Sean Dunckley joined Light Iron New York’s studio in 2013, where he has worked on episodic television and features films. He finds inspiration in many places, but most recently in the photography of Stephen Shore and Greg Stimac. Let’s find out more…
NAME: Sean Dunckley
COMPANY: LA- and NYC-based Light Iron
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Light Iron is a Panavision company that offers end-to-end creative and technical post solutions. I color things there.
AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I like to get involved early in the process. Some of the most rewarding projects are those where I get to work with the cinematographer from pre-production all the way through to the final DCP.
Ongoing advances in technology have really put the spotlight on the holistic workflow. As part of the Panavision ecosystem, we can offer solutions from start to finish, and that further strengthens the collaboration in the DI suite. We can help a production with camera and lens choices, oversee dailies and then bring all that knowledge into the final grade.
Recently, I had a client who was worried about the speed of his anamorphics at night. The cinematographer was much more comfortable shooting the faster spherical lenses, but the film and story called for the anamorphic look. In pre-production, I was able to show him how we can add some attributes of anamorphic lenses in post. That project ended up shooting a mix of anamorphic and spherical, delivering on both the practical and artistic needs.
Hulu’s Fyre Fraud doc.
WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Filmlight’s Baselight. Its color management tools offer with strong paint capabilities, and the Blackboard 2 panel is very user-friendly.
ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Now that DI systems have expanded their tools, I can integrate last-minute fixes during the DI sessions without having to stop and export a shot to another application. Baselight’s paint tools are very strong and have allowed me to easily solve many client issues in the room. Many times, this has saved valuable time against strict deadlines.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
That’s easy. It is the first day of a new project. It feels like an artistic release when I am working with filmmakers to create style frames. I like to begin the process by discussing the goals of color with the film’s creative team.
I try to get their take on how color can best serve the story. After we talk, we play for a little while. I demonstrate the looks that have been inspired by their words and then form a color palette for the project. During this time, it is just as important to learn what the client doesn’t like as much as what they do like.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I think the hours can be tough at times. The deadlines we face often battle with the perfectionist in me.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Architecture is a field I would have loved to explore. It’s very similar, as it is equal parts technical and creative.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I had always been interested in post. I used to cut skateboard videos with friends in high school. In film school, I pursued more of an editing route. After graduation, I got a job at a post house and quickly realized I wanted to deviate and dive into color.
Late Night with Emma Thompson. Photo by Emily Aragones
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Recent film titles I worked on include Late Night and Brittany Runs a Marathon, both of which got picked up at Sundance by Amazon.
Other recent projects include Amazon Studio’s Life Itself, and the Fyre Fraud documentary on Hulu. Currently, I am working on multiple episodic series for different OTT studios.
The separation that used to exist between feature films, documentaries and episodics has diminished. Many of my clients are bouncing between all types of projects and aren’t contained to a single medium.
It’s a unique time to be able to color a variety of productions. Being innovative and flexible is the name of the game here at Light Iron, and we’ve always been encouraged to follow the client and not the format.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
It’s impossible to pick a single project. They are all my children!
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I go through phases but right now it’s mostly banal photography. Stephen Shore and Greg Stimac are two of my favorite artists. Finding beauty in the mundane has a lot to do with the shape of light, which is very inspiring to me as a colorist.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I need my iPhone, Baselight and, of course, my golf course range finder.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I follow Instagram for visuals, and I keep up with Twitter for my sports news and scores.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I have young children, so they make sure I leave those stresses back at the office, or at least until they go to bed. I also try to sneak in some golf whenever I can.