The Color of Revenge: John Wick Chapter 4

April 24, 2023 Apr. 24, 2023

Company 3 Senior Colorist Jill Bogdanowicz recently completed work grading John Wick Chapter 4. She has handled grading duties on the John Wick series since Chapter 2, which also happened to be when Dan Lausten joined as cinematographer. The two have collaborated with director Chad Stahelski on the stylized Keanu Reeves-starring series since. All John Wick films have impressed audiences with their strong, expressive looks, but Bogdanowicz says of Chapter 4,

“We pushed it even further. We went bolder, with deeper blacks and really strong color separation.”

The essential color themes, the colorist recalls, were inspired by the film’s key locations. Paris, she notes, “is filled with a lot of red, gold, green, and some blues. Then, the portions in Japan automatically come up with more pinks, blues, and reds.”

Bogdanowicz stresses that the imagery Lausten and the design team (led by production designer Kevin Kavanaugh) brought enormous richness to the “neg” (shot digitally with ARRI Alexa cameras) before she collaborated with the filmmakers using the toolset within DaVinci Resolve to refine and enhance that lush photography.” 

She offers an example of a night scene in Japan set within a forest filled with cherry blossoms. Stahelski and Lausten, she adds, “really wanted to see and feel the reds and pinks in the cherry blossoms while also keeping the surrounding blues and greens strong. So, I used a lot of keys and power windows to help enhance the blossom colors even further.”

When coloring scenes filled with fast cuts and rapid-fire action, Bogdanowicz elaborates, she will generally push color a bit further and use more secondaries to isolate specific elements in the frame than she would otherwise. “You want to make sure that the audience really feels the movement and catches the details when everything is going by so quickly.

“We’d accentuate and shape details,” she adds, “so we could help direct the viewer’s eye, so they don’t miss a sword, gun, or some specific movement in a complex fight scene. Essentially, we’re not just augmenting the color; we’re using color to accentuate the choreography.”