How do you make a feature film look as though the whole thing was filmed in one shot?
Well, Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman was made to look as though it was filmed in one shot. It obviously wasn't, but making it look like it was must've been no small feat for the filmmakers, namely the film's world-class DP Emmanuel Lubezki and editors Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrone. However, Variety Artisans sheds some light on Birdman's digital intermediate colorist, Steve Scott, who had to solve the unique problem of color correcting and grading the frames that were constantly on the move. He shares his experience, as well as the collected effort it took to pull this film off, in the video below:
So much goes into selling the illusion of continuity. For Birdman, Lubezki's cinematography had to be nothing short of miraculous -- moving the camera so seamlessly that it never became disjointed. Crise and Mirrone had to be right on the money with finding good transitions as to not give away cuts (their safe haven being mostly in pans). Scott, like the film's editors, had the same objective, only instead of editing the flow of images, he edited the flow of color in the images, and his work helped make the film what it is now -- a single-shot feature film made up of hundreds of shots.
Really, it takes the effort of the whole team to make something this complicated a reality. Once the goal is set, everyone must pool their creative resources, whether they be in cinematography, editing, color grading, writing, directing, in order for it to work. Think of each contribution as a selling point for the illusion of a single take. The video shows that without Chivo, the movement of the camera wouldn't have been a selling point. Without the Crise and Mirrone, the editing wouldn't have been have been a selling point. Even without Scott, the control and expression of the constantly changing color and light wouldn't have been a selling point.
Here's the trailer to Birdman, just in case the incredible feat of the filmmakers, as well as the promise of both Michael Keaton and Edward Norton running around in their underwear didn't convince you to see it.