August 15, 2017

Emmy Contenders: A Look At Some Of This Year’s Hopefuls

Harbor Picture Company re-recording mixer Josh Berger is nominated for an Emmy for his work on Netflix’s Master of None.


Nominations for the 69th Emmy Awards were announced last month, with NBC’s Saturday Night Live and HBO’s Westworld taking the lead for the most nominations (22 each) in all categories, followed by Stranger Things and FEUD: Bette and Joan (18) and Veep (17). Leading the nominations in totals by platform
were HBO (110), Netflix (91) and NBC (60). This year’s seven drama series nominees include

This year’s seven drama series nominees include five first-timers distributed across broadcast, cable and digital platforms: Better Call Saul, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, House of Cards, Stranger Things, This Is Us and Westworld.

“It’s been a record-breaking year for television, continuing its explosive growth,” says Television Academy chairman and CEO Hayma Washington. “The Emmy Awards competition experienced a 15 percent increase in submissions for this year’s initial nomination round of online voting. The creativity and excellence in presenting great storytelling and characters across a multitude of ever-expanding entertainment platforms is staggering.”

The 69th Emmy Awards will telecast live from the Microsoft Theater in LA on September 17th on CBS. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will air on September 16th on FXX.

In the meantime, Post takes a look here at a few of this year’s nominees.

Harbor Picture Company re-recording mixer Josh Berger is nominated for an Emmy for his work on Netflix’s Master of None. “The Dinner Party” episode is nominated in the Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) category. Berger mixed the program on an Avid S6 mixing console.

HBO’s Westworld received 22 nominations in such categories as directing, visual efects, editing and cinematography. Earlier this year, Post spoke with Paul Cameron, ASC, director of photography who is nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour). Cameron, along with colorist Shane Harris of Deluxe’s Encore and show runner and co-creator Jonathan Nolan, established a dark and “moody cinematic look that was slightly desaturated” for the pilot and carried out throughout the series. One of the post and production challenges of the part western, part sci-fi series, which is shot on 35mm on Arricam Lite cameras, was in distinguishing its various settings — the outdoor vistas and classic western town, the darker indoor labs
an operations center, the underground storage area and the flashback sequences — so that each would have its own distinct look.

“That’s the beauty of a DP when you’re doing a pilot and the show is not yet 100 percent sold,” says Cameron. “You’re developing the look, while also keeping in mind that somebody else will be matching those looks throughout the series. In this case, it was a little bit unique because there aren’t that many shows shot on 35mm film anymore. We ended up with about three or four DPs who were experienced with film, and then Shane Harris and Jonathan Nolan kept the look consistent throughout the whole show.”

The Handmaid’s Tale, the critically acclaimed new series from Hulu that is based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, best-selling novel about life in the dystopian Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States, received a number of nominations in directing, visual efects and writing. Colin Watkinson, DP for the show, has also been nominated for Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series (One-Hour). In conceiving the look for the series, director Reed Morano (Episodes 1-3), a cinematographer
herself, worked with Watkinson to create a subtle, painterly palette with a visceral deployment of primary colors focused on red and blue. As the show would deliver in High Dynamic Range (HDR) — an ultra-high-contrast format with brighter pixels and greater perceived resolution — it was critical that the creative intent of the subdued look carry through to all audiences, whether they view the show in standard definition or HDR. Watkinson notes, “We shot on Arri Alexa in 4K knowing Deluxe would take it to HDR in the grade. We chose particular lenses for the show and it was important to preserve that look.” Deluxe Toronto colorist Bill Ferwerda worked closely with Morano, Watkinson and on-set grader Ben Whaley to maintain the subtle layers of color in the show and accentuate when possible.

“The color red needed to stand out and be significant,” said Watkinson. “Everything in the production design from the color of the houses to the
specific peacock blue of the wives’ wardrobe was selected really carefully.” See the September issue of Post for full interviews with both Watkinson and Ferwada.

