Originally posted on postPerspective

Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, blends classic and contemporary aesthetics against the backdrop of a beautiful, historic New York City apartment building and various locations in Manhattan. With the building serving as a character in and of itself, the attention to visual detail is an essential element to the storytelling.

At the heart of this journey is the collaboration between the show’s cinematographers and Picture Shop senior colorist Tim Vincent. Vincent works closely with them and the producers to ensure that every frame serves the story they aim to tell.

Vincent began work alongside DP Chris Teague, ASC, in Season 2 of the series. Teague’s photography had set the visual language in the first season and continued its evolution as the story progressed. DP Dagmar Weaver-Madsen also shot a few episodes for Season 2. The torch was passed to DP Kyle Wullschleger for Seasons 3 and 4. Wullschleger was an “insider,” having worked as the Steadicam and camera operator with Teague.

“The look of the show and its use of color has always played a significant role in the story,” explains Vincent. “It’s always been filmic. In fact, early on, we began aiming for an almost print look. As the stories have evolved, we shifted to a more vibrant palette, with a more Hollywood-style color in Season 3. This season will be even more vibrant, with uniquely story-driven choices which, of course, enhance the aesthetics but subtly guide the viewers’ attention toward crucial plot elements and clues, akin to a modern-day game of Clue. It’s been great fun to work with every one of the cinematographers, who each bring a different sensibility to the work.”

Collaboration often takes place across the country and time zones. “The show shoots in New York and I’m based in LA,” explains Vincent, who uses Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. “In the past three years, remote workflows have become standard. We have continuous back and forth and that’s simply crucial.”

Different remote monitoring systems like Tecstream, Streambox and Colorfront support a successful remote grading experience for Picture Shop clients.

The show is shot on Sony Venice, and Vincent and the show’s cinematographers set specific LUTs for each season, ensuring visual consistency. Vincent attributes the success of Only Murders in the Building to the exceptional team he gets to work with. Showrunner John Hoffman is “absolutely outstanding,” says Vincent. “He has opinions but is completely open to other people’s ideas to help elevate the look of the show. That is an incredibly important perspective… to constantly look for any way to make the show its best possible.”

What Vincent sees as bedrock is the ability to work in the way the clients need to work. “We are completely flexible,” he says. “Being able to shift, easily and as needed, has worked out very well, and our fluid relationship has fueled collaboration as well as success. It’s important to us that we make it easy for the creatives. It’s akin to TLC. We really want these people to be well taken care of. We have respect for them, and, I believe, deep understanding of what they are trying to create, how they are working and what they need to deliver.

“It’s an amazing opportunity as a colorist to go into a show that already looks great,” he adds. “It’s a big creative endeavor that allows me to do my best work. The creative team from the show is always interested in doing new things, not resting on their laurels (and there are many) and pushing for greatness. That’s challenging and inspiring It’s simply an amazing show to work on.”