Becoming Jane, which opens in the UK on March 9th and in the US in late summer, is a charming biographical portrait of a pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman. The film stars Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen and James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy, with a supporting cast that includes James Cromwell, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith and Ian Richardson. The film was directed by Julian Jarrold, with cinematography by Eigil Bryld. It was produced by Graham Broadbent, Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae. Becoming Jane’s Digital Intermediate was created by Framestore CFC.
Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) believes in love. Her parents (Julie Walters and James Cromwell) want her to marry for money and in 1795 England that was the way of the world for a young woman. But when the 20-year-old meets the dashing young Irishman, Tom Lefroy (James Mcavoy), his intellect and arrogance ignite Jane’s curiosity and her world spins head-over-heels. Can Jane afford to spurn the offer of Lady Gresham’s (Maggie Smith) nephew, defy the authority of her parents and fly in the face of social convention? In Becoming Jane, a young lady on the first rung of literary greatness risks a romance that was to shape her life and her work.
Shot in a variety of locations around Ireland, Becoming Jane was brought to Framestore CFC for its two-week Digital Intermediate grade. Senior Colourist Asa Shoul worked closely with cinematographer Eigil Bryld and director Julian Jarrold to give the film its digital tweaks and polish. “One of the nice things about this project,” says Shoul, “Was the fact that they’d had a lot of footage printed before bringing it to us.
This has become rarer in recent years, with footage often just being telecined at that stage, which doesn’t always give the best sense of what the negative’s going to be like. So before we began work, the production team and I sat in our cinema for a few hours, looking at various key sequences and considering what to do. One outcome of this was that the director and producers decided that they wanted a bit more richness in the opening reels, and so we added some saturation to these scenes.”
The film was very naturally lit and shot by Bryld, with much use of available light. Night interiors, of which there were a number, were candlelit (or shot to look it), and among these were two big ballroom scenes. The first was a local, small-scale gathering ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® candlelit but quite dark, and Shoul was able to help pick out faces and eyes, making sure that reactions could be clearly seen. The second ball was a much grander affair, and again Shoul was able to digitally moderate the lighting, keeping it at authentic looking levels.
Another night scene occurs at a boxing match, and Shoul’s grading helped keep the participants delineated and a beshadowed Anne Hathaway’s reactions clear. A cricket match scene was bedevilled by a storm that blew up during its shooting, and the digital grade offered a chance to get the sunlit grass shots to match up properly.
There was, Shoul says, only one particularly tricky scene. “It involved Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy and was shot over two days. Some of her shots were overcast, whilst his had sun in them. I got our tracking team to make some mattes for the edges of the trees, so that I could put a fake sunlight in those. We also did mattes for her, of course ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® about seven shots ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® to try and help them balance.”
One final digital tweak involved the make-up. “Obviously, with white costumes and powdered faces you need to ensure that cast members don’t look washed out ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® though this was not an issue for much of the time. But the end of the film involves a flash forward sequence complete with aged faces, some of which looked a little over-emphasised around the eyes and cheeks. Our VFX team did about 30-40 shots ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® some were done in Baselight, some on other machines ?‚àö√ë‚àö¬® creating a much smoother look. I then sort of dialled back from the original to the right level, delicately modifying the make-up whilst making sure they didn’t look airbrushed.”
Buena Vista International (UK) and Miramax Films
An Ecosse Films production, in association with Blueprint Pictures
Produced by Graham Broadbent, Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae
Directed by Julian Jarrold
For Framestore CFC
Colourist Asa Shoul
Producer Sarah Micallef
Executive Producer Jan Hogevold
Head of Digital Lab Ben Baker
Conform Editor Charlie Habanananda
Scanning and Recording Manager Andy Burrow
Scanning and Recording Dan Perry, Jason Burnett, Paul Doogan, Joe Godfrey
Data Operators Vishal Songara, Dan Victoire, Simon Wessely
Retouch and Restoration Louie Alexander, Adam Hawkes, Aaron Lear, Savneet Nagi, Stuart Nippard, Nick Stanley, O’Dean Thompson
Film Mastering Engineers Yan Jennings, Kevin Lowery
Digital Lab Engineers Jerome Dewhurst, Eric D’Souza, Ian Redmond