What is a Digital Colourist?
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Digital colourists alter the look of the colours used in movies or the appearance of the actors. They do this during a movie’s editing stage; working with the director, the director of photography, and the production crews to colour correct certain parts of the film.
Digital colourist is one of the new careers that has emerged from the use of digital technology in movie-making. You’ve most likely experienced the work of a digital colourist if you have seen a movie in the past few years. The use of colour to create a mood and look in film is as important as the writing and acting to make the audience feel engaged.
What does a Digital Colourist do?
Colourists make sure that all the shots in each movie scene match one another, by balancing colour saturation and luminance from shot to shot. Their job is to make sure that no one shot stands out in the sequence. Digital colourists are also called upon to, for example, add more orange to the sunset in the sky, or to enhance a dingy looking building to appear brand new.
Part of a digital colourist's job is to improve the appearance of the actors, evening out skin tones, and covering up dark under eye circles that make-up missed. Some stars are now even having digital touch ups written into their contracts, meaning this should be a career that will be in high demand for many years.
Digital colourists ensure consistency throughout the production, and also offer original and creative solutions to any picture related issues. They work closely with their clients (sometimes side-by-side) to interpret their ideas. They have to document and file any information relating to picture-related problems and corrections, and also report any relevant information to producers or project managers.
One of the toughest aspects of the colourist’s job is how they deal with clients. Clients have to be comfortable sitting in a dark room with the colourist for several hours a day, so it's important that the colourist be easy to talk to and likeable. Clients need to have the confidence that no matter what problems may arise, the digital colourist has the skills to provide intelligent solutions and deliver their project to their liking. Gaining the trust and confidence of clients is a skill all unto itself.
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What is the workplace of a Digital Colourist like?
Digital colourists usually work in studios or offices, often observing long and irregular hours. The work can be demanding especially if they are under pressure to complete a film by a set deadline. Colourists typically work in a dark room, looking at a computer screen for hours at a time, which can cause eye strain.
Being a Junior Colourist … by Aurora Shannon
I found going from Assistant to Junior Colourist very difficult as there was no set path. The leap from assisting on big films to grading is huge, at least 15 years of experience sat between myself and the colourists I had been assisting.
Digital Colourist Rob Pizzey – Making The Grade
Having worked on films from The Scouting Book for Boys and Tyrannosaur to The Iron Lady and The Woman in Black, Rob Pizzey knows all too well just how valuable a digital colourist can be to a film’s look, feel—and budget.