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Giving Southern Food the Right Look with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and DaVinci Resolve

Think of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and images of warm, savory comfort food probably come to mind. The restaurant's unique "New Orleans" style menu offers southern food items like spicy chicken, chicken tenders, chicken and biscuits and fried shrimp. To make Popeyes' famous food look as good in its broadcast TV commercials as it tastes in real life, colorist Brian Buongiorno of Tone Visuals uses Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve.

Achieving the Right Balance

Brian Buongiorno
Tone Visuals is a full service boutique post production company located in Austin, Texas, where Brian serves as the creative director, colorist, visual effects artist and finisher. Lauren Haggard is Tone Visuals' executive producer. Tone Visuals color grades and finishes the Popeyes national and international commercial television campaign.

"Popeyes prides themselves on spicy food, and the food needs to have a warm, comfortable, appetizing feel," said Brian. "The color temperature is on the warmer side of the scale, and the midtones have to be warm without being too saturated."

Brian continued, "On top of that, very often they go back and use footage from previous shoots. So we have this huge library of footage to pull from that all has to match from shot to shot. DaVinci Resolve helps us maintain the right color balance between the shots, even though the footage may have been shot a year or two prior on a different camera."

Bringing the Shots Together

Creating the overall look for Popeyes' commercials is Larry Walters with POW Design, who serves as consulting creative director/designer for Popeyes TV production. Michael Blair with Austin based advertising agency GSD&M is the Creative Director and GSD&M's Erika McKay is the commercials' producer. The food footage for Popeyes' commercials is shot by Irv Blitz via MJZ Production Company in Los Angeles. While the food is shot digitally, the live action footage for each commercial is still shot on film by Rocky Powell of Rockhouse Films in Dallas, TX.

For the digital dailies, Brian and his team at Tone Visuals use DaVinci Resolve to do an initial best light color correction pass, and also to create ProRes 422 dailies for editor Gavin Tatro at Carve Editorial. The film footage dailies are completed at And Transfer in Dallas, which are also sent to Gavin.

When the edit is complete, an EDL file is sent back to And Transfer, who then delivers ProRes 444 flat passes with no grade to Brian at Tone Visuals. Brian then ingests all of the footage into Resolve, conforms the spots with an AAF file, and does a final color grade on all the commercials.

"We use many grading techniques, including Power Windows, various LUTs, and primary and secondary color balancing tools to bring the live action footage into the same world, color wise, as the food" said Brian. "With Resolve, we are able to make it look like the food that was shot digitally and the live action that was shot on film all look as though they were shot together on the same camera at the same time."

Popcorn Shrimp Flat

Popcorn Shrimp Color

DaVinci Resolve also enables Brian to create proxies of the commercial footage and put them in a proprietary customized database called "TAGS" that Tone Visuals has designed.

"Resolve allows me to create H.264 proxies with the same name and timecode as the original masters, to which we then add custom metadata tags so that the client can search and have access to all of their footage online," said Brian. "Using our proprietary service, TAGS, our clients can browse and locate specific shots by date, product type, shot action and any other criteria that they choose."

Efficiency is Key

Lauren Alvarez
Brian and his team color and finish commercials for Popeyes year round, and Resolve has been a crucial component to maintaining the team's efficient workflow.
"Resolve acts as a database of looks that I can refer to from job to job, so I can maintain proper color consistency," said Brian. "But Resolve is integral to our process in many other ways, too. It makes the post production process so smooth and quick. My entire process is all done on the same system, and Resolve's handshaking back and forth is very efficient."

"Our clients are very happy with our workflow," added Lauren. "Popeyes has had nothing but good things to say about Brian and the smooth process he has created. They say he makes magic happen."

Brian continued, "Being able to do a conform from AAF or XML is much more efficient to grade, and I love being able to maintain color consistency and color balance across all the shots. I can look at shots in running order and then add handles to all the shots so that I have those extra frames when I need them. I love being able to preview the shots with the speed changes in there, but it's also important to be able to go into the timeline and remove the time warps and then ripple the sequence so that I maintain the frames I need for finishing."

Looking to the Future

Most of the Popeyes commercials that Tone Visuals completes are distributed in the US, but as Popeyes expands as a company, the commercials are also being aired internationally in places like Canada, Central America, Singapore and Turkey. As time goes on, Brian knows that he can count on Blackmagic Design to deliver what he needs.

"DaVinci Resolve is so stable and Blackmagic Design is such a forward thinking company," he said. "We really appreciate how active Blackmagic is and how supportive the company is with new cameras, codecs, and new technologies. I always feel comfortable knowing that Blackmagic Design will give me what I need to meet the clients demand."
801 W 5th St. Suite 1911
Austin, TX  78703

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Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, DaVinci Resolve, Color Correction

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