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  • 19 August 2020 19:42 | Anonymous

    The Science Behind the Art of Color

    Charles Poynton, PhD is legendary color scientist, video engineer and CSI Fellow. He is the author of two influential books on the science of color in digital video, and frequently speaks and teaches on the subject. In the 1980s, he designed and built innovative digital video processing systems for NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He also helped to develop standards used in digital cinema, cameras and displays. However, Poynton may be best known as the “inventor” of the number 1080…at least in terms of its use as the standard pixel height for high definition video. Were in not for his insight, the world today would be…or at least look…very different.


    Charles Poynton recently spoke with CSI about his life and career.

    CSI:        Why 1080?

    Charles Poynton: It’s simple. 1920 times 9, divided by 16 equals 1080. The number 1920 for pixel width had already been agreed upon and had solid roots in engineering, but the number for pixel height was, strangely, uncertain. Sony and NHK preferred 1035, but that would have led to non-square pixels. They were perfectly fine with that because, at that time—and this was 25 years ago—they didn't appreciate the pervasive nature of computing. But anyone engaged in computing knew that it was a mistake. I spent a year of my life working to fix that problem.

    CSI:        Inventing 1080 and building computers for NASA are big accomplishments.

    CP:         The other thing I’m proud of is earning a PhD later in life. My PhD was conferred two years ago. My doctoral work concerned the translation of color into digital media.

    CSI:        Could you expand on that?

    CP:         When you look deeply into making movies or digital video, you realize the goal is not to reproduce the colors that are in front of the camera, but to reproduce them as they are supposed to look. Pictures aren’t taken, they’re made. In a documentary, the director and DOP don’t have much flexibility to make alterations. They have a philosophical obligation to stay true to what’s in front of the camera without imposing too much “art.” Things are much more fluid in fiction. Colorists understand this and adjust their approach to the philosophical goals of the project. My PhD thesis looks at those tasks and the math that allows colorists to accomplish them in a sensible, straightforward way.

    CSI:        That’s fascinating.

    CP:         It was a lot of fun. It was an interdisciplinary PhD because it bridged hard science—physics and math—with movie-making, and a certain amount of psychology. CSI members might appreciate it, but if a PhD thesis sounds too heavy, I suggest they go straight to chapter five. It’s more approachable.

    CSI:        How did you get involved in CSI?

    CP:         CSI was formed about the time the second edition of my book, Digital Video and HD: Algorithms and Interfaces, was published. The founders of CSI were familiar with the book, which had a lot of math and a tiny bit on the philosophy of digital video. I was also doing a lot of teaching at the time, and many CSI members attended my courses and seminars. So, that’s how we got connected.

    CSI:        You taught science to colorists?

    CP:         I liked teaching and I challenged myself to teach, not just programmers and engineers, but also artists and craftspeople. So, I began teaching courses, seminars and workshops stressing the art. I even taught cinematographers, which was a big challenge, because, unlike colorists, they don’t get the math quickly. I had to learn to teach it in a way that’s approachable. The late Richard Feynman once said, "If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't know how it works." I took inspiration from that in teaching cinematographers. For example, cinematographers today often shoot in log mode, which means shooting logarithms. But, what is it about logarithms? It’s a bit of a leap for them because they didn’t study calculus. So, I work hard to explain those concepts in a language that they understand.

    CSI:        How do you see the role of colorist evolving?

    CP:         Colorists need to learn how to balance art, craft and science. All three are challenging. The science is becoming more complicated, so colorists need to keep learning about tech. The tools are changing and that makes a big difference in how material is delivered to colorists. The craft is changing too. There are a lot of new deliverables and colorists must consider how material will look on different devices, in different viewing conditions and different picture sizes. In terms of art, there is the ongoing challenge of accommodating the DOP’s vision and acting as custodian of image quality all the way through the chain.

    Colorists have a really important role in pre-production. Cinematographers will often perform camera tests as a basis for choosing cameras and lenses, but pre-production should be more than that. Colorists should be connected to that process because they are in a position to make informed choices about how camera material is ingested at the front end of post-production.

    CSI:        What technological developments do see coming that are going to have the biggest impact on colorists and the industry generally?

