From Freelancer to Facility Owner With Senior Colourist CJ Dobson, CSI

July 19, 2023

Colorist CJ Dobson shares her journey from freelancing to owning a boutique Color shop, offering unique solutions for modern post workflows.


How to build a unique colour grading facility
in a male-dominated industry

Today we talk with CJ Dobson CSI, a Melbourne-based colourist who has turned ten years of freelancing into the launch pad for running her own shop. A respected colourist in her own right, CJ has graded numerous Australian features, commercials, and TV series:

  • Deadloch
  • The Portable Door 
  • Crazy Fun Park 
  • Petrol
  • Love Me
  • Escape from Pretoria
Colourist CJ Dobson, CSI

In this in-depth interview, CJ shares how her recently opened colour facility, Moodlab Film Looks, offers her clients new solutions to old workflow problems. We discuss CJ’s journey from being ‘queen of the conform’ at Digital Pictures to freelancing for a decade to becoming a business owner, some of the unique future-facing services Moodlab offers, and the challenges of succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

I wanted to open my own shop because I believe as a group you can achieve more than you can on your own.

CJ Dobson, CSI

Topics in this discussion include:

  • The trajectory of a career as a colourist from in-house to freelance to business owner
  • Moodlab’s unique approach to providing colour grading services
  • The importance of finding a facility you can trust as a freelance colourist
  • The challenges of being a technically savvy female colourist in a male-dominated industry
  • Growing a team and apprenticing younger colourists


Table of Contents

  • 00:00 – Introduction to CJ
  • 03:28 – Melbourne as a supportive colourist community
  • 05:14 – Importance of freelance community connection
  • 11:39 – Cloud-based dailies for flexible grading
  • 17:52 – Bringing colour into Editorial sooner
  • 24:39 – Working as a founder and a colourist
  • 26:30 – Gender bias in the business world
  • 31:56 – Importance of pushing for gender diversity in post-production
  • 36:48 – Supporting and educating future colourists
  • 40:50 – Eizo HDR monitor as an investment for the future
  • 43:18 – Importance of apprenticeship in colour grading
  • 48:12 – The differences between commercials and long-form
  • 50:00 – Client hierarchy in the advertising world
  • 54:58 – Visual effects in colour grading, esp The Portable Door
  • 59:00 – The future of the colour grading industry

Key takeaways from this Insight

By the end of this Insight, you should understand:

  • The importance of finding other colourists to learn from in developing your career
  • What to look for when selecting a facility to bring your clients to as a freelancer colourist
  • How CJ has developed a cloud-based colour grading dailies workflow to offer her clients
  • Considering how best to integrate colour into the entire post-production pipeline
  • Why partnering with “the competition” is more valuable than competing with them
  • CJ’s philosophy on investing in an HDR monitor
  • Why hiring junior colourists is a win-win-win for them, you, and your clients
  • Handling the different hierarchies of advertising clients vs directors and DPs

External Links and Significant Mentions

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– Kali

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