NAME: David Rivero Martin
COMPANY: Freelance colorist based in China
CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
I color grade and supervise the finishing of feature films and commercials — normally all versions and often the trailers associated with them.
AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The amount of retouching (other than overall luma/chroma changes) that we usually do to the image.
WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Mostly in DaVinci Resolve and SGO Mistika, but I’m trying to get more time on Filmlight’s Baselight.
ARE YOU ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Definitively. Sometimes I’m asked, sometimes I offer it, and sometimes I just do it. It can vary wildly… from texturing (grain, noise, denoise, adding textures) to beauty passes — going through everything else the system can do (warping, flares, sky replacements, compositing).
I’m always happy to do more for the image and the project. And having these tools within the systems I use means that even if those tasks might eventually go to another department, at least we get to see them right there and then, and see how the tools affect the image. Sometimes, there are things that are just done better at the grading stage, or there are things no one realized or thought of, and we deal with them. Lately, I’ve been using warping as a beauty tool, and also as a creative tool.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
On the job site, it’s the people: directors, photographers, producers, editors, mixers, the whole team. The collaboration between creative, hard-working people is what really drives most of the projects.
On the craft side, it’s when we get to create the style of the project. Those are the color jam sessions.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Chasing payments. Ha!
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Maybe I could have made it as an illustrator (I liked the narrative side of drawing panels and pages as a comic book artist, but I was too slow for the job). Other options would be engineer or historian.
HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
My first experiences in a studio were actually with my dad at a sound studio. He is a musician, so back when I was a kid he would bring me to the studio to help record and mix, which was pretty interesting and mysterious at the time.
I was always interested in storytelling; and the environment I grew up surely helped, given the family background and the long Spanish tradition of pictorial and graphic arts. By the time I was finishing my technical degree on film and TV, I had already done a few editing jobs and a bunch of other home projects using mostly computers (CG, matte painting, edit, motion graphics, color, VFX), so I definitively knew my place was in post. It’s similar to how I enjoyed being in the studio helping my dad rather than playing in front of an audience. Then, at my first internship, where I went as editor and motion graphics artist, I witnessed an actual grading session take place and I knew that was it. I got introduced to the craft and started right there as assistant.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I’m currently finishing grading two great films: Detective Dee 3: The Four Heavenly King (狄仁杰之四大天王) by Tsui Hark, and Lord 2 (爵迹2) by Guo Jingming. The most recent commercials I graded were for Apple, Pepsi and Cartier.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I try to craft my grading in a way that I can always be proud of, so it is hard for me choose a single one. There are several films during the last three years that I’m very proud of, including the two I’m currently working on. Sometimes it’s just some specific scenes, or sometimes it’s how we dealt with the shadows throughout the whole film. Or maybe it’s how the yellow evolves during the film, or how we shaped the volume and light of the characters in the climax of the film, etc.
I would like to mention Bangzi Melody (村戏), an independent film I graded last year that won the Golden Rooster Award (national Chinese award) for Best Cinematography. It recognized the bold creativity and effort it took during photography and grading. It was shot in color, but we graded it for black and white. And at times in the movie, the color flows into black, white with pools of red and green in the picture. Plus, there were some other effects we added into the grading. I was happy an independent film like this got recognized at that level, as well as our work with it.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
There is plenty of good material in the entertainment industry that I truly enjoy experiencing and analyzing: films, comic books, videogames, TV series.
When I have the chance, I go to painting galleries or museums, especially in Europe and my hometown of Madrid. Oh, and music. Music curiously serves as a guide and reference in many aspects of grading.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone, my computer and my HiFi headphones.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram. It’s a diverse source of pictures, from people of all kinds and all places.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter, going hiking through the wild or the countryside and my too many hobbies (laughs).