“Mistika was the perfect grading and finishing tool for this movie.”
Antonio Zhang, Mistika Colorist, PO Group, China
PO Group graded and finished American Dreams in China on Mistika. Produced and directed by Hong Kong’s Peter Chan, the Mandarin-language film brought in US$87.6 million at the box office.
PO Group purchased from SGO, a Mistika 4K Colour Grading and Finishing System, a Mistika Assist Station and an SGO SAN to support their Stereo 3D and high end Colour Grading services for film and commercials projects a few years ago. Founded in 2003 by famous entrepreneur and actor, Nicholas Tse, PO Group is the largest post production house in Hong Kong, which grosses over one billion Hong Kong dollars annually, with branches in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing.
American Dreams in China is Peter Chan’s first digital camera shoot where he filmed the entire movie using ARRI Alexa and recorded it on Codex. His strong affection for the filmic look set the tone and brief for PO Group’s colorist Antonio Zhang to work with, selecting Mistika for the grading and finishing of the entire movie.
Antonio Zhang, Mistika Colorist at PO Group, explains the colour grading process, “I chose the ARRI Log C as the default debayer and applied a FPE (Film Print Emulation) 3D LUT on top of all of the shots to mimic the “filmic look” that Peter Chan was after. Also, my aim was to preserve the highlighted elements and enhance them further by revealing even greater details where possible.”
The film is based on a true story about three friends who graduated from Peking University and go on to build a successful English language school in China called “New Dreams”. This school helps to make the dreams of Chinese teenagers come true. As the film covers a time-span of over 3o years which involved various scenes flicking backwards and forwards into the present and past, the PO Group team combated this challenge by setting the looks for each time period. The first part covers the time the three friends study in Peking university and the second focuses on them building the language school, followed by their success in the stock market.
Antonio outlines how he achieved the various looks and tones for each decade in the film, “For the first look, we tried to make the colours more vivid to depict university life and the passion for the characters’ start-up days. We used an old 1980’s Chinese magazine as a reference and made the grade look really old but colourful.” He adds further, “The second look had to be really cool, professional and business-like, and due to the fact the characters had a lot of arguments, the cool tone helps to portray that antagonistic atmosphere effectively.”
While the 4K Mistika system forms PO Group in Beijing’s principal system, the Mistika assistant station is a fully capable file-based Mistika system in its own right, which allows the studio to increase efficiency and throughput, by having an assistant to the main colorist to prepare projects in advance, or to work alongside to ensure the smooth running of even the most complex projects. The SGO SAN not only allows the two Mistika’s to share project assets, but also allows the media sharing to extend to all other technical facilities at PO. Projects of various formats occupy the facility’s pipeline from 2K to 4K, and S3D to higher frame rates. With the SGO Mistika and SGO SAN, PO Group have built a very efficient pipeline.
“Mistika was the perfect grading and finishing tool for this movie.” Antonio expands, “It has a strong editing function, and we were also able to achieve both the conform and grading in Mistika. This really created a smooth and effective workflow, as I could grade from the original ARRI RAW Raw file and easily change the debayer for individual shots which was so convenient.” He concludes, “Flexibility is really important to us here at PO Group, especially as we face a lot of different digital camera formats, however Mistika’s compatibility with various camera formats is a great advantage and provides an excellent high-end service for us throughout the entire post production process.”
General Manager of PO Group in Beijing, K.C. Yeung states, “Mistika forms the core of our DI suites and its speed and performance is phenomenal. The comprehensive toolset allows for tasks to be completed in one suite which provides an interactive and immediate environment in real-time for client-facing work.”
CEO of SGO, Miguel Angel Doncel affirms, “PO Group is one of China’s major post production companies and SGO is proud to be associated with them and continues to support the company in meeting the growing and complex demands that feature film productions involve. PO Group have raised the bar for what clients should expect in terms of quality, speed and efficiency.”
American Dreams in China features Huang Xiaoming, Deng Chao, and Tong Dawei, and was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Find out more about the film here.
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