‘The order of the course’

20th June 2012

Today we started the grade for our film of the RSC’s Julius Caesar. The final sound mix is underway too. So it’s all a bit busy, and that’s without the other projects to finish off and the new ones to prepare. Here is how ‘the order of the course’ plays out over the next few days. Remember too that all of this is against the backdrop of continuing PR and marketing (my BBC blog post has just gone live, and Greg Doran’s Guardian feature has appeared). Oh, and a pile of paperwork is waiting back at the office, transmission notifications to send, and even this note to scratch out…

Director of photography Steve Lawes is huddled in a darkened room at Technicolor pouring over the grade with our expert colourist.They are adjusting the tints and hues and contrasts of the raw digital images and essentially ‘painting’ the final version. Bright areas of certain frames need to be knocked back, certain faces benefit from being brought up, and better balances need to be achieved as we move from shot to shot. It  is a painstaking process (and an expensive one!) and it will occupy Steve and director Greg Doran through to Friday morning.

At the same time there is the final online to do, adjusting a few frames and adding an opening caption and the closing credits. There is also a complex end board to compose which has to feature five – or is it six? – distinct logos. This is when you trail through agreements signed months ago checking just what we promised who. All of that needs to be complete by the end of Friday, but sometimes it is hard to believe that so much energy is expended on negotiating credits that appear in small type than you can see and flash by faster than you can read.

As much attention is being lavished on the sound, which is being mixed through this week. This is a process that wil last through to Saturday evening, when the finished audio file needs to be played out in real time to match up with the graded and onlined pictures. With luck, they will fit together precisely – and don’t even ask what happens if they don’t. By around 9am on Sunday morning all of that will be complete.

At which point I will pick up the transmission tape and drive across to Television Centre at White City. An engineer will, I am assured, receive it from me and take it straight into ‘tech review’. This is a process associated with more than a morsel of mysticism, but essentially it involves both humans and digital thingummies checking every frame and every second of audio.

There will be digital SWAT teams standing by to fix anything that is amiss, and if needed there will be a further review. After which, the clock ticks towards 8pm and the nation will settle itself… to watch England play Italy.

Hey ho. I’ll be watching Julius Caesar – and looking out too for any tweets (#JuliusCaesar, please) Then there is iPlayer for a week and a DVD planned for the early autumn. Perhaps one or two of you will be sufficiently moved or motivated to let us know what you think in the Comments below. But be assured that any discussion of Wayne’s red card will be taken as contravening community standards and will be given very short shrift.

Image: Brutus (Paterson Joseph) assassinates Caesar (Jeffery Kissoon), as Decius Brutus (Andrew French) looks on; photo Ellie Kurttz, © Illuminations/Royal Shakespeare Company.



  1. Hannah Boschen says:

    I’m so pleased to hear there’s going to be a DVD and I can’t wait to see this on Sunday. I was at Stratford the evening they were filming. What a performance. Julius Caesar or football…..hmm….no contest! Julius Caesar all the way!

  2. Anna says:

    Are you sure you won’t be asleep by 8pm on Sunday, John? I’m sure it’ll all be wonderful: you’ve certainly got a strong stage production at its heart.

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