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  • 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 | Anonymous

    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


  • 24 August 2018 09:23 | Kevin Shaw (Administrator)

    by Ola Bäccman, CSI

    Approximately 2-3% of my turnover goes to charity. But how could I support gender equality in the film business?

     In the summer of 2015, I had to quit my job as a colorist after my department was phased out. I had been an employee for over 13 years. I realized I had a lot of contacts and decided to start my own business. Quite quickly I understood that this would work just fine and the wheels began spinning. I had many thoughts on how to start my own enterprise and since it’s me, myself and I who is running the business I decided to include my personal core goals: 

    • Environmental issues
    • Solidarity with refugees 
    • Gender equality


    So since 2016 I have supported WWF (World Wildlife Fund), Naturskyddsföreningen (The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation) and UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency). Approximately 2-3% of my turnover goes to charity. But how could I support gender equality in the film business?

    My naive and simple solution was to get to the source in all business. Money. I talked to some organizations and some female DPs and directors about it and they thought it was a good idea. So by offering reduced prices I encourage clients and producers to think more about equality in their team choice.

    Grade discount for Female DPs and Directors

    Since DPs and Directors are my actual clients I focused on them. Giving a discount of 15% for each role in the team, with a maximum 30% off my list price if both the Director and DP are female. In 2017 it ended up as more than €10,000 in reduced fees, but in the big picture, that’s nothing. More has to be done. Maybe this is an idea other CSI members could adopt in their business.

    The statistics

    In 2017 I did a total of 71 jobs, ranging from a big 20 day-grade for a TV-series to small music videos with zero budget. I did commercials, bumpers, pilots, documentaries, short films, art films, feature films, trailers and horror films. And I did some statistics that I found it interesting. Even if everyone, now and then, does low budget or no budget projects, it all even out in the end, right? My graphs show the opposite. Women end up as double losers. Not only are they under represented, they also have less budgets for their projects. I’m not a statistician, but I think my graphs shows a pattern. Here’s a breakdown of male and female Directors and DPs, and the turnover for each group.

    I divided my fee on every job in two, based on the assumption that the  Director and DP contribute equally, then just did the math. In some productions it was hard to tell who is who. This goes for animated films, stockshot based films and archive material. They are the “Unknown” category. To make it easier to compare people vs. budget I have used percentages in all my graphs. 






    If you have any questions please contact me. Make room for the women!

    Ola Bäccman, CSI. Senior Colorist
    Mail: ola@baccman.se
    Web: www.baccman.se

  • 15 June 2018 14:01 | Kevin Shaw (Administrator)
    by Ben Allan, CSI

     It has become one of the catch-cries of the industry… Fix It In Post!  The pervasive attitude that surely everything will be easier for the digital wizards in post to fix than it is spending time and resources on a fast moving set.  Of course this inevitably leads to things being left to post that should have been fixed on set but equally I’ve seen cinematographers agonise over fine tuning on set that could be accomplished with no fuss or hassle in the grade.

    So how does it work when one person does both roles?  For over a decade now, I have been serving as both Director Of Photography and Colorist on the majority of the projects that I do and that phrase “Fix It In Post” takes on a whole new meaning when you know that you’re the one who will be doing the fixing!

    The first thing that I like to make sure I’ve got right on set is exposure.  This may sound obvious and of course with RAW and high bit depth LOG formats there is often a huge amount of latitude to correct exposure.  However, I’m seeing an increasing tendency for cinematographers, particularly some of the younger ones coming up through the ranks to assume that if you get the exposures close, that’s fine.  The big problem here is of course consistency and although it’s possible to easily correct the exposure levels, getting the right subtle consistency of feel shot to shot becomes a much more fiddly job when the exposures are jumping around in the range.  To me, this is dead time, not furthering the creative look of the project, just fixing errors that could have been fixed on set.  Consistent exposures require discipline, not time or money.

    I do find that using a lightmeter on set helps with an extra degree of precision compared to the other exposure tools available and then a waveform or histogram becomes a quick double check that everything is sitting where I think it is.  I find that if my eyes, meter and waveform are all telling me the same thing, then it’s going to be an easy grade.

    Another trend that worries me is cinematographers constantly exposing to “protect the highlights”.  While there are odd occasions when it is important to retain specific highlight detail, the midtones are usually so much more important and it’s tragic to see otherwise good pictures compromised because the skin tones are jumping up and down through the camera’s dynamic range out of fear that digital can’t handle highlights!

    One thing that used to take lots of time on set is darkening down backgrounds, particularly walls in small rooms while using soft light.  In the late 90’s when shooting on film, I often had actors making their way through an obstacle course of cutters and C-stands just trying to stop light from bouncing around the room.  It worked, but a big soft power window, tracked when needed, does the job at least as well and so much more efficiently.  Being able to often work with just the light sources not only speeds up the shoot but also gives the actors and director more freedom, so that’s a no-brainer.

    More recently, eye-lights were something that still needed to be done on set but more and more now I’m finding that I have more control by doing them in the grade, so rather than a time saver (although it is), that one is a creative control issue.

    One tool from post that has made it’s way to set now is the LUT.  I find that using a LUT helps me more as a cinematographer than as a colorist.  Essentially a LUT is just a color correction that has no variables.  As a cinematographer your job is to control all the variables in the imaging chain so this can be quite helpful.  On most of the projects I do, we use a single LUT which is either supplied by the camera manufacturer or one that’s hand made for the job.  To then be able to work within that LUT on set as well as having it applied to the dailies is great for keeping track of how the look is progressing with lighting, lenses etc and it also makes it easier to spot and solve with technical issues such as exposure calibration, light pollution or noise.

    Having the LUT applied to the dailies and the proxy files that go to editorial mean that everyone is one the same page creatively throughout the edit process and this is a huge help when we get to the grade because there has been time to get to know the footage with the intended look and identify what needs to be fixed or enhanced.

    In the grade I usually use this same LUT on a node so that it’s easy to work above or below the LUT to fine tune to look and only tend to occasionally remove the LUT and grade from scratch when there’s a particularly challenging shot, such as one recently where we lost direct sunlight on a drone shot and needed to rebuild the contrast to match the earlier footage.

    I realise that I have been very lucky to be able to be both a cinematographer and colorist for so many years on such a wide variety of projects.  Once upon a time it was virtually impossible to learn both crafts because access to the tools was so prohibitive that it took total commitment to even learn one.  But as the access to the tools has become more and more easy, I have been surprised by how few cinematographers have started to learn to grade.  

    In the future I believe that it will become expected for a cinematographer to know how to grade in much the same way as it is expected that we know how to pull focus or set up lights.  In the same way most will work with specialists in each of those roles on most projects but as grading gets more and more powerful and efficient, a deep understanding of the craft and how it works will become more and more important for cinematographers and their capacity to collaborate effectively with the artists who finish the work they start.

    Equally there should be more opportunities for colorists to be involved in pre-production.  I know many productions are starting to do this but for me, one of the biggest advantages of doing both roles is that it guarantees the colorist is always around in pre-pro and the DP is always around in post.  This makes it easy to solve a lot of issues before they become problems and keep the technical from getting in the way of the creative process.  By doing this that question of fixing in post or on set becomes a constant and beneficial discussion rather than just a casual statement.

    Ben Allan, CSI is an award winning cinematographer, producer and colorist with over twenty five years industry experience. He has a background in shooting and post with both film and broadcast technology and has over 1,500 TV commercial credits as well as work in documentaries, features and primetime episodic TV. 


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