TV series ‘Shōgun’ was graded remotely at The Mill by colourist Elodie Ichter. With creative freedom to create a look entirely from scratch, she drew on history for a rich, colourful effect.

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Streaming series Shōgun is set in Japan in 1600 as a civil war emerges, based on the 1975 novel by James Clavell. Although the episodes were directed by five different directors and shot by four cinematographers, the colour was led by Elodie Ichter, who worked with director Jonathan Van Tulleken and the production team on look development and testing from pre production.

Elodie began working on the series in LA, but by the time post production got underway, she had already moved to The Mill in New York. Due to her heavy involvement in the creation of the core look, Elodie went on to grade episodes 1 to 4 remotely from that facility.

Developing the Show Look

The goal for the series was a rich, colourful look that wasn’t too saturated, and to maintain the detail in the costumes.

As well as her work on look development, Elodie worked on the grade of the series’ first four episodes. Her close collaborative work with the director on the first episode in particular helped to develop the overall show look. “We spent a lot of time tweaking it and really getting into detail about what we wanted for the show in general,” she said.

“The costume was crucial from the beginning. I felt it was important to have it integrated in the LUT as much as possible, since it was such an important part of the look and as well as the story. I also set up looks for sunny days, cloudy days, interiors, exteriors – all those nuances are there to start with so you don’t have to find them over and over again.”


Unlike the production design and VFX departments, the colour team were not handed specific visual references or inspirational looks to work towards regarding the grade. Elodie had ample creative freedom to create a look in Baselight entirely from scratch.

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“It was all based on conversations,” Elodie said. “We went back and forth between different looks. One day you’ll have something you like and then you can come in the next day to decide you’ve taken it too far. Sometimes we would take it too far just so we could discover what ‘too far’ looked like, and from there we’d try something else. But we had no movie, TV show, music or painting references – we were just creating from what we had.

Detail in the Black

“As the series was set in 17th century, the palette was made up of a lot of greens and browns. It was more muted and dark. As a result, it became very important to create differentiation within those muted tones of the costume – without being too saturated and screaming too loudly. This was such an important factor in the story and to enable the audience to follow the narrative, but it was a challenge as it was quite meticulous work.”

To help achieve this effect, Elodie worked a lot on details in the black of the costumes and the dark rooms – making sure they did not lose any of the richness created on set.

“What I like about the look is that it’s very rich in terms of colour palette, but it’s not pushing the saturation too much,” she said. “It was shot on digital cameras, so we tried to make the look more filmic. The lenses helped a lot with that effort as well – to bring a more filmic sense to the image.”

SDR to HDR – and Back Again

One of FX Network’s primary goals was to make sure that the SDR pass was given as much attention as the HDR, and accurately represented the detailed look the team had worked to create.

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“When you’re producing an HDR show, it is important to understand that the SDR isn’t just a version we need to have. In fact, it is what most people will see and should represent exactly what was created for the look – on set and in post,” Elodie noted.

“I worked to achieve the correct colour separation for the costumes, to see the same small details in the shadows and so on. I worked with two monitors and had the two versions side by side on two separate timelines. Using Baselight, I had all the colour tools I needed to make the versions match, while respecting the nature of HDR and SDR.”

While most of the post was managed in LA, Elodie worked on the colour of episodes 1 to 4 remotely from The Mill in NY while episodes 5 to 10 were completed by Jill Bogdanowicz in LA.

“I invested a lot of time and care into the creation of the look and it was an honour to be part of the show,” said Elodie. “The collaboration with Jill was great. I shared with her all I knew about the project and how the look was created. Passing over the project to Jill was a pleasure – she is a fantastic colourist.”

A Colour Creation

“The most challenging element for me was episode one, because it required the most attention. It was the beginning of the journey and set the look for the entire series, so we spent a lot of time getting it right,” commented Elodie.

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“Another challenge was the VFX-heavy nature of the project. You work on a scene and then there’s an update, so you work some more on the scene. It was like working on a marathon – new shot, adjusting, another new shot, adjusting again.”

“But I’m most proud of the look in general. It was my own creation from the beginning, and it has been great to see that become a critical part of the whole series. I put it together in collaboration with the director, DPs and other key team members, but there were no references or visual guide to work towards or match. It was a full-on creation and I felt truly valued. I love that.”

Elodie has joined Light Iron’s New York facility and sits on the jury of this year’s FilmLight Colour