Short film 'On My Mind’ was limited by COVID, budget and time, but editor Thomas Engell’s skills in VFX, grading and audio in DaVinci Resolve meant this short film was an Oscar nominee.

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Directed by Martin Strange-Hansen, short film 'On My Mind’ mixes memory and fiction, and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Short Film (Live Action) category. With cinematography by Ian Hansen, the film was post produced by Thomas Engell at post production house Sound of Sunrise in Copenhagen. 
“Everything we did was about storytelling,” said Thomas. “When you have just 18 minutes, you can’t leave any stone unturned if you want to deliver the most potent story and characters.”
The low budget and tight COVID rules on set meant limiting the production to a skeleton cast and crew and a lean workflow that called on all of Thomas’ experience as an editor and his skills in visual effects, grading and audio. He said, “For this project, I worked like a hermit away from production and without an editorial assistant, which was made possible to a very large extent by the multidisciplinary nature of the tools in Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve.”

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Shooting in 4K RAW ensured he could pull out all of the details in the shadows to create more depth and atmosphere. Also, having collaborated previously, the director and editor developed a creative shorthand that gave the actors more freedom to interpret their characters on set as if they were performing in a live theatre. Thomas could then work with different takes to further enhance the performance.
“Using digital cloning techniques, I could use one take of an actor and blend it into another shot if that helped improve the story or the performance. I might alter the timing of a shot by a couple of frames, and in doing so, subtly change our perception of a character. These techniques are not new, but tools like Resolve’s OpenFX make it far easier,” he said.
Similarly, he used colour and light in the grading process to enhance a scene’s composition. “We are trying to focus the audience’s attention on what is important in a frame. Provided it makes narrative sense, I would apply masks and flags in Fusion, add or subtract light in the grade, and then create a mosaic on faces that changes with their movements,” Thomas noted.

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Sound of Sunrise implemented a 4K real time editing workflow removing the need for proxies. Thomas could then grade in ACES to P3 and Rec. 709. He also fixed more minor issues such as image clean-up and object removal using advanced tools within the colour page, and could track in all of the screen replacements with Fusion’s planar tracker. The preliminary foley, sound design and audio editing relied on Fairlight.
“I want things to fly during post,” he remarked. “The tools within DaVinci Resolve – whether editing, grading or compositing – are so intertwined that it makes storytelling so much quicker and more intuitive.”