IN THE BEGINNING...
In November 2014, I was browsing Stage32.com's new jobs section in order to apply for work as a colourist and i stumbled across a film project in post-production called 'Sunshine'... it was an unpaid job as the film is no-budget and I'll admit, I froze in applying for the job because even though it seemed like a project I would have liked to be a part of, I have to be able to pay my bills... so I didn't apply and kept searching.
Later that month, I was browsing peopleperhour.com for the same kind of work and I found a job posted that was the colour correction and grading of a 20 minute short film, from the moment i read the details of the job it all seemed very familiar. So I applied, mentioning that the job seemed familiar and asked if it was the position listed on stage32... turns out, that it was.
The director of the film, Michael Tracy had people apply and start the job, but then disappear, most probably due to the job being unpaid and the amount of shots that can occur in a film could be quite a high amount, so he decided that in order to get the work done and done to a professional standard, he would have to make the job available as paid work.
When I applied there was an hourly rate with a 10 hour deadline, but due to this being my first colorist for hire job, I offered to do the work regardless of how long it would take me... and i would only take payment for the originally specified 10 hours... This was because even though I am very confident in my skills as a colorist, I wanted to ensure the best possible results for Michael and the film... and i wanted to have found and polished a solid workflow when working remotely for another director.
What Michael wanted was each shot; de-noised, corrected and graded, then exported in the P2 Format in which he was accustomed to working with (something I hadn't ever done before, but Google made the process much easier).
I work with Adobe CS6, and by that I mean Premiere Pro and After Effects... Premiere Pro for colour correcting and exporting, whilst using Adobe's dynamic link between Premiere and After Effects (Adobe's motion graphics software) for colour grading... Due to my previous extensive use After Effects during my own projects "in3D" & Sollicitudo, as well as my training following Video Copilot tutorials, I thought it would be best to stick with what I am most experienced with when doing the grading of the film.
The first process was to de-noise each individual shot in Premiere with a plug-in called 'Neat Video' which is quite a popular and affordable noise reduction plug-in. I then used the 'Fast Color Corrector' tool in Premiere to assure that each of the shots were white balanced, followed promptly by correcting any and all contrast and saturation imbalances.
The de-noised & corrected shots were then sent to After Effect in a dynamically linked After Effects composition, where I would start add the look and tone of the film.
The most difficult shots in the film were when there was the use of mixed temperature lighting or whether there were any blown out spots on actors that pulled the eye away from the appropriate focal point.
My process when grading is to manipulate the tones first; so I work in black and white and use a mixture of curves and levels to create the right contrast for each shot through out each scene and only once that has been done, remove the black and white adjustment layer and start re-balancing the colours using 'hue/saturation' and 'selective color' tool.
I often like to add a lot of additional vibrancy to the shots and work by manipulating and removing colour until i have my final result.
The very first grade pass that I did was sent to Michael and even though he liked the direction I was going, he told me that he preferred the colours to stay within realistic tones in order to keep the film looking naturalistic and grounded, just like the narrative... so on my second pass I flattened out the contrast, altered the skin tones to be a little more pale and lowered the saturation overall in order to attain a more realistic look, yet cinematic look.
Michael and I have discussed the possibility of working on projects he has in mind for the future and with the way he has communicated with me and directed me over the last month I'm glad to say that I would relish the opportunity to work with him again.
As for my work, I feel that I will have to learn how to use Adobe Speedgrade or Da Vinci Resolve in order to be taken seriously as a professional film Colorist, but as for what I have accomplished in this project with After Effects in terms of colour grading, and the new skills that I learned with Premiere such as reading scopes and waveforms, I feel that this experience has been extremely positive.
As you can see, to the left of this blog post are some shots from the film (spoiler free of-course), going from RAW, to the OLD grade, to the LATEST (and final) grade.
If you would like to hire me as a colorist for your project, contact me use the contact form below.