Skip Kimball Helps Build Dial of Destiny’s Classic Look with the Latest Tech

July 24, 2023 Jul. 24, 2023

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny made use of cutting-edge technology in every aspect of the production, but it was always a top priority for director James Mangold and cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (and Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer) to ensure that what the audience sees onscreen has the look and feel of the preceding entries in the internationally beloved series of films, which kicked off with the 1982 classic Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Papamichael shot the film digitally with ARRI Alexa cameras. Skip Kimball, Senior Colorist at Company 3, designed an overall show LUT to be very filmic — with the characteristic toe and shoulder of exposed celluloid and adding a mélange of the print stock looks from the ’70s and ’80s. “The intention,” Kimball explains, “wasn’t to match the look exactly, but to really capture the vibe of the previous films.”

During the grading, Kimball also superimposed grain, which he had derived from a 1982 show print of Raiders, on top of the digitally shot movie. He started that process essentially using this grain in the same amount as it existed on the print. “It started to get noisy in the faces,” he recalls. “I think that when people went to see that movie in 1982, grain was generally a little less noticeable because it was everywhere. Today, people aren’t as used to it. So, we’d kind of back it off shot by shot as needed.”

The colorist made use of some of the cutting-edge effects within Resolve that he’d been hoping the company would introduce for some time — their glow refinement tool, depth map for selecting objects in the frame based on an approximation of how far they seem to have been from the lens, de-hazing to control the look of smoke or fog in a shot, and the Magic Mask that uses the tool’s “neural engine” to allow a colorist to make far more exacting selections for secondary coloring than previously possible.

But all the work was ultimately designed to happen in the background and allow the movie overall to feel like it is of a piece with the rest of the series, going back to Raiders. “I was extremely excited to be asked to be involved in the project,” says Kimball. “I’ve loved all the Indiana Jones movies, and it was an honor to be part of this one.”

For more information about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, click here.