Documentary | Post Production
‘Hatton’ is a brutally honest and deeply personal documentary with incredible access to Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, charting his journey from the Hattersley estate near Manchester to headlining on the strip in Las Vegas. Sky Post Production were engaged to provide final post on the film, which is directed by multi-award-winning Director Dan Dewsbury and produced by Noah Media Group (14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, Finding Jack Charlton), in association with Sky Studios.
Post Producer, Oliver Bramley, said, "Working on a project that tells such a fascinating and hard-hitting story it was so important that I was able to allow the director and production company as much flexibility as possible when it came to the final post. It was here that the storytelling could be elevated to the next level, bringing together elements such as an impactful sound design and a beautifully stylised grade."
Our team explain the creative and technical processes involved in delivering this exceptional film;
Colourist, Mark Mulcaster
The Hatton grade took place over four days at Sky with director Dan Dewsbury attending, but conversations about the look for the film had started weeks before covering such subjects as film stocks and grain structure to use as a base for the final grade. We requested a test sequence which was representative of the edit, and set to work on the look weeks in advance.
Our experimentation took us from some very authentic film print emulations to something a bit more stylistic with warmer highlights and skin tones whilst pushing cooler tones into the shadows which really enhanced the interviews. Then, after locking in the look, we started to explore the texture of the images, experimenting with different grain stocks and plugins. We also discussed incorporating some halation (the spreading of light beyond its proper boundaries to form a fog round the edges of a bright image) so I built a film halation layer which could then be blended into some of the shots to try and replicate that quality that you find in many feature films. This was all done prior to the grade which gave us a great foundation to build upon and explore further during the attended sessions, making the most of Dan’s valuable time.
The interviews were shot over the course of several days in natural light which required continual adjustments from shot to shot as well as having to dynamically adjust for lighting levels during some pivotal interviews. Some of the environments really allowed us to enhance the emotion that we wanted the viewer to feel, from the warmth and security of Jennifer Dooley’s living room in Manchester, to the almost Godfather-like setting for some of the boxing promoters in Las Vegas.
Ricky Hatton’s interview was made to feel a lot cooler and having it set at the end of a long table in the kitchen created a sense of separation and isolation from the story. The cool blues and teals worked really nicely with the chrome of the kitchen. For the most part we kept the film fairly natural although when the story moved into discussing embezzlement, we made some of those affected a bit greener to create an off-kilter perception and then returned to our normalised grade once that story had been resolved.
I was really pleased with the grade and how the collaboration between myself and Dan went. It’s always rewarding and satisfying to work on a film with a director who has such a clear vision yet allows you the time and space to creatively explore the visuals.
Online Editor, Julien Wilcock
I was really excited when I was asked to work on the Hatton documentary. Having followed Ricky's boxing career and watched his fights it was a subject I was very interested in. I spoke with Dan Dewsbury, the Director, and Paul Yoshida, the Producer, prior to the Online to discuss specifics regarding things they were looking to achieve with the final look of the documentary. One important stylistic choice that Dan was very keen to add in the Online was to apply lens flares where appropriate. The tricky thing was not to overuse them, and we all agreed to keep them very subtle to avoid distracting from this beautifully shot and graded documentary.
We spent a lot of time refining the lens flares in both Avid and After Effects to get the right feel. Another thing we spoke about was the archive, as it was from various periods in time and varied in quality. There was home video of Ricky’s childhood shot on domestic cameras, early training and boxing matches filmed by his family and friends, all the way through to his professional televised fights. One of the tasks was to try and smooth out the flow of the archive by improving the footage where possible and we used Boris Image Restoration and Sapphire plugins to achieve this. Watching the finished documentary in the edit suite, seeing the grade and graphics, and hearing the audio mix all come together, I’m really pleased with the final piece and I know Dan and Paul were very happy as well.
Dialogue Editor/ Audio Mix Technician, Tatjana Radivoj
From the moment I first saw the rough cut for Hatton I knew it was going to be an amazing documentary to work on. It’s a really interesting and emotional story, and the fight scenes are tremendous. I was particularly excited to work on the dialogue as there are some really powerful lines and great sounding dialogue recordings. Even though I’ve watched it many times now, I still get goosebumps every time I watch it!
Working as both Dialogue Editor and Audio Mix Technician meant that I was involved both technically and operationally. I attended production meetings with the clients to understand what they needed from us in terms of delivery specs but also to advise on what files and export settings were needed. I also had conversations with the dubbing mixer about the desk template, and about how we were going to approach the sound edit and mix. Because of this, I could track lay and edit dialogue in a way that was the most organised and helpful to the mix. For example, I split out boxing commentary, archive dialogue and present-day interview dialogue on separate tracks so if different treatment was required in the mix, this could be done very easily.
One of the stand out elements of the dialogue editing was that some of the characters were recorded in a large room with very nice sounding reverb. I felt that this really added to the gravity of what they were saying and because of this I made sure to keep as much of that natural reverb as possible in the dialogue edit. I was also conscious to present the dialogue edit to the mixer in such a way that made it as easy as possible to enhance that reverb where needed.
Audio Dubbing Mixer, Finn Curry
When I found out that Hatton was to be feature length and that it was being produced by Noah Media, who made 14 Peaks which I very much enjoyed, I was very excited. It seemed like a project that would tell a very interesting story in an interesting way and after a few conversations with Dan Dewsbury, the director, it quickly became apparent that the sound design would indeed be very important. We discussed various thematic sounds/leitmotifs that could be used throughout and other ideas about the presentation of the fights and how they could be brought to life.
The aim was to create an enhanced, cinematic documentary mix. There were the usual challenges – tidying and EQ’ing dialogue, spotting sound effects, noise reduction and so on but there were two particular challenges that stood out. Firstly, the fight scenes. These were crucial moments in Ricky’s career and needed to work convincingly. I had to do a lot of work to smooth out the crowd to make it feel seamless so that the viewers would feel involved in the fight and not notice the cuts so much. I also added some punch sounds, but not too loud. I didn’t want to go over the top with the fight sounds, but I wanted them to feature, so I spent quite a while fitting appropriate punch sounds and then embedding them in the mix so that they gave an impact without being silly and over the top. The second big challenge was the mix. There was a lot going on at certain points and I needed to ensure that the right sounds were at the right level at the right time. You don’t want the soundscape to become a mush of music, fighting, comms, dialogue etc. Each sound has to have its place and work individually as well as in relation to everything else, and the dialogue also needs to cut through in a doco like this. You can risk certain moments just becoming a wall of sound if you’re not paying careful attention and I wanted to avoid that. Then, with certain other emotional moments, I added some sound design to the already excellent composed score to help emphasise what was being said or felt.
In the case of Hatton, we had good contact with the client before and during the Audio Mix so I could align my ideas with theirs and the resulting mix is something everybody is happy with.
Hatton transmits on 31st August at 9pm on Sky Documentaries and NOW.