We're in post-production on our indie sci-fi feature In-World War and currently doing coloring and visual treatment tests on a few scenes.
As we go through this process, I now see that a supposed weakness in how we shot the film is actually a huge strength.
As a guerrilla, ultra-low budget feature, we didn't have the time, team or tools to do massive lighting set-ups or complex shots. Also, as both the producer and director, I was swamped with production-level details and didn't have a chance to do storyboards or even extensive mood boards (a major error -- next time I'll make the time for both), much less have indepth shot-by-shot discussions with the DP.
The result is that we shot it as fast as we could and DP Donavan Sell lit it in a way that would allow us maximum flexibility in post to adjust the look the film through the coloring process. As Donavan often said, he was shooting it "right down the middle".
However, the dailies came out extremely bland and pretty flat. I was a bit disappointed. I wanted a cinematic indie aesthetic. Something that rang out (cue the trumpets): CINEMATOGRAPHY!
As we created and revised the assembly edit, the same issue kept bothering me. The colors and lighting didn't pop.
Then, we started experimenting with the coloring.
And learned I couldn't have been more wrong.
Donavan was exactly on the money. His "down the middle" lighting allowed us huge flexibility for coloring. By not baking an extreme lighting look into the raw footage, we are able to tweak and push the color and visual treatment of the footage as much as we want.
What I thought was flat and uninteresting was actually exactly what we needed.
And since about 90% of the footage is 4k RED with its deep color space, we're in a great position to do something extraordinary with the visual treatment.
All because we shot it right down the middle.