    CP:         Colorists and the post-production community should think about what’s coming next, but it’s increasingly challenging. Many of us grew up in a world where studio, production and acquisition technology was the driver. Consumer technology was at the other end of the chain. Now, the reverse is true. Consumer devices are driving production technology. Strangely, broadcast technology is at the rear. It used to be the locomotive, now it’s the caboose. It’s been reduced to a one foot cube bolted to the last hitch. Colorists ought to be aware of this and work through CSI to have a voice in technological development on the acquisition and presentation sides. Our goal is not to turn out content like a sausage factory, but to produce quality programs.


  • 13 August 2020 19:04 | Anonymous

    Entries are being accepted now for the first-ever competition devoted purely to color in film, television, advertising and other media.

    CSI is joining the Independent Colourist Guild (ICG) as partner and co-organizer of the newly-launched Colorist Awards. The first-ever international competition focused exclusively on the craft of color, the event recognizes outstanding work by colorists across feature films, television, documentaries, commercials, music videos and shorts. Entries are being accepted now through December 31st for work first appearing in 2020. Winners will be announced in March.

    The Independent Colourist Guild, whose membership includes more than 400 professional colorists worldwide, launched the Colorist Awards to draw attention to an essential, but underappreciated craft. “We want to highlight the great work being done by colorists around the globe and raise awareness for color’s artistic role in movies, television, advertising and other media,” says ICG founder Alexander Prohorushkin. “We feel that an awards competition for colorists is long overdue.”


    CSI, the first professional society of colorists, also sees the competition as a tool for gaining wider recognition for color. “It’s a way to celebrate our profession and build its legacy,” observes CSI president Kevin Shaw. “Our hope is that the Colorist Awards will become a showcase for work of the world’s best colorists and set the standard for excellence.”

    Entries will be evaluated by an international jury composed of colorists, directors, cinematographers and producers. Work will be evaluated for artistic excellence, technical achievement, stylistic effect and reproductive accuracy. Participation is open to all colorists, regardless of professional affiliation. Event partners include SGO, Portrait Displays, 3DL, Panasonic, ICG Calibration and ASUS, among others.

    Formed in 2017, ICG provides a forum for its members to promote their work, develop their skills and share experiences and ideas with colleagues. It hosts member reels on its website (www.icguild.org) and serves as a clearinghouse to connect colorists with employers. It operates an ongoing educational program, including master classes on new technologies, techniques and workflows and other educational events. It also teams with leading hardware and software manufacturers to ensure its members are kept up to date on the latest technology.


  • 30 June 2020 17:29 | Anonymous

    Co-created by Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussell, the Netflix adult animation series The Midnight Gospel centers on a “spacecaster” named Clancy who uses a malfunctioning “multiverse simulator” to conduct philosophic interviews with creatures on dying worlds. Called by Entertainment Weekly “a heartfelt cosmic masterpiece,” the series takes viewers on a hallucinatory journey through time and space while tackling issues ranging from spirituality and loneliness to enlightenment and death.


    Post-production for the series was done at Dolby Laboratories in Burbank. Master colorist Greg Hamlin, CSI used FilmLight’s Baselight to apply the final color grade in Dolby Vision HDR. Hamlin explains that Dolby had been working with Netflix to develop budgets and workflows for finishing animated content in Dolby Vision. With its kaleidoscopic imagery and vibrant color palette, The Midnight Gospel offered an ideal subject to test the process.

    “The show has lots of rich primary red, greens and blues,” says Hamlin. “It’s also filled with all kinds of secondary hues: chartreuse, magenta, pink, orange, sienna and ochre. We wanted to stay true to the colors established by the animators, while introducing a greater dynamic range. One of the great advantages of Dolby Vision is you can take highlights brighter, while holding onto the saturation. It was great fun to work in high dynamic range with those deep, rich colors.”

    Hamlin has been a colorist for more than 25 years. Since joining Dolby in 2015, he has performed Dolby Vision HDR remastering for numerous features including The Accountant, The Legend of Tarzan, I Am Legend, Fifty Shades of Grey and Argo. He has also mastered short films and marketing media for OTT streaming, 4K UHD Blu-ray and other screening outlets.

