NAME: Rory Gordon. Legally, it’s Aurora Gordon, but everybody calls me Rory. My business cards say Aurora though. How could I be a colorist named Aurora and not take advantage of that name?
COMPANY: Santa Monica’s ArsenalFX Color
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
ArsenalFX Color is a high-end boutique post facility, offering full-service finishing services — from dailies to online to color to opticals. We have a very artist-centered approach to the work. Everyone in the company puts the needs of each individual show above all else, and we are all treated as autonomous and important parts of the puzzle. This serves both the show and us as a group by empowering all of us to own our contributions, which in turn allows us to provide the best work we can offer.
Because Arsenal is a relatively small team, we really are able to talk to each other and make certain we understand what unique needs might arise on a case by case basis. Our fearless leaders Larry Field, O.T. Hight and Josh Baca began the company with that collaborative and considerate atmosphere, and I am very proud to be a small part of it. I think our clients can feel how that emphasis on craft allows us to push our work to the very best it can be.
AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
It may be most surprising that I like to get involved and start communication with producers, DPs and directors before a show has even begun shooting. I also think continuing education is tremendously important — not only with post production workflow and tech but also with production tools. I spend as much time as I can learning not only the data capture, color science capabilities and limitations of different cameras, but also the ergonomics and set practicalities as well. Set lighting is another area I like to keep researching and learning about — I am especially interested in LED and energy efficient lighting. I like to have an idea why a crew might need to use a specific camera or tool so I can understand the intent behind on-set decisions.
WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
I work on Autodesk Lustre at Arsenal. The entire facility runs on Autodesk software, so it is nice to have that interoperability. Previously, I have used DaVinci Resolve and FilmLight Baselight for final color.
ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS? IF SO, CAN YOU DESCRIBE?
I have been asked to participate in camera tests, which I quite enjoy. First, it’s nice to get out of my dark office. Second, I love being involved in making decisions that are going to affect how everyone’s work is captured. I like to communicate with production early and often.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love working with great creatives — being the woman behind the curtain and working with cinematographers and producers. My job is help make the show into the best version it can be, and that doesn’t happen without great creative direction. I also love finding solutions for tricky shots that turn out to be invisible. To me, the greatest compliment in the world is a shot I worked really hard on, and no one notices because it’s so seamless.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
The commute, especially if I can’t find the right playlist.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I would be an optical engineer. I love optics and physics; I have studied vision and perception at RIT and I study it now whenever the opportunity presents itself.
HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I have been hooked on imaging from a very early age. I built a dark room in my basement at the age of 10, and wasted a lot of photographic paper and developer. I failed early and often and that instilled a pretty unbreakable work ethic in me. I love the idea that every set of eyes has a different proportion and distribution of red, green and blue cones… which means we all see a little differently and have slightly different spectral responses.
I love the challenge of finding a representation of each scene that allows the overall feeling to translate to not only the different eyeballs that will watch the show, but also all the different viewing conditions under which people will view. Short answer: I knew early because I’m a vision nerd who likes both science and art.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Underground for WGN, The Tick for Amazon, Counterpart for Starz.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I love all my children equally.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
At the suggestion of master colorist Randy Starnes, I try to pursue artistic interests that are outside of TV and color. I find that when I take the time to do this it really does expand my thinking and help me stay fresh and creative.
Currently, I’m taking an analytic figure drawing class with my husband and a bunch of professional illustrators, so that’s been extremely humbling. I also love abstract painting and I have a series called “ColorTime,” where I paint color scripts to study the color in movies and TV shows, and then I re-paint the color scripts in a radial pattern on clock surfaces. I love any excuse to make a hobby out of a pun. You can see some photos at www.auroragordon.com/colortime.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Ergonomic office chairs
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I love Humans of New York, and for delightful brain numbing cuteness I enjoy We Rate Dogs. I follow several painters and cartoonists too on Instagram — I love seeing works in progress. I also like the LinkedIn group Innovations in Light, where I lurk quietly and soak up other people’s knowledge about lighting. (Follow Rory on Instagram: @auroragordon)
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Slowly scream into a paper bag. Just kidding — I love to cook, and I do handstands in my bay when no one is looking. My husband and I love to go to museums, and we also enjoy a good aimless walk.