/News 31.08.23


We delve into Cutting Edge’s involvement in the Paramount+ television series, Last King of the Cross and their role in bringing the contrasting grittiness and vibrancy to the screen.

Based on a true story adapted from John Ibrahim’s autobiography, Last King of the Cross is a captivating original Australian series for Paramount+. Set in Sydney’s infamous nightclub district Kings Cross during the ’80s and ’90s, the 10-part series is as compelling as it is bold, much like Kings Cross itself.

Last King of the Cross. Photo Daniel Asher Smith

Over ten episodes, an elevated one-hour, serialised crime drama tracks John Ibrahim’s rise from a poverty-stricken immigrant with no education, money, and prospects to Australia’s most infamous nightclub mogul. The world is Kings Cross: a mini–Atlantic City, barely half a mile long and with every form of criminality on offer.

Cutting Edge collaborated with Helium Pictures on the series, providing services from digital dailies, editorial hire, VFX, grade, online and delivery. Being Helium’s launch project and the first time partnering with Cutting Edge on a series, it didn’t take long for both companies to form a close partnership and for Cutting Edge to embrace Helium’s vision and enthusiasm for the series.

Cutting Edge worked alongside the show’s key creatives, including Producers Mark Fennessy and Karl Zwicky, Associate & Post Producer Alexandra Doering and Director of Photography Bruce Young, to help deliver a visually engaging series that would help set the tone for the intricate narrative while capturing the vibrancy of the locations and settings.

While many Australians are familiar with the legacy of Kings Cross, many international audiences need to be made aware of its reputation. Keeping this in mind, capturing the essence of the infamous strip and replicating its distinct atmosphere on the screen was important. Cutting Edge was eager to work cohesively alongside Helium’s creative team to deliver the visual brief they were striving for and help the story resonate with audiences.

And resonate it did! Early into its premiere, Last King of the Cross became the most-watched Australian series on Paramount+ within its first week, a massive coup for the entire team. But its success wasn’t surprising to the Cutting Edge team, who worked on the series over the eight-month post.

Early into pre-production, Cutting Edge’s senior creative team were tasked with capturing the darkness of Kings Cross’s underworld as well as the excitement of the strip. The mood and style had to be spot on!

Cutting Edge was up for the challenge.

Last King of the Cross was an exciting series for Cutting Edge to be involved in.

Due to the nature of the show, there were some serious discussions about how the series should look and feel from the outset.

When dealing with a subject matter as iconic as Sydney’s Kings Cross, the visual tone and aesthetics need to do it justice. The imagery needed to be as vibrant and diverse as Kings Cross itself.

It became evident early on that Cutting Edge could flex its creative muscle on this show.

Marcus Bolton, Head of Features & Television, Cutting Edge

Enter Cutting Edge’s senior colourist, Dwaine Hyde.

Shooting on Sony Venice, Director of Photography Bruce Young had a particular idea for the look. During the pre-production phase and utilising test footage, Bruce and Dwaine created a bold LUT that would set the visual space for the series. Bruce used the LUT as a viewing LUT in the Sony Venice and set his lighting and exposure to it.

The LUT needed to set the correct tone for dailies and editorial. The LUT became vital in helping to establish the visual style that would be implemented throughout the post-production process.

In the final grade, the dailies LUT continued as the main base look; however, it was decided to create a different look for Kings Cross at night versus daytime. It was given a heightened saturated neon feel for nighttime, taking inspiration directly from Kings Cross. And to complement that, the daytime look was a vintage grungy film look.

Last King of the Cross. Photo Daniel Asher Smith

As part of Cutting Edge’s post pathway, the HDR grade was set as the series’ hero grade, followed by an SDR trim pass. The HDR grade allowed Dwaine to lean into the complexities and depth of the grade. Baselight was used as the grading system of choice, which was ideal for this type of project.

It was great to work on such a beautifully visually crafted show.

Hat’s off to Bruce for his excellent photography. He definitely came into the project with a clear vision in mind. Something we were able to work on during our initial LUT setup session.

It was a pleasure to grade this series.

Dwaine Hyde, Senior Colourist, Cutting Edge

From grade to online, Cutting Edge continued to work with Helium Pictures to finesse the series ready for delivery. Utilising Flame, senior online artist Jo Spillane brought her expertise to the project, adding the final polish. The online component was significant, given the high-end finish. Several re-sizes, re-speeds, and clean up to bring together the final vision.

In addition to DI, Cutting Edge also supplied VFX to the series. Given the nature of the series, most of the VFX shots included set extensions, surveillance material, gun flares and blood. These shots needed to be executed to a high standard to bring realism to the pivotal moments.

Having worked with Paramount+ previously on Undressed (2022), Cutting Edge was well-versed in Paramount+’s onboarding and vigorous QC protocol and had established a relationship with their team. This made for a smooth process delivering Last King of the Cross. The schedule and delivery process were also a testament to Helium’s involvement, careful planning and nurturing of the series.

You can watch Last King of the Cross on Paramount+.

Check out the trailer