    The Midnight Gospel has been an especially enjoyable challenge for Hamlin due its mind-bending aesthetic and out-of-this-world plot twists. “It’s a unique show, not just in terms of color, but in the animation style, the characters and the story,” he says, adding that series co-creator Pendleton Ward attended all of the grading review sessions. “He was very excited about the HDR version. He was also very interested in the derived Rec 709 version to be sure it accurately represented the original artwork and color palette.”


    In terms of preserving artistic intent, Dolby Vision is a welcome development, not only for animators, but all content creators, Hamlin says. “So long as you are looking at a Dolby Vision-capable display, you can be sure that you are seeing the best possible image,” he notes, “one that is as close as possible to the original intent.”


  • 17 June 2020 23:59 | Anonymous

    Our new social media manager, Bobola Oniwura, CSI, will lead a new awareness campaign.

    CSI is increasing its presence in the social sphere and we’re asking you to join the conversation. We are launching a new campaign to promote our shared craft, highlight the achievements of individual colorists and educate the public about the role color plays in telling stories in film, television and other media.

    Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be increasing our outreach through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms. The effort is being led by Bobola Oniwura, CSI, who, along with being a talented colorist, has more than a decade of experience in managing social outreach for international brands.

    Our aim is to raise awareness for the profession of colorist, especially among film and television fans who today know little about how color contributes to the entertainment products they love. We hope to generate public support for our effort to gain recognition for “colorist” as a distinct craft on IMDB and elsewhere. We also want to build bridges with other professional organizations and colleagues from other disciplines. “Social engagement is very useful in helping people understand an organization’s identity and aims,” Bobola explains. “The amount of information that can be shared through a website or the press is limited, but there are no limits in social media. You can use it to state, define and reinforce your message every day.”

    Your help is needed to make this campaign a success. We urge you to get involved by engaging with us and helping build our network. If you haven’t done so already, become a follower of CSI social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Additionally, please share your social handles in an email to Bobola. We want to share your project news, press coverage and other accomplishments with our followers.


    “Social accounts provide a good way for members to get to know other members,” Bobola notes. “CSI members are located around the world and work in isolation from each other, with few opportunities to physically meet. Our social accounts offer a way to meet virtually and build personal and professional connections.” One cinematographers group on Facebook, for example, has 45,000 members. Instagram’s Cinematography group boasts nearly a half million members.

    Bobola promises to make CSI’s social presence informative and fun. “We hope to include interviews with industry leaders, articles on new technologies and best practices, and information about job opportunities,” he says. “We also want to showcase the work of our members. We’re excited about the possibilities, but participation from our members is the key.”


  • 13 April 2020 23:09 | Anonymous

    Relic, the feature debut from Australian director Natalie Erika James, has drawn rave reviews in the wake of its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for its haunting tale of a daughter, a mother and a grandmother dealing with the latter’s dementia. When the elderly Edna (Robin Nevin) goes missing, daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) travel to their remote family home to look for her, only to discover that a sinister force is haunting the house.

    For colorist CJ Dobson, CSI, who was involved in the project from pre-production camera tests and LUT creation through dailies and final grading, collaborating with James on the genre-bending film was both thrilling and uniquely challenging. “I really enjoyed being a part of the team for Relic, not just because I had beautiful images to work with, but also because I really believe in the message of the film which Natalie chose to tell in a very scary, yet sympathetic way,” she says. “It draws on her personal experience with her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s to tell an honest, human story within the context of a horror film.”


    A Melbourne-based freelancer, Dobson worked with James and cinematographer Charlie Sarroff to craft a look that delicately walks a line between dramatic realism and familiar haunted house film tropes. “During the initial stages of production the DOP Charlie and I sat together to generate a set of LUTs which were used on set and applied to the dailies,” she recalls. “Keeping light levels down, colours muted and applying subtle hints of blue and green, we created a dark, deep and moody feel.

    “Having already established the ‘look’, meant we saved time during the final stages of the grade. So it was really polishing, adding shape, highlighting areas of the frame where we wanted the audience to look (or not look) and occasionally adjusting our ‘look’ when the story required a different feel.”


