Looking Forward To 2022 – Improving Myself, My Grading, My Business

January 4, 2022

Colorist Robbie Carman looks forward to 2022 and the steps he's to improve his color grading skills, business, and personal well-being.

10 Things I’m Focused On For 2022

Usually, as the calendar flips into the final month of the year I start thinking about the year gone by and the year ahead.

Like many of you, the 2021 that I had hoped for was – sort of, almost, but not quite.

For me, 2021 was all about positive change in my personal and professional lives. But instead of exploring the past, in this Insight I’m exploring ten things I’m focusing on in 2022 for improving myself, my color work, and how I run my color grading business.

Let’s dive in!

1. Improving Myself In 2022

A major focus of mine in 2022 is focusing on my physical and mental health.

It only took me twenty-something years working in this industry to realize that physical and mental health has a direct correlation to creativity, artistry and how well I’m grading.  Plus, overall health has a lot to do with being centered, clear-headed and strategic in running a business.

In late 2020 I joined a private online community of creatives and I was shocked. In the first couple of days of being there, it was clear nearly everyone was miserable in some shape or fashion.

Much of that misery was mental health-related, but a lot of physical too. Over the years here on Mixing Light, I’ve been open about how I’ve waged my own wars with mental and physical health and it was interesting to talk to others having their own similar struggles.

Trust me, I’m happier than this picture may convey! After I spent much of 2021, and now looking forward to 2022, focusing on my mental and physical health.

Joining that community made me realize that there are plenty of other people just like me. I realized I had to do something for my own mental health and physical well-being – and I have to do it, like, now!

These journeys are, of course, lifelong but here are some self-improvement things I’m focused on in 2022:

Focusing on the physical and the mental

My first goal is to focus on movement. Seems simple right?  But many of us can spend 10-14 hours a day in a chair leading to all sorts of ailments. While my general personality is to dive in head-first – those efforts seldom work.  So here are some movement concepts I’m getting started on:

  • The Hourly Move – Every time I sit down to work I’m going to set an alarm at the top of each hour.  When that alarm goes off, I’ll spend 2-3 min in some sort of movement – side bends, arm circles, a few squats, stretching my neck, etc. Based on some limited past experience, I know a little hourly movement will pay huge dividends with fewer aches and fewer chronic nagging sitting-related injuries.
  • The Daily Move – I’d be lying to myself if I said I’m going to hit the gym for 90 min every day (or even just a couple of days a week). Instead, what I think is key is repeatability. For example – a quick 20-30 min afternoon/evening walk around my neighborhood.  It just so happens 4 ‘laps’ of my neighborhood is a mile and a mile or two each day will help significantly with my aches and pains, getting some blood flowing, and honestly, it’s a great amount of quiet time each day to clear my head.
  • The Fun Move – In January of 2021 I became a ‘member’ of my local municipal golf course. As such, I can pretty much play anytime I want. In 2022, I’m going to commit to 2-3 days a week walking 9-holes. It’s good exercise, fun and hopefully, my golf game will continue to improve.

Mental health and in the general sense a feeling of peace and balance has been something I’ve been working on for a long time. I’ve really dedicated myself to working on my mental health and just being a happier person. In 2022 I want to go further – here are some things I have in mind:

  • Focus on awareness – I’ve become a practitioner of the business philosophy called Conscious Leadership (CL). One aspect of this school of thought is awareness and being aware of my mental state and ‘where am I?’ at any given time. While there is a lot to becoming more self-aware, the video below is a fun exercise about awareness that really helped me get started with this journey. In 2022 I really hope to grow in this regard. The thing I like about CL is that while it can seem a little ‘self-help’ you can mix and match the aspects of it that work for you.  If you find the video below interesting, this is a good book to get started.

  • Talk about it – For years I’ve suffered from sometimes crushing anxiety and in 2021 I finally started to take steps to work on managing my anxiety.  I joined TalkSpace which is an online therapy service that matches you with a provider to help you work on your problems and overall mental health.  However, in 2021 I wasn’t consistent enough with this work – in 2022 I’m dedicating myself to weekly meetings.
  • Lifestyle Design – another step I took in 2021 was doing some deep thinking about designing the lifestyle I want and fitting work around that, rather than the other way around. For the past 20 years, I’ve been in a chair, in front of a monitor, pushing buttons hoping that would help me create the lifestyle I want.  It turns out I might have been looking at things from the wrong perspective! All the personal and professional change that I’ve had in 2021 has been about this work. In 2022, I’m really pushing harder on how I want to live/work, my family’s happiness, etc., and doing the things to make those ‘dreams’ a reality.

I think it’s easy in our industry to make everything about the work and the tools. Maybe I’m late to the game and all of you have had this nirvana of self-improvement but I’m excited for real, tangible physical and mental improvement in 2022.

Oh!  One quick gear head thing (I couldn’t resist!) I’ve had a couple of generations of both Android and Apple wearable devices (watches). But I sometimes find them a little cumbersome and I really don’t like sleeping with a watch.

Wearables can help you be more aware of your activity and movement. I recently added an Oura Ring and so far I love its size and accuracy. Image courtesy of Oura.

I recently got an Oura ring and it’s small, comfortable, and seems to be every bit as accurate as an Apple Watch – plus its form factor makes it comfortable (for me) to sleep with – which is a big plus as I’ve been wanting to track my sleep for a long time.

2. Math, Coding & Psychophysiology

If you’re like a lot of people, you likely got into color grading because of the mix between the artistry of it (making pretty pictures and helping to tell stories) as well as technical fixing aspects of grading (improving on or fixing what a camera has captured).

That’s how I got into it, at least.  Grading has always felt like making music to me. There are so many analogous aspects of music and grading including ‘happy accidents’.

In music, that might be that feeling of connecting a chord progression or creating that sound from a favorite player or band.  In grading, it might be finally figuring out how a set of controls works or emulating the look of a favorite film.

Indeed, these discoveries and achievements are part of the learning process – but just as the musician will eventually need to move on to theory – scales, modes, etc. Colorists too eventually move beyond understanding what affect a control has or how to create a look, to really understanding what’s happening under the hood.

I’ve always been pretty good at a middle-ground understanding of this next level – I understand a lot of music theory and I understand quite a bit of color science, math, and coding.

But have you ever found yourself in a conversation with a group of people and while you understand at a 30,000-foot level what they’re talking about, you can’t really add anything to the conversation except for an occasional nod and smile?

I’m kind of sick of feeling like that! In 2022 I’m dedicating myself to getting better at the math, coding, and psychophysiology that impacts everything we do.


Not exactly ‘can’t put down reading’ there are lots of academic-level books on color science and the various flavors of math used in color science. Jan Koenderink’s ‘Color For The Sciences’ was recommended to me. Image courtesy of MIT Press,

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