Colorist Circuit Training Part 1

Colorist Circuit Training Part 1

March 16, 2014

In Colorist Circuit Training Part 1 we take a look at some exercises to help strengthen your style and color grading skills.


Get Your Mind & Your Eye Fit With Colorist Circuit Training

Color Grading is a difficult skill to master.

You have so many aspects to learn and master from technical issues (camera formats and conforming skills) to creative issues (trying to add the magic to a music video or narrative piece). As a group (myself included) I find us colourists focus on the technical side of life far to much.

We cruise forums, we check out the latest camera tests and endlessly upgrade our computers to get the best out of them. But to what end?

This is why I want to focus on the art and craft of grading with this Insight – the first part in a new series I’m doing called
Colorist Circuit Training.

What’s the point of this series?

I want to focus on upgrading and refining the most important part of the grading workflow – YOU!

This series is inspired by a quote that forever I thought was from someone world famous but I can’t actually find the source!  So, it may have just been a nugget of wisdom from a sound engineer or roadie from my days playing drums in a band.

“Anyone can learn how to play Stairway To Heaven but only Jimmy Page could write it”

To me this is the perfect quote to describe the world of color grading. Yes anyone CAN grade by pushing the lift, gamma and gain around in the same way that anyone can pick up a guitar and learn by numbers how to play Stairway to Heaven but that person probably wouldn’t understand why or how those notes from the song work together.

Trying to become the worlds best colorist is so much more than knowing how to use software and applying a look. Those skills ARE crucial for becoming a great colorist—but the best colorists are more artist than technician.

To truly become a great colorist, you need to be able to see deeper into the image and think about how every single component works to form a compelling shot. You need to be able to see more than anyone else in the room from the smallest highlight that shouldn’t be there to seeing small off color patches of skin on the lead actors face and then know how to fix those and many more similar issues.

You’ve probably heard the phrase color grading is a dark art – well, I think we should think more like artists sculpting masterpieces.

Find Your Voice And Your Style

My favourite part about the world of color grading is you could give the same music video to 3 world class colourists and they would all grade it differently. They would all look great in their own rite but have very different characteristics and creative decisions.

For example here is 3 pieces that have won awards for grading this year:

Dave Hussey – MVPA Award for Best Colorist
Lana Del Ray – National Anthem

Jean-Clement Soret – British Arrows for Best Colorist
Vodafone – The Kiss

Aubry Woodiwiss – UKMVA award for best colour grade
Foals – Late Night

As you can see they are all amazingly well graded but there is no RIGHT way to grade. The trick is to be the best at grading it YOUR WAY.

Dave, Jean-Clement and Aubrey are colorists at the top of their game they have all developed their own personal style and if you watch the videos above I would say that every tiny detail, every primary correction and technical issue has been taken care of. Thats the thing with being a colorist. The buck stops with you, you are the sole driver of how good the footage will look and I have to take my hat off to the guys for 3 amazingly graded videos.

If you’d like to see more of Dave’s work please click here

If you’d like to see more of Jean-Clement’s work please click here

If you’d like to see more of Aubrey’s work please click here

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