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.
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.
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.