March 7, 2024

FRONTLINE Oscar winner posted at GBH OutPost

Tim Mangini

The Oscar winning FRONTLINE documentary “20 Days in Mariupol” was color-graded and mixed at GBH’s OutPost post-production facility. Shot by Associated Press director/camerman Mstyslav Chernov entirely on a DSLR during the first days of Russia’s assault on the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, it posed unique challenges for the post team. 

Ferg and Mysty.jpg

When director Chernov saw colorist Jim Ferguson’s first-pass grade he asked Jim to find a way to convey the constant dust in the air from shelling. So, grading the 4k project in DaVinci Resolve, Jim took it from a contrasty-blue winter look to a lighter brownish-gray. Although we often color-correct remotely for clients, having the director present for the grade helped enormously as Jim was able to recreate what Mstyslav remembered from the actual events.

20 Days Mix1

The 5.1 audio mix proved to be even more challenging for OutPost mixer Jim Sullivan due to the unique nature of the source material. The director wanted the explosions to match the visceral experience he had when recording, but Chernov only had a small Rode mic affixed to his camera. Although it is a good field recording option its dynamic range is not as suitable for capturing explosions and jets. FRONTLINE and the AP required that no sweetening be done with sound effects that were not recorded on location, giving Sullivan a tall task. Jim called on his deep experience mixing over 400 docs and several films and really pushed his gear to create an experience that would satisfy the director and bring the audience into the conflict.

20 Days Yawkey1.jpg

Once the film was graded and mixed Deb Holland and Mike Tivey created the DCP for the first test screenings to be held in GBH’s Yawkey Theater. The producing team then used the screening environment to make adjustments to some scene timings, type-on-screen sizing, and mix balances to tweak the theatrical release to optimize the viewer experience

Almost every member of the OutPost contributed to the film and we are thrilled to be a part of the Oscar winning team.