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Behind the Title: Colorist Mark Todd Osborne

NAME: Mark Todd Osborne (@marktoddosborne)

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE? Senior Digital Colorist

WHERE DO YOU WORK?
I perform color at several facilities in Los Angeles, and I have a side company called MTO ColorData, which helps keep me busy when I’m in between post house jobs.

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
As a color artist, I help bring out the production value of the digital neg and design a “look” that helps best tell the story through mood and tone.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER YOUR TITLE?
Client management and having to be a bit of a psychologist at times! Understanding the personalities of your clients and how to treat them is extremely important.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
The satisfaction of seeing my client’s hard work coming to fruition and going beyond their imagined expectations in the final result.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Having to squeeze a three-week DI into a six-day DI schedule. Sometimes budgets don’t allow for all the days truly needed to do the work required, but I still have to find a way to make it work.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
When all the “heavy lifting” is done regarding getting the project roughly put together and matched. From there, it’s just fine tuning each shot creatively.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d be making films myself. Years ago, I wrote a few screenplays and spent some time directing music videos that aired on all the music video channels. I was still working as a colorist at the time, so it became a bit much. I decided to focus all my efforts on coloring.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I’ve been a TV and movie junkie since I can remember. I always knew I wanted to be in the film business. I started in production and then quickly moved into post. That’s where I discovered there was such a thing as a “telecine colorist.” I went to work for Stefan Sonnenfeld two months after he opened Company 3 and he told me that I had an “eye” for color. That encouraged me to grow my craft from there.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS?
I’ve recently colored commercial spots for Nissan, Toyota and California Avocado, and a television pilot to air on Adult Swim for DJ Douggpound.

It Follows4 It Follows8nice

I also graded the theatrical film It Follows (pictured above), Cooties for Lionsgate and Need for Speed for DreamWorks. Plus, I’ve done a decent amount of short films and a couple of music videos. It’s been a busy year!

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
It’s hard to pick any one particular project. The first project that comes to mind is Capote (2005), because it won an Academy Award that year and it serves as a personal bench mark in my career — I’ve grown so much more as a colorist since then. I do things much differently now.

If I had to choose, I guess it would be It Follows, because I got a chance to be really creative on that project and do things that were a bit “off normal.”

it follows1 It Follows6
More from It Follows

WHAT IS YOUR TOOL OF CHOICE?
My tool of choice is DaVinci Resolve. I work on several color systems, but DaVinci is my favorite.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I study the great painters and what they did in terms of light, shadow and texture. I look at lots of photographs from photographers I like, and see countless hours of television and cinema.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My iPhone, my iMac 5K and my iPod.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Any sites dedicated to film production and finishing — Shane Hurlbut’s “Hurlblog” for which I am a contributing writer (see link), LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Only at certain points do I listen to music while I work. Usually, once looks are set, and I’m in my quietly focused “matching mode,” I like to have some music in the background. I’ll play ‘40s- and ‘60s-era jazz, movie soundtracks, classical and a healthy dose of ‘80’s music when I need to stay awake. That includes B52’s, Depeche Mode, New Order and the Cure.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I hang out with my kids as much as I can and try to be outside as much as possible since I’m in a dark room most of the week.

I also like to play old-school video games on Atari and Intellivision and read ‘50s-era comics like Tales from the Crypt and other titles.

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