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Tall Tale

Light Iron senior colorist Sam Daley helps distinguish the look of Boots Riley’s series I’m a Virgo.

Boots Riley — writer, director and acclaimed vocalist of the hip-hop group The Coup — is the definition of a colorful and exacting thinker. Some five years after achieving critical and popular praise for his debut feature, the social satire Sorry to Bother You, Riley has returned with the Prime Video original series I’m a Virgo, which shares a similar visual language and storybook world. Where Sorry Bother You examined the effects of a hidden talent that leads to a precipitous rise in status, I’m a Virgo explores circumstances where the talent isn’t so easily hidden.

I’m a Virgo is a modern fable about a 13-foot tall young Black man in Oakland, California, who ventures out into society for the first time after being sheltered inside the house for years by his adoptive parents,” explains Light Iron senior colorist Sam Daley, who reteamed with Riley for the series. “Boots and I worked together on Sorry to Bother You, which, much like I’m a Virgo, zigzags in story directions that you would never expect.”

Steve Annis and Eric Moynier shared cinematography duties on the series. "For the look of I’m A Virgo, Boots used the Scorsese movie Mean Streets as a reference,” Daley notes. “This was less for color but more for feel. Since Sorry to Bother You and I’m A Virgo both take place in an alternate-reality Bay Area, I used the look of Sorry to Bother You as my starting point. To get closer to the feel of Mean Streets, I reduced saturation and added grain, but then I leaned into some of the cartoon and comic-book hues of the production design to bring back some vibrancy.”

Daley performed the final grade from Light Iron New York. “Boots flew to New York so we could work together setting looks on a few pre-lock episodes,” Daley recounts. “During these sessions we discussed what I should expect in future episodes and what he wanted to achieve with certain VFX sequences we hadn’t seen.”

After that initial in-person session, Light Iron’s remote services ensured Riley could remain active in the color suite even from a different time zone. “While it's always more collaborative to be in the same room looking at the same screen, we can stream an accurate image across the country so long as the client has solid Wi-Fi and an iPad Pro,” Daley says. “After the last episodes locked and as VFX were being delivered, Boots and I reconvened remotely, which continued all the way though final reviews.”

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