Lockdown has been interesting in terms of my own approaches to colour grading.

Over this past year I have been able to learn a great deal in terms of the technical, theoretical and creative aspects of colour grading, with this extra time to attend courses and indulge in research.

However my latest project has taught me the vital importance of workflow.




Last summer, I was lucky enough to attend an online seminar with legendary colourist Walter Volpatto. Now there are a ton of youtubers offering how to get the "insert cool looking film look" where the guy will take 30 minutes grading one shot to look great, well, yes that's really good for honing your skills, but when you have to colour grade 100 shots per day, then.....

100 X 30 minutes = 3000 minutes or 50 hours!

What Walter taught us was, that its not about making each shot completely perfect, its about making the film flow.

Grade the film first, so this is probably applying a showlut to the film as a whole. This is most likely to be a PFE, a technical conversion LUT, or if you are rich then you pay a colour scientist to generate something for you based on the camera used and specific look requirements.

Using groups are integral to working fast. With groups you are able to Grade the scene. The ability to do this is largely dependent on the consistency of the photography during production. If you are encountering shots that don't work easily when the group is graded then you have to Grade the shot.

So this workflow got me through one of the most challenging projects I have ever worked on. It was a really ambitious science fiction thriller with VFX, pyrotechnics, and a choose your own story structure. So even though the story is probably 30 minutes or so depending on what decisions you make, I had to grade over 2 hours worth of film.

I also had the added challenge of not seeing the whole film before grading, and I would be creating a showlut for the film before I have seen it all.

I had files arriving via hard drive at first, but then it moved entirely online.

I used my vimeo pro account for uploading videos for approval from the director and the DP. This worked really well in truth, as I like the fact that I can export directly out of davinci resolve to vimeo and keep working inside resolve while it is uploading.

I did use the trial of frameio at the beginning of the job, but I found the upload speeds were a little slow and its really expensive. But it is really good, the interface is really easy to use and clear and its nice for your clients. But vimeo comes in a lot cheaper and I already had a plus account so I only paid the difference.

We also used wetransfer for throwing files back and forth. Didn't really like it all that much. Sometimes transfers would just hang at 100% which is probably the most infuriating thing ever, and sometimes it would download but the file was corrupted or incomplete, and its cack to navigate, not clear at all.

But it just about worked. I finished it last night at about 3am, largely due to losing 2 weeks of post time (long story). I tried to be as organised as I could and this was integral, to making it through, at times I just kinda thought I don't know if I can do all of this in time.

But I just gave myself a little pep talk and made it through 31 separate segments, 120 Hours of work and little sleep.

2 week break now before I start an indie feature film, which in comparison to what I have just done, will hopefully feel less like a sprinted marathon.

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