In Netflix’s acclaimed new drama, The Crown, viewers go inside the story of Elizabeth II’s early reign — all the real-life personal intrigues, romances and political rivalries behind the great
events that shaped the second half of the 20th Century. Included among its numerous nominations is Stephen Daldry for Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series, who Post’s Iain Blair spoke with in our June issue.

According to Daldry, who says he’s a big fan of streaming as well as all the new platforms, “I’m delighted with the way this show’s going. I’m doing Season 2 now and then in about six months we’ll be starting on Season 3. The great thing about long-form drama on TV is that you can do these in-depth shows that work in a very novelistic way, and that allow you to really explore character arcs and themes that you just can’t do the same way in a two-hour movie. There will always be cinema, and people will always want to see films on the big
screen in a big, dark theater, I think. But a show like this on Netflix certainly gives you the freedom to deal with a complex story set over many years that you can’t easily deal with in other ways.”

Stranger Things, one of Netflix’s most anticipated and original new series of 2016, received much love from the Television Academy. In all, it received
18 Emmy nominations in such categories as directing, cinematography, editing, sound editing and sound mixing. For the latter, Joe Barnett, re-recording mixer; Adam Jenkins, re-recording mixer; Chris Durfy, CAS, production mixer and Bill Higley, CAS, ADR mixer were nominated for their work in Episode 8: “The Upside Down,” in the Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour) category.

Post’s Jennifer Walden spoke with Barnett and Jenkins last year about the show’s weird plotline with other dimensions and parallel worlds (dubbed “The Upside Down.” In contrast to the quiet reality of Hawkins, IN, where the show takes place, The Upside Down is alive with active backgrounds. Sound supervisor Brad North and his team built
ambient backgrounds with real sounds which Jenkins and Barnett treated in the mix. Jenkins explains, “Visually, The Upside Down is like a decaying version of our world. So when the kids in the series are in this decaying forest where the monster lives, there are lots of trees and wind, very natural sounds that we treated and warped in a diferent way. Everything in The Upside Down was treated diferently, from the dialogue to the Foley to the creature sounds, to make it feel like you were in a diferent world. It was quite efective.”

PS260’s Adam Epstein is nominated for editing the Saturday Night Live skit, “Kellyanne Conway.” “It was a really fun piece,” says Epstein. “More than anything, it’s a testament to how great the film unit crew and the music department is, and how Kate McKinnon truly can do anything. “As is always the case on our pieces, the compressed timeline was the most challenging aspect. The shoot went till later Friday night, so editorially, I had about a day for the cut and final finish.” The segment was shot using two Arri Alexa cameras and was colored at The Mill. The conformed was handled in Adobe Premiere — the same software Epstein cut it in.

“Oz Rodriguez did such a great job directing the piece, and Kate is so entertaining,” he adds. “When you’re given such great material to work with, the job is a real pleasure.”

Composer Mac Quayle received two Emmy nominations for his work on the “Main Title” and “Score” featured in the Ryan Murphy/FX hit series, Feud: Bette and Joan. The series stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon.

Quayle won the Emmy last year for his score for USA Network’s Mr. Robot, starring Christian Slater and Rami Malek. He also regularly composes music for FX’s American Horror Story and worked on last year’s popular The People v. O.J. Simpson.

Sue Pelino, vice president of audio post production, Broadway Video, received an Emmy nomination as part of the sound mixing team for Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Variety Series Or Special. The nomination was awarded to the audio production team on the 2017 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony that aired on HBO. Pelino served as re-recording mixer on the project.

“Capturing the spirit of the irreplaceable events of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is just short of a small wonder, but it’s a feat that Sue Pelino has been mastering for years,” says Stephanie Rutkowski, VP, Broadway Video post production. “Following the six-hours of live performances of music legends at the 32nd annual ceremony, Pelino and team had less than two weeks to do their magic to mix a three-hour broadcast.”

Pelino has received two Emmy awards and nine prior nominations.