Creating the look for Sick of It


In this week's Broadcast, Farm colourist, Aidan Farrell talks about how he created the look for the brand new series as part of a bigger 'Behind the Scenes' article:




Having worked with Richard Yee for many years, I was very aware of his strong visual style, especially in the grading process. Sick of It was an opportunity to raise the bar for comedy drama by giving the series a strong photographic and cinematic look.


Richard wanted it to look real and naturalistic, but not gritty or depressing - warm but not too colourful. He talked about a faded colour palette - like a wall that had been painted a bright colour and then faded over time.


We met to look at references and gravitated to Spike Jonze’s Her, Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women and Beginners, Amazon series Transparent and FX comedy Baskets, and the photography of Fred Herzog and Elliot Erwitt.


Common threads emerged: we both liked photography with low contrast and shadows, with lots of colour; a lot of backlight and lens flare and a soft 1970s aesthetic. All the references had the airy, warm, light feel of films or photographs shot on America’s West Coast. The challenge was to achieve this look in Ladbroke Grove, west London, in October and November.


For the shoot, Richard and the production designer used a mid-20th century colour chart, preserving original colours where possible and adjusting exterior colours, over which they had less control.

An antique suede filter was added when filming on two Alexa Minis, adding warmth to the light and providing that West Coast feel.


There was already lots of lens flare and light bleed in the rushes, but when scenes felt too clean, I’d add in more with Nucoda plug-ins. This was predominantly used in visual effects shots with the two Karls together, which had to be shot cleaner so they could be composited and rotoscoped. While filming was still in progress, I had access to rushes and would send production test grades and ideas – a great way of establishing what’s working.


A lot of attention was paid to retaining the airy and bright feel to each frame. We wanted to always have a perception of light leaking somewhere in the frame. Various tools were used to create this.


In other scenarios, grading layers with less contrast were added and the mid-tones stretched, but only to select parts. This effect was of paramount importance, especially when grading the flatter and ever-changing British climatic conditions. In these scenes, we had to match real low-loader car shots with studio green screen and we had the added complication of Karl playing two roles.



Read the whole 'Behind the scenes' article here.


Associated People