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Nucoda Film Master turns up the heat on Sky 1 HD's Mad Dogs

Sky 1 and Sky 1HD recently aired four-part drama Mad Dogs with an all-star British male cast including Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm, Marc Warren and Ben Chaplin. Shot on 35mm on location in Majorca last summer, the 4x60 minute series was written by Cris Cole and produced by BAFTA-winning Left Bank Pictures.

Mad Dogs tells the story of a group of five forty-something friends who originally met at sixth-form college. Woody (Beesley), Quinn (Glenister), Baxter (Simm) and Rick (Warren) head to Majorca to stay with Alvo (Chaplin) a risk-taking opportunist who, having made his fortune in property, leads a luxurious lifestyle on the island. They've all taken different paths in the years since leaving college with varying degrees of success. When they go to Alvo's extravagant villa to celebrate his early retirement, what appears to be their last ditch attempt at rekindling their youth doesn't go to plan and they find themselves entangled in deception and murder.



Mad Dogs saw DoP Tony Slater-Ling (Shameless) working alongside director Adrian Shergold; a partnership that produced Channel 4's gritty drama Clapham Junction three years ago. The Farm colourist Sonny Sheridan completed the grade on Nucoda Film Master. He kicked the project off with a LOG transfer of the 35mm neg to 2K. He explains, "35mm gives (not unsurprisingly) a beautiful filmic look. The granular quality of the chosen stocks really helped me when grading, particularly when I needed to convey the intense heat and sunlight of certain scenes."

A lot of the action, particularly in the first episode, is shot face-on very close to camera on 12mm and 14mm lenses with the actors looking straight down the barrel of the lens to add a high level of intensity and unease to the narrative. Sheridan says, "At the beginning of the first episode the group lands in Majorca and there's a level of excitement and anticipation. When they get off the plane the intense heat, which is a strong theme throughout the piece, can almost be felt by the viewer. We played on the blue in the sky and the vivid strong colours in the scenery to mirror the euphoric feelings of the characters. We really wanted to draw the viewer into those feelings of excitement but also convey a level of uncertainty; something's not quite right but it's not yet apparent what. As the show gets darker the intensity and anxiety grows and the scenic backdrop suddenly doesn't seem so beautiful."

As everything starts to fall apart - both the characters and the situation - the colour takes on a dirtier feeling. Sheridan achieved this look by de-saturating the colour on the Nucoda Film Master, conveying the now oppressive and stifling heat which is reflected in the storyline.

Sheridan adds, "The Nucoda Film Master's tracking tool really comes into its own on a project like this. When the characters are on the boat I added layers to the sky and the sea and then tracked the horizon to keep them separate. There were other scenes such as the airport where the blue sky literally comes from nowhere. Again I tracked the sky to follow the four characters. I used grads to heighten the look of the sky and to follow the movement of the camera.

It was also really important that I could use the system's high dynamic range to hold onto the detail in the highlights. I wanted to keep the intensity of the heat and let it burn out. In order to do this I initially held the highlights down and then pulled them back. Essentially what I'm doing is turning the contrast right the way up to get those vivid pictures - bringing the blacks down and pushing the whites up. The Nucoda Film Master allows you to pull back the original picture putting the warmth back into the highlights: it's an amazing tool."

Mad Dogs has a slightly voyeuristic element as it makes the viewer question how they would react in the same situation as the characters, which is a further credit to the script and production. It proved a huge hit with consolidated audience figures for the final episode averaging 1.775 million making it the 11th highest rated programme ever on Sky1.

About Image Systems
Image Systems AB and Digital Vision AB have merged to create a single new company under the Image Systems brand, specializing in high-resolution image processing, film scanning and motion analysis solutions. Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Image Systems has offices in Linköping, London, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Image Systems' customer-focused solutions are managed via three business units: Media, Defense and Motion, via a global network of qualified distributors. The company's Nucoda and Phoenix image grading and restoration software solutions and Golden Eye range of scanners provide innovative tools to create and master media in HD, 2K/4K and stereoscopic 3D. The TEMA software platform provides a range of user friendly, high-speed motion analysis solutions for the automotive industry and other industrial test and design applications. The TrackEye software and Golden Eye scanners provide image analysis solutions for the military reconnaissance and testing markets. For additional information, visit

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