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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.

Nick Mueth brings Flame and color talents to Republic Editorial

Dallas-based Republic Editorial has hired finishing artist Nick Mueth, who is a Flame artist and colorist. He joins Republic’s existing team of Flame guys, Juan Luna and Greg Beninger.

Previously the lead Flame artist at the recently shuttered, cross-town shop Fast Cuts, Mueth has built a strong following in the Dallas area, working with various agencies on spots for clients such as McDonald’s, Zales, Helzberg, Match.com, The Travel Channel and Home Depot.

“We’re so excited to have Nick onboard,” says Republic managing director/partner Carrie Callaway. “He has an awesome reputation, and everything he brings to the table, from his personality to his talent, complements our team tremendously. Landing him was a big win for us.”

Mueth’s joining Republic was seems almost meant to be. Fifteen years ago he started as an assistant editor at Red Car Dallas, the shop that became Republic Editorial in 2013, following a change in ownership. After leaving Red Car Dallas in 1999, Mueth joined Video Post & Transfer, where he developed his skills as a Flame artist. He joined Fast Cuts in 2004, where he expanded his skill-set further to include color grading as well as 3D.

“There’s something special going on at Republic right now,”  explains Mueth. “The closing of Fast Cuts gave me the opportunity to explore many shops around town, and I sensed an energy and commitment to growth at Republic that’s really hard to duplicate. They’ve got all the right people in place, backed by a strong ownership team. I’m really glad to be part of it.”

Behind the Title: Light Iron finishing artist Katie Hinsen

Katie Hinsen, finishing artist at NYC’s Light Iron, brings a diverse creative and technical background to her job, and a background that includes offline and online editing, visual effects, stereoscopic 3D and color.

A native New Zealander, Hinsen began her career in the late ‘90s as a lead DI editor at Park Road Post in Wellington, working on Knowing, The Lovely Bones and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. She was also part of the Oscar-nominated team for Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects on District 9.

In 2010 she moved to New York, taking a position at Goldcrest Post where she worked on feature films and documentaries as a finishing and visual effects artist. She landed at Light Continue reading