18 Feb 2018

Five top tips for colorists

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RedShark Replay: Grading is one of those skills that is incredibly difficult to master. So this seemed an opportune time to repeat the piece where Warren Eagles shares five top tips shedding light on the dark art of color grading and the life of a colorist. 

Ours is a dynamic industry. From lens to screen and all points between, the rapid advance of technology inevitably creates both roses and thorns for professional ‘guardians of the image’. The benefits of shooting log or raw are clear but the downstream workflow can certainly cause headaches, and as digital cinema evolves, the necessity to develop the skillset of the colorist becomes more important than ever. I’ve known seasoned editors blanche at the thought of working with Resolve. But help is at hand. Warren’s road map outlines the qualities you’ll need to bring out the best in your images, enhance your story and, if your ambition is to become a colorist, give speed and direction to your career.

Some of Warren’s points are general sound advice covering a wide range of roles in the creative industries; mostly it’s good old common sense. Other points are more specific to students of grading. But, whoever you are, if you’re focusing your energy and time to address each one, all things being equal you’ll have an interesting and profitable relationship with the photon muses.

The tips are software agnostic. Warren on the other hand isn’t. He’s been using DaVinci since the days of the 888, long before Blackmagic Design acquired the company and has been instructing Resolve users ever since. He started his grading career in Soho in 1989 before moving to Australia in 1999. He runs his own shop in Brisbane, and splits his time equally between grading and training. Having just completed work on a feature and a TV Commercial, he set off on a whistle-stop world tour to deliver a series of Resolve classroom training sessions for the International Colorist Academy which he co-founded in 2009 with Kevin Shaw to provide training for colorists and post pros involved in DI workflow (DIT, editors, cinematographers, directors). Other ICA instructors include Dado Valentic, Simon Walker, Paul Lear and Von Thomas.

If you’re still not sure how a good colorist can improve your content, you’re not alone. In response to yet another client (in this instance a producer) asking the perennial question ‘What does a colorist actually do?’ Warren has posted a film to his Vimeo channel that explains everything. You can check it out here. At the time of writing this has received over 76,000 views. That’s a lot of confused producers!

Warren has a long list of credits for Film and TV and kindly agreed to share his vast industry knowledge and experience with RedShark readers. I ambushed him during the lunch break of the ICA Resolve 11 training session at Dolby Studios’ London HQ in Soho. Time was against us so I asked Warren for bullets. Here they are in no particular order — Warren’s Five Incredible Tips:

  • Be creative, know what you like.
  • Understand the new cameras and their codecs.
  • Be a good business person.
  • It’s all about the clients.
  • Match the scene, and do it quickly!

So, in detail...

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Matt Aindow

Matt Aindow is a freelance artist and M&E workflow consultant, in an ever-deepening love affair with story telling via the dark art of colour grading. He believes these are jolly exciting times to be involved in the business, but is saddened that we can't deliver on gender equality. Come on! Member of SMPTE, CSI and DCS. The eternal student.

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