I’ve been booked on blue bookings as part of my post-house before, which means “In-House” jobs. Usually favours to clients or friends of the producers where they don’t pay full price or freebie jobs.
However, I got put on my first Channel 4 red booking last week. Where I was grading during my usual machine room/assisting hours. Out of the machine room. A joy.
I usually grade at my own pace, well somewhat, I usually have a nice deadline. But in work, you have roughly 5 hours to do 25mins and 9 hours to do about an hour show. So…not a lot of time really. Often if you average it out, you have about 30seconds per shot to colour grade. *ahem* It’s daunting.
I was doing 3 short journalistic style documentaries for these trainee Channel 4 journalists. Each one was about 8 minutes long. The catch was that they were going straight out of my suite and into the online editor’s suite as I finished them. This meant…no flexibility with the time, particularly for me.
I have to say I loved it. The pressure to grade quickly was there, but I spent the morning looking through the shows and doing some pre-grades on one or two shots to see what worked. Each trainee who came in to sit with me was the Producer/Director of that particular doc. The exec producer or the guy in charge, James Brabazon, who does a lot of investigative journalistic documentaries was leading the grade. He told me to explain to the girls what I was doing and why so they could then see what they wanted done. He has been a client of ours before, one thing was one of Channel 4’s Dispatches shows which are usually fantastic.
It was a bit daunting having him there. He said the grade is one of his favourite parts of post…so nothing was going to get by him. Oh dear. I worked fast. The second trainee however was excited and had lots of ideas, which was lovely and I like that, but it turned out, that slows me down a lot and we ran over time. Unlike the last trainee, who really didn’t mind what I did, and I powered through that grade. I got it all done pretty much on time. Huzzah!
I was a bit hyper having completed the 3 documentaries. But my eyes were shattered. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I also wasn’t sure if it was up to standard. I just hoped it was. James would occasionally get me to tweak shots while we did the review, which of course is to be expected. You can’t have an ego about it, I’d rather fix something that’s a bit off if I can. That too…is another scary thing, being able to create a look or fix part of a scene, the way a client wants. I’m still unsure to what level of demands I can heed to yet.
The next day, I got an email from the producer saying the client was very happy with the grade, the online and the audio mix. It was sent to all three of us who work on it. In it, it said they thought my work was lovely and that I talked through with the trainees carefully what I was doing which they liked. I emailed back saying I enjoyed it and thanked the producer in question for asking me to do the grade. The email also had our Managing Director CC’d into it so my face was a bit…O__O wide eyed with nerves for a while wondering if he even knew who I was.
A received an email back from the producer, just to myself, saying that James rang again this morning and singled me out for my work. He said he spoked to our MD directly again to let him know this.
I was a bit shell shocked. What does this mean?! Will I get grades? Will I become that junior colourist? Oh dear.
Back in the machine tomorrow though. What a great anti-climax. But I was just delighted to have been given the change to grade and not completely ruin everything. I also ordered a smoothie for lunch which I was excited for for about a week when I found out I had a job. It means a runner gets to pick up my lunch. I pretty thought a smoothie was the only item I could consume and grade with at the same time. I was right.
More grade jobs please.
This was the first in-house job I was asked to do by a producer in work. Her client Max Jourdan who works on a lot of factual TV shows for RAW had a short film he wanted graded.
I did this in my own time on weekends/evenings etc. I met with Max a few times to see what style he wanted. It was shot very well on Alexa which is a beaut to grade. The most challenging thing was match grading some close up and wideshots where light had changed.
There was also a few day-time shots I had to cheat and make night time e.g. the shots in the forest and outside the pub. I was pretty proud of them!
It was a fun grade. I quite like dark and moody. If I’d to do it again I think I go more with the dark and shadows, I held back a bit. Meeting the DOP helped, I could gauge he wanted it darker than how I had originally graded it.
My favourite shots are the at the beginning in the bedroom with the stitches. Gