Tag Archives: Colorist

Colorist Chat: Scott Ostrowsky on Amazon’s Sneaky Pete

By Randi Altman

Scott Ostrowsky, senior colorist at Deluxe’s Level 3 in Los Angeles has worked on all three seasons of Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, produced by Bryan Cranston and David Shore and starring Giovanni Ribisi. Season 3 is the show’s last.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it follows a con man named Marius (Ribisi), who takes the place of his former cell-mate Pete and endears himself to Pete’s seemingly idyllic family while continuing to con his way through life. Over time he comes to love the family, which is nowhere as innocent as they seem.

Scott Ostrowsky

We reached out to this veteran colorist to learn more about how the look of the series developed over the seasons and how he worked with the showrunners and DPs.

You’ve been on Sneaky Pete since the start. Can you describe how the look has changed over the years?
I worked on Seasons 1 through Season 3. The DP for Season 1 was Rene Ohashi and it had somewhat of a softer feel. It was shot on a Sony F55. It mostly centered around the relationship of Bryan Cranston’s character and Giovanni Ribisi’s newly adopted fake family and his brother.

Season 2 was shot by DPs Frank DeMarco and William Rexer on a Red Dragon, and it was a more stylized and harsher look in some ways. The looks were different because the storylines and the locations had changed. So, even though we had some beautiful, resplendent looks in Season 2, we also created some harsher environments, and we did that through color correction. Going into Season 2, the storyline changed, and it became more defined in the sense that we used the environments to create an atmosphere that matched the storyline and the performances.

An example of this would be the warehouse where they all came together to create the scam/ heist that they were going to pull off. Another example of this would be the beautiful environment in the casino that was filled with rich lighting and ornate colors. But there are many examples of this through the show — both DPs used shadow and light to create a very emotional mood or a very stark mood and everything in between.

Season 3 shot by Arthur Albert and his son, Nick Albert on a Red Gemini, and it had a beautiful, resplendent, rich look that matched the different environments when it moved from the cooler look of New York to the more warm, colorful look in California.

So you gave different looks based on locale? 
Yes, we did. Many times, the looks would depend on time of day and the environment that they were in. An example of this might be the harsh fluorescent green in the gas station bathroom where Giovanni’s character is trying to figure out a way to help his brother and avoid his captures.

How did you work with the Alberts on the most recent season?
I work at Level 3 Post, which is a Deluxe company. I did Season 1 and 2 at the facility on the Sony lot. Season 3 was posted at Level 3. Arthur and Nick Albert came in to my color suite with the camera tests shot on the Red Gemini and also the Helium. We set up a workflow based on the Red cameras and proceeded to grade the various setups.

Once Arthur and Nick decided to use the Gemini, we set up our game plan for the season. When I received my first conform, I proceeded to grade it based on our conversations. I was very sensitive to the way they used their setups, lighting and exposures. Once I finished my first primary grade, Arthur would come in and sit with me to watch the show and make any changes. After Arthur approved the grade, The producers and showrunner would come in for their viewing. They could make any additional changes at that time. (Read our interview with Arthur Albert here.)

How do you prefer to work with directors/DPs?
The first thing is have conversation with them on their approach and how they view color as being part of the story they want to tell. I always like to get a feel for how the cinematographer will shoot the show and what, if any, LUTs they’re using so I can emulate that look as a starting point for my color grading.

It is really important to me to find out how a director envisions the image he or she would like to portray on the screen. An example of this would be facial expressions. Do we want to see everything or do they mind if the shadow side remains dark and the light falls off.

A lot of times, it’s about how the actors emote and how they work in tandem with each other to create tension, comedy or other emotions — and what the director is looking for in these scenes.

Any tips for getting the most out of a project from a color perspective?
Communication. Communication. Communication. Having an open dialogue with the cinematographer, showrunners and directors is extremely important. If the colorist is able to get the first pass very close, you spend more time on the nuisances rather than balancing or trying to find a look. That is why it is so important to have an understanding of the essence of what a director, cinematographer and showrunner is looking for.

How do you prefer the DP or director to describe their desired look?
However they’re comfortable in enlightening me to their styles or needs for the show is fine. Usually, we can discuss this when we have a camera test before principal photography starts. There’s no one way that you can work with everybody — you just adapt to how they work. And as a colorist, it’s your job to make that image sing or shine the way that they intended it to.

You used Resolve on this. Is there a particular tool that came in handy for this show?
All tools on the Resolve are useful for a drama series. You would not buy the large crayon box and throw out colors you didn’t like because, at some point, you might need them. I use all tools — from keys, windows, log corrections and custom curves to create the looks that were needed.

You have been working in TV for many years. How has color grading changed during that time?
Color correction has become way more sophisticated over the years, and is continually growing and expanding into a blend of not only color grading but helping to create environments that are needed to express the look of a show. We no longer just have simple color correctors with simple secondaries; the toolbox continues to grow with added filters, added grain and sometimes even helping to create visual effects, which most color correctors are able to do today.

Where do you find inspiration? Art? Photography?
I’ve always loved photography and B&W movies. There’s a certain charm or subtlety that you find in B&W, whether it’s a film noir, the harshness of film grain, or just the use of shadow and light. I’ve always enjoyed going to museums and looking at different artists and how they view the world and what inspires them.

To me, it’s trying to portray an image and have that image make a statement. In daily life, you can see multiple examples as you go through your day, and I try and keep the most interesting ones that I can remember in my lexicon of images.


Randi Altman is the founder and editor-in-chief of postPerspective. She has been covering production and post production for more than 20 years. 

Shipping + Handling adds Jerry Spivack, Mike Pethel, Matthew Schwab

VFX creative director Jerry Spivack and colorists Michael Pethel and Matthew Schwab have joined LA’s Shipping + Handling, Spot Welders‘ VFX, color grading, animation, and finishing arm/sister company.

Alongside executive producer Scott Friske and current creative director Casey Price, Spivack will help lead the company’s creative team. As the creative director/co-founder at Ring of Fire, Spivack was responsible for crafting and spearheading VFX on commercials for brands including FedEx, Nike and Jaguar; episodic work for series television including Netflix’s Wormwood and 12 seasons of FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; promos for NBC’s The Voice and The Titan Games; and feature films such as Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man 2, Bold Films’ Drive and Warner Bros.’ The Bucket List.

Colorist Pethel was a founding partner of Company 3 and for the past five years has served client and director relationships under his BeachHouse Color brand, which he will continue to maintain. Pethel’s body of work includes campaigns for Carl’s Jr., Chase, Coke, Comcast/Xfinity, Hyundai, Jeep, Netflix and Southwest Airlines.

Commenting on the move, Pethel says, “I’m thrilled to be joining such a fantastic group of highly regarded and skilled professionals at Shipping + Handling. There is so much creativity here; the people are awesome to work with and the technology they are able to offer clientele at the facility is top-notch.”

Schwab formally joins the Shipping + Handling roster after working closely with the company over the past two years on multiple campaigns for Apple, Acura, QuickBooks and many others. Aside from his role at Shipping + Handling, Schwab will also continue his work through Roving Picture Company. Having worked with a number of internationally recognized brands, Schwab has collaborated on projects for Amazon, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, National Geographic, Netflix, Nike, PlayStation and Smirnoff.

“It’s exciting to be part of a team that approaches every project with such energy. This partnership represents a shared commitment to always deliver outstanding color and technical results for our clients,” says Schwab.

“Pethel is easily amongst the best colorists in our industry. As a longtime client of his, I have a real understanding of the professionalism he brings to every session. He is a delight in the room and wickedly talented. Schwab’s talent has just been realized in the last few years, and we are pleased to offer his skill to our clients. If our experience working with him over the last couple of years is any indication, we’re going to make a lot of clients happy he’s on our roster,” adds Friske.

Spivack, Pethel and Schwab will operate out of Shipping + Handling’s West Coast office on the creative campus it shares with its sister company, editorial post house Spot Welders.

Image: (L-R) Mike Pethel, Matthew Schwab, Jerry Spivack

 

Point.360 adds senior colorist Patrick Woodard

Senior colorist Patrick Woodard has joined the creative team at Point.360 in Burbank. He was most recently at Hollywood’s DigitalFilm Tree, where he colored dozens of television shows, including ABC’s American Housewife, CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles, NBC’s Great News and TBS’ Angie Tribeca. Over the years, he also worked on Weeds, Everybody Hates Chris, Cougar Town and Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.

Woodard joins Point.360 senior colorist Charlie Tucker, whose recent credits include the final season of the Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, CW’s Legacies and Roswell, New Mexico, YouTube’s Cobra Kai, as well as the Netflix comedy Medical Police.

“Patrick is an exceptional artist with an extensive background in photography,” says Point.360’s SVP of episodic Jason Kavner. “His ability to combine his vast depth of technical expertise and his creative vision to quickly create a highly-developed aesthetic has the won the loyalty of many DPs and creatives alike.”

Point360 has four color suites at its Burbank facility. “Although we have the feel of a boutique episodic facility, we are able to offer a robust end to end pipeline thanks to our long history as a premier mastering company,” reports Kavner. “We are currently servicing 4K Dolby Vision projects for Netflix such as the upcoming Jenji Kohan series currently being called Untitled Vigilante Project, as well as the UHD SDR Sony produced YouTube series Cobra Kai. We also continue to offer the same end-to-end service to our traditional studio and network clients on series such as Legacies for the CW, Fresh Off The Boat, Family Guy and American Dad for 20th Century Fox, and Drunk History and Robbie for Comedy Central.

Woodard, who will be working on Resolve at Point360, was also a recent subject of our Behind the Title series. You can read that here.

a52 Color adds colorist Gregory Reese

Colorist Gregory Reese has joined LA-based grading and finishing studio a52 Color, which is led by executive producer Thatcher Peterson and includes colorists Paul Yacono and Daniel de Vue.

Reese comes to a52 Color after eight years at The Mill. While there he colored a spectrum of commercials for athletic brands, including Nike and Reebok, as well as campaigns for Audi, Apple, Covergirl, GMC, Progressive and Samsung. He worked with such directors as AG Rojas, Matt Lambert and Harold Einstein while developing the ability to grade for any style.

Reese contributed to several projects for Apple, including the History of Sound spot, which sonically chronicles the decades from the late 1800s to 2015. The spot earned Reese an HPA Award nomination for Outstanding Color Grading in a Commercial.

“Color is at the center of how audiences engage with a picture in motion,” explains Reese. “Some of its technical components may not always be instantly recognized by the audience, but when it’s done right, it can make for an emotional experience.”

Merging his love for music with the passion for his craft, Reese has collaborated with artists like Jack Ü, Major Lazer, Arctic Monkeys, Run The Jewels, Jack White, Pharrell Williams and many more. Peterson and Reese previously worked together at The Mill in LA. “Having had the fortunate experience of working with Gregory at The Mill, I knew he was the real deal when it came to a seasoned colorist,” says Peterson.

The all-new facility was yet another perk that sealed the deal for Reese, as he explains: “One of the biggest barriers for entry to color is not having access to theaters. a52 Color solves that problem with having the ability to grade both broadcast and theatrical formats as well as giving us a high level of creative freedom. It left me immediately impressed by how invested they are in making it the absolute best place to go for color grading.”

He will be working on FilmLight Baselight.

Colorist Chat: Refinery’s Kyle Stroebel

This Cape Town, South Africa-based artist says that “working creatively with a director and DP to create art is a privilege.”

NAME: Colorist Kyle Stroebel

COMPANY: Refinery in Cape Town, South Africa

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a full-service post company in the heart of Cape Town. We specialize in front-end dailies and data solutions, and have a full finishing department with a VFX arm and audio division.

Our work varies from long-form feature and television programming to commercials and music video content. We are a relatively young team that loves what we do.

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
We are by far the most important members of the team and the creative success of a movie is largely based around our skills! Okay, honestly? I have a shot on my timeline that is currently on version 54, and my client still needs an additional eyelash painted out.

I think the surprising thing to the uninformed is the minute elements that we focus on in detail. It’s not all large brush strokes and emotional gesturing; the images you see have more often than not gone through painstaking hours of crafting and creative processing. For us the beauty is in the detail.

Flatland

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
FilmLight’s Baselight

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
We are a small team handling multiple projects simultaneously, and our Baselight suites perform multiple functions as a result. My fellow colorist David Grant and I will get involved in our respective projects early on. We handle conform, VFX pulls and versioning and follow the pipe through until the film or project has cleared QC.

With Baselight’s enhanced toolset and paint functionality, we are now saving our clients both time and money by handling a variety of cleanups and corrections without farming the shots out to VFX or Flame.

Plus, the DI is pretty much the last element in the production process. We’re counselors, confidants and financial advisors. People skills come in really handy. (And a Spotify playlist for most tastes and moods is a prerequisite.)

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Making something amazing happen with a client’s footage. When they didn’t realize that their own footage could look like what the final product looks like… and sharing in that excitement when it happens.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Insane deadlines. As our tools have improved, the expectation for lightning-fast turnarounds has increased. I’m a perfectionist with my work and would love to spend days molding certain shots and trying new things. Walking away from a grade and coming back to it is often very fruitful because looking at a complex shot with fresh eyes frequently produces new outlooks and better results. But with hard delivery dates this is becoming seldom-afforded.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Scuba diving with manta rays in Bali; it’s a testament to how much I love what I do that I’m not doing that every day of my life.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I sometimes wonder that myself when it’s 3am and I’m in a room with no windows for the 17th consecutive hour. Truthfully, I chose it because changing something from the banal to the magnificent gives me joy. Working creatively with a director and DP to create art is a privilege, and the fact that they must sweat and literally bleed to capture the images while I fiddle with the aircon in my catered suite doesn’t hurt.

I was in my third year of film school and brought one of my 16mm projects in to grade with a colorist in telecine. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I knew I wanted to do that.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
There have been a load of amazing projects recently. Our local industry has been very busy, and we have benefited greatly from that. I recently finished a remake of the cult classic Critters for Warner Bros.

Flatland

Before that I completed a movie called Flatland that premiered at Berlinale and then went to Cannes. There are a few other movies that I can’t chat too much about right now. I also did a short piece by one of South Africa’s biggest directors, Kim Geldenhuys, for the largest blue diamond found in recent history.

Changing of the seasons has also meant a couple of amazing fashion pieces for different fashion houses’ new collections.

HOW DO YOU PREFER TO WORK WITH THE DP/DIRECTOR?
Depends on the project. Depends on the director and DP too, actually. With long-form work,  I love to spend a day or two together with them in the beginning, and then I take a day or two to go over and play with a couple of scenes on my own. From there we should have reached a pretty cohesive vision as to what the directors wants and how I see the footage. Once that vision is aligned, I like to work on my own while listening to loud music and giving everything a more concrete look. Then, ideally, the director returns for a few days at the end, and we get stuck into the minutia.

With commercials, I like working with the director from early in the morning so that we know where we want to go before the agency has input and makes alterations! It’s a fine balancing act.

ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A PROJECT FROM A COLOR PERSPECTIVE?
Have the colorist involved early on. When you begin shooting, have the colorist and DP develop a relationship so that the common vision develops during principal photography. That way, when the edit is locked, you have already experimented with ideas and the DP is shooting for a more precise look.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK ON THE WARNER BROS. FILM? EXPLAIN YOUR PROCESS ON THAT? ANY PARTICULARLY CHALLENGING SCENES?
Critters is a cult horror franchise from the late ’80 and early ‘90s. The challenge was to be really dark and moody but still stay true to the original and fit in with modern viewing devices without losing drastic detail. It centers on a lot of practical on-set special effects, something in increasing decline with advancements in CGI. Giving the puppets a lifelike appearance while still making them believable came with quite a few challenges.

HOW DO YOU PREFER THE DP OR DIRECTOR TO DESCRIBE THE LOOK THEY WANT? PHYSICAL EXAMPLES, FILMS TO EMULATE, ETC.?
Practical examples or references are very helpful. Matching something is easy, developing beyond that to give it a unique quality is what keeps it interesting. Certain directors find it easier to work with non-specifics and let me interpret the vibe and mood from more emotional explanations rather than technical jargon. While sometimes harder to initially interpret, that approach has benefits because it’s a bit more open-ended.

Red Bull

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I love and hate most of the things I work on for a variety of reasons. It’s hard to pick one. Gun to my head? Probably a short film for Red Bull Music by Petite Noir. It was shot by Deon Van Zyl in the Namib desert and had just the most exquisite visuals from the outset. I still watch it when I’m feeling down.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
At the risk of sounding like a typical millennial, I use Instagram a heck of a lot. I get to see what the biggest and best colorists are doing around the world. Before Instagram, you would only see pieces of critical acclaim. Now, through Instagram and Vimeo, I get to see so many passion projects in which people are trying new things and pushing boundaries beyond what clients, brands and studios want. I can spend days in galleries and bask in the glory of Caravaggio and Vermeer, but I can also scroll quickly through very contemporary looks, innovations and trends.

Red Bull

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone. I hate it, but my life happens largely through that porthole. My NutriBullet. My Baselight. I’ve never loved an inanimate object like I love my Baselight.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram as mentioned. I love the work of Joseph Bicknell, Kath Raisch, Sofie Borup, Craig Simonetti, Matt Osborne and then anything that comes from The Mill channel. Also, a wide range of directors and the associated Vimeo links. I can honestly get lost on an obscure Korean channel with magnificent images and languages I don’t understand.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I run. Even If I’m breaking 90-hour weeks, I always make sure I run three or four times a week. And I love cooking. It’s expressive. I get to make meals for my partner Katherine, who tends to be very receptive.

Yoomin Lee joins MPC London as senior colorist

Yoomin Lee has joined Moving Picture Company’s color team in London. Lee got her start working for some of Australia’s top post houses including Frame Set & Match, The Lab and Cutting Edge, before joining Jogger Studios London in 2016.

While at Jogger, she worked on many campaigns, including those for Google, Valentino, FIFA and Samsung. A collaboration with director Anton Corbijn has seen her grade projects for Depeche Mode and U2, including the visuals for the latter’s The Joshua Tree Tour in 2017, which played across the world’s largest concert screen.

When asked what brings her inspiration, Lee says, “I get inspired by any visual art form, and often from nature, especially for light. I become more observant of how things are lit. Color grading is such a unique art form and technology, and it’s all about details and finesse. I find it very inspiring when I collaborate with creative people who are always eager to push the boundaries to achieve their craft.”

Lee will be working on FilmLight’s Baselight.

You can check out her work here.

Behind the Title: DigitalFilm Tree colorist Patrick Woodard

This colorist, who works on episodic TV series, says, “There are so many talented colorists and photographers on Instagram. It’s where I get my daily inspiration.”

NAME: Patrick Woodard

COMPANY: DigitalFilm Tree (@digitalfilmtree)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Independently owned DigitalFilm Tree is a post, consulting and software development company. DFT has played a role in designing post and IT workflows for the media and entertainment industry since 1998.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THE COLORIST TITLE?
People often think colorists are the finishing artists, but we are often brought on early in the process — during preproduction meetings — to get involved with the other creatives (DPs, directors, producers). Key decisions such as general visual aesthetic, camera choices and on-set lookup tables are typically developed with the colorist input.

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
I work on a custom-built Linux workstation running Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve.

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Yes. I get requests that are outside the traditional color category on every job. Requests such as stabilizes, paint-outs, wrinkle removal/beauty, sky replacements and minor compositing have become very common. The challenge is managing time and staying within the color budget.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love photography, and as a kid I loved the excitement of seeing a roll of film developed. I get that same satisfaction when a scene comes together and everything is working. In addition, I love overcoming creative or technological challenges.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Most positions in post require a lot of hours and strict deadlines. I have two young children, and it can be challenging juggling work and family life.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I love editing and still photography and would be happy doing either.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?Editing was my main focus, but I found my way to color through my interest in photography. Once I started it felt very natural, and by my second year the two shows I worked on had nominations for Emmys in single-camera cinematography.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
NCIS Los Angeles, American Housewife, I Feel Bad, UnReal and Angie Tribeca.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
NCIS Los Angeles just passed its 10th season, and I feel very fortunate to have worked on it during its run.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I try to watch as many movies and scripted series as possible, and I follow the work of a lot of gifted photographers who also inspire me.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, Boris FX Mocha Pro and Adobe Photoshop.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram. There are so many talented colorists and photographers on Instagram. It’s where I get my daily inspiration.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Outside of work, my life revolves mostly around being in the ocean or hanging at the beach.

Tony Dustin joins Efilm as senior colorist

Tony Dustin has joined the Deluxe Creative Services team as senior colorist at Hollywood’s  Efilm. He will also be doing some work for sister company Encore. With more than 20 years of experience in color grading, Dustin’s work spans styles and genres, with a talent for revealing details in the darker palettes of many of his projects. He will be using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve.

Dustin’s credits include the Netflix dramatic series Sense8, for which he was nominated for an HPA Award; Hulu horror series Castle Rock; Best Picture Academy Award-nominee Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell; and Gran Torino, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Dustin’s first project for Efilm is the biographical drama Harriet, working with Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll, with whom Dustin previously collaborated with on Sense8.

He comes to Efilm from Technicolor, where he spent nearly 17 years. He’s also held various color-centric roles at Westwind Media and Efilm sister company Encore. Dustin got his start in post by discovering the color grading process through his work in the vault at Editel while attending college. Having spent many hours developing negatives in a photo lab as a youth, Dustin has a well-honed eye and deep appreciation for cinematic visuals.

Colorist Peter Doyle joins Warner Bros. De Lane Lea’s picture services division

World-renown and respected supervising colorist Peter Doyle, whose large body of work includes The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has joined London’s Warner Bros. De Lane Lea’s (WBDLL) new picture services division. Doyle brings with him extensive technical and creative expertise acquired over a 40-year career.

Doyle has graded 12 of the 100 highest-grossing films of all time including the Harry Potter film series. His recent credits include Darkest Hour (see our interview with him here), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and both Fantastic Beasts films.

Doyle will be working alongside BAFTA-winning colorist Asa Shoul (Mission Impossible: Fallout, Baby Driver, Amazon’s Tin Star), who joined WBDLL at the end of last year. The additions of Doyle and Shoul beef up WBDLL’s picture division to match the studio’s sound facilities De Lane Lea.

Speaking of joining the company, Doyle says, “I first worked with Warner Bros. on The Matrix in 1999. Since then, grading and delivering films to Warner Bros. for filmmakers such as Tim Burton, David Yates, Dick Zanuck and David Heyman has always felt like a partnership. Warner Bros. always brought tremendous passion to the projects and a deep desire to best represent the creative intent of the filmmakers. WBDLL represents a third-generation post facility; it’s been conceived with the philosophy that origination and delivery are part of the same process. It’s managed by a newly assembled crew that over the course of their careers have answered some of the most complex post production challenges the industry has devised. WBDLL is an environment and indeed a concept I feel London has needed for many years.”

The new facilities at WBDLL include two 4K HDR FilmLight Baselight X grading theatres, Autodesk Flame online suites, digital dailies facilities, dark fiber connectivity and a mastering and QC department. WBDLL has additional facilities based at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, including a 50-seat 4K screening room, 4K VFX review theater and in-facility and on-location digital dailies, offering clients a full end-to-end service.

WBDLL has been the choice for many large features including Dumbo, Wonder Woman, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Fantastic Beasts, Early Man, Mission Impossible: Fallout and Outlaw King. Its roster of high-end TV clients include Netflix, Amazon, Starz, BBC and ITV.

Last year the company announced it was cementing its future in Soho by moving to the purpose-built Ilona Rose House in 2021, which is currently under construction.

Keep Me Posted adds senior colorist Aidan Stanford

Burbank’s Keep Me Posted, a FotoKem company specializing in creative and technical episodic post services, has brought Aidan Stanford as senior colorist. He will work on episodic and feature projects.

With over 25 years of experience, Stanford’s work history ranges from photochemical color timing to digital color grading and includes DI, broadcast, commercials and shorts. His varied background includes color timing 65mm film for Lawrence of Arabia (IMAX 2002 restoration/release); the DI, HDR and all video deliverables for the Oscar-winning Get Out; and multiple seasons of Emmy Award-winning television series. His credits include the features Happy Death Day, Insidious: The Last Key and Benji and his episodic credits include Modern Family, Drunk History, You’re the Worst and Fresh Off the Boat.

At Keep Me Posted, Stanford will be working on Nucoda and Resolve.

“Aidan brings a deep knowledge of film, an artistic eye and a keen technical ability to help our creative customers bring their vision to reality,” says Mike Brodersen, FotoKem’s chief strategy officer. “His comprehensive skill set in combination with his expertise in color have made him a trusted collaborator with many filmmakers and showrunners.”

Color Chat: Light Iron’s Sean Dunckley

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.

Phil Azenzer returns to Encore as senior colorist

Industry veteran and senior colorist Phil Azenzer, one of Encore’s original employees, has returned to the company, bringing with him a credit list that includes TV and features. He was most recently with The Foundation.

When he first started at Encore he was a color assistant, learning the craft and building his client base. Over his post production career, Azenzer has collaborated with many notable directors including David Lynch, Steven Spielberg and David Nutter, as well as high-profile DPs such as Robert McLachlan and John Bartley.

His credits include The X-Files, Six Feet Under, Entourage, Big Love, Bates Motel, Bloodline and most recently, seasons four and five of Black-ish and seasons one and two of Grown-ish.

“Coming back to Encore is really a full circle journey for me, and it feels like coming home,” shared Azenzer. “I learned my craft and established my career here. I’m excited to be back at Encore, not just because of my personal history here, but because it’s great to be at an established facility with the visibility and reputation that Encore has. I’m looking forward to collaborating with lots of familiar faces.”

Azenzer is adept at helping directors and cinematographers create visual stories. With the flexibility to elevate to a variety of desired looks, he brings a veteran’s knowledge and skillset to projects requiring anything from subtle film noir palettes to hyper-saturated stylized looks. Upon departing Encore in 2001, Azenzer spent time at Technicolor and Post Group/io Film before returning to Encore from 2009-2011. Following his second stint at Encore, he continued work as a senior colorist at Modern Videofilm, NBC Universal and Sony.

While his main tool is Resolve, he has also worked with Baselight and  Lustre.

Behind the Title: DigitalFilm Tree colorist Dan Judy

This color vet finds inspiration for his work in everyday sights, such as sunsets, views of the city and even music.

NAME: Colorist Dan Judy

COMPANY: DigitalFilm Tree (DFT)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
DFT provides cloud post services and software that evolve file-based workflows, simplify the creative process, and dramatically reduce production cost.

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
How creative the process is — it’s an amazing collaborative effort between the production team and color. Our attention to detail, both broad and minute, are almost surgical. It’s micro and macro. Oh, and having the right snacks available are absolutely critical!

Dan Judy

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Blackmagic’s Resolve.

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Nearly every project will have requests that are specific and non-color related. I was once asked to dry off an actress who was perspiring too much. At that time I didn’t have the towel function on my color corrector.

We are asked to help out with beauty fixes, add lens flares, light matches, remove footprints in sand . . . you get the idea.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
It is the satisfaction of the finished project, knowing that I got to contribute to the end result. It’s the confidence at the end of that process and putting the piece out there for people to enjoy.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
My first love was athletics, especially football. Would I have been a player? I had my shot and, well, I’m here. I’m sure my path would have continued in that direction.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I had no clue this position was even a thing. I got an internship at a post facility through my masters program in Florida. They offered me a position at the end of the internship and my career began. A lot of bumps and bruises later and, well, I feel blessed to be where this path has led me.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
The 100, Last Man on Earth, the Roseanne relaunch, Falling Skies and a few years ago, The Walking Dead.

The 100

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I would say with a wink, the next one. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s like saying which of your children do you like better? I have been extraordinarily lucky that all my shows have given me a great deal of freedom to be really creative.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Honestly, from life. Watching amazing sunsets, experiencing great expanses of nature. I also like having uplifting music on while I work.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
I would say electricity is a big one, big smile here. Professionally? A bitchin’ hero monitor, a great calibrated scope and Resolve.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Hanging with my family! They ground me every day and keep me honest. Their love is what keeps me wanting tomorrow to happen.

Mike Sowa joins Fotokem as senior DI colorist

FotoKem in Burbank has added post vet Mike Sowa as senior digital intermediate colorist. Sowa brings over 25 years of experience to his new role, and an impressive resume that includes stints at Modern VideoFilm, Universal High Def Center and jobs at other facilities in Hollywood, including LaserPacific and Technicolor.

His past work includes Kubo and the Two Strings, The Jungle Book, Oblivion, Home of the Brave and The Other Side of the Wind. Sowa is an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).  “I am thrilled to be on board at FotoKem, reuniting with talented people that I have worked with in the past and with new collaborators,” says Sowa.

Sowa becomes part of a color roster that includes Alastor Arnold, David Cole, Mark Griffith, George Koran, Kostas Theodosiou, and Walter Volpatto. Contributions from the team include Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Lemon, The Nun, The Spy Who Dumped Me, Twin Peaks: The Return and The Predator, among many others.

He will be using Lustre and Resolve.

Senior colorist Nicholas Hasson joins Light Iron’s LA team

Post house Light Iron has added senior colorist Nicholas Hasson to its roster. He will be based in the company’s Los Angeles studio.

Hasson colored the upcoming Tiffany Haddish feature Nobody’s Fool and Season 2 of HBO’s Room 104. Additional past credits include Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, Masterminds, All About Nina and commercial campaigns for Apple, Samsung and Google. He worked most recently at Technicolor, but his long career has included time at ILM, Company 3 and Modern VideoFilm.

“Nicholas has a wealth of experience that makes him a great fit with our team,” says Light Iron GM Peter Cioni. “His background in color, online and VFX ensures success in meeting clients’ creative objectives and enables flexibility in working across both episodic and feature projects.”

Like Lightiron’s other LA-based colorists, led by Ian Vertovec, Hasson is able to support cinematographers working in other regions through virtual DI sessions in Panavision’s network of connected facilities. (Light Iron is a Panavision company.)

Hasson joins Light Iron during a time of high-profile streaming releases including Netflix’s Maniac and Facebook’s Sorry For Your Loss, as well as feature releases garnering awards buzz, such as Can You Ever Forgive Me? and What They Had.

“This is a significant time of growth for Panavision’s post production creative services,” concludes Cioni. “We are thrilled to have Nicholas with us as we enter this next chapter of expansion.”

Digital Domain Shanghai’s Simon Astbury talks color, projects

England-born Simon Astbury’s path to color grading wasn’t a straight one. He earned a degree in music and had vague ambitions about working in A&R. “I started working in this industry briefly in the early ‘90s and pretty much hated it,” he shares.

One day, Astbury went to sound sync and dialogue edit in a small facility in Twickenham Film Studios where they had two MkIII Rank Cintel telecines. “It was love at first sight,” he says. “The ‘Heath Robinson’ craziness of these systems, with their very limited color tools in those days, PEC master control (operated with a tweaker) and primaries.

Simon Astbury

“There was no machine control or editing, so no stopping once you’d started. It was a great way to learn the craft, to hone an instinctive reaction to an image that still serves me well today. The green radioactive glow from the tube, the smell of film all went to make grading a much more visceral experience! The early ‘90s was a period of huge change in post. Avid was this new thing that the editors mistrusted, most of them were using Steenbecks at that time.”

Astbury’s path was officially changed and he went on to work on many films, including Shakespeare in Love, Sense and Sensibility and Notting Hill. “I also worked with a bunch of film legends including Roger Pratt, Jack Cardiff, Richard Attenborough, Alan Parker, Franco Zeferelli… and The Spice Girls!”

Astbury has worked in a wide range of genres, from Oscar-winning films to iconic ad campaigns and pop promos. He has collaborated with people like Jack Cardiff, Roger Pratt, Tony Kaye, Paul WS Anderson and many more. Today, he is the head of color at Digital Domain in Shanghai.

Let’s find out more…

You’ve recently moved to Shanghai. Why the move, and are your clients’ requests or expectations there different than in London?
I felt it was time to leave my Soho comfort zone. I’d always intended to travel with the job, but the right opportunity never came up. Then when the offer to relocate came somewhat out of the blue, I consulted my family and we decided to go for it.

Digital Domain has an incredible body of work and a global presence. It was also an opportunity to develop and grow a grading department worldwide in a company that is primarily focused on VFX.

Managing client expectations is always very important, but in China the client really is king or queen. Making sure that the work remains good and not diluted by overthinking and over-tweaking is sometimes a very delicate negotiation.

How have you gone about building or enhancing the grading department at Digital Domain China?
So far I’ve introduced some enhanced workflows and defined training for the juniors and assistants. I’m also attempting to make remote grading available to any of our other offices around the world. Additionally, I’m promoting increased co-operation between our Shanghai and Beijing offices.

You’ve worked on all sorts of projects, from documentaries to features to commercials. Is there a genre you enjoy grading the most?
If it doesn’t sound trite, I would say that good, well-executed work is the most enjoyable to grade. I love commercials because they afford the opportunity to go into detail and occasionally push things creatively.

I love documentaries because the grade can enhance the story in so many different ways. I love dramas because the story arc and mood can be helped immensely by a good grade. I love movies because in my heart I’m a film nut and the opportunity to have your work in a cinema is an incredible buzz that will never ever get old.

What work are you most proud of?
There are a few things that stand out for me, most recently a grade for the wonderful director Nieto at Stink for Wu Fang Zhai. It was great fun to throw away the rulebook and do some crazy stuff.

There are a bunch of things that I’ve done over the years that I remember fondly, a travelogue for BBC4 called Travels With a Tangerine, which was amazingly well shot on SD DVCAM. Also some beautiful films for Volvo directed by Martin Swift, and some epic stuff for Audi directed by Paul WS Anderson. There is also the amazing multi-screen art installation “Mother’s Day” for artist Smadar Dreyfuss about dispossessed stateless children in Israel.

Working with younger directors like Stella Scott has been a great experience for me. Passing on knowledge and at the same time learning new visual languages helps to keep everything fresh. At the other end of the spectrum is The Human Centipede trilogy — it’s not often that you get to be involved in a cultural phenomenon.

Wu Fang Zha

Can you describe a recent project and what tools were particularly beneficial?
The Wu Fang Zhai project was shot on greenscreen with matte-painted backgrounds and sometimes with complicated comps. It was really easy to assemble rough comps in my FilmLight Baselight to ensure the grade looked correct. Layer mode composite settings were particularly useful.

Baselight Editions is also a brilliant tool for VFX-heavy jobs. We have a top-secret project on at the moment and the ability to have a renderless workflow between Baselight and Nuke is invaluable.

As a colorist what are your biggest strengths?
I’ve been doing it for a long time and can come up with creative solutions for most eventualities. Sometimes the client wants you to drive the session and come up with all the ideas, sometimes they want you to do as you are told, and sometimes they want it to be a collaboration. I’m comfortable with any of these scenarios, but the client is paying for my eyes and my interpretation, so sometimes you have to be the guide, even when the client has very definite ideas.

You also have to be the arbiter of taste. So on occasion you have to be firm, particularly when bad decisions are being made. I try to separate my ego from the work and create a calm-but-creative atmosphere in the grade suite. Music is hugely important, as well as a fully stocked drink trolley!

The wonderful colorist Bob Festa has said that he asks people what they want their films to say, rather than how they want them to look, and that’s pretty much my approach. I’ve been compared to an airline pilot or cruise ship captain more than once….I’ll take that (he smiles).

You’ve been a colorist for over 20 years and witnessed the time when color correction was processed in film labs. What are your thoughts today about film versus digital?
I worked exclusively in film for about half my career and I love it. It is tactile, it smells great, it feels good in your hands and, of course, many of the most memorable images in cinema were shot on it. The soft detail, intensity and richness of color, the roll off into the whites and blacks is something that digital still finds hard to replicate.

Gucci commercial

Also, the recent resurgence in Europe and the USA of film in shorts, commercials and promos is great to see. However, I find myself thinking about all those things I don’t miss about film, such as weave, cell scratches, grain, wet gate TK and that buttock-clenching moment when the lab manager tells you the reel had broken in the bath and 300 feet of neg had been destroyed. X-ray fogging! Oh my goodness, I have so many film horror stories.

Modern cameras produce amazingly clear images with great color and response to light with far less in the way of insurmountable problems, and I don’t see either as particularly better. Actually, I think decent glass and proper lighting are just as important as what camera or format you shoot on.

What are the biggest challenges you face today as a colorist?
There are a few, but I don’t think they’re specific to colorists. Content is becoming continually more disposable. It’s more important than ever that respect for the craft — not only of color grading but the whole production and post process — becomes central to every production. The proliferation of display devices is also a big subject, making sure that the grade looks good on phones, tablets, laptops and TVs is an issue that will only get more challenging.

Do you have a routine when grading?
Yes, definitely. Although color is incredibly subjective, I personally think that your process shouldn’t be. I strongly believe there’s a right and wrong way of going about a grade. Every colorist has a different process but there are definitely ways that work and ways that don’t.

The longer I do the job, the more important the psychological aspect of it becomes — how your choices in the grade affect the thoughts and emotions of the viewer… what really matters and what doesn’t. I’m always on a quest to distil the essence of a grade. A lot of the content I see now, in my opinion, is over-graded. We have such comprehensive tools now, so you don’t have to throw the kitchen sink at every shot. “Keep it simple” is a mantra I try to impress upon my juniors.

Baselight is your main tool?
I’ve been working on Baselight for just shy of a decade. My favorite thing about Baselight is what I call “redundancy of process,” by which I mean there are multiple ways of doing most grading operations — hue angle not working? Then try Dkey. Dkey no good? Then try RGB key or curves, etc, etc.

What advice would you give to a junior colorist starting out today?
Be patient, there are no shortcuts, although I think it takes less time nowadays than it did due to the absence of telecines. Be a geek about your industry, cameras, lighting and lenses. Watch movies, ads and everything that’s good. Study art and artists, if only to have common points of reference. Remember that the grading part is only a portion of what makes a good colorist. You’re the host, therapist, barman and ringmaster.

You have to be someone people don’t mind spending 12 hours in a dark room with or they’ll never use you again. With difficult client requests try to say yes and then work out how you’re going to do it; if you can’t do it, suggest an alternative rather than saying no. Social media, especially Instagram is a brilliant medium for colorists, but be careful not to post things just for the sake of it.

Main Image Caption: Wu Fang Zhai 

Behind the Title: Carbon senior colorist Julien Biard

NAME: Julien Biard

COMPANY: Carbon in Chicago

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Carbon is a full-service creative studio specializing in design, color, visual effects and motion graphics, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior Colorist

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I’m responsible for grading the work to get the most out of the material. Color has a lot of potential to assist the storytelling in conveying the emotion of a film. I also oversee the running of the Chicago color department.

National Trust

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Most of the time people are surprised this job actually exists, or they think I’m a hair colorist. After many years this still makes me smile every time!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
There are many aspects of the job I enjoy. The main part of the job is the creative side, giving my input and taste to a piece makes the job personally and emotionally involving. I get a lot of satisfaction from this process, working with the team and using color to set the mood and tone of the spot or film.

Finally, by far the best part of the job is to educate and train the next generation of colorists. Having been part of the same process at the beginning of my career, I feel very proud to be able to pass on my knowledge, what I have learned from peers and worked out for myself, and to help as many youngsters to get into color grading as possible.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I miss 35mm…

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
I’m a morning type of guy, so getting on my bike nice and early, taking photographs or getting straight to work. Mornings are always productive for me.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d be an art buyer! Realistically, I’d probably be a mountain guide back home in the French Alps where I grew up.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
In all honesty, this was very unexpected as I originally trained to become a professional football player until quite an advanced age — which I’m now glad wasn’t meant to be my path. It was only when I moved to London after graduating that I fell into the post world where I started as a tea boy. I met the colorist there, and within the first day I knew this would be something I’d enjoy doing and could be good at. I trained hard and worked alongside some of the best colorists in the industry, learning from them while finding my own tune and it worked out pretty well.

Ted Baker

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
National Trust
Run the Jewels
Royal Blood
Rapha
Ted Baker

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
There are many projects I’m proud of, and picking only one is probably not possible. I think what I’m the most proud of is the relationship I have built with some of the industry’s most creative talents — people like Crowns and Owls, David Wilson, Thomas Bryant, Andrew Telling and Ninian Doff, to name a few. Also, being able to bring my contribution to the edifice in this stimulating world is what I’m the proudest of.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My sound system, my camera, a corkscrew and my bike, of course!

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Mainly Instagram; it’s all about the visuals.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Is there such thing as grading without music?! I need my music when I work. It helps me get in the zone and also helps me with timings. An album is around the hour mark, so I know where I am.

Taste wise? Oh dear, the list could be long. If the beat is good and there are instruments, I’m in. I do struggle with pop music a lot. But I’m open to anything else.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I ride my bike, anywhere I can. I climb. I enjoy photography very much too. Since I’m in a dark room most of the time at work, I spend as much of my spare time outside as possible

Colorist Asa Shoul joins Warner Bros. De Lane Lea

Warner Bros. De Lane Lea (WBDLL) has added colorist Asa Shoul to its new picture services department, which will launch this September. Shoul’s recent credits include Mission Impossible: Fallout, Baby Driver, Amazon’s Tin Star and he recently received a BAFTA craft award for his work on the multi award-winning Netflix series The Crown.

Shoul will be joined by his assistant Katie McCulloch, senior post producer Louise Stewart and online editor Gareth Parry, as well as additional industry-leading creative, technical and operations staff, yet to be announced.

The expansion will include the launch of two new 4K HDR grading theaters, in addition to online suites, mastering, content handling services and dark fibre connectivity for both Dolby UK and Leavesden Studios. A full-service production dailies offering based at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden will also launched to help service the needs of productions.

Recent features at WBDLL include Wonder Woman; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Fantastic Beasts and Early Man. It also has an impressive roster of high-end television clients including Netflix, Amazon, Starz, BBC and ITV.

Last year the company announced it will cement its future in Soho by moving to a new purpose-built post production facility located in the centre of Soho, which is currently under construction. WBDLL will be the anchor tenant within the Ilona Rose building which is slated to open in 2021.

Quick Chat: Technicolor’s new finishing artist, VP Pankaj Bajpai

By Randi Altman

Veteran colorist Pankaj Bajpai will be joining Technicolor’s Los Angeles studio in August as VP, finishing artist and business development. He comes to Technicolor from his long-tenured position at Encore.

Bajpai’s long list of television credits include House of Cards, Sex in the CityCarnivàle, The Newsroom, True Detective, Justified, Fear the Walking Dead, Genius: Einstein and Picasso, Snowfall and many more. He brings with him a background in both film cinematography and digital post.

Bajpai joins Technicolor’s roster of episodic colorists in Los Angeles who include Sparkle, Tim Vincent, Tony Dustin, Tom Forletta, Roy Vasich and Doug Delaney.

“I’m thrilled to start a new chapter at such a vibrant time in our industry’s landscape,” says Bajpai on joining Technicolor. “With the support of Sherri Potter (Technicolor’s president of worldwide post production), and the team of artists and engineers at Technicolor, I’m excited to continue to push the boundaries of technology and creativity to bring our clients’ vision and passion to all screens, in all formats, for all to enjoy.”

We reached out to Bajpai to find out more:

Why was now the right time to make this change, especially after being at one place for so long?
Consumers’ relationship with content has been disrupted, the entertainment industry has shifted, and as a result the dynamics of post are changing dramatically. Lines are blurring between “feature” and “episodic” content — the quality of the story and the production, the craft, the expectation by all stakeholders, etc. is now almost universally the same for all pieces of content regardless of distribution platform. I believe Technicolor understands this dynamic shift and is supporting the singular demand for stunning content regardless of distribution “genre,” and that made it the right time for me to join.

How do you divide your time between your colorist duties and your biz dev duties?
I believe that the role of the colorist is no longer a singular duty. It is my responsibility to be the center of collaboration across the post process — from a client perspective, a craft perspective and a workflow perspective. We no longer live in a silo’d industry with clear hand-offs. I must understand the demands that 4K, HDR and beyond have on workflows, the craft and the ever-tightening delivery deadlines.

I believe in being the catalyst for collaboration across the post process, uniting the technology and artistry to serve our clients’ visions. It’s not about wearing one hat at a time. It’s about taking my role as both artists and client ambassador seriously, ultimately ensuring that the experience is as flawless as possible, and the picture is stunning.

You are an artist first, but what do you get from doing the other parts as well?
We no longer work within independent processes. Being that center of collaboration that I referenced earlier influences my approach to color finishing as much as my role as an artist helps to bring perspective to the technology and operational demands of projects these days.

How does your background in cinematography inform you color work?
My work will always be informed by my clients, but my background in cinematography allows us to speak the same language — the language of lens and light, the language of photography. I find it is a very easy way of communicating visual ideas and gets us on the same page much faster. For instance, when a DP shares with me that they will be using a particular set of lenses and filters in combination with specific gels and lights, I’m able to visualize their creative intent quickly. Instinctively, we know what that image needs to be from the start without talking about it too much. Establishing such trust on demanding episodic shooting and finishing schedules is critical to stay true to my clients’ creative ideas.

Understanding and respecting the nuances of a cinematographer’s work in this way goes far in my ability to create a successful color finishing process in the end.

The world of color is thriving right now. How has the art changed since you started?
Art at its essence will always be about creative people seeing something come to life from within their own unique perspective. What has changed is the fact that the tools we now have at our disposal allow me as a finishing artist to create all new approaches to my craft. I can go deeper into an image and its color space now; it’s freeing and exciting because it allows for collaboration with cinematographers and directors on a continually deeper level.

What is the most exciting thing going on in color right now? HDR? Something else?
It really feels like the golden age of content across all platforms. Consumers’ expectations are understandably high across any type of content consumed in any environment or any screen. I think everyone involved on a show feels that and feels the excitement and continues to raise the bar for the quality of the storytelling, the craft and the overall consumer engagement. To be a contributor work, which is now easily seen globally, is very exciting.

Has the new technology changed the way you work or is your creative process essentially the same?
Technology will continue to change, workflows will be impacted and, as an industry, we’ll always be looking to challenge what is possible. My creative process continues to be influenced by the innovative tools that I get to explore.

For instance, it’s vital for me to understand an array of new digital cameras and the distinctive images they are capable of producing. I frequently use my toolset for creative options that can be deployed right within those cameras. To be able to help customize images non-destructively from the beginning of the shoot and to collaborate with directors and cinematographers to aid storytelling with a unique visual style all the way to the finish, is hugely satisfying. For innovation in the creative process today, the sky is the limit.

Colorist Arianna Shining Star joins Apache

Santa Monica-based color and finishing boutique Apache has added colorist Arianna Shining Star to its roster at this Santa Monica color and finishing boutique. She is the studio’s first woman colorist.

Star’s commercial work includes spots and branded shorts for Apple, Nike, Porsche, Budweiser, Tommy Hilfiger, Spotify and Coca-Cola. Her music video credits include the MTV VMA-nominated videos Wild Thoughts for Rihanna and Justin Bieber’s visual album for Purpose. Her longform work includes newly released Netflix feature film Ibiza, a comedy co-produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions.

After studying Cinematic Arts and Psychology at USC, Shining Star cut her teeth at Company 3 as an assistant colorist. She then worked as a Baselight specialist for FilmLight before joining Paramount Pictures, where she remastered feature films in HDR. She was then brought on as colorist at Velem to spearhead the post production department of Milk Studios.

“Arianna worked with us before, and we’ve always had our eye on her,” says managing partner LaRue Anderson. “She’s super-talented and a true go-getter who’s amassed an awesome body of work in a relatively short time.”

With Northern California roots, Arianna’s distinctive middle name (she goes by her first and middle names professionally) comes from her parents, who met at a Grateful Dead concert during a performance of the Jerry Garcia classic song, “Shining Star.” Something of a next-gen Dead Head herself, she admits to having seen the current iteration of the band over 30 times.

Her background and interest in psychology is clear as she explains what attracts her most to color grading: “It has the ability to elevate not only production value and overall aesthetic, but can help guide the viewers’ emotional journey through the piece,” Star says.  “I love the opportunity to put the finishing touches on a piece, too. After countless people have poured their heart and soul into crafting a film, it’s an immense privilege to have the last creative touch.”

On adding the first woman colorist to the Apache roster, Anderson says it’s a testament to Star’s creative skills that she’s flourished in what’s largely a male-dominated category of post production. “There’s a lack of role models for women coming up in the creative ranks of color and visual effects,” she explains. “Women have to work hard to get on the playing field. Arianna is not only on the field, she owns the field. She’s established herself as a specialist who DPs and directors lean on for creative collaboration.”

“I want to be seen for the quality of my work and nothing else,” she says. “What makes me unique as a colorist is not my gender, but my aesthetic and approach to collaboration — my style runs the gamut from big and bold to soft and subtle.”

She cites her work on Ibiza as an example of this versatility. “Comedies typically play it safe with color, but from day one we sought to do something different and color outside the lines,” she says. “Director Alex Richanbach and cinematographer Danny Modor set me up with an incredibly diverse palette that allowed us to go bold and use color to further enhance the three different worlds seen in the film: New York, Barcelona and Ibiza. Narrative work really allows you to take your viewer on a journey with the color grade.”

At Apache, Star says she’s found a home where she can continue to learn the craft. “They’re true veterans who know the ins and outs of this wild industry and are incredible leaders,” she says of Anderson and her partners, Shane Reed and Steve Rodriguez. “And their three key core tenets drew me. One, we’re a creatively driven company. Two, we’re consistently re-evaluating the playbook and figuring out what works and what we can improve. And three, we truly operate like a family and support one another. We’ve got a crew of talented artists, and it’s a privilege to work alongside them.”

In growth mode, Deluxe NY hires features, episodic colorist Sam Daley

Senior colorist Sam Daley has joined Deluxe post operations in New York, where he will lead final color finishing for feature films and television. Daley has working in the New York post market for over 20 years.

Prior to joining Deluxe, Daley spent time at Technicolor, Postworks and Tapehouse. He began his career in color at Du Art, where he worked with Deluxe president/GM TV post production Dominic Rom, who says, “I am very excited to be working with him again. I’ve watched and shared his career growth since he first came into the New York market. He’s an ideal anchor for our growing final color roster with tremendous industry knowledge. More than ever, directors and DPs are working across formats and Sam’s multifaceted experience in features and television is invaluable.”

Daley’s recent feature credits include The Florida Project, Beirut and the upcoming Sorry to Bother You. Previously, he finished the first season of Girls, and season one of The Deuce, as well as the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, which earned him a 2015 HPA Award nomination for Best TV Series Color Correction. Daley brings a deep knowledge of color finishing techniques to Deluxe, including the nuances of working in Dolby Vision and HDR10.

Daley will be based out of Deluxe’s New York location on West 18th Street. In addition to final HDR and SDR color, the facility also provides dailies color (including UHD dailies), online editorial and various deliverables. Visual effects services are available through co-located sister company Method Studios.

Efilm adds veteran colorist Skip Kimball

Skip Kimball has joined Efilm as senior colorist. Kimball brings more than 30 years of experience to this post house, spanning features, television, music videos and commercials.

He recently finished work on seasons 1 and 2 of the Netflix’s Stranger Things for executive producer Shawn Levy, and is currently working on Deadpool 2 for Fox and director David Leitch. Other feature credits for Kimball include Downsizing and Nebraska for Alexander Payne; Logan for Fox and James Mangold and the Terminator 2 remaster for James Cameron and Lightstorm.

Kimball joins Deluxe’s Efilm from Technicolor, where he spent nearly six years as senior colorist. His previous experience also includes over 15 years at Modern VideoFilm where he worked on dozens of projects, including Gone Baby Gone, Tropic Thunder and James Cameron’s 3D epic Avatar. He began his career at Anderson Video, where he first learned his craft on 35mm film.

Kimball joins current Efilm colorists Natasha Leonnet, Mitch Paulson, Tom Reiser, Jason Hanel, Kevin O’Connor, Steve Delman, Adrian DeLude, Ben Estrada and Matt Wallach.

Behind the Title: MTI Senior Colorist Trent Johnson

NAME: Trent Johnson

COMPANY: MTI Film

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
MTI Film works in multiple post production disciplines, including TV and feature post, film restoration and software development.

AS A SENIOR COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
In order to be excellent in this profession you have to be obsessive about the details, because it is in the composite of details that the whole mood and tempo of the show comes alive.

At this point in the post process, I may even become more passionate about certain aspects of the project than the clients. With years of experience under my belt, I have mastered many tricks of the trade that clients may or may not be aware of. I can see what needs to be corrected in lighting and color to make the director, cinematographer and producer’s vision for the piece become a reality.

It is my responsibility to make it right and I take this responsibility very seriously and down to the tiniest detail. For example, I can unify inconsistent shots, change the time of day, augment special effects that have to be married into practical photography, tint color to affect an emotional response from the audience and enhance the appearance of characters, to name a few. The addition of my creative input to the creative process – at the direction of the creative heads of a project – serves as the icing on the cake. It’s the final perfection of the product before it’s delivered and released.

WHAT SYSTEMS DO YOU WORK ON?
I am proficient on Nucoda, Resolve and Baselight.

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS? IF SO, CAN YOU DESCRIBE?
I take on light editorial tasks: compositing, speed changes, titling, etc. For a restoration project it could be sifting through various elements to choose the best quality.

The Emoji Movie

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I have lots of favorites. First is working with very talented creative clients who know what they want and how to communicate a vision. Sitting in a theatre with these creative giants, over a period of several days, an atmosphere of camaraderie develops. This has resulted in many wonderful working relationships.

Second, I love being given a challenge on a film or TV project and then being able to meet or exceed expectations. I have always said there are two kinds of people in this world: those who give you reasons why they can’t do something and those who give you reasons why something that seems impossible can be done. I like to be the guy that figures out how to make it happen for a client, even though it may be out of the wheelhouse of most color correctors.

Third, once I meet a challenge and succeed in enhancing the creative vision of the client to an unexpected level, I like reviewing what I colored and how it’s made everything come together according to the vision. I thoroughly enjoy looking at what I colored yesterday and liking it, not to mention witnessing my client’s satisfaction with the final product.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Rushing through the grade. I’m a perfectionist and like to refine a look until everyone in the room is pleased. I’m willing to put the time to get it right.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I edited as well as colored early in my career. I could have easily pursued editing, as I enjoy it quite a lot. I like focusing on performances and finding the magic moments in shots and scenes and piecing it all together to move the story forward. I bring these skills into the color bay every day and draw on them by using color to amplify and strengthen the storyline of the project I’m working on.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
As a child I binge-watched TV shows and movies and developed a love of classic Hollywood. I can walk into a room and glance at a movie and usually know what the title is. My kids get a kick out of that. I have a bit of a photographic memory in that sense. This has come in handy because I not only remember the movie, but the color and lighting as well, and how it was used in that particular instance to create a mood.

As I grew into my teens, I decided to make that movie-watching time investment pay off. I bought a Super 8 camera in high school and began making movies with my friends. I’ve never looked back. I majored in film production at the collegiate level at USC and San Diego State University. I started my career at Complete Post in Hollywood, and the rest is history.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I recently worked on Overboard for MGM, Proud Mary for Screen Gems and The Emoji Movie for Sony/Columbia.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I’ve worked on all the Smurfs movies. I started on the animated TV series early in my career and was hired to color correct all three of the motion pictures. The most challenging aspect of these movies early on was the combination live action and animation.

I became known as the “Smurf Blue guy” for keeping the characteristic blue color of the characters consistent. I especially enjoyed working with the animation clients on these shows because they are extremely precise, and I respect that.

A close second favorite is the motion picture Burlesque. The cinematography on that film was executed brilliantly; it featured dramatic dance numbers enhanced with creative lighting, had an avant-garde cast and was a throw-back to old Hollywood.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
I feel as connected to the old as to the new. Technology is always morphing, and the way movies are made constantly in flux. This is a source of fascination to me, and I’m inspired by the way all forms of art both reflect and influence culture. I study how camerawork and lighting techniques come and go, and how they were and are effectively used artistically in movies past and present. How to communicate different facets of life is the fundamental inspiration for art. What I do is a technical art form, so it draws deeply on these principles.

NAME SOME TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
XM Radio, television, my iPhone and my coffeemaker.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I thoroughly enjoy reading blogs, and especially listening to podcasts of cinematographers and other colorists to stay current on innovation trends. Anything to do with the industry on Facebook, YouTube, etc. is always interesting to me.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Sinatra, classic radio shows and pastry. Actually, it’s my sense of humor that keeps me going. Also, coming home to my loving family and being highly involved in my children’s lives is my lifeblood.

Peter Doyle on coloring Churchill’s England for Darkest Hour

By Daniel Restuccio

Technicolor supervising digital colorist Peter Doyle is pretty close to being a legend in the movie industry. He’s color graded 12 of the 100 top box office movies, including Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, six Harry Potter films, Aleksander Sokurov’s Venice Golden Lion-winning Faust, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and most recently the Golden Globe-nominated Darkest Hour.

Grading Focus Features’ Darkest Hour — which focuses on Winston Churchill’s early days as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during WWII — represents a reunion for Doyle. He previously worked with director Joe Wright (Pan) and director of photography Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis). (Darkest Hour picked up a variety of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Cinematography for Delbonnel.)

Peter Doyle

The vibe on Darkest Hour, according to Doyle, was very collaborative and inspiring. “Joe is an intensely visual director and has an extraordinary aesthetic… visually, he’s very considerate and very aware. It was just great to throw out ideas, share them and work to find what would be visually appropriate with Bruno in terms of his design of light, and what this world should look like.”

All the time, says Doyle, they worked to creatively honor Joe’s overall vision of where the film should be from both the narrative and the visual viewpoint.

The creative team, he continues, was focused on what they hoped to achieve in terms of “the emotional experience with the visuals,” what did they want this movie to look like and, technically, how could they get the feeling of that imagery onto the screen?

Research and Style Guide
They set about to build a philosophy of what the on-screen vision of the film would be. That turned into a “style guide” manifesto of actually how to get that on screen. They knew it was the 1940s during World War II, so logically they examined newsreels and the cameras and lenses that were used at the time. One of the things that came out of the discussions with Joe and Bruno was the choice of the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. “It’s quite an ensemble cast and the 2.35:1 would let you spread the cast across the screen, but wide 1.85:1 felt most appropriate for that.”

Doyle also did some research at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s very large photographic collection and dug into his own collection of photographic prints made with alternate color processes. Sepia and black and white got ruled out. They investigated the color films of the time and settled in on the color work of Edward Steichen.

Delbonnel chose Arri Alexa SXT cameras and Cooke S4s and Angenieux zoom lenses. They mastered in ArriRaw 3.2K. Technicolor has technology that allowed Doyle to build a “broad stroke” color-model-based emulation of what the color processes were like in the ’40s and apply that to the Alexa. “The idea,” explains Doyle, “was to take the image from the Alexa camera and mold it into an approximation of what the color film stocks would have looked like at the time. Then, having got into that world, tweak it slightly, because that’s quite a strong look,” and they still needed it to be “sensitive to the skin tones of the actors.”

Color Palette and Fabrics
There was an “overall arc” to this moment in history, says Doyle. The film’s setting was London during WWII, and outside it was hot and sunny. Inside, all lights were dimmed filaments, and that created a scenario where visually they would have extremely high-contrast images. All the colors were natural-based dyes, he explains, and the fabrics were various kind of wools and silks. “The walls and the actual environment that everyone would have been in would be a little run down. There would have been quite a patina and texture on the walls, so a lot of dirt and dust. These were kind of the key points that they gave me in order to work something out.”

Doyle’s A-ha Moment
“I took some hero shots of Kristin Scott Thomas (Clementine Churchill) and Gary Oldman (Winston Churchill), along with a few of the other actors, from Bruno’s rushes,” explains Doyle, adding that those shots became his reference.

From those images he devised different LUTs (Look Up Tables) that reflected different kinds of color manipulation processes of the time. It also meant that during principal photography they could keep referencing how the skin tones were working. There are a lot of close-ups and medium close-ups in Darkest Hour that gave easy access to the performance, but it also required them to be very aware of the impact of lighting on prosthetics and makeup.

Doyle photographed test charts on both 120mm reversal film of Ektachrome he had sitting in his freezer from the late ’70s and the Alexa. “The ‘a-ha moment’ was when we ran a test image through both. It was just staggering how different the imagery really looked. It gave us a good visual reference of the differences between film and digital, but more accurately the difference between reversal film and digital. It allowed us to zero in on the reactions of the two imaging methods and build the show LUTs and emulation of the Steichen look.”

One Word
When Doyle worked on Llewelyn Davis, Delbonnel and the Coen brothers defined the look of the film with one word: “sad.” For Darkest Hour, the one word used was “contrast,” but as a multi-level definition not just in the context of lights and darks in the image. “It just seemed to be echoed across all the various facets of this film,” says Doyle. “Certainly, Darkest Hour is a story of contrasting opinions. In terms of story and moments, there are soldiers at war in trenches, whilst there are politicians drinking champagne — certainly contrast there. Contrast in terms of the environment with the extreme intense hot summer outside and the darkness and general dullness on the inside.”

A good example, he says, is “the Parliament House speech that’s being delivered with amazing shafts of light that lit up the environment.”

The DP’s Signature
Doyle feels that digital cinematography tends to “remove the signature” of the director of photography, and that it’s his job to put it back. “In those halcyon days of film negative, there were quite a lot of processes that a DP would use in the lab that would become part of the image. A classic example, he says, is Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, which was shot mostly during sunrise and sunset by Nestor Almendros, and “the extraordinary lightness of the image. Or Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, which was shot by John Alcott with scenes lit entirely by candles “that have a real softness.” The looks of those movies are a combination of the cinematographer’s lighting and work with the lab.

“A digital camera is an amazing recording device. It will faithfully reproduce what it records on set,” says Doyle. “What I’ve done with Bruno in the testing stage is bring back the various processes that you would possibly do in the lab, or at least the concept of what you would do in the laboratory. We’re really bending and twisting the image. Everyone sees the film the way that the DP intends, and then everyone’s relationship with that film is via this grade.”

This is why it’s so important to Doyle to have input from day one rushes through to the end. He’s making sure the DP’s “signature” is consistent to final grade. On Darkest Hour they tested, built and agreed on a look for the film for rushes. Colorist Mel Kangleon worked with Delbonnel on a daily basis to make sure all the exposures were correct from a technical viewpoint. Also, aesthetically to make sure the grade and look were not being lost.

“The grades that we were doing were what was intended by Bruno, and we made sure the actual imagery on the screen was how he wanted it to be,” explains Doyle. “We were making sure that the signature was being carried through.”

Darkest Hour and HDR
On Darkest Hour, Doyle built the DCI grade for the Xenon projector, 14 foot-lambert, as the master color corrected deliverable. “Then we took what was pretty much the LAD gray-card value of that DCI grade. So a very classic 18% gray that was translated across to the 48-, the 108-, the 1,000- and the 4,000-nit grade. We essentially parked the LAD gray (18% gray) at what we just felt was an appropriate brightness. There is not necessarily a lot of color science to that, other than saying, ‘this feels about right.’ That’s (also) very dependent on the ambient light levels.”

The DCI projector, notes Doyle, doesn’t really have “completely solid blacks; they’re just a little gray.” Doyle wished that the Xenon could’ve been brighter, but that is what the theatrical distribution chain is at the moment, he says.

When they did the HDR (High Dynamic Range) version, which Doyle has calls as a “new language” of color correction, they took the opportunity to add extra contrast and dial down the blacks to true black. “I was able to get some more detail in the lower shadows, but then have absolutely solid blacks —  likewise on the top end. We opened up the highlights to be even more visceral in their brightness. Joe Wright says he fell in love with the Dolby Vision.”

If you’re sitting in a Dolby Vision Cinema, says Doyle, you’re sitting in a black box. “Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to have the image as bright as a Rec 709 grade or LAD gray, which is typically for a lounge room where there are some lights on. There is a definite ratio between the presumed ambient light level of a room and where they park that LAD,” explains Doyle.

Knowing where they want the overall brightness of the film to be, they translate the tone curve to maintain exactly what they did in the DCI grade. Then perceptually it appears the same in the various mediums. Next they custom enhance each grade for the different display formats. “I don’t really necessarily call it a trim pass; it’s really adding a flare pass,” elaborates Doyle. “A DCI projector has quite a lot of flare, which means it’s quite organic and reactive to the image. If you project something on a laser, it doesn’t necessarily have anywhere near that amount of flair, and that can be a bit of a shock. Suddenly, your highlights are looking incredibly harsh. We went through and really just made sure that the smoothness of the image was maintained and emulated on the other various mediums.”

Doyle also notes that Darkest Hour benefited from the results of his efforts working with Technicolor color scientists Josh Pines and Chris Kutchka, working on new color modeling tools and being able “to build 3D LUTs that you can edit and that are cleaner. That can work in a little more containable way.”

Advice and Awards
In the bright new world of color correction, what questions would Doyle suggest asking directors? “What is their intent emotionally with the film? How do they want to reinforce that with color? Is it to be approached in a very literal way, or should we think about coming up with some kind of color arc that might be maybe counter intuitive? This will give you a feel for the world that the director has been thinking of, and then see if there’s a space to come at it from a slightly unexpected way.”

I asked Doyle if we have reached the point where awards committees should start thinking about an Academy Award category for color grading.

Knowing what an intensely collaborative process color grading is, Doyle responded that it would be quite challenging. “The pragmatist in me says it could be tricky to break it down in terms of the responsibilities. It depends on the relationship between the colorist, the DP and the director. It really does change with the personalities and the crew. That relationship could make the breakdown a little tricky just to work out whose idea was it to actually make it, for example, blue.”

Because this interview was conducted in December, I asked Doyle, what he would ask Santa to bring him for Christmas. His response? “I really think the new frontier is gamut mapping and gamut editing — that world of fitting one color space into another. I think being able to edit those color spaces with various color models that are visually more appropriate is pretty much the new frontier.”


Daniel Restuccio is a producer and teacher based in Southern California.

Fancy Film brings on Michael Smollin to head color division

Michael Smollin has joined Fancy Film, a post facility based in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake area, as senior colorist for theatrical and television projects. Smollin has credits that span features, episodics, reality series and documentaries.

“Mike is someone who can lead our color division in both technical and artistic capacities,” says Fancy Film CEO Bill Macomber. “He brings a significant ability to grow our business through his many diehard fans. He has especially deep experience as a colorist for mid-budget features and television series, projects that are a perfect match for Fancy and the facilities we have here. As these projects gear up for HDR, Mike’s leadership will be key.”

Smollin has worked at Fancy on an occasional freelance basis for over five years. His credits include Undefeated, the 2012 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature, as well as The Case Against 8 for HBO and Underwater Universe for Discovery.

Smollin’s career in post spans more than 20 years, the past four at Roundabout Entertainment in Burbank. His background also includes posts with Walden Media, Mega Playground, Technicolor and Encore Video. He got his start with Complete Post.

His many credits include the television series American Dreams, CSI: Miami, Once and Again and Grounded for Life, the documentary Sound City, and the features Chasing Mavericks, Parental Guidance and the Disney live-action feature The Jungle Book.

“What inspires me to be a colorist is the day-to-day creativity and collaborative artistic communication between the creative artists of the post industry,” says Smollin. “I also enjoy helping people see their images come to life on television and the big screen.”

Launched by Macomber in 2003, Fancy Film offers a seamless workflow from dailies processing through picture lock and has developed a strong reputation for providing high quality post services in a boutique, creative environment. The facility features a DCI-certified, Blackmagic Da Vinci Resolve color grading theater and three broadcast color correction suites, plus editorial conforming, quality control and related resources.

In addition, it has 20,000 square feet of offline editorial space that it leases to film and television productions on long- and short-term bases. Recent projects that have undergone post finishing at the facility include Beatriz at Dinner, Miguel Arteta’s film, starring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow. Its series work includes Sing It! for YouTube Red and Party Over Here for Lonely Island and Fox.

Aubrey Woodiwiss joins Carbon LA as lead colorist

Full-service creative studio Carbon has added colorist Aubrey Woodiwiss as senior colorist/director of color grading to their LA roster. He comes to Carbon with a portfolio that includes spots for Dulux, NBA 2K17, Coors and Honda, and music videos for Beyonce’s Formation, Jay-Z’s On to the Next One and the Calvin Harris/Rihanna song This Is What You Came For.

“I’m always prepared to bend and shape myself around the requirements of the project at hand, but always with a point of view,” says Woodiwiss, who honed his craft at The Mill and Electric Theater Collective during his career.

“I am fortunate to have been able to collate various experiences within life and work, and have been able to reapply them back into the work I do. I vary my approach and style as required, and never bring a labored or autonomous look to anything. Communication is key, and a large part of what I do as well,” he adds.

Woodiwiss’ focus on creativity began during his adolescence, when he experimented with editing films on VHS and later directed and cut homemade music videos. Woodiwiss started his pro career in the early 2000s at Framestore, first as a runner and then as a digital lab operator, helping to pioneer film scanning and digital film tech on Harry Potter, Love Actually, Bridget Jones Diary and Troy.

While he’s traversed creative mediums from film, commercials, music videos and on over 3,000 projects, he maintains a linear mindset when it comes to each project. “I approach them similarly in that I try to realize the vision set by the creators of the project,” says Woodiwiss, who co-creative directed the immersive mixed media art exhibition and initiative mentl, with Pulse Films director Ben Newman and producer Craig Newman (Radiohead, Nick Cave).

Carbon’s addition of the FilmLight Baselight color system and Woodiwiss as senior colorist to its established VFX/design services hammers home the studio’s move toward a complete post solution in Los Angeles. Plans are in the works to offer remote grading capabilities from any of the Carbon offices in NY, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Digging Deeper: The Mill Chicago’s head of color Luke Morrison

A native Londoner, Morrison started his career at The Mill where worked on music videos and commercials. In 2013, he moved across to the Midwest to head up The Mill Chicago’s color department.

Since then, Morrison has worked on campaigns for Beats, Prada, Jeep, Miller, Porsche, State Farm, Wrigley’s Extra Gum and a VR film for Jack Daniel’s.

Let’s find out more about Morrison.

How early on did you know color would be your path?
I started off, like so many at The Mill, as a runner. I initially thought I wanted to get into 3D, and after a month of modeling a photoreal screwdriver I realized that wasn’t the path for me. Luckily, I poked my nose into the color suites and saw them working with neg and lacing up the Spirit telecine. I was immediately drawn to it. It resonated with me and with my love of photography.

You are also a photographer?
Yes, I actually take pictures all the time. I always carry some sort of camera with me. I’m fortunate to have a father who is a keen photographer and he had a darkroom in our house when I was young. I was always fascinated with what he was doing up there, in the “red room.”

Photography for me is all about looking at your surroundings and capturing or documenting life and sharing it with other people. I started a photography club at The Mill, S35, because I wanted to share that part of my passion with people. I find as a ‘creative’ you need to have other outlets to feed into other parts of you. S35 is about inspiring people — friends, colleagues, clients — to go back to the classic, irreplaceable practice of using 35mm film and start to consider photography in a different way than the current trends.

State Farm

In 2013, you moved from London to Chicago. Are the markets different and did anything change?
Yes and no. I personally haven’t changed my style to suit or accommodate the different market. I think it’s one of the things that appeals to my clients. Chicago, however, has quite a different market than in the UK. Here, post production is more agency led and directors aren’t always involved in the process. In that kind of environment, there is a bigger role for the colorist to play in carrying the director’s vision through or setting the tone of the “look.”

I still strive to keep that collaboration with the director and DP in the color session whether it’s a phone call to discuss ahead of the session, doing some grade tests or looping them in with a remote grade session. There is definitely a difference in the suite dynamics, too. I found very quickly I had to communicate and translate the client’s and my creative intent differently here.

What sort of content do you work on?
We work on commercials, music promos, episodics and features, but always have an eye on new ways to tell narratives. That’s where the pioneering work in the emerging technology field comes into play. We’re no longer limited and are constantly looking for creative ways to remain at the forefront of creation for VR, AR, MR and experiential installations. It’s really exciting to watch it develop and to be a part of it. When Jack Daniel’s and DFCB Chicago approached us to create a VR experience taking the viewer to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Kentucky, we leapt at the chance.

Do you like a variety of projects?
Who doesn’t? It’s always nice to be working on a variety, keeping things fresh and pushing yourself creatively. We’ve moved into grading more feature projects and episodic work recently, which has been an exciting way to be creatively and technically challenged. Most recently, I’ve had a lot of fun grading some comedy specials, one for Jerrod Carmichael and one for Hasan Minhaj. This job is ever-changing, be it thanks to evolving technology, new clients or challenging projects. That’s one of the many things I love about it.

Toronto Maple Leafs

You recently won two AICE awards for best color for your grade on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ spot Wise Man. Can you talk about that?
It was such a special project to collaborate on. I’ve been working with Ian Pons Jewell, who directed it, for many years now. We met way back in the day in London, when I was a color assistant. He would trade me deli meats and cheeses from his travels to do grades for him! That shared history made the AICE awards all the more special. It’s incredible to have continued to build that relationship and see how each of us have grown in our careers. Those kinds of partnerships are what I strive to do with every single client and job that comes through my suite.

When it comes to color grading commercials, what are the main principles?
For me, it’s always important to understand the idea, the creative intent and the tone of the spot. Once you understand that, it influences your decisions, dictates how you’ll approach the grade and what options you’ll offer the client. Then, it’s about crafting the grade appropriately and building on that.

You use FilmLight Baselight, what do your clients like most about what you can provide with that system?
Clients are always impressed with the speed at which I’m able to address their comments and react to things almost before they’ve said them. The tracker always gets a few “ooooooh’s” or “ahhhh’s.” It’s like they’re watching fireworks or something!

How do you keep current with emerging technologies?
That’s the amazing thing about working at The Mill: we’re makers and creators for all media. Our Emerging Technologies team is constantly looking for new ways to tell stories and collaborate with our clients, whether it’s branded content or passion projects, using all technologies at our disposal: anything is at our fingertips, even a Pop Llama.

Name three pieces of technology you can’t live without.
Well, I’ve got to have my Contax T2, an alarm clock, otherwise I’d never be anywhere on time, and my bicycle.

