“Training Day” 4k recovery ratchets up the tension

Colorist Sheri Eisenberg talks about working remotely with Fuqua on the new 4k restoration, and how the film’s structure and tension are released through the use of color.

When it came time to bring the gritty and unforgiving realism of the Los Angeles criminal underworld to director Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day” in crisp 4K, the process ran the risk of diminishing the film’s gritty edge.

“Don’t make it too pretty,” the filmmaker told MPI set artist Sheri Eisenberg, who was tasked with taking the film to a whole new level.

The 2001 Oscar-winning crime film – with cinematography by Mauro Fiore – is being released in high definition 4K for the first time. The format’s HDR uses a wider color spectrum, giving audiences the clearest viewing experience with brighter, deeper and more lifelike colors. But that brought up its own problems with this title.

More: David Lynch on ‘Inland Empire’ Restoration and Laura Dern’s Oscar Snub

“He wanted something meaner, a little rougher,” he recalled. “’Training Day’ is a tough day on the streets of Los Angeles. It’s a real lesson in how ugly it can be, so what he didn’t want was a nice backdrop to the story.” Although Fuqua was filming overseas while the process was underway, he offered a virtual regular contribution.

Eisenberg had access to an original print struck directly from the archived original negative, which is not always the case. This allowed him to stay as close as possible to the filmmaker’s vision.

“Antoine shot an amazing negative, but ironically our goal was to tone it down,” explained Eisenberg. “There’s an HDR moment that happens right at the capture stage, which gives us better color fidelity, a wider range in low light and a wider range in highlights, so we started from the best possible place to capture as much as possible. we can step out of the original.”

The artist was able to view his work next to the print to see how close he was to it. He wanted to stay as true to the original as possible, but wanted to see how he could “exceed expectations and go a little bit further while maintaining the intent.”

The color palette for “Training Day” uses dark and earthy urban tones, blacks, browns, greys, blues and more, as well as the iconic hazy LA sunshine. Many of the film’s key scenes use many of these elements at once, especially in the home of Scott Glenn’s character. Eisenberg described it as a “balancing act” to get the mix right.

Training day

“Training day” ahead

Warner Bros.

Training day

After “training day”.

Warner Bros.

“One of the great things about HDR is that you get what I like to call translucent low lights. In scenes like this, you get a good look at it, so you don’t feel like you’re missing anything, you don’t feel like anything is broken.”

However, he added: “If you overdo the HDR a bit, it’s hard to see in low light and it’s like your pupils are dilated. Denzel’s face has a beautiful glow and his eyes sparkle. I wanted the light to hit me, I wanted that drama, but I didn’t want to bury the tension in what you can’t see.”

This created its own challenges and opportunities. “Ethan Hawke’s face wants to reflect the light, other characters absorb the light, and Scott Glenn can be a little ruddy, so we tried to keep everyone in range and look natural,” he added. “There’s this strong, beautiful yellow light coming in through the glass in the door, and you want that, but you don’t want it to be cartoonish or garish.”

It was one of those scenes in which the colorist felt he demonstrated the capabilities of HDR and the complexity and sharpness of Fuqua and Fiore’s “spectacular photography” that “can be missed if you watch the film from a print”.

A memorable scene in which Washington’s Alonzo smokes Hawke’s Jake’s PCP gave the actor a chance to take the triple spectacle higher than was possible in 2001.

“A lot of looks are built into photography, so when you see the print you get that feel, but we can push that to even further limits and even higher values ​​to create otherworldly elements that would have been very difficult to create photochemically. ” he said.

Eisenberg wanted to avoid flat, monotonous tones in the visuals so that the audience could experience “different feelings throughout the day”, which would build and release tension. One place where the restoration team played on the upbeat elements of the palate was in a scene early in the film where Alonzo and Jake get into the car together for the first time.

“It’s a very warm scene on the negative, so you don’t feel the coldness,” he said, adding that the prints are usually muted. “It’s rained now, everything is a bit wet and the sun is cool, so we had to build it in.” Although the interior of the car is quite dark, balancing this with the mood of the surrounding environment highlighted a problem.

“Many fluorescent lights shine as you drive down the street,” lamented the artist. “In HDR, neon and all these colors can quickly overtake a scene.” Eisenberg found a balance in the use of color, even down to the light reflecting off Jake’s ring, so that it was “enough for the viewer to capture but never distract.”

Another scene that offered an opportunity to show the process was when Hawke’s character is about to be executed in a bathtub. He even questioned the prejudices of the theater artist.

“Looking at the negatives, I thought what should have happened was that Ethan would have this strong green color and that the thugs’ shots might work differently,” he said. However, after Fuqua laid eyes on it, his feedback was to use the same timbre for both.

“We went back and put that green color in and it looked really good, then we cut to the thug’s niece, whose room is red and very girly. It’s super warm and has these deep, beautiful tones. The juxtaposition of colors in different environments added another level of drama to the image.

“It’s not a pretty world, but it looks pretty cool.”

Register: Stay up to date with the latest movie and TV news! Subscribe to our email newsletter here.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *