NAME: Bob Festa
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Situated in sunny Hollywood, Encore Hollywood offers file-based post services, including HDR Dolby Vision mastering, 4K workflows, near-set dailies and visual effects.
AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Modern color in the episodic television world means being prepared to contribute on any issue, none more important than beauty fixes. All of the contemporary color tools that we use today have handles for eye sharpening, skin softening, crow’s feet, baggage and mid-tone detail augmentation. Beauty work today can take 50% of the color session time. We help ensure that the actors look their best.
WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Primarily DaVinci Resolve and FilmLight Baselight.
ARE YOU ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Almost all projects are conformed or assembled before color even begins. That means all camera RAW shots are assembled on a timeline, in cut order, with transitions and effects. Beyond grading the color of a piece… things like composition, speed, and textural changes like “film grain” or softness are all routine on a daily basis.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I never thought I’d say this, but people. Collaborating with people can be really rewarding and fun. They can really make your day. I’ve had days where 1,000 shots just seem to fly by because of the air in the room.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
People. Collaborating with people. Not everyone has a good day every day, and many times whatever attitude or phone call that enters the studio becomes my challenge for the day. Those are the days where it feels like you have been on a single shot all day long.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION, WHAT WAS YOUR PATH?
After realizing that online editing was not for me, supervising feature film telecine sessions made me realize that I could do this. Not only was it highly creative, but it was a black art that had limitless areas where I could contribute. Many of the tools that I used back then, Topsy, Dubner, Prism and EPR were all highly customized, and no two were alike. Romancing color out of a Rank IIIC and threading a magna tech dubber was like wrestling an alligator; it was very physical and fun. It took about six months before I developed confidence and a reasonable eye for good color.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Yes, executive producer Michael Bay’s The Last Ship (TNT) and Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu), for which I also handle the HDR grade.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
It might not be the one I’m most proud of, but it’s one that had my jaw hit the floor in the ‘90s —Joe Pytka’s “Perrier… it’s perfect” commercial. Shot on Aaton 35mm in France, there was just something exceptional about the exposures, even in standard def. Many believe it was the light in Provence, or the quaint French villages or the quality of the water at the lab or Pytka’s genius. Whatever it was it all just worked. It’s still my guilty pleasure to this day. Ironically enough, I worked on this commercial the first time I worked at Encore Hollywood.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
I have an expression: “I steal from the best.” I have been so lucky to work with the top creatives again and again. After working with so many talented people in a dark studio for so many years, it’s only natural to liberate some of these great techniques that have worked so well for others. It’s my job to recognize the opportunities to contribute some of those ideas and improvise and combine them for a given shot today.
I have an exercise that I share with young aspiring colorists where I ask them to look at a camera RAW shot and tell me what they see, and how they can contribute color wise. Invariably, they bring something from their past to their color approach. We all use our fields of experience when grading.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Acrylic contemporary art, environmental conservancy or upright jazz bass.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Personally, I’d say digital audio reproduction for home HiFi. German cars for the hours of driving in Los Angeles and cellphones to stay in touch with my loved ones.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram is a great source of color and composition. Existing rules are broken there every day. Larry Bridges a famous editor and owner of Red Car editorial used to say, “Today’s mistakes are tomorrows techniques.”
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
For a guy who really loves the outdoors, working in a dark studio makes me believe I need to be outside often. Mountain biking… the fun starts when you leave your comfort zone behind.