Would you say you are a “technical” colorist or would you rather prioritize instincts?
It’s all about instincts! I’m into the technical side, but I’m mostly driven by my instincts. It’s all about feeling and that comes from creating the correct environment in the suite, having a good kick off chat with clients, banging on the tunes and spinning the balls.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration from just being outside. It might sound like a cliché but travel is massive for me, and that goes hand in hand with my photography. I think it’s important to change your surroundings, be it traveling to Japan or just taking a different route to the studio. The change keeps me engaged in my surroundings, asking questions and stimulating my imagination.

What do you do to de-stress from it all?
Riding my bike is my main thing. I usually do a 30-mile ride a few mornings a week and then 50 to 100 miles at the weekend. Riding keeps you constantly focused on that one thing, so it’s a great way to de-stress and clear your mind.

What’s next for you?
I’ve got some great projects coming up that I’m excited about. But outside of the suite, I’ll be riding in this year’s 10th Annual Fireflies West ride. For the past 10 years, Fireflies West participants have embarked on a journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in support of City of Hope. This year’s ride has the added challenge of an extra day tacked onto it making the ride 650 miles in total over seven days, so…I best get training! (See postPerspectives’ recent coverage on the ride.)

Behind the Title: ArsenalFX colorist Greg Werner

NAME: Greg Werner

COMPANY: ArsenalFX Color

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
ArsenalFX Color is a high-end post facility focusing on the television industry. Our 9,000-square-foot facility hosts Lustre color, Flame, Smoke (Flame Assist) and Avid conform, as well as Colorfront dailies toolsets. Arsenal features a file-based architecture and concurrent HD through 4K workflows (including HDR).

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I don’t think most people are aware of the job title of colorist in general. I think people are aware of cinematographers and editors and their part in creating the look and feel of a show, but don’t realize what can be done on the post side. The systems we work with have an arsenal of tools that allow us to modify and isolate virtually any part of the picture in order to give the client exactly what they’re looking for.

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Autodesk Lustre

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Lustre has the power to do things other than just color for artistic intent, such as adding grain or noise to a shot, sharpening or softening a portion of the picture or creating a bleach bypass effect.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
My favorite part of the job is viewing a completed show knowing that I had a part in helping maintain the intended look and feel of the show.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
My least favorite part of the job may be that color correction can be tedious at times when working on shows that are very cutty with variable lighting conditions. But, it is that challenge that is also the most rewarding when viewing the completed work and seeing how everything comes together cohesively.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I would probably be an editor or VFX artist.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I chose this profession because I always wanted a hands-on technical-oriented type of career. Studying communication and media in college, I was exposed to and very interested in the video production and post environment.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Turn: Washington’s Spies, Outsiders, Marvel’s Agents of Shield, Bones, Prison Break (2017) and HBO’s Barry.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I am probably the most proud of being able to work on the new event series Prison Break (2017) because it was given some stylized looks that were fun to work on.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? 
I find inspiration in the world around me. Whether it be zip lining over tropical waterfalls in Hawaii, surfing in the azure waters of Fiji or simply viewing a spectacular sunset (like the one I saw the other night driving home from work). These experiences can shape the way we see things.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Television, of course, my iPhone and my MacBook Pro.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
After the long hours of sitting in a dark room fixated on a monitor the best de-stress for me is to grab my surfboard and paddle out for a few waves and watch the sunset.

Colorist Dan Hermelin joins Roundabout Entertainment

Roundabout Entertainment, which is growing its services for picture finishing and restoration, has hired colorist Dan Hermelin. He comes to Roundabout with more than 20 years of post experience and a resume spanning features, television and restoration projects, the latter including remasters of Jerry Maguire, Men in Black and The Deep. At Roundabout, his current project is the animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon.

He uses a Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, running version 12.5, using Resolve panels. His room is equipped with the new Sony X550 55-inch OLED monitors.

Hermelin spent the past five years at Deluxe, where he worked on restoration projects for Sony Pictures, MGM, Disney and other studios, as well as animation projects for Netflix and Nickelodeon. Prior to that, he spent 17 years at Ascent Media where his work spanned from commercials and music videos to episodic television, long-form television and features.

Notable credits include Disney’s Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and Raising Helen and restorations of the Little Rascals and Gene Autry Westerns. He began his career with Image Transform.

Behind the Title: AlphaDogs colorist Sean Stack

NAME: Sean Stack

COMPANY: Burbank’s AlphaDogs

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a post production facility focused on online finishing, including color correction and audio mixing. We also have graphic artists and complete duplication, format conversion and tape output capabilities.

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Probably the most surprising thing to the layman would be how much control I can have over the image and what that means for the production.

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Primarily, I work in DaVinci Resolve for color grading, and we have both Mac and PC systems capable of the same work. I also color correct in Avid Symphony. The choice of system is guided by the requirements of the project.

For example, if I am working on a documentary or feature I would most likely be using Resolve to re-link and conform the sequence to the camera source files for grading, allowing access to the full quality and resolution of the source file. In the event I am finishing an unscripted reality-style television series, the sequence in Avid would be upres’d to a high-resolution format (such as DNxHD175) and graded using the Avid Symphony color correction tools.

Sunset Strip

‘Sunset Strip’ is just one of many projects Sean Stack has worked on.

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Nearly every project I work on has additional work other than color correction. It ranges — some are simple edit tasks that are required to create delivery files, such as adding the final audio mix stems and exporting them with picture in the correct layout following the delivery specifications.

For a more complicated project I may be exporting DPX image sequences from Resolve of pre-graded scenes that will go to graphic artists for visual effects work. Then, once the VFX are complete, I will be cutting the final effect shots back into the final graded sequence. I’ve never been asked to do a hula dance and I am thankful for that, however I have been asked for my critical review of the project and that can be very tricky terrain to tread on. I always try to find something in every project that I like, because filmmakers need emotional support.

ARE YOU BEING ASKED TO DO MINOR VFX WORK TOO?
I do a ton of minor VFX work. My favorite fix is when you can just push-in to remove a problem, such as a boom mic dropping into the frame. Arguably, that instance may not be VFX but if you are talking about painting it out and I fix it, then it’s fixed. Minor perhaps, but I just saved the client major time and money. Other minor VFX work may include stabilizing shots, blurring objects and compositing several images together. A compositing example for a recent project involved adding footage inside a cell phone that was making a FaceTime call and also adding computer desktop images to laptop screens that were not powered up.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
When the clients and I get on the same wavelength and we are seeing the color working the same way. It means I get it and I can go forward with confidence, and once that trust is built the project will sail.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Unlocking the cut. Do everything to avoid unlocking the cut once you are in color and sound mix.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Good question. Making ice cream or maybe a landscape designer.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION? HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I’ve always wanted to be part of filmmaking and spent some years acting in professional non-equity theatre before discovering editing was what really made me happy.

Tom Petty

‘Running Down a Dream’

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
The most well-known project may be the Tom Petty documentary called Running Down a Dream, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Other projects of note would be Sunset Strip, a documentary on the history of the famous boulevard in Los Angeles.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I would have to say a documentary called Dying to Know about Timothy Leary and Ram Das. I’m proud of the work on that film because the filmmakers set a very high bar for me to achieve, and I feel like I met the expectation, and in some cases, exceeded it. In that feature length documentary, there was nearly every possible video format used, from archival film transfers of a Congressional inquiry to standard definition video captured in the early 1980s. The director has a fantastic eye for color and the producer is a talented photographer, so the color grading was highly scrutinized by experienced people, and that pushed me into learning new solutions.

Timothy Leary

‘Dying to Know’

This was one of the few projects where every stone was turned over to get the best out of every shot — if it meant going to the Teranex to convert footage to the proper frame-rate then it was done. There was a long interview section where camera A was an analog video format, Betacam, and footage from camera B was Digi Beta, so the sources looked very different. I was able to balance the sources to look very similar and the distraction of varied formats was removed. Do average viewers notice? I have to say, subconsciously they probably do, and there’s a value added to a program when there’s no distraction from the story. Editing, color correction, VFX and even audio mix should not be something the viewer is thinking about or even aware of, so my best work probably goes completely unnoticed and that’s the best possible scenario for the audience. Enjoy the show.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
I first try to find it within the project and footage I’m working on. I get on board with the story and, if the director has ideas, listen to those as well. If that still doesn’t get me involved, I might look at some clips from movies that have a similar feel to what I’m working on. Then I choose some music to listen to and usually stick with the genre through the project to keep my head in that space.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Graphics tablet, external video scopes and fast Internet.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram and Facebook, but really only for personal stuff. I have a LinkedIn account as well but I’m not very active. I’m not suggesting this is the wisest choice. I also have listings on IMDB, of course.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I golf and work on restoring my vintage VW bus, then go camping or hit the beach and just relax.

Hands of Stone DP and colorist weigh in on film’s look and feel

By Randi Altman

“No mas! No mas!” Those famous words were uttered in desperation by legendary fighter Roberto Durán, putting an end to his rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard. But before that, Durán had impressively defeated the charismatic Sugar Ray, capturing the WBC welterweight title. Durán’s story — along with that of his trainer Ray Arcel — was recently told in The Weinstein Company’s feature Hands of Stone.

Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, the film’s DP was Miguel Ioan Littin Menz. He worked very closely with director Jakubowicz and FotoKem colorist Kostas Theodosiou to develop several different looks for the film, including for the different decades in which the story takes place, boxing versus training scenes in different locations (New York, Panama, Las Vegas) and flashback scenes.

Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramírez star in HANDS OF STONEThe film stars Édgar Ramírez as Duran, Usher Raymond as Sugar Ray and Robert DeNiro as Ray Arcel.

We were lucky enough to get some time from both Littin Menz and Theodosiou, albeit separately, for questions. First we caught up with Theodosiou.
Enjoy.

How early did you get involved with the film?
Theodosiou: Prior to my involvement in the project, FotoKem’s nextLAB was on location and involved in dailies acquisition and management. However, I started working with the filmmakers at the editorial stage, after the shoot was finished.

What kind of overall look/looks did the director and DP have in mind for the film, and how did they share that vision with you?
Theodosiou: Both the director Jonathan Jakubowicz and the director of photography Miguel Ioan Litten Menz were very hands-on. They supervised each session to make sure we created looks that best suited all the different time periods, as well as the variety of locations used in the production. The story involved multiple locations, including Panama, New York and Las Vegas.

Nearly every scene was shot on location to maintain authenticity, and it was important that we were true to the look and feel of each location. Jonathan and Miguel explained in detail what they wanted to achieve visually, so we created a unique look for each location.

kostas

Kostas Theodosiou

In addition, the story took us through many different time periods that spanned Roberto Duran’s life — from childhood through his entire career. Each time period also required a different treatment to establish its place in time. Every look we created had a purpose and is in the film for a reason. As a result, there are many different looks in this movie, but they all worked together to help tell the story.

You called on Resolve for this film. Can you talk about the tool and how it helps you in your work?
Theodosiou: Resolve is a great platform and allowed me to mix footage that was shot using a variety of different cameras, lenses and aspect ratios. The tools in Resolve helped me blend the footage seamlessly to enhance the filmmakers’ vision, and the results surpassed their expectations.

You mentioned that both the director and DP were in the room with you?
Theodosiou: Yes, Miguel and Jonathan were supervising the color correction from beginning to end. We all had great chemistry and worked together as a team. This was Jonathan’s passion project and he was very invested in the film, so he was deeply involved in the finishing process. And Miguel flew in from Chile to make sure he was here with us.

In the final stages of making the film, additional scenes were added and both filmmakers returned to FotoKem to work with me to make sure the new extended scenes fit in with the mood they were trying to portray. It was a very hands-on experience.

Now let’s hear from DP Miguel Ioan Litten Menz:

What were your first meetings like with Kostas?
Littin Menz: I was very pleased to hear that the color correction was to be done at FotoKem in Los Angeles. We chose Kostas because of his background — he’s worked for Paul Thomas Anderson; Robert Elswit, ASC; Christopher Nolan; and Hoyte van Hoytema, ASC. Since the first meeting, the connection and conversation about aesthetic was immediately understood. Our ideas and feelings about how to adjust the palette of colors for the final look of the film were in sync. He did marvelous work.

director-and-dp

Jonathan Jakubowicz and Miguel Ioan Littin Menz.

What was the general overall look the director had in mind for the film and how did he communicate that to you?
Littin Menz: In general, Jonathan talked about creating different looks between Panama and New York, and at the same time creating a look where you can feel an epic and intimate story at the same time. We want the audience to feel the wild, powerful and sensual colors around Roberto Durán’s life in Panama, and more plain, elegant and sober colors around Ray Arcel’s life in New York. In our research, we looked at thousands of photographs from sports magazines from that period, and also many documentaries.

And for my personal research, I again read Norman Mailer’s book “The Fight” and Jack London’s “The Mexican.”

How would you describe the different looks and feel of the film — decade by decade, location by location?
Littin Menz: I worked very closely with Tomás Voth, the production designer, who did amazing work. We described two very different worlds — Duran’s life in Panama and Ray Arcel’s in New York — so as a general concept we tried to create eclectic and powerful palates of colors for Duran’s life, to mimic his real personality.

For Ray Arcel, we used colors that were more serene and elegant, like he was throughout his entire life. Sometimes I used warm colors to evoke nostalgic times for Ray Arcel, and sometimes cool colors appeared in the sad times for both Duran and Arcel. Decade by decade, from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, we created different looks for timeline reasons but also as part of the intimate space for each character.

What cameras did you use, and why did you opt for three different ones? How did that affect the look and the grade?
Littin Menz: We relied on two Alexa XTs, one Alexa M and three Blackmagic cameras for VFX purposes. One of the Alexas, the B camera, was always prepared for the Steadicam. The C camera and the Alexa M were used for the fights. Also, we used Anamorphic Hawk V Lite Lenses. Kostas was thorough in making sure everything from the different shoots matched.

Can you talk about the shoot? Was there a DIT? If so, what role did they play? And what kind of on-set monitors were you using?
Littin Menz: The DIT was there mostly for making the back-ups and dailies. It was a lot of material every day. We also created LUTs for some scenes. The monitors were Asus VS197D-P 18.5-inch for video assist and a Flanders Scientific for the DIT station.

Was there anything unique or challenging about it that you are particularly proud of?
Littin Menz: On the technical side, it was very challenging to reproduce the big spaces and fights, in places like the Madison Square Garden in New York through three decades, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal and the Superdome in New Orleans, but I think we did it successfully.

Some of my favorite scenes were those of Durán when he was a kid in “El Chorrillo,” the poor neighborhood where he lived. We never forgot that the principal idea for the film was to tell the story through the clear and transparent eyes of that child — the story of a child who came from one of poorest neighborhoods of Latin America and became a world champion. I’m very proud to have been a part of this project.

Jill Bogdanowicz talks color grading and ‘Ghostbusters’

By Randi Altman

Who you gonna call? Well, in my case it was Deluxe’s Jill Bogdanowicz, the colorist on director Paul Feig’s new Ghostbusters. She took time out of her busy schedule — finishing up War Dogs — to walk us through her process on the VFX-heavy film, which is an updated version on the Ivan Reitman classic from 1984.

Bogdanowicz, who works at Deluxe’s Company 3, got involved on Ghostbusters early on, working on camera tests with DP Bob Yeoman — testing cameras, lenses and resolutions. The two had worked together before on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, even though they did it all remotely, with Bogdanowicz in London and Yeoman in New York.

“He was able to review Grand Budapest and the DCPs, and gave comments to Wes,” she says. “The first time I met him was at the ASC awards after the movie had come out, so it was a good thing that we got to work in the same city for Ghostbusters.”

The positive experience on Grand Budapest led Yeoman to ask Bogdanowicz to join him on Ghostbusters.

It was during those camera tests, which were done on the Sony lot, that Yeoman decided on the Arri Alexa. It was also during this time that both Yeoman and Feig decided they wanted Ghostbusters to feel very filmic, with rich colors and a lot of detail.

“It was also decided that the film would be lit in a way where Bob could do his thing and make it look beautiful, and then I would just enhance that wonderful photography,” explains Bogdanowicz. “You still see the characters’ eyes and faces really well, but we could shape the image in a way where there was nothing distracting the frame. We would make sure that the audience would be looking where you want them to look.”

Another early test they did was deciding on what color of slime would be used in the film.

After shooting began, Bogdanowicz began visual effects tests for Yeoman and his team. In addition, she started looking at different LEDs. “They actually used practical LEDs on a lot of the actors who were going to be playing the ghosts so they could see how that would translate into visual effects,” says Bogdanowicz. “After all those tests were done, I got an edit of the movie. I was able to have a couple days to start going through the movie, smoothing it out, and getting the look set.”

That’s when Yeoman came into her suite and they went through the movie. Shortly after that director Feig joined them. “Paul was very involved. After I started the DI, basically, I took over all the visual effect sessions, so all final visual effects went through me on the big screen. I actually colored them, and they could see what they looked like as a final. It’s part of a process for finishing the visual effects, so when they would need certain parts of visual effects brightened, or darkened, or the color tweaked, I was able to do that live and they would approve the visual effect, and move on, and I could apply that into my final list for the movie.”

Bogdanowicz calls the process on Ghostbusters fun, interactive and collaborative — including the visual effects team, Feig, his editor Brent White and Yeoman. “They were an amazingly fun, and professional team to work with,” she says.

Let’s dig a bit more into Bogdanowicz’s process on the film.

Were there any challenges when working with the VFX shots?
I guess the biggest challenge was making sure I had enough time after all the visual effects were completed and dropped in to be able to fine tune a scene. They did something very smart on this film, which helped my process: toward the end of the process they would fill the scene with all the visual effects, finished or not. They were close enough to be put into the show, and they would keep updating them with the minor changes.

In general, my color was set. They were super organized, and I always had enough time to be able to smooth it out, because usually I had something done ahead of time, before it was absolutely final. (Sony Imageworks was the main house on this one.)

What’s an example of a note that you would get about a scene?
Paul never wanted anything to be too flat or too bright. He always wanted it to feel very rich. It was wonderful to have somebody with such a high taste level working on such a big comedy. So a lot of notes would be like, “Make sure it feels filmic, and rich.” It was really fun for me to be able to find those looks.

Another note would be, “Make sure you can see their eyes.” Certain times we would just brighten the actors’ eyes, so you could see their expressions a little bit more. There was a lot of that happening as well.

Do you think that enhanced the comedy?
I definitely think so, because you catch all the little details. These actresses are awesome, and they have so many tiny little expressions that you don’t want to miss.

Looking back, was there a particular scene that you are most proud of?
The Time Square fight scene toward the end of the movie, which was a combination of the VFX team and me. It’s quite intricate, and there is a lot of detail with the visual effects — all the different ghosts, and all the colors, which we really celebrated. We are not afraid of color in this movie. We go for it, keeping it rich with an almost Technicolor-type of look.

