Better Colorist

Assessing Your Progress

November 26, 2014

Assessing Your Progress can be hard has a colorist. How are my grades better today than a year ago or even 5 years ago? Dan shows you how.


Assessing Your Progress

This insight is inspired by a conversation I had with Mark the head of grading here at Smoke and Mirrors. He was cutting his 2014 reel and we watched some of his old reels from the early and mid 2000’s.

He still prefers his work from that era of grading, back when everything was shot on 35mm film and you could go crazy with grades and people loved it. This got me thinking about my own progression.

As a colorist I find its quite hard to judge how I’m progressing in the world of grading. I physically feel exactly the same grading now as I did when I first joined Smoke and Mirrors.

It can be quite easy to beat your self up thinking that your grading isn’t getting any better.

I’ve obviously progressed but how do I judge that for myself?

This is due to there being no right or wrong way of grading a project.

We obviously have technical rules to follow but when it comes to creativity anything goes!

I find my grading skills have a strange pattern of plateauing for quite a while perhaps a certain style is very popular for that period and I find myself reusing similar techniques and not pushing the boat.

Suddenly I’ll have a week of jobs where I feel like I have gotten great results and felt like I was on top form.

That led me to the question of how do you assess your progress?

Reviewing OldĀ Reels

If you haveĀ been updating your reels on a yearly basis this is a great place to start.

It gives you a wide overview of your work of that period and can be amazingly useful in assessing your progress.

I’m going to share with you my old old old reel, my reel when I joined a commercial post house and my my latest reel.

Its amazing to see how things have changed in just 4 years!

My 2010 Reel

First up is my reel as an online editor / new colorist. I focused mainly on broadcast work and some short form commercial grading.

I was working mainly on an Avid DS and a Flame system then. Digital cameras were still quite new to us in Ireland so I only occasionally got to work with Red footage and the rest would normally be HD Cam or Digibeta.

Viewing this reel again reminds me that I used to be good at balancing and very very fast!

Remembering a life where I could bash out two 30min shows a day, the thought of doing that now scares me!

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