New Year’s Resolutions To Strengthen Your Color Grading Business

December 18, 2015
Robbie Carman C.S.I.

2016 is almost here!  Check out this Insight to discover some New Year's resolutions to strengthen your color grading business.


Day 18: 25 Insights in 25 Days Holiday Marathon

5 Areas For Improvement That Are Easier Than Going To The Gym

Tom Parish has, for many years, been a great friend to Team Mixing Light.

His wit, insight and feedback in the early days of this site have helped, and will continue to help shape our focus of providing color grading training.

Recently, when I saw an article from Tom on Facebook entitled Why I’m Leaving The Color Grading Business I clicked with quite a bit of trepidation not knowing exactly what I was about to read, but what I found was a poignant, thoughtful, & heartfelt open letter that you can read here.

Like me, I’m sure after reading Tom’s letter, you respect the proverbial ‘balls’ it took to be that open and honest about a passion & business that was failing. I’m confident Tom will be just fine – he’s a smart, passionate guy who seems to have his priorities just right.

In many ways, I’m still digesting Tom’s letter – his feelings on family, time and other interests are things that ring true with me.

Reading the letter over again I started thinking a lot about how there are probably lots of us in Tom’s shoes.

In fact, after reading Tom’s letter, a few days later I was skimming through my Twitter feed and noticed that a European colorist that I follow, and think very highly of, had changed his tag line on his Twitter account to Used to be a full-time colorist. Looking For Work’.

Everyone’s personal and business circumstances are different. It would be irresponsible of me to speculate on what the person I follow on Twitter, Tom or thousands of other ‘former colorists’ could have done differently or what market forces put that person in the situation they currently find themselves in.

So instead, partly driven by the time of year (’tis the season) with all the talk about resolutions, planning and doing things differently in the coming year, has me thinking about how to strengthen my color grading business in 2016.

In this Insight, I’d like to share my top ‘resolutions’ for 2016 to help me strengthen my color grading business and hopefully my list and points will give you some things to think about.

I’d love to hear about what you have in mind for 2016 as well.  Please use the comments at the end of the Insight.

#1 Offering More Services

While color grading is the core service that I offer, there is a lot of room to continue to build upon that base with additional services.

I’m not talking about becoming a DP, or even doing something like offering DIT services. I think there are some core things that I can do to help me upsell current clients, and perhaps more importantly, tempt new clients.

Probably like you, I use the umbrella of color grading for everything I do.  While some of that is inevitable, I’m going to try hard in 2016 to push and market new services explicitly and not lump them under grading.

Here are some ways that I plan on diversifying my service options:

  • DCP Creation & QC – For some reason I’ve been scared of DCPs!  But a quick look at my records and at how many DCPs I farmed out to other vendors this year made me realize (and made me a little sick!) I need to bring DCP creation and DCP QC in house – ASAP.  To that end, I’ve recently invested in Final DCP and I’m currently looking at hardware DCP player solutions from Quvis and Doremi.
  • Remote Grading – At a certain point, you saturate a market or the market you’re in just doesn’t have enough work to keep you as busy as you want. One thing I’m going to expand upon in the coming year is my remote grading options. While I’d love to have the cache of Company 3 that allows them to setup remote viewing rooms in tons of cities, I’m thinking of remote grading in slightly different way. Using solutions from Streambox, Apple, and FSI, I have a very good idea on how to (finally) build a shippable system to send to clients and grade in real-time with them – more on that soon! The key to this is going to be advertising in other markets. I plan to attack this with the help of targeted Google Adwords campaign.
  • HDR Mastering – I’m 100% sold on HDR.  I think in many ways HDR will bring a dramatic change to the quality of the work we do.  In 2016, I plan to invest in and learn HDR to the best of my ability. And no, this is not a build it and hope they will come thing.  My HDR push is being driven by 2 long-time clients – remember, build it and they will come is dangerous!
  • Calibration For Clients – Yep, I’m sick of Grandma’s Pink TV.  I’m constantly aggravated like you probably are of clients making comments on non-calibrated displays. A new service I plan on offering clients is a calibration package. I’ll probably do this only with continuing clients, but I envision a package where I provide a client an eeColor, or AJA LUT box and my calibration services for their displays. I’m hoping this will save me a lot of headaches, but admittedly it’ll be a bit of hard sell for some clients. While I’ll obviously charge for this service, this is mainly a workflow time/headache saver for me.
  • Can You Roto This? – If I had nickel for every time in the past year I had a true rotoscope situation I’d be a rich man. I don’t have the educational bandwidth to really get proficient with a tool like Mocha or Fusion, but I plan trying to build some relationships with compositors in my area that can be my go to for roto work.

While it can be dangerous to spread yourself too thin, I’m hoping my plans to add some new service options will help me in 2016. If you’re a freelance colorist, what services could you add to your offerings?  Would these services help distinguish you in a crowded market?

If you’re in-house at a facility can you help steer new services or identify ones that the facility’s current client base might need now or in the future?

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