    “We had a lot of conversations about how dark to go,” she adds. “We wanted to retain most of the detail but decided to let some things fade into the darkness to add suspense. We then came back and applied a different treatment for the TV pass to compensate for users at-home viewing conditions, but we didn’t go so far as to lose the feel we had worked so hard to achieve for the cinematic version. Ultimately, the best experience for viewers is going to be in a dark room. Lights off people!”

    Dobson began her career in Wellington, New Zealand as an editor, compositor and colorist. Ultimately electing to focus on color, she joined Digital Pictures, Melbourne, in 2010. A few years later, she became an independent. Her credits span commercials, episodic television, documentaries and features, the latter including Tanna, a 2017 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film.

    Other recent projects include the just-released drama Escape From Pretoria from director Francis Annan and Arclight Films. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, it is the true-life story of two political prisoners who make a daring escape from a penitentiary in apartheid-era South Africa. Dobson worked directly with Annan and cinematographer Geoffrey Hall ACS in finalizing the look. "The grade was set up with a cinematic yet natural feel,” she recalls. “We wanted the audience to believe this was all taking place during apartheid South Africa without going down the path of applying a cliché ’70s filter’ across the film. Francis had originally hoped to shoot film for aesthetic reasons but in the end the project was shot digital so I used some techniques to deepen colors which gave the image depth without having to push the contrast too far. There was already beautiful contrast and shape within the lighting, so much of the grade was spent enhancing narrative cues and applying the look and feel across every scene.”


    “Exterior day time scenes were given a bright hot look to contrast the darker scenes within the prison,” she adds. “We wanted the bright blue skies and green trees (just visible beyond the prison walls) to contrast the dark and muted tones of the prisons interior."

    A relatively new member of CSI, Dobson joined the organization to have closer contact with other colorists and to share ideas and techniques. She also wants to help raise the profile of her chosen profession. “People aren’t aware of the importance of color,” she says. “I’m an advocate for color and excited to be part of an organization that is getting the message out.”


    To learn more about CJ Dobson, check out her interview with Robusty and her website cjdobson.com.  


  • 26 March 2020 17:06 | Anonymous

    Veteran colorist Walter Volpatto, CSI has been appointed to the leadership of the Colorist Society International as a Fellow. A senior colorist at EFILM in Hollywood, Volpatto was nominated for a 2019 HPA Award for his work on the filmGreen Book. His more than 100 credits also include the features Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Dunkirk, Midway andIndependence Day: Resurgence, as well as the television series Homecoming and Queen Sugar. He joins Dale Grahn, Lou Levinson, Charles Poynton and Kevin Shaw as CSI Fellows.

    As a CSI Fellow, Volpatto will act as a spokesperson for the organization at industry events and in reaching out to other segments of the industry. He will also work to build the organization through recruitment and the establishment of new local chapters. “Before CSI was formed, colorists had no way to come together and make their voices heard,” he said. “CSI is playing an important role in ensuring that colorists are represented in awards competitions and properly credited in film and television listings, and in establishing standards for our craft.”

    Volpatto adds that one of his objectives is to push the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to recognize “colorist” as a distinct artist discipline. “I’m a member of the Academy and I would like to see more colorists become members,” he notes. “When the number of colorists reaches a certain critical mass, we may be able to leverage our numbers to establish our own branch within the Academy.”

    Having grown up on a farm near Turin, Italy, Volpatto began his career as an engineer and visual effects artist. He got his start in color in 2002 with Cinecitta in Rome before relocating to the U.S. a year later to join Fotokem. He has been with EFILM since 2018. Over the course of his career, Volpatto has forged close relationships with many top directors and cinematographers, the former including Christopher Nolan and Roland Emmerich.

    While acknowledging that colorists make a crucial contribution to the look and feel of movies and television shows, Volpatto says, they need to approach their craft with humility. “The project is always someone else’s vision and it’s the job of the colorist to get that vision to the screen,” he says. “Obviously, we all want to take ownership of our work, but we need to stay humble and focused on who the project belongs to.”


