Chris Jones gives out 19 tips for working with professional colorists to grade your film.
Go to the best people
The number one mistake so many filmmakers make is they try to grade their films themselves. There is no doubt, the tools available now are cheap and powerful, and with a great deal of trial and error, amazing results can be achieved. But what a professional colour grader with cutting edge kit can bring to your film will blow your mind. Using the right kit and working with a highly talented and experienced grader will give you results in minutes, hours and days that you at home can only achieve in days, weeks and months (even years)… if at all.
Blag a deal
Most post facilities have some ‘down time’ AND really want to help new talent. So why not ask for help? If you can offer money, even if it’s not much, put it on the table at the start. Promise to be organised. Promise to be flexible. Promise you will bring them work if you are lucky enough to get a career. Ideally your editor will already work with them regularly and so there is an existing relationship to leverage. Be confident but don’t be arrogant. Charm, have humility and passion and get the deal.
Sit in on a grade
Once you have a green light, ask if you can spend a few hours observing a grade in action. If you have never done a grade like this before, it will be revelation. The speed these guys work, the tools they have available, the environment (basically a small cinema)… It’s a far cry from After Effects on your mates laptop. Use your social skills to gauge when it’s OK to ask questions and NEVER EVER be a distraction or nuisance. DO NOT OFFER SUGGESTIONS on another persons grade. If you can, sit behind the desk so you can see how everything works and listen to how the grader speaks with the team who are present.
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