He said: “The Baby was, for me, primarily a horror with a jet-black vein of comedy.

“We always wanted the world to have a moody and dangerous edge to it, especially when there was a plot happening around the baby. Certain spaces had to have a darkness to them, while other aspects required solitude, as is seen in Natasha’s apartment. It’s that feeling of light fighting in.”

Daniel continued: “Some aspects played more strongly to the light-hearted style you might expect from a traditional comedy. We certainly exploited this in the scene where Natasha infiltrates the ‘Kid Zone.’ Here, the colours were all primary, pastels and poppy, giving it a bubble gum feeling that juxtaposed well with the horror that was about to take place. Visually we were always very aware that there was a language to the grade, and a nudge either way (too dark or too bright) could have taken us out of the world we were creating.”

Michelle de Swar Sinead Cusack The Baby HBO Sky (7)

When it came to implementing the grade, Daniel explained that there were no real challenges, and this was ultimately down to the early communication and collaboration between himself and Reid during pre-production.

“Sister Pictures are very good at allowing creatives to be creative, and this gave us a lot of flexibility,” said Daniel. “We decided that we would apply some soft grain to the project with heavier grain in the flashback episode that takes place in the 1970s. Resolve has an excellent grain generator, so it was quick and easy to build two bespoke grain structures. We’d then gently apply these where needed while still retaining control.”

When it came to the VFX, Daniel worked very closely with Goldcrest’s in-house team led by Dolores McGinley and Framestore to ensure that the delivery of completed VFX was seamless for the grade.

“The show’s VFX ranged from the large green screen backdrops to the very small (lots of blood spray),” explained Daniel. “Goldcrest has a good working relationship with Framestore, who always deliver what we need. Ordinarily, a matte or a combination of mattes depending on the size and complexity of the shot.”

Daniel concluded: “It has to be said that for a show whose episodes ran at twenty odd minutes, there was an incredible amount of VFX.”