It has sort of a three-strip type of feel, because it’s got all beautiful flesh tones, and we are not afraid of letting that saturation shine through without being overly saturated, flat and garish. It’s really rich and filmic.

In Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.That scene is a dark night scene, but it’s got a lot of detail in it. Nothing is crushed and nothing is clipped, it’s got all this wonderful detail and color, and there’s tons of stuff going on, including visual effects integrating with non-visual effects.

You use both DaVinci Resolve and FilmLight Baselight, but for this one it was Baselight. Can you talk about how it helped in the process?
The Baselight handles multiple resolutions on the timeline, from a workflow standpoint, very elegantly. So in that respect it was very nice because the movie was shot on Alexa. We had the native Alexa resolution (3414) mixed with some of the visual effects resolutions, which most of the time were some form of 2K… not quite 3414. It was nice to be able to have those seamlessly integrated and at the highest resolution possible.

I also did the compositing for all the titles — which you can also do with the Resolve — and it just made everything easy. I used a lot of the tracking tools while I opened up the eyes on the actresses, and the power windows stuck right on their eyes beautifully.

The last time we spoke was about two years ago, and I asked you about your philosophy of color. Has that changed at all?
My philosophy has grown, and I’ve been learning a lot here at Company 3. I find it fascinating to see how other colorists work, and here I work with Stefan Sonnenfeld, Stephen Nakamura and Siggy Ferstl.

I’ve always had the philosophy of creating a really solid base for the image. What I love to do now is I’ll go through, and balance the whole movie to a place where I have something that looks really solid, and then create a look based on how the director or cinematographer, or both, see it.

Gertrude the Ghost in Columbia Pictures' GHOSTBUSTERS.For Ghostbusters I kept everything really rich, and really elegant and filmic. With other movies I like to start with that as my building blocks; it’s almost like building a house. You have to build the foundation and then you slowly pick out the details like the drapes, faucets and things. That is kind of how I think about coloring. I always like to try to build a foundation, which means the most color separation and the richest image that I can create, and then on top of that you can go anywhere.

What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up War Dogs, right now. I recently finished a smaller movie by director Mark Pellington, starring Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried, called The Last Word. It’s an amazing little film. Mark sent me the script a long time ago, and really wanted my input. That was a great little project.

I also just finished Ouija Origin of Evil with director Michael Flanagan and cinematographer Michael Fimognari. It’s a beautifully shot film with a ‘70s look.

Colorist Society adds color expert Lou Levinson as Fellow

Veteran colorist, telecine operator and color workflow specialist Lou Levinson has been named a Fellow of the Colorist Society International (CSI). Levinson’s career is impressive. He has worked with many top directors and cinematographers in Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg and Janusz Kamiński.

As a telecine colorist Levinson has worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Always, The Conformist, Tucker, The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha, Batman, Batman Returns and Akira Kurusawa’s Dreams, as well as the laserdisc releases of the Star Wars trilogy and Apocalypse Now.

Levinson has held senior positions at Technicolor, MCA’s High Definition Telecine Research Facility and, currently, Apple. Levinson, an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers, received his bachelor’s degree in design at the University of Illinois and his master’s in video at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“The colorist is a person whose primary responsibility is to help creative authors of visual storytelling in all its forms further that storytelling with the ‘look,’” says Levinson. “This means dealing with color, density, texture, composition and motion issues as prime involvement. Helping the industry recognize the value of the colorist is why I support CSI’s mission statement.”

A CSI Fellow is an honorary position within the Colorist Society International. It is given out in honor of distinguished service to the art and craft of color in motion pictures and television. Motion picture and television colorists Jim Wicks and Kevin Shaw founded colorist Society International. CSI is dedicated to advancing the craft, education, and public awareness of the art and science of color grading and color correction.

Colorist Society International names Dale Grahn as Fellow

Steven Spielberg’s color timer, Dale Grahn, has been named a Fellow of Colorist Society International (CSI). With hundreds of major film credits including, Saving Private Ryan, War of the Worlds, Minority Report, Gladiator and Predator, Grahn has shaped much of the look of modern cinema, working with, in addition to Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and cinematographers Janusz Kamiński, Michael Ballhaus and John Mathieson.

“CSI is very exciting,” said Grahn. “CSI will help to change the way the industry views the colorist. This is the single best thing that could happen to the industry and the colorist, but the best part for me is that I will be able to work with CSI leadership in this very important addition to the industry and the art of the craft.”

Colorist Society International is devoted exclusively to furthering and honoring the professional achievements of the colorist community. CSI gives voice for the professional colorist in the film and digital entertainment industry, and promotes the creative art and science of color grading, restoration and finishing.

Motion picture and television colorists Jim Wicks and Kevin Shaw founded colorist Society International, a paid membership organization, which will seek to increase the entertainment value of film and digital projects by attaining artistic pre-eminence and scientific achievement in the creative art of color and to bring into close alliance those color artists who desire to advance the prestige and dignity of the color profession.

Rushes promotes Simona Cristea to head of creative color

After three years working as a senior colorist at Deluxe’s Rushes in London, Simona Cristea has been upped to head of creative color. She started her career at Abis Studios in Bucharest, her native country, and moved to London in 2005 where she has worked at Prime Focus, Technicolor, Reliance MediaWorks and Smoke & Mirrors. During her career Cristea, has worked on hundreds of major international campaigns, with directors such as Mert & Marcus, Sam Taylor-Wood, Trevor Robinson, Nick Knight and Rankin.

“Simona is my go-to colorist,” says Rankin. “With her wonderful personality and innate ability to enhance my work, her meticulous attention to detail makes her an integral part of my post production process. Simona is incredibly talented and hard working at creating beautiful cinematic looks each time. Her outstanding eye for color is evidenced by her body of work.”

Nike

Nike

Cristea — who uses Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve with Dolby monitors — has recently worked on campaigns for Nike, Gillette, Geox, Armani and Honda.  She is part of a color team that includes Marty McMullan and Denny Cooper.

Colorist Tom Russell joins LipSync in London

London’s LipSync Post has brought on colorist Tom Russell to work feature films, TV drama and commercials. He brings with him 25 years of experience as a freelance colorist at many Soho-based post and VFX houses, including LipSync. He will be using the FilmLight Baselight.

Russell’s film credits include The Face of an Angel, A Royal Night Out, Alone in Berlin and The Journey. He has also worked on TV productions such as Cider With Rosie.

“We have often worked with Tom as a freelancer, and noticed how he always emerged from a grade with happy clients. We were delighted when the opportunity came along to appoint Tom full time as a colorist,” says James Clarke, head of DI at LipSync Post.

Russell joins LipSync colorists Scott Goulding and Jamie Welsh. Goulding has been with LipSync since 2003 and his credits include the forthcoming Mad to Be Normal. Jamie Welsh has recently graded The Infiltrator, starring Bryan Cranston, and will shortly be grading The Limehouse Golem and The Sense of an Ending from Origin Pictures.

Catching up with Foundation Edit’s Jason Uson

By Kristine Pregot

Austin’s Foundation Editorial is a four-year-old editorial facility founded by editor Jason Uson. Nice Shoes and Foundation Edit have been working together since 2014, when our companies launched a remote partnership allowing clients in Austin to work with Nice Shoes colorists in New York, Chicago and Minneapolis. So, when it came time to pick a location for our 2016 SXSW party, which we hosted with our friends at Sound Lounge, Derby Content and Audio Network, Foundation Edit was a natural choice.

In-between the epic program of parties, panels and screenings, I was able to chat with Jason about his edit shop, SXSW, remote color, and the tattoo artist giving out real tattoos at our party…

What was the genesis of Foundation Editorial?
I started my career at Rock Paper Scissors, and spent four years there learning from the best. I then freelanced all over Los Angeles at the top shops and worked with some of the most talented editors in the industry, both in broadcast and film. I always dreamed of having my own shop and after years of building amazing relationships, it was time.

What platforms do you edit on?
I am an Media Composer editor. I always have been, but I haven’t touched it in over two years. Apple FCP 7 has been our go-to, as well as Adobe Premiere. They are both amazing tools, but there is something special about Avid Media Composer that I miss.

How many editors do you have at Foundation Edit?
We have two editors: myself and Blake Skaggs. Our styles are different, but our workflow is very similar. It’s nice to have someone with his caliber of talent working alongside me.

How do you usually spend SXSW?
I usually spend SXSW in my edit bay, typically booked on some fun projects. I was lucky enough this year to get Sunday off for the party. I hit up a few movies and shows.

How did the 2016 SXSW party come together?
It was a no-brainer. We are lucky to be in the heart of it all and surrounded by so much creativity. We have a great location that lends itself to hosting our clients, friends and colleagues, but with so many people involved and with SXSW being as big as it is, it was no small fete. It had its challenges, but in the end it was a great success.

The tattoo artist at the party was amazing. 
My partner, Transistor Studios, came up with the idea, and I thought it was a perfect fit for us. We all have tattoos and love the process, and we thought it would be a great addition to the party. Damon Meena, Aaron Baumle and Jamie Rockaway flew our tattoo artist, Mike Lucena, in from Brooklyn.

What’s your favorite thing about Austin?
That’s a loaded question. There is so much to love about Austin. I think it starts with the spirit of the city. Austin is a genuine community of people that celebrate and encourage talent, creativity and artistry. It’s in the DNA of who Austin is. Although the city is growing at a massive pace, and we all see and feel the changes, there is still that heart — that core Austin feeling. Let’s be honest though, the food is a major favorite! I’ll just leave you with some key words: barbeque and tacos.

Before I let you go, can you talk about the last collaboration between Nice Shoes and Foundation Edit?
Nice Shoes colorist Gene Curley outdid himself this time working on See What They See for Walgreens. We created six long-form pieces, three 30-second spots, and somewhere in the area of 50 social videos.

GSD&M’s Group creative director, Bryan Edwards, and his team — Joel Guidry, Gregg Wyatt and Barrett Michaels — worked with associate producer Dylan Heimbrock. They went to Uganda and put cameras in kids’ hands to, “See What They See.” So their campaign needed two “looks.” The beauty of Uganda for the first look, and then our second look needed to not only be beautiful and thoughtful, but different enough to tell the story through these kids’ eyes.

Gene really found that common thread that it needed to be successful. It’s really an amazing service to be able to collaborate with the entire team of Nice Shoes colorists in realtime between New York City and Austin.

Kristine Pregot is a senior producer at New York City-based Nice Shoes.

Colorist John Dowdell talks about the look of ‘Carol’

By Randi Altman

Todd Haynes’ Carol, about two women who fall in love in New York City in the 1950s, received six Oscar noms this year, including one for Best Cinematography. Despite its setting, this beautifully captured film was actually shot in Cincinnati because of its architectural resemblance to 1950’s Manhattan.

But the post was done in New York. One of the movie’s producers, Goldcrest Films, has a post house there, so Carol’s edit team called that location home for about seven months. It was there that editor Affonso Gonçalves and his assistant Perri Pivovar enjoyed a close relationship with Goldcrest’s in-house, veteran colorist John Dowdell, who was also working on the film.

The editors would often call Dowdell into the edit suite to find out what he could accomplish in his color suite. For example, one challenge the edit team had was the film — which takes place during Christmas — went over a little. So some of it was shot at the end of the winter and into the spring. There were some pesky green leaves and grass that needed browning and Dowdell obliged.

John Dowdell

John Dowdell

“With the Quantel Revolver tool I selected a range of green pixels and changed the hue and the saturation towards a winter brownish color,” he explains. “The Revolver output is a LUT offset, which adds no noise and creates a very natural appearance, which is far superior then an HSL key.”

The film features over 100 visual effects shots — VFX supervisor Chris Haney brought on his own company and other New York-based effects houses — including totally convincing CG snow and CG buildings.

Dowdell was able to achieve other simple effects, such as removing signage and things that were distracting. “Quantel Rio 4K has a Paintbox in it, and I removed a lot of that stuff by painting it out,” he says.

Let’s dig in a bit further with Dowdell.

Carol was shot on film. Can you talk about that?
Carol was shot by cinematographer Edward Lachman. It was shot on Kodak Super 16 with an Arriflex 416 camera that is pin-registered, which was needed for all this effects work. I’m so glad they shot it on 16mm film because they were trying to duplicate the way 35mm film looked 60 years ago — and even as good as digital cameras are, it would’ve been very hard to reproduce that classic film look. The randomness of the grain is very beautiful.

That was their choice, and I think it was a brilliant one. Also, film gave us beautiful radiant flesh tones, deep textured blacks, and plenty of detail in even the brightest highlights.

What was the workflow like?
Every day the film would be shipped from Cincinnati to Technicolor in New York for processing — at that time, Technicolor and Deluxe shared the lab at the Deluxe building. The film would get processed to a negative and then picked up by Goldcrest.

The film was scanned at Goldcrest by Boon Shin Ng and Michelle Ambruz on an Arri Scanner. The Arri has a dailies mode where it will scan pin-registered quite fast at 15fps with a single flash. The Arri flashes red, green and blue LEDs onto the monochrome 3K CMOS chip, which is the same chip that’s in the Alexa camera, but without a Bayer filter, so it’s a B&W chip.

CAROL

When the edit is complete, the Arri scans the selects with handles also at 3K. This time the RGB is flashed twice. The second flash is 10 times brighter and merges the two together in an HDR algorithm capturing everything in the negative with great signal-to-noise ratio. In addition, the film gets an infrared flash. The infrared spectrum is not absorbed by the cyan, magenta and yellow dyes of the film. Dirt particulates, however, will block the Infrared creating a dirt map for the Kodak Digital Ice to do its magic. Scanning is about 3fps in this mode.

Who did the dailies?
Boon Shin prepped with Colorfront Express Dailies. MXF files were synced and metadata of scene take numbers were entered during the day, then the Colorfront was handed over to colorist Scott Olive for scene-to-scene color grading in the evening. DP Ed Lachman would call Scott each night and discuss the footage he would be working on and would go over Scott’s work from the day before.

Scott would then send the color corrected H.264 files over the Goldcrest FTP server to Ed. The Avid MXF Files were ready for Affonso and Perri in the morning in their edit room here at Goldcrest. When the film edit was locked, Boon Shin conformed the film in the Quantel Rio 4K with the 2K DPX scans.

What direction were you given from Todd and Ed? Were you given any sort of examples of what they wanted the look to be?
Todd had a thing called a Look Book. It’s a thick scrapbook filled with images he liked. He worked with production designer Judy Becker and with Ed Lachman on it, so this book set the looks. He found images he liked from the ’50s, mostly from print. There were ads and work from photographers like Ruth Hawkin.

I had a color reference light for Todd so he could view the tear sheets. We would look at the shots and Todd would explain the look, the saturation and the muted values — images that referenced the 1950’s era.

Both Todd and Ed liked when colors were muted, a little more green with maybe some warmth — the combination of cold and warm in the same frame — so mixed color temperatures.

It was a great start, but even during the DI color timing Todd would look through his book, turn the reference light on, look at his picture then look at the screen. He would say, “Give that a little tweak, add two points of red, or let’s go a little dark by four points.” Film lab timers have always worked in RGB Film Printer Lights. There are six points to an F-Stop change.

Both Todd and Ed had timed films in the past. In the DI world the points work identically to photochemical printing. It really is a great way of communicating color. Ed could ask me to add two points of green, then Todd might ask to see three points. Technically, it’s the proper way to time in DI.

You worked with Todd and Ed at the same time?
They were always together. We did a lot of experimenting with color, and Todd and Ed sometimes had different opinions of where they wanted to go with it. You have to show the one look, save the metadata of that, do another look and go back and forth. That’s how color correction works. It’s very interactive.

Can you talk about a particular scene from the film?
In the opening scenes of the department store the palette is a muted green. It’s an uncomfortable time for Rooney’s character. Ed works with filters and mixed light sources to produce the desired looks in-camera, but leaves plenty of range for DI visualization.

When things are getting better in their relationship, the colors become gentler and more beautiful with more warmth. Ed would reference the Kodak Film Ektachrome for its bluish greenish values compared to the rich warm saturated colors of Kodachome.

My RIT education in Photographic Arts and Sciences has served me well my entire career. My favorite Ansel Adams quote is, “The negative is the score and the print is the performance.” Ed made a beautiful score and we collectively produced a great performance in my DI suite.

ROONEY MARA stars in CAROL. Did anything surprise you about the color?
A lot of shots are much darker than most directors and DPs ask for. Often they say, “I want to see more, open it up. I want to see brighter, what else can I see in this shot?” It was kind of the reverse on this. They both liked it rather dark. I used the S-curve function for almost every shot in Carol. With it, I can place my black and white points and then pivot all the mid-tone transitions. I can make very dark images without crushing any of the blacks. A great number of the shots have a subtle vignette applied — light fell off at the edges with camera lenses of that era.

Can you give an example?
The scene where Cate Blanchet’s character is in the child custody hearing and makes her heart wrenching speech — I added more S-curve , brought the lift down and increased gamma. Todd said no, no, even darker. Once we got down there, it was like, “Wow, this works.” It’s very effective. It’s more realistic, and adds more drama into a powerful scene.

They used a lot of natural Window light. Kate’s flesh tone and brightness changed a bit. My job was to make sure it was all totally even.

Were there any scenes in particular that stood out as more challenging or something that you’re most proud of?
I love the DI process because it’s so interactive, and I like problem solving. There’s one shot where Cate is touching the telephone hang-up button with her Index finger. She’s listening to Rooney but not responding.

Todd was concerned because the hand was too sharp from one finger to the other, and he wanted less depth of field — Super 16 has a large depth of field. So I put a diagonal window through her Index finger, the one that’s touching the hang-up button. Then I feathered off a Gaussian transfer curve into the background, used a  Gaussian de-focus on the Quantel and put a little defocus on, blending it as the fingers rolled off further back and forward, so that the emphasis was on the index finger. He loved it. That solved the problem.

Anything else stick out in your mind?
The last scene, the beautiful encounter at the Oak Room, I’m really proud of that. That has a great look. It started with gorgeous photography, but I had an idea that Todd and Ed really liked. In the scene, Cate is having dinner with friends surrounded by diners and waiters.

What I did was track a little bit of a window on Kate and feathered it off, and then outside that window desaturated everyone a little bit. I also brought a little bit more highlight detail onto Kate, so the image popped. Just think about how eye contact works — you’re not interested at all in your surroundings or who’s sitting at the back table. It’s just them.

CAROLNow Kate pops out a bit and everything just kind of feathers off a little, and she’s just radiant. I did the same thing to Rooney. It’s very subtle, but it helps tell that story. No dialogue was needed; it was all said in their eyes.

