[Tig] Fwd: suggestions for becoming a colorist

Steve Hullfish steve at veralith.com
Thu Feb 8 18:51:09 GMT 2007

Grades probably don't matter as much in college, but they ARE an  
indication to your first employer about how hard you work and how  
smart you are. (I got decent grades at a state college and have done  
fairly well.) You should be absorbing as much media as possible. That  
includes print and film and video and art. I know a lot of colorists  
that were schooled at art schools. The "reel" won't be very important  
for you because you'll work as an assistant or gopher of some sort  
for many years before you need a reel. Mostly the first job takes  
persistence and the willingness to work hard, keep your mouth shut  
and learn as much as you can from listening and occasionally asking  
questions. Watch the way the colorist interacts with the client.  
Client skills (communication and "personality") are important tools,  
though many may not admit it. You have to know the tools technically,  
you have to be creative with what you can envision and do and you  
need to be able to communicate with the client.

I just interviewed a bunch of colorists and many of them suggested  
the approach of "absorbing the media around you" as well as paying  
close attention to training your eye to the way color looks "in real  
life" all around you. What colors are the shadows during dusk? Which  
is more muted at night: red or green? What are the subtle shades of  
color to someone's skin standing in mixed light? Develop the ability  
to break down the way an image looks and communicate it. Is the image  
hi contrast? Are the colors muted or are they bold? Is there a  
"tinge" or "cast" to the color? Some training in photography or art  
will help you understand what to look for and how to define it.

To play with color correction "on the cheap" I'd suggest using  
Photoshop to color correct still images. It's not quite the same as  
telecine correction which has to cope with motion and things not  
being in the same place on the frame all the time, but at least it  
gets you developing a sense of what you can do with color  
manipulation. If Photoshop is too expensive, some other things like  
iPhoto have rudimentary color correction tools.

If you can get hold of FinalTouch when it becomes available again  
from Apple, I'd do that. Might be out of your price range though.  
There are other color correction apps and plugins available, like  
IRIDAS Speedgrade and Synthetic Aperture's Color Finesse. There's a  
new plug in called Colorista. Final Cut Pro and Premiere and Avid all  
have limited color correction built in to them. So do After Effects  
and Shake. Shake has some powerful color correction tools.

There are a couple of color correction books out there. Check Amazon.  
Make sure you get one that's not illustrated in black and white. :-)

Steve Hullfish
Verascope Pictures

On Feb 8, 2007, at 12:16 PM, Rob Lingelbach wrote:

>>  My name is David and I'm 16 years old. I recently subscribed to  
>> the news in TIG. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on  
>> what i need to study in university to be able to become a  
>> colorist. Also, is it more important to have good grades or is it  
>> really the showreal that matters? What do you think I should work  
>> on when I have extra time from school? Pictures? Editing videos?  
>> Finally, is there any software/hardware you would recommend me to  
>> use?

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