  • 19 March 2020 20:39 | Anonymous

    CSI is getting behind a new initiative to promote environmental sustainability in the motion picture and television industry. Filmmakers For Future (Fm4F) wants to encourage production and post-production operations to lessen their adverse impact on the planet by adopting green practices. It also wants to stimulate dialogue and an exchange of ideas about recycling, renewable energy technologies, green offices and similar topics.

    Fm4F was formed by two young German film professionals, Paul-Vincent Roll and Wolfgang Wolman, in solidarity with the Fridays for Future movement spearheaded by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Roll and Wolman were disturbed by the amount of waste and carelessness they witnessed on film sets and felt that at least some of it could be eliminated through simple adjustments to common production practices. In talking to people on sets, we realized that different departments often have a lot of good ideas to improve sustainability,” says Roll, but, sadly, many continue to work in an environmentally harmful manner because it seems cheaper or less complicated, or because it s always been done that way.’”

    Roll notes that information is already widely available on how to make production and post greener. That includes such basic steps as reducing and/or eliminating the use of paper call sheets, plastic water bottles and disposable plates on sets. Productions should also recycle materials used in set building and employ clean power supplies. Post facilities can adopt renewable energy sources for electricity and in some cases use waste heat from servers for heating. They canrely on tap water instead of bottled water for drinking, recycle waste, and implement low-emission interior design features. Such things are merely basic steps that all companies should have been doing for ages,” says Roll.

    Our main goal is to raise awareness among crew members and production staff,” Roll adds. We want to encourage crew members to think deeply about environmentally sound practices and to push productions they work with to adopt them. We hope that in the near future, most of uswill think twice about working on projects that do not operate in an environmentally-friendly manner.”

    CSI plans to support Fm4F by educating its members about sustainable production and working to make post-production greener. It also encourages members, who are concerned about the industry s environmental impact, to sign Filmmakers4Future s Statement of Support.

  • 01 April 2019 18:15 | Anonymous

    The CSI is hosting an interactive panel and open discussion about best practices for color management and color workflows from cinematography to color grading for live action, animation and VFX footage in a world of HDR and multiple format deliverables. 

    Anyone with any type of NAB pass (Exhibits, Flex Pass/conference, and so on) can attend the session.

    Click here for more information.

    Please share the the Birds of a Feather Free Exhibits Pass code in your communications so anyone else you know who may be interested can register easily. The code is: BOF19.

    Who Should Attend: Colorists and finishers, post producers, DITs, restoration artists, VFX artists and pipeline developers, color scientists, and scanner and telecine professionals, along with cinematographers, editors, directors and producers.

    When: Monday April 8th, 15.30 - 16.30

    Where: The session will be held in Room N243, in the North Hall, Upper Level. The room sits near the top of the escalator leading from the wide concourse walkway between Central and North Halls to the upper level meeting rooms. (The concourse is where the American Express lounge, a FedX and fast food shops are located). It is not a long walk from anywhere on the floor!

    Beverages: We will be serving complimentary wines and beers after the session (16.30 - 1800).

    Please plan to join us!

  • 27 February 2019 01:04 | Hugh Heinsohn

    Dario Bigi CSI is organizing and hosting a CSI New York Chapter Meeting on Thursday, March 4th after 6pm.

    Where: The Penny Farthing on 13th and 3rd in Manhattan

    Good beer choices - Good affordable food options. Expansion into the basement bar if needed. Check out their website for more information about the venue.

    It's by the L train and 4,5,6 trains. Union Square is also walking distance for the N and R trains.


  • 26 February 2019 00:20 | Anonymous

    The Colorist Meetup is hosting its third event in LA and is bringing in a lineup of great guests:

    We are looking forward to welcoming you all on Thursday 28 February @ 6 pm at Abel Cine Burbank

    Program:

    6:00 PM Doors Open

    6:30 PM An Assortment of tasty appetizers and colorful spirits will be served

    7:00 PM Sarah Priestnall, Colorist Society International

    7:30 PM Dado Valentic, ColourLab

    8:00 PM Demo

    Register: https://bit.ly/2BRKpMJ

    More info: http://www.coloristmeetup.com


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