When Color Management Fails: Dan’s Strategy

When Color Management Fails: Dan’s Strategy

July 31, 2014

Have you had a client reject a grade after they left the color correction suite? Learn how handle this problem without losing your client.

iPads, Vimeo, Clients & A Whole Lot Of …Arghhhh!

One of the most frustrating a colorist can hear is this heart breaking sentence:

[blockquote]Your grade does not look right on my iphone/ipad/grandma’s tv. Please change it.[/blockquote]

Our color management has failed. We spend thousands & thousands of dollars on calibration meters, color critical monitors and learning how to build a solid color pipeline and it can all be unravelled by a client viewing your grade on an iPhone while drinking cocktails on the beach at sunset.

Like many of you my first instinct is to push back and say :

[blockquote]I get it, but we really need to be making color critical decisions in a calibrated environment. So why don’t you come in and take another look?[/blockquote]

This is what your client hears coming out your mouth:  I don’t care, I want to charge you more money… and the hell with your damn iPhone! 

So, I realize what I’m going to say next will probably go against what most other people will do in this situation and I understand all of the reasons to only make critical decisions in a reference environment.


Member Content

Sorry... the rest of this content is for members only. You'll need to login or Join Now to continue (we hope you do!).

Need more information about our memberships? Click to learn more.

Membership options
Member Login

Are you using our app? For the best experience, please login using the app's launch screen


Homepage Forums When Color Management Fails: Dan’s Strategy

  • Great insight! In general do you find you can usually make the fix with one overall correction to the entire video, or your going in shot by shot, or scene by scene making adjustments? How do you handle jobs that are web only with clients in the room, you still gotta use your big calibrated monitor so they can hang out on the couch and view it big im assuming. But do you warn them once its locked we will need to do an overall adjustment based on a computer monitor?


  • Joseph Mastantuono

    Also, a big issue is what is the ENVIRONMENT the client is watching it in, not just the specific monitor. If he or she is working in an dark office that’s painted completely bright orange… Your grade will not look right. If he or she is working in an office with huge windows, your grade will look completely different based on the weather. In my experience, this can more of a factor than the monitor.

    Also, I find just getting them to look at it on an iPad (v3 or later) is a great compromise. It’s not perfect but often I find it’s the easiest most acceptable monitor around for my clients. Also, added bonus that they’re looking at it close enough to their face that the environment will be less of an issue.

  • Luis Ochoa

    Great insight! It is actually quite tricky question since some clients want to say that that colour problem was YOUR problem, so make changes might mean to say that you were doing your jog wrong…I often have that conversation BEFORE the session, so I explain that my monitor is calibrated and there will be for sure differences when they see the render on their laptops. Anyway, I agree that having a “yes” policy (being reasonable of course) is the best way to keep clients and live longer 🙂

  • EdKulzer

    I’m in the middle of this topic’s scenario right now––– I’m grading in one of a client’s editing rooms using 2 Samsung displays, but when they review the compressed drafts on the producer’s laptop, everything is COMPLETELY leached of color & saturation, and I get notes for revision that make absolutely no sense and bear no relationship to what I’m seeing in their edit room setup.

  • Margus Voll

    Maybe it would be good to have one separate topic how you guys manage youtube and vimeo versions in colour sense?

  • Tawan Bazemore

    Communication is key. Discussing exhibition and output with the client should eliminate this problem. As a rule that I made for myself I ask the client “what do you plan to do with with your project?” Based on their answers I say here are some options and here are some absolutes. I like to give my clients options on output based on how they plan to exhibit. The absolutes are the things they have to expect based on their choices. I generally have a great working relationships with clients, though I have had some interesting experiences. It is very important to know how an image will look on different systems and different compression. This should eliminate the shock value and might reward you a return client. I love this article!!

  • Marc Wielage

    I know of a major, major network series than ran for 7 seasons and won several Emmys. Because the executives were watching on an overly-bright (but high end) consumer display, they complained for several weeks that the corrections were too bright. Nobody was willing to tell them to get their display calibrated. We dropped the levels 20% and they were happy… and it went on to win 3 or 4 Emmys for Best Cinematography. True story. I think the average video level wound up at 40ire or something, just ridiculous (for a sitcom). But I learned a long time ago the job is not to make beautiful pictures… it’s to make the client happy.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    LOL. I love stories like this. Probably won those Emmys because everyone was impressed how they ‘took a chance’ and went dark on a comedy series. So true… make the client happy and you’ll have a prosperous career.

  • Jordan Mena

    Ahhh! I’m having this problem right now with a client. They are too busy to come into my suite to approve and they end up looking at my work on a cpu monitor they picked up for $150. I’ve been working with
    them for 3 months now and I don’t even know if they consider me a decent colorist because everything I show them looks terrible on their monitor.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Heh. I know *precisely* how you feel.

    That’s why I love the iPad (not the mini or Air). It does a great job with Rec709 and my work viewed on an iPad looks so close to what I see on the OLED that I’ll take color notes off that display. It’s a workflow that placates many clients and gives us a consumer display that validates what’s going on in the color suite.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    J to the O,

    One other note, could you update your profile to a First Name, Last initial? Now that we’ve made commenting so much easier we’re going to start enforcing a ‘Real Name’ policy. While we respect that some people may not want to broadcast their last name, we strongly feel that keeping the names real tends to keep discussions on the internet from devolving (and so there’s no mistake: I love your comment here, I’m not suggesting otherwise).


    Thanks again for commenting! We love it!

Log in to reply.

1,000+ Tutorials to Explore

Get full access to our entire library of over 1,100+ color tutorials for an entire week!

Start Your Test Drive!