Why is the Pablo Rio the right tool for you?
Ten years ago, we built the DI suite at Goldcrest around the Pablo, which at the time was a brand-new product from Quantel. Quantel’s iQ was a conforming machine, an editing machine, an effects machine, titler and Paintbox — all in one. The only thing it really didn’t do was color… until they came out with the Pablo iQ. They invented an interface box to deal with color!

It was also the only machine at that time that could do different canvas sizes, different speeds and different resolutions, all on the same timeline. With every other system you would have to commit to one resolution. It was important to have everything in its native resolution.

Most recently we replaced those Pablos with the Quantel Rio 4K, which has a much faster processor. I can now play 4K with multi-levels of color correction in realtime without rendering.

What’s next for you?
I recently completed something I’m really proud of. It’s called The New Yorker Presents, and it’s 10 half-hour films from Amazon Studios and Jigsaw Productions. It’s basically a film version of The New Yorker magazine. Each episode is a collection of short docs, interstitials and there celebrated cartoons being crated by the artist at hyper speed.

There are two features coming into Goldcrest now, but I can’t talk about those yet.

The immeasurable beauty of film

This senior grader/colorist loves the look and feel of celluloid.

By Paul Dean

During my 34-year career as a film and digital grader/colorist, there has been much technological advancement. However, there is one enduring constant that never ceases to amaze me: film’s unique ability to capture and render light so beautifully.

This led me to ask myself some deep questions as to exactly why I prefer film over digital. The answer was quite a revelation and has more to do with human perception than anything that can be measured technically.

Regardless of how good next-generation digital cameras are, in my opinion, they simply fail to capture images with the same subtle, natural feel. This, I believe, is due to the unique way film captures light, which is incredibly similar to the way our eyes process light and color through the rods and cones of the human visual cortex.

If you view a very low-light scene in real life and allow your mind to describe what you are actually seeing, you will notice an effect comparable to film grain in dark areas as your eyes try to decipher what little light there is, creating subtle step-less progressions as the more discernible features emerge from granular darkness, forming an analogue curve that is perfectly replicated when film captures light.

The human subconscious has evolved over millions of years to be capable of detecting when something is instinctively wrong, without our conscious minds ever being aware of any impending danger. These deep subconscious survival instincts equip human beings with warning emotions such as the “sixth sense.” We have all experienced that gut feeling when we intuitively know when a situation is not as it appears and we are being deceived.

We are a highly developed, finely-tuned, organic, analog, three-dimensional species — is it really any wonder our powerful subconscious minds detect and reject two-dimensional 1s and 0s masquerading as human reality?

Cinelab recently worked on the dailies for Suffragette.

When viewing images captured on film I become totally immersed and engaged in the story and performances; the emotion and energy projected from the cast is fully conveyed to the audience, the movement and flow of the action effortlessly watchable.

Conversely, when I view images captured digitally, this all-enveloping engagement does not occur due to the constant distraction from my subconscious alarm warning, “Don’t trust it, it’s not real.” I feel that film absorbs the audience into the story itself, where digital leaves them on the outside looking in.

When you consider the huge amount of skill, time, passion, dedication and energy — not to mention the often vast sums of money involved in filmmaking — why choose to capture all of this on anything other than a technology that has been refined and perfected for over 100 years, and is absolutely unique in its ability to capture every facet of a production, every emotion and the very soul of a performance?

Of course, digital has its place and is rightly admired and respected; its technological achievements cannot be denied when specifications boast a resolution equal to, or greater than film, but I don’t agree with the fixation on these numbers — it is simply not better, it is just different.

Co-existence
The “Which is Best?” debate is irrelevant; the two technologies can and should co-exist. The choice will inevitably be genre led, however we must ensure a choice remains by not allowing film to disappear from the cinematographers palette.

Capturing a story in moving pictures is both complex and technical, but capturing emotion takes something more, something special. Film is something special, so let’s not lose it. If I had a story to tell, I would capture it on the beautiful canvas of film, and rest assured that nothing was lost in translation.

Paul Dean is head of telecine at Cinelab in London. For 20 years he has worked as a senior colorist, specializing in dailies/archive, working at Todd-AO UK, Soho Film Lab and Deluxe on hundreds of features and TV dramas. Dean joined Cinelab in 2013 to head up and develop its telecine, scanning and grading services.

The Colorist Society. Why Not?

Colorists deserve their own collective!

By Jim Wicks

Will there come a day when colorists become a band of brothers and sisters? Or are we destined to remain solo participants on the world cinema stage?

In the motion pictures and television industries, many artists are collectively known by the company they keep. DPs — American Society of Cinematographers (ASC); Editors — American Cinema Editors (ACE) and Motion Pictures Editors Guild (MPEG); Digital Artists – Visual Effects Society (VES); Directors — The Directors Guild (DGA); Composers and Arrangers — American Society of Music Arranges and Composers (ASMAC).

For some time, a certain thought has been germinating from deep down: colorists should have their own collective noun. One could imagine acronyms like the CCS (Cinema Colorist Society), the SMPC (Society of Motion Picture Colorists) or the ACAS (The Academy of Color Arts and Science) and so on.

Some time ago I took the initiative to register a couple of those domain names. I even managed to cobble a few colorist friends together, but it quickly devolved.

Some colorists are using Pablo Rio.

Some colorists are using Pablo Rio.

The notion of a colorist society is not far-fetched. An association of colorists, by colorists, for colorists. In much the same way as ASC, ACE and others are organizations for its members, the Colorist Society could — and should — be the same for the colorists.

The Colorist Society would be a non-profit, honorary and professional association dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences and applications of color correction and to improving the welfare of its members by providing professional enrichment and education, fostering community and promoting industry standards and recognition.

If you stop to think about it, the colorist is closely aligned with specific groups of artists. In motion pictures, we work with the cinematographer, but also the director, and sometimes the producer. In television, it’s the producer and show runner. In music videos, the director, cinematographer and editor. These are more the rule than the exception, although — at the end of the day, the colorist will work with just about anyone and under just about any conditions.

As I see it there are three types of colorists:
– The one-man band, who runs their own business. This is most likely a jack-of-all trades (finder, minder, grinder), who is busy trying to do it all and stay afloat.
– The editor/colorist. Mainly an editor who knows enough about color to provide it as a value-added service.
– The colorist associated with, or working for, a brick and mortar post facility. Perhaps even the owner/operator.

Some opt for DaVinci Resolve

Some opt for DaVinci Resolve

This is, in my opinion, is a template that could be applied across all the artistic motion picture and television disciplines mentioned above. Substitute the word “colorist” for any other artistic discipline in our industry, and the result would be the same or pretty darn close.

So what’s the point? The point is that colorists could and hopefully will, one day, have their own collective noun. The next time you finish watching a motion picture, stay to watch the credits roll by. Look for the colorist credit. (Hint: it’s down towards the end, with the crafts people who serve food on set. Yet, we are more closely aligned with the cinematographer, whose credit rolled by five minutes earlier.)

Our industry can turn on a dime. It happened in 1999/2000 when, legend has it, Roger Deakins‘ (ASC) pursuit for a unique look to O Brother, Where Art Thou? ushered in the age of color.

Whether shot on film or digital, we colorists have a hand in helping the narrative storytelling of a motion picture, television show, commercial, music video and so on.

I believe that it’s possible that a group like this will happen one day… because we are a band of brothers and sisters.

Jim Wicks is senior colorist at Olympusat, Inc. in South Florida. He is  also a freelance colorist whose work can be seen at the movies, on Blu-ray, television, the web, and mobile devices worldwide.

Behind the Title: Harbor’s Roman Hankewycz

NAME: Roman Hankewycz

COMPANY: New York City’s  Harbor Picture Company @harborpicture

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Harbor Picture Company is a high-end post-production and production house. We offer post production services across the full spectrum of picture and sound disciplines for feature film, television and commercial projects. Specifically our services include digital dailies, offline editorial, VFX, DI/color correction, sound editorial, mix and ADR and digital and tape deliverables, as well as an accomplished commercial production department.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Colorist

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Once the edit is locked the project enters the finishing phase, which includes color correction among other things like sound mixing, titling, etc.  As a colorist you work with the director and cinematographer to come up with a “look” for the project. We watch the film and discuss it in terms of color; there may be color motifs that need to be highlighted or specific instances where something needs to be accentuated through color.  Sometimes we share photos or refer to other films that served as inspiration during production to aid the dialog. Using all of that information, we develop the look and then work through the film to create consistency between shots and scenes. The colorist is also one of the last people to work on a project, so part of the job is catching and fixing errors that may have fallen through the cracks so the final deliverable is as perfect as possible.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
It may be surprising to consider that it’s a very people-oriented job. You spend your days in very close quarters with the filmmakers whose projects you’re working on. Each client and project is different, and you need to be able to clearly communicate very subjective concepts while also creating a friendly environment that makes the workday enjoyable.

Public Morals 2 Public Morals

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Without question it’s making beautiful images [like the ones above for Public Morals]. Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing a beautiful piece and knowing that I had a hand in making it look that way.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Sitting in a dark room all day limits your ability to develop a nice tan.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
What kind of question is this? 11:52am! (Editor’s Note: We like that time of day too. Right before lunch, yet still officially morning. Good pick.)

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’ve wondered about this myself.  I’m not sure, but I’d like to build furniture or own a surf shop on some tropical island.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
After college I set my sights on the film industry, although in hindsight I didn’t know anything about it.  In my first few years of interning and working, I was lucky enough to meet and learn from a few gracious and talented people. I tried my hand at many roles in post production but with time I gravitated toward online editing and, finally, color correction specifically. I was really drawn to the power of being able to manipulate the image, but also to the craftsmanship involved. Every project is an opportunity to refine your craft, to experiment with new looks and techniques, and in this way the work is always challenging and therefore compelling.

AdderallDiaries_Press_1

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
It was a few years into my career in post production that I decided to specifically pursue being a colorist.

 

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Public Morals is a show currently airing on TNT, Adderall Diaries (pictured right) is a film I worked on that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and I Smile Back is a feature film to be released this month.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
In addition to the ones I mentioned we can include I Smile Back, which just released it’s official trailer (below) and will be coming out soon.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I don’t have a specific project that I’m most proud of. I’m proud of any project where the grade is solid and the client is happy… those are the most important things to me.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Phone, tablet, TV.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I’m very bad at social media.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
I have music on almost all the time.

CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
It’s easy to get tired of even your favorite music when it’s constantly playing in the background, so I’m always switching it up and choosing playlists that I haven’t heard of.  I surprise myself with days filled with bluegrass or island jams. But if I’m by myself and getting pumped up for the weekend I go with the classics… GNR.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
It can get stressful, but I love the work and in the end I’d take my bad days over other people’s good days. That and a cold beer keeps me on an even keel.

A look at HP’s new entry-level Z240, Z240 SFF

By Nam Tran

If you’ve been thinking about building your own PC workstation, you might want to consider two new options from HP in the form of the HP Z240, which comes in two flavors: the bigger ToweHP Z240 SFF Workstation and HP Z240 Tower Workstationr workstation and the Small Form Factor workstation (SFF). The only real differences between the two are size and fewer expansion slots on the SFF, so if you’re looking for a future-proof system, and size is not an issue, the bigger Tower workstation will be the better choice.

HP touts the new HP Z240 as the company’s “most affordable workstation.” Although the only price point known so far is $879, I’m willing to bet editors will need a minimum of a $1,300 configuration, if we use its predecessor, the HP Z230, as reference. Even then, you will probably also need to include a graphics card — either a workstation card or the much more affordable Nvidia gaming card (not included in the factory installed configurations).

The HP Z240 Tower and Z240 SFF offer a choice of future Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5 product families, Intel Core, or Intel Pentium processors (three) and two ultra-fast HP Z Turbo Drive G2s. The Z240 offers a choice of Windows 7, Windows 10 or Linux operating systems.

HP Z240 SFF's Interior

HP Z240 SFF’s Interior

Features of the HP Z240 include:
– A 100 percent increase in max RAM at 64GB DDR4 ECC memory.
– An M.2 slot, which allows the user to attach small form factor devices or SSDs, freeing up a PCIe slot for other parts.
– A USB 3 charging port that you can use even when the workstation is turned off.
– An amazingly convenient dust-filter that you can easily pop off the machine to clean, and then plop it back on.
– Up to 92 percent energy efficient power supply options.

I tried using the $949 configuration of the HP Z230 to estimate what we might expect in the HP Z240 at $879. With only an integrated Intel HD graphics P4600, a 3.3GHz 4-core Intel Xeon proc, and 4GB of ECC RAM, it’s just not quite enough of a starting point for entry level editors. If the new HP Z240 starts out with at least 8GB of ECC RAM for $879, I think that would instantly upgrade the machine to the best workstation for the price point. But you would still need to install your own GPU in order to make it a real workhorse.

Nam Tran is a New York City-based colorist, editor and motion graphic design artist.

 

 

FotoKem colorist Walter Volpatto discusses his process, ‘Stonewall’

FotoKem colorist Walter Volpatto comes from a family of farmers in Italy. He studied electrical engineering at the local university, which gave him an entrée into broadcasting. He began his career at RAI (Italy’s national public broadcasting company), where he became proficient with electronic compositing, lighting and photography. Around 2000, as more computers came to market, he segued into digital mastering, learning the craft with the help of film color timers.

Volpatto then transitioned to Cinecitta Studios about 10 years later, and subsequently became a freelance colorist. After working in that role on a documentary for FotoKem (@fotokem), Volpatto joined the facility in 2003. His credits include many features, such as Interstellar, San Andreas, CBGB, Chronicle and Hustle & Flow, along with some TV movie and restoration projects. His most recent project is the film Stonewall, about the 1969 Stonewall riots, which kicked off the gay rights movement in New York City.

Volpatto SMALL

A photographer himself, Volpatto says he is particularly attracted to the artists of the Renaissance, and the purest form of art. He claims his best work is influenced by art representing reality. Let’s find out more.

How has the state of the art of DI technology changed over the course of your career? 

Computing power has advanced exponentially over the years, making it easier to review footage and make changes in realtime versus waiting for files to render. But machines are simply tools. The color science and approaches we use today have pretty much stayed the same — other than slightly different strategies that support digital and film projects. The bottom line is I can certainly work faster with the new tools, but the concept behind the DI hasn’t really changed.

How did you work and communicate with director Roland Emmerich and/or DP Markus Förderer regarding their vision for the look of Stonewall? What did those discussions reveal in terms of the direction you would take? 

I worked with Markus about 99 percent of the time. He and Roland had a bold vision for the movie, and they were very much in sync on the look they wanted. When they approached us about the project, I asked Markus some standard questions about the camera and his intent for the look, and we immediately started talking about film. Even though he wanted to use a digital camera, it was obvious he wanted the final product to look like film. That resonated with me, and we further explored what his thoughts were about grain structure and film emulation. We did a test, and he loved the results. 

We also looked at a few images in a photo library he kept on his computer.

Markus is a technical connoisseur. He knew from the beginning where he was going with the look. After showing me a few photos, the main visual theme for Stonewall — a 1970s filmic look — transpired" STONEWALL " Photo by Philippe Bosse. We basically changed grain to emphasize a look that reflects the warm highlights and cool-ish lowlights of film, without feeling artificial.

At FotoKem, we have a team of experts overseen by our in-house color scientist Joseph Slomka, who spends a lot of time engineering solutions so that digital cameras look like film stocks. Joseph assisted us on this project, so when we started, we were on the right path and just had to fine tune along the way. Markus is also a big fan of anamorphic lenses, using the full anamorphic format on the Red Epic Dragon at 4K. And we finished the entire movie at 4K.

Have you previously worked with either of the filmmakers?
This was a first-time collaboration. They came to FotoKem because they wanted the convenience of finishing in Los Angeles. They saw my resume and that I had experience with film projects in the DI, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Stonewall is the story of an incredibly important event in history, highly charged politically and emotionally — were certain visual elements relied on to create certain moods in a scene or to convey the mood of a character?
I was not familiar with the Stonewall riots until this project came in. We established a certain look that becomes a little harsher when the riots ensue, and it’s a little smoother when happier events are taking place. It’s very subtle – not something you can see but rather feel. The tension in the movie wasn’t meant to be overpowering.

What tools were you working with? How did it help to enable your work?

We chose a Quantel Rio because we needed to finish in full 4K with full film emulation with grain layers, and at the time it was the best color correction tool for accomplishing this in realtime.

Stonewall-OneSht1438370594

You mention the movie was shot on Red Epic Dragon. Did that affect how you worked or approached coloring scenes?
Markus was familiar with Red and knew how to light for the camera. On Stonewall, he exposed and lit to create some texture. With that strong visual foundation created by Markus’ photography, we were able to focus on the task at hand — to fine-tune the images in order to create the film look he and Roland wanted.

A colorist works at the intersection of art and science. How do you translate what a cinematographer says into pictures?

The first thing I do is get an understanding from the DP about his or her digital experience. DPs who have worked more heavily in the film format will be able to make reference points from using printer lights and being in a lab. They have a way to express what they want.

The process is scientific in that there is only so much a colorist can do to bring the original material where they want it, and the artistry lies within how much further the DP wants to go with it. The work in the suite can become almost visceral. It’s usually expressed as a feeling — I want it to feel this way — and then I decide which tool will best accomplish that. I don’t rely heavily on controls and buttons. I’m a minimalist and bring that predisposition to the suite.

How do you know when you have gotten to where you want to be, and where the filmmakers want to be?
When the material comes to me in great shape, with good lighting and captured as close as possible to the intentions of the filmmakers, my job is to not mess it up!

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become a colorist?

There are two approaches to color. You can use color to represent reality or emotions, or a blend of the two. For colorists inclined to being a realist, I’d tell them to learn how to represent that within the limits of their display. They should start in black and white — or work on a black and white short film. With the influx of a younger generation of colorists, I’ve noticed they are prone to using color to represent emotions, and they tend to make strong color choices. 

I’d recommend to anyone who wants to be a colorist to look at what other people do and understand how light works, and how the camera and display (monitor) react to light. Then they should practice achieving a particular look with the minimum amount of tools. There are many fabulous places where colorists can learn the craft, but to be proficient a basic understanding of color science will go a long way. 

Lastly, it’s the colorist’s job to bring the vision of the DP to the screen — not just to make a pretty picture. To do that, you need to learn to understand what’s inside the mind of the artist.

——————————————————–

Stonewall is in theaters now.

