Deconstructing Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City Look (in DaVinci Resolve)
Wes Anderson’s latest film, Asteroid City has a unique low contrast, targeted saturation look, inspired by classic ‘desert sun’ movies of the 1950s.
Shot using his favored KODAK 35mm VISION3 200T Color Negative Film 5213 by DP Robert Yeoman ASC, Asteroid City marks his 11th feature-length collaboration with the director.
In this Insight, we reverse engineer Asteroid City’s core visual characteristics and demonstrate a step-by-step approach to recreating this look in DaVinci Resolve, with the following elements at the heart of an “inspired-by” look:
- Reduced contrast
- Strong, targeted saturation
- Lack of traditional vignettes
- Film grain
Important: The point of this Insight is NOT to create a look on our footage that we can cut seamlessly into Asteroid City. The point is to derive inspiration, pull out key components of that film’s look, and apply it to a completely different project.
When re-creating any look, it’s always important to understand how the choices made during production impact the look and try to emulate those same conditions in your own shoot, if possible. In this case, DP Robert Yeoman embraced the harsh mid-day sun using little or no diffusion to soften the light. You could take this a step further and emulate the texture of Asteroid City, embracing the slight softening of the image that’s natural to most film stocks.
Key Takeaways from this Insight
By the end of this Insight, you should understand:
- The importance of replicating similar shooting styles in look building
- How to reverse engineer a look from publicity still references
- Shaping reduced contrast s-curves
- Targeting saturation with Hue vs. Sat or Color Warper
- Copying creative looks with compound nodes
- Incorporating film grain into your grade
Related Mixing Light Insights
- Insight Series: Working with reference images – 3 Insights on working with reference images in your grade
- Insight Series: Film Print Emulation Deep Dive – 4-part series on understanding the art and color science of FPE
- Color Grading In Spectachrome – Going Full Wes Anderson – Crafting Wes Anderson-inspired looks and the creative goals of emulating 16mm film.
- Insight Series: Texture Management for Digital Video Artists – Hector Berrebi’s series on understanding and manipulating the textures of your images.
Questions or Suggestions? Leave a comment!
This was a fun insight to record so let us know if you’d like more videos in this series. Mixing Light is all about community discussions and we’re curious if you found this helpful, if you have something to add, or if you need more questions answered?