Tim Masick on the Complexity of Tár’s “Natural” Look

October 11, 2022 Oct. 11, 2022

Actor-turned-director Todd Field burst onto the scene in 2001 with the great critical success of In the Bedroom followed by the dark, powerfully observational Little Children in 2006. After an absence of some 16 years, he’s returned with highly praised Tár, starring Cate Blanchett as a fabulously successful orchestra conductor facing potentially career-ending problems. The film, shot by Florian Hoffmeister, was graded by Tim Masick at Company 3 London.


Masick explains of the work, that the filmmakers were looking for something that looks “untouched. Completely natural. Just as any cinematographer knows that it can take a great deal of precise work to make something look “unlit,” Masick is aware that the same applies to colour grading. “We added quite a lot of subtle changes to finish the work that Florian captured so beautifully,” he says. “We went through every shot to add a tiny bit of shading here or add a window to bring out certain elements in the frame. We might just add a little bit of ‘exposure’ to a key object in a darkened room or bring up a performer’s eyes, or maybe a single eye, to direct the viewers’ eyes to the character’s reaction.”


Nothing they did, Masick stresses, was about bringing the viewer’s attention to the grade. “It was the opposite. Everything Todd wanted was about taking away any sense that the filmmaking itself was imposing ideas or feelings on top of the story and doing that can involve a surprising amount of work.”