Behind the Title: Harbor Picture Company colorist Joe Gawler

NAME:  Joe Gawler

COMPANY:  New York City’s Harbor Picture Company (@harborpicture)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE HARBOR?  
Harbor Picture Company is a large, artist owned-and-operated post production studio in NYC. Harbor is an awesome place to work.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior colorist and partner

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I spend the majority of my day in my theater collaborating with filmmakers. There’s a technical aspect of balancing shots to match one another, but, most importantly, there’s a level of taste and artistry that the colorist needs to help bring the most out of an image.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
It’s a full-time job, and then some. Successful colorists are always there for their clients. I’ve worked countless weekends and 24-hour sessions.

suite shot grading theater

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
The relationships I’ve developed with amazing cinematographers and directors. It’s very humbling and motivating to have a filmmaker seek you out to help complete their vision.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When there are too many cooks in the kitchen and a beautiful image gets compromised for no good reason. The ability to manage a room full of clients successfully can be what separates a good colorist from a great colorist.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Getting to Harbor in the morning on day one of a new show or film.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Something creative that involves collaborating with a team and working on my craft.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I’ll never forget my first experience editing a project for school. I was in the editing suite for 16 hours and it felt like one hour. That’s when I knew post production was for me.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I was fortunate to assist a very talented telecine colorist early in my career. He made the whole process so much fun that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Magic Mike XXL, Ricki and the Flash, The Knick.

Ricki and the Flash

Ricki and the Flash

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Well, I may be best known for Midnight in Paris, but I have also graded three films that won best cinematography at Sundance and have helped restore many, many classic films for The Criterion Collection.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
iPhone, DaVinci Resolve, my car.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Facebook and Instagram. DPs, such as Reed Morano, Tas Michos and Chivo, are posting amazing images daily. Truly inspirational.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Absolutely.

CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
It depends on who I’m working with. Picking the music for the day is usually the first decision the clients and I make together.

THIS IS A HIGH STRESS JOB. WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Quality time with my family is precious and all too rare. So we try to get away on cool trips, somewhere international whenever possible.

Nice Shoes promotes Phil Choe to colorist

Nice Shoes has upped Phil Choe to full-time colorist after nine years with the company as an assistant and junior colorist.

Choe took a non-traditional route to a career in post production, attending Long Island’s Stony Brook University as a pre-med student before changing his focus and graduating in 2004 with a degree in fine arts. His first job out of school was with Nice Shoes, working and learning in the studio’s in-house training program.

“I had great artists and mentors like Chris Ryan and Lez Rudge. Our whole team has always been very generous, answering questions and sharing knowledge,” shares Choe. “I continue to learn from those guys every day, and I try to pass on that knowledge to our younger artists and assistants as well.”

Taking a sabbatical from Nice Shoes in 2010, Choe moved to South Korea, where he worked with Creative Image Company and Seoul Vision, gaining valuable experience collaborating with international advertising clients. He wanted to explore his heritage.

Choe’s return to New York was well timed as it coincided with an opening on the color team of Nice Shoes. Over the years, Choe collaborated on multiple documentary projects for Time and Vice, music videos for Kat DeLuna, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, and for clients such as Beats, Champion and Facebook. He has especially enjoyed the experience of working on longer form projects that have allowed him to explore and create beyond the boundaries of traditional 30-second advertising projects.

Sam Daley on color grading HBO’s ‘Show Me a Hero’

By Ellen Wixted

David Simon’s newest and much-anticipated six-part series Show Me a Hero premiered on HBO in the US in mid-August. Like The Wire, which Simon created, Show Me a Hero explores race and community — this time through the lens of housing desegregation in late-‘80s Yonkers, New York. Co-written by Simon and journalist William F. Zorzi, the show was directed by Paul Haggis with Andrij Parekh as cinematographer, and produced by Simon, Haggis, Zorzi, Gail Mutrux and Simon’s long-time collaborator, Nina Noble. Technicolor PostWorks‘ Sam Daley served as the colorist. I caught up with him recently to talk about the show.

A self-described “film guy,” New York-based Daley has worked as colorist on films ranging from Martin Scorsese’s The Departed to Lena Dunham’s Girls with commercial projects rounding out his portfolio. When I asked Daley what stood out about his experience on Show Me a Hero, his answer was quick: “The work I did on the dailies paid off hugely when we got to finishing.” Originally brought into the project as dailies colorist, Daley’s scope quickly expanded to include finishing — and his unusual workflow set the stage for high-impact results.

Sam Daly

Sam Daly

Daley’s background positioned him perfectly for his role. After graduating from film school and working briefly in production, Daley worked in a film lab before moving into post production. Daley’s deep knowledge of photochemical processing, cameras and filters turned him into a resource for colorists he worked alongside and piqued his interest in the craft. He spent years paying his dues before eventually becoming known for his work as a colorist. “People tend to get pigeonholed, and I was known for my work on dailies,” Daley notes. “But ultimately the cinematographers I worked with insisted that I do both dailies and finishing, as Ed Lachman (cinematographer) did when we worked together on Mildred Pierce.”

The Look
Daley and Show me a Hero’s cinematographer, Andrij Parekh, had collaborated on previous projects, and Parekh’s clear vision from the project’s earliest stages set the stage for success. “Andreij came up with this beautiful color treatment, and created a look book that included references to Giorgio de Chirico’s painted architecture, art deco artist Tamara de Lempicka’s highly stylized faces, and films from the 1970s, including The Conformist, The Insider, The Assassination of Richard Nixon and The Yards. Sometimes look books are aspirational, but Andrij’s footage delivered the look he wanted‚ and that gave me permission to be aggressive with the grade,” says Daley. “Because we’ve worked together before, I came in with an understanding of where he likes his images to be.”

bar before

Parekh shot the series using the Arri Alexa and Leica Summilux-C lenses. Since the show is set in the late ‘80s, a key goal for the production was to ground the look of the show firmly in that era. A key visual element was to have different visual treatments for the series’ two worlds to underscore how separate they are: the cool, stark political realm, and the warmer, brighter world of the housing projects. The team’s relatively simple test process validated the approach, and introduced Daley to the Colorfront On-Set Dailies system, which proved to be a valuable addition to his pipeline.

“Colorfront is really robust for dailies, but primitive for finishing — it offers simple color controls that can be translated by other systems later. Using it for the first time reminded me of when I was training to be a colorist — when everything tactile was very new to me — and it dawned on me that to create a period look you don’t have to add a nostalgic tint or grain. With Colorfront I was able to create the kind of look that would have been around in the ’80s with simple primary grades, contrast, and saturation adjustments.”

meeting before

“This is the crazy thing: by limiting my toolset I was able to get super creative and deliver a look that doesn’t feel at all modern. In a sense, the system handcuffed me — but Andrij wasn’t looking for a lot of razzle-dazzle. Using Colorfront enabled me to create the spine of an appropriate period style that makes the show look like it was created in the ‘80s. Everyone loved the way the dailies looked, and they were watching them for months. By the time we got to finishing, we had something that was 90% of the way there.”

Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 11 was used for finishing, a process that was unusually straightforward because of the up-front work done on the dailies. “Because all shots were already matched, final grading was done scene by scene. We changed the tone of some scenes, but the biggest decision we made was to desaturate everything by an additional 7% to make the flesh tones less buzzy and to set the look more firmly in the period.”

Belushi beforeBelushi after

Daley was enthusiastic about the production overall, and HBO’s role in setting a terrific stage for moving the art of TV forward. “HBO was awesome — and they always seem to provide the extra breathing space needed to do great work. This show in particular felt like a symphony, where everyone had the same goal.”

I asked Daley about his perspective on collaboration, and his answer was surprising. “’The past is prologue.’ Everything you did in the past is preparation for what you’re doing now, and that includes relationships. Andrij and I had a high level of trust and confidence going into this project. I wasn’t nervous because I knew what he wanted, and he trusted that if I was pushing a look it was for a reason. We weren’t tentative, and as a result the project turned into a dream job that went smoothly from production through post.”  He assures this is true for every client — you always have to give 110 percent. “The project I’m working on today is the most important project I’ve ever worked on.”

Daley’s advice for aspiring colorists? “Embrace technology. I was a film guy who resisted digital for a long time, but working on Tiny Furniture threw all of my preconceptions about digital out the window. The feature was shot using a Canon 7D because the budget was micro and the producer already owned the camera. The success of that movie made me stop being an old school film snob — now I look at new tech and think ‘bring it on.’”

 

 

Killer wasps and an ’80s look for horror flick ‘Stung’

Rat Pack Films and XYZ Films movie Stung is an homage to the golden age of VHS, featuring a campy look of the 1980’s horror film genre. It’s proof positive that monster movies still exist in the world of low-budget horror/comedy.

They used an Arri Alexa 2K with Hawk anamorphic lenses to shoot the film. The anamorphic lenses produced a distinctive intensity that the filmmakers felt helped with the strong color definition needed to achieve a 1980’s look and feel.

Stung focuses on a fancy garden party gone terribly wrong when a colony of killer wasps mutates into seven-foot tall predators.

German-based freelance colorist Peter Hacker custom built — from top to bottom — his own PC-based compositing/grading workstation, equipped with an Nvidia 760GTX, an internal hardware RAID for storage and some SSDs for realtime playback. The calibrated NEC LCD monitors are supported by a Sony OLED screen in order to accurately judge the final color grading.

Peter Hacker

Hacker (pictured above)  has a strong background in visual effects and compositing, which is why he was hired to be the VFX producer and compositor, as well as colorist — more on that in a minute — for Stung (see the trailer here). Hacker has several years experience in color grading, working on numerous commercials for Mercedes, Audi and Fanta; a few indie features; and many shorts.

In collaboration with director Benni Diez and VFX supervisor Sebastian Nozon, he took over the post-production management of the movie. He was also in charge of preparing all the footage for the VFX shots and handed it over to the remotely working animation, rigging, modeling and compositing artists.

He also developed the movie’s look and was involved in the compositing of more than a hundred shots. However, schedule conflicts with the original color grading team required a new plan, and Hacker took on the color grading and finishing of the film as well.

Hacker’s weapon of choice for his post work on Stung was Assimilate Scratch. “As a student I had worked in Scratch at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and really dug into fully learning the system. I found it to be the most straightforward tool suite, and I still feel that way. As a freelancer working on a variety of imagery projects, it has all the realtime functions I need — conform, color grading, versioning and finishing – as well as some bells and whistles like VR capability. And it’s now at a price I can personally afford, which means that I, as well as all indie productions, can set up an at-home studio and have a second license on the laptop for hitting the road.”

“For Stung I created different looks during the first two days of grading because I didn’t have LUTs as a reference. It’s easy to create multiple looks for review in Scratch, and those LUTs are now in my archive for possible future use. Then I created a separate Scratch Construct (timeline) with all the movie’s master shots to ensure the look would work and to allow me to track the changes within the story, which were bound to occur due to changes of the seasons and different weather/lighting conditions within a sequence.”

Working Remotely, and on a Budget
The horror film genre is synonymous with low-budget production, so there was not a lot of wiggle room, which meant they had to get creative with workflows, especially since they were working and reviewing shots remotely.

The finishing team.

The finishing team at work.

The movie was shot in Berlin.  Dominik Kattwinkel and Benni Diez edited on Avid Media Composer in Cologne. Also working in Cologne were animators Waldemar and Harry Fast. Sebastian Nozon and Sascha Geddert did the compositing, lighting and rendering in Berlin. “I was doing parts of the compositing and finally graded the entire movie in Ludwigsburg,” explains Hacker. “To make all the data transfer possible among those numerous locations we used BTSync, which kept us all in sync without a hassle.” The Foundry’s Nuke and Adobe After Effects were used for compositing and Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya for 3D animation and rendering.

During editing, the number of visual effects shots increased from 150 to 600. “I had 8TB of storage for the Alexa material and some Red footage from the pick-up shoot. There were 1,600 edits in the film that runs for 84 minutes, so that gives you an idea of the project’s heavy workload — and all while being on a tight budget,” explains Hacker. “To ensure the data’s safety we had back-up RAIDs set up at several locations spread over the country. Furthermore, we separated the data being worked on from the back-ups, and scheduled the day’s work to back up during the night.”

“With a couple weeks left until delivery, the rendered shots (JPEGs, in the end replaced by DPXs) were transferred from Berlin and Cologne to me in Ludwigsburg where I dropped them into the Scratch timeline. With peer-to-peer uploaded previews of the film, or just smaller sequences, we all were continually on the same page.”

They used Skype for review conversations. “Two weeks before delivery we all came together in a small office space in Ludwigsburg to finish the compositing. At that time I switched from compositing to color grading for 12 straight days in a darkened tent in the corner of the room. It was a cheerful time with all of us finally sharing the same space and adding some final touches and even bringing some sequences to life for the first time. For viewing pleasure, I brought in my 55-inch Sony TV for a few relaxed reviews, which also sped up the process and helped to keep the budget in line.”

before after

These sessions included director Benni Diez watching back to back with Hacker. “It was very helpful that he could view and judge the color grading in realtime on a separate monitor without the need to watch over my shoulder all the time,” he says. “It was also crucial for all the VFX shots — Diez and Nozon immediately could discuss how they looked with the grading applied. It’s always a big challenge when it comes to CGI content being integrated into live action back plates. With the different nature of the content, they either fit together even better after the grading is applied, or not. Once in a while we had shots working completely fine in comps, but they got torn apart in the grading. Altogether, it was a magical experience to see all the elements come together right before your eyes, and literally any changes could be made on the fly.”

Hacker says one particularly helpful  Scratch feature, which he used a lot on Stung, was the ability to continue working while Scratch was rendering in the background. “That’s a huge timesaver and I wouldn’t like to work without it.”

Behind the Title: Efilm senior colorist Tim Stipan

NAME: Tim Stipan (@timstipan)

COMPANYEfilm (@EFILMDigitalLab)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE EFILM?
Efilm, a Deluxe company, is a feature film finishing house. We are a sister facility to Company 3, and that allows me access to a great wealth of knowledge. When I recently did something in UHD for the first time, I was able to call up CO3 senior colorist Stephen Nakamura, who is one of the few in the world who has experience in UHD, and ask him how he set everything up.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior Colorist

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
The technical component involves working at a color correction console in a theater with the filmmakers. I make adjustments to the overall color palette. We do it to refine the look and give the movie a certain feeling with color. I take shots that were captured at different times, under different conditions — sometimes with different cameras — and match them with color and contrast.

That’s the coloring aspect of the job, but that’s really only half of it. The other part is being able to read minds, in a sense. If a cinematographer or director says, “I’m not sure what I don’t like about this,” then I need to think about their taste and personality and what they’ve liked and disliked previously, try to come up with a solution and then perform it quickly as possible.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think some people might be surprised by how many hours we spend in the room. Color correction takes time. We will color the movie once, usually in about five days, and then spend another five days refining “the look.” On big VFX shows it can take twice that time.

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?

I had worked on [Autodesk] Lustre for over 10 years. Now I working with the FilmLight Baselight and I’m also getting my feet wet with the Blackmagic Resolve. They all essentially do the same thing — they let you adjust the color, contrast and saturation and all of the things that affect the look of the image. Some are more flexible in terms of how they work with different file formats and resolutions than others, but knowing them all is a good way to stay on top of the technology.

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
The role of the final colorist means you are usually involved in the project before principal photography begins. This includes working with the cinematographer on picking lenses, exposures, lighting units, filters, wardrobes, wall colors, makeup, look up tables and much more. It’s good to test as much as possible before principal photography so if you have to push the image in exposure or color you know how the elements will react.




WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?

I feel I’m helping to create something that might be around in 50 or 100 years, which is cool. My favorite part of the job though is working with such talented and creative people.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?

My 100 percent least favorite thing is not working. It can be grueling putting in 18-hour days, but I would take that over not working any day of the week!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Lunch! That’s when I have the opportunity to get to know the people I am working with better. You get to digress, talk and just be human. The more I know my client the better I am at reading their mind, which makes the color correction process smoother and faster.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
If I wasn’t a colorist I would like to be a director. When I went to film school at Columbia College in Chicago, I thought I was going to be an actor, but I wanted to learn every role in the filmmaking process. Eventually I gravitated to the camera department and received a degree in cinematography.

However, the most exhilarating thing I ever did in film school was when I directed my thesis film. You’re dealing with script, locations, actors, cinematographer, grips everybody. If I wasn’t a colorist, that’s what I’d want to be doing today.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE COLOR GRADING?
During college I was working as a camera assistant and crane operator on a Stage. This led to getting hired a lot as a grip for commercials and short films. Working on set was fun, but I was thinking about having a family and freelancing scared the hell out of me. My adviser suggested I visit Filmworkers Club in Chicago. I went in, started learning about color grading and fell in love with it.



CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

I just finished Me Earl and the Dying Girl, which won best film at Sundance. I also completed a film called The Family Fang, directed by the actor Jason Bateman and shot by my friend Ken Seng, who I went to film school with. It was. It’s a great film and shot with multiple capture formats. Next is Creed, which will get everyone’s blood pumping!




WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I like to look at old photographic books. Not any photographer in particular. A lot of people you’ve never heard of. I’m also fascinated by old printing processes, like autochrome, or by the look of a Polaroid when someone ripped it apart too quickly. I love to watch movies, commercials and TV shows, too. A lot of TV today is as cinematic as movies are.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.

GPS. How did we get anywhere before? My color corrector and projector. I’m not married to any particular brand as long as they do what I need them to do. But the color corrector and projector have to be running perfectly or I can’t do my work. I’m very fortunate that Deluxe has an incredible technical and support staff, and state of the art equipment.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?

Facebook and Instagram, and occasionally Twitter. But I like Facebook the best. There are so many videos on there. I am friends with a lot of cinematographers, and they post great images and interesting articles. If you follow Chivo [Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC] on Instagram (@chivexp) — it’s jaw-dropping the things he’s producing. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with DPs who are working on location.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL? 
I ride a motorcycle daily, and it prepares me mentally and physically for my job. I am an avid runner, which helps combat sitting in a chair for long periods of time. Reading is a great way to zone off into another world and forget about any stress, but the best thing in life is spending time with my family!

Veteran colorist Todd Bochner joins Chainsaw

Todd Bochner has joined Chainsaw in Hollywood as supervising senior colorist. Bochner has more than 20 years of experience working on over 50 television series, as well as numerous features, commercials and music videos. His first project at Chainsaw will be the HBO series The Leftovers.

“The arrival of Todd Bochner is further indication of our commitment to being creative leaders in scripted television,” says Chainsaw co-founder Bill DeRonde. “Todd has been producing great work for many years and shares our commitment to customer service.”

Bochner was most recently at Modern VideoFilm, where he worked for more than 15 years. His recent credits there included Madam Secretary for CBS, Sleepy Hollow for Fox, Legends for TNT, Jane the Virgin for The CW and Tyrant for FX. He also graded the debut season of The Leftovers. He got his start in post at Pacific Ocean Post and later worked at Varitel Video and EDS Digital Studios.

At Chainsaw, a SIM Group Company, Bochner will operate a Da Vinci Resolve system in a newly-equipped grading suite.

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.”

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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.