/News 21.11.19


Upright is an eight-part drama-comedy series co-written & starring Tim Minchin and follows the story of two unlikely companions forced to unite against their will, as they embark on a peculiar quest transporting a giant, upright piano across the Australian desert outback.

The series was co-directed by Tim Minchin and Matthew Saville, shot by Director of Photography Katie Milwright, and produced by the team at Lingo Pictures, headed up by Helen Bowden and Jason Stephens.

Upright also marks Lingo’s fourth consecutive project in collaboration with Cutting Edge (CE), who oversaw full picture post-production including editorial, colour grade, online and delivery.

Marcus Bolton, Head of Features & Television notes “Upright, being our fourth collaboration with Lingo, and being in partnership since their inception, is something truly special indeed. We are blessed to have clients such as Helen & Jason to collaborate with. Add an Australian icon such as Tim Minchin into the fray and immediately from reading the treatment, I knew we were going to be making something unique. For us to deliver this as a High Dynamic Range project both for SkyUK & Foxtel meant we were able to deliver the characters, story and the Australian landscapes in their true visual glory.”

DOP Katie Milwright, took the lead on creating the look for Upright, being majoritively set in the Australian outback. Whilst being a crucial vehicle in the storytelling process, the setting also provided a stunning visual backdrop for the characters, paying homage to the unique Australian landscape.

Katie Milwright has worked alongside Hauser for many years; and enjoyed collaborating to develop the film’s tonal look & feel; “working with colourist Adrian Hauser at CE was such a brilliant part of the image creation for Upright. During the editing process, I felt confident that everyone was seeing a close idea of the final look. Adrian and I embellished and fine-tuned the look during the final grade to enhance the heat, warmth and desolate feeling of the locations.”

Adrian Hauser, Senior Colourist at CE, explains how the strong consideration of colour on-set allowed for a seamless transition of the rushes into the colour grade. “Katie and the crew dedicated much time and research into crafting the production schedule, ensuring the light and shooting conditions were structured around the landscapes themselves. They identified the lighting & time of day that would best highlight the natural beauty and authenticity of each location.”

“Keeping in line with the true colour of each location meant the rushes already looked incredible when they were delivered to post. Not only did this mean the intention of the colour-treatment for each shot was clear from the on-set, but it also enabled CE the ability to keep all original camera footage online throughout the post-production process. This saved significant time, enabling the team to respond rapidly to edit changes when needed.”

Lingo shot Upright in consideration of the High Dynamic Range post path, delivering ten different versions, including high & standard dynamic range, streaming quality, and for SkyUK & Foxtel broadcasts. Exploring the HDR workflow, and managing the significant number of deliverables, both locally and internationally, presented an exciting challenge for CE, particularly during the online phase.

Jo Spillane, Senior Online Artist, explains; “it was important to ensure that picture, sound, and grade elements remained consistent across our SDR and HDR deliverables. Most notably, Finn Spencer had a very specific vision for a title sequence that interacted with the camera motion against the landscape horizon. We worked closely with Finn to ensure colour and composition of these titles remained true to his vision in both SDR & HDR mastering. It was during the online sessions that all elements came together, technically and creatively, to present to the client for final approvals.”

Cutting Edge has been involved in all productions to come out of Lingo Pictures, since their inception in 2015, stemming from an early working relationship between Helen Bowden & Jason Stephens (owners at Lingo) with Marcus Bolton & Stewart Dean.

Helen Bowden explains how the working relationship came to be; “I first worked with Marcus & Stewart during our time at Deluxe when I was making ‘Devil’s Playground’ for Foxtel in 2012.

They were far and away the best people I had ever worked with, particularly their focus on story, their attention to detail, and their problem-solving.  They would do everything they could to help achieve the best result without stressing over money or time.  They loved getting it completely right. I moved with them to CE, and have worked with them on every production since.”

Helen Bowden, Lingo Pictures Co-owner

Post-Producer, Stewart Dean, shared similar sentiments around working with the team at Lingo; “it has been exciting to closely watch the team grow over the years and develop a slate of projects that have gone on to be internationally recognised. Notably, Lambs of God was invited to screen at the prestigious TV festival ‘Series Mania’ in France, as well as being celebrated locally by premiering at the Sydney Film Festival, before airing exclusively on Foxtel. The celebration of the series continues with Lambs of God having recently received a record-breaking eighteen nominations at this year’s AACTA Awards.”

This follows on from two successful partnerships on previous productions Wake in Fright (Network 10/Endemol) in 2017, and On the Ropes (SBS/DCD Rights) in 2018, which was also nominated for an AACTA.

Co-owners Jason Stephens and Helen Bowden commented on their personal experience during post for Upright: “every production has its own unique challenges in post.”

The team at CE has your back to problem solve and find a solution. Lambs of God is recognised as being a unique world, CE was central to the seamless creation of that. They tend to approach things calmly and always with smiles on their faces. It’s also appreciated that they take a real interest in the content and we value their input.”

Jason Stephens, Lingo Pictures Co-owner

“The longer you work with the same people the better it gets. Trust builds, skills build and everything gets easier. Half the time we’ve had our own Lingo wing! With our marvellous Post Production Producer, Benita Carey and the team at CE, Lingo has delivered five shows in five years, each of them finished to a world-class standard.  We are delighted to work with Stewart, Marcus, Jo, Adrian and Dwaine.” (Helen Bowden)

Upright appears destined to receive the same accolades in 2020. The series premieres on SkyUK late November & on Foxtel in early December. Even prior to its release, the series has generated much interest in the US & Canada through distributors eOne, and local interest has swelled after thousands of Tim’s fans attended his recent national tour, and were treated to a screening of the series trailer at the end of each performance.

Cutting Edge has teamed up with Lingo Pictures once again on the series The Secrets She Keeps (Network 10/DCD Rights) expecting to hit screens in 2020.

Article by Dani Martin
Cutting Edge