Recreating the Kong: Skull Island ‘Toxic Yellow’ Look in DaVinci Resolve

March 6, 2024

Exercise your grading skills by matching Kong: Skull Island's 'Toxic Yellow' look in DaVinci Resolve. Luke Ross shares his approach.


A colour grading exercise

In this Insight, we use a reference still from Kong: Skull Island to build an inspired look that reflects an apocalyptic, toxic landscape. This Insight draws the key elements, emphasising controlling lifted and diffused shadows while managing colour casts so warm they may as well be dichromatic!

Shot by Director of Photography Larry Fong, the look of Kong: Skull Island heavily draws inspiration from Apocalypse Now. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts captured a classic ‘70s look during principal photography. Combining a few simple serial nodes using straightforward tools like contrast/pivot and the primary corrector allows you to build a flexible and colourful look without worrying about breaking a qualifier or a power window.

Key takeaways from this Insight

By the end of this Insight, you should understand how to:

  • Evaluate film stills using the Display Qualifier Focus
  • Experiment with the ‘Shot Match’ tool and blend the un-ideal results into the final grade using the Key Output tool.
  • Apply a green/yellow stylistic grade using the Primaries, HDR wheels and Colour Warper.
  • Add colour contrast using a vertical gradient matte
  • Match the contrast and skin tones across multiple shots in a scene

Mixing Light Premium Members – Download the sample footage and reference image

Premium members, be sure to download the sample footage I’ve provided – for your personal use – to try matching the supplied reference image.

Special thanks: The band Swerve City graciously provided this footage, but it should not be distributed to anyone else or uploaded anywhere else. It’s for your personal use only. Find Air Support on Apple Music or on their YouTube channel.

External Links

Related Mixing Light Insights

Questions or Comments? Leave a comment!

Would you take a different approach to recreating this look on ‘generically captured’ footage? Let me know in the comments! I’m always interested to see how other people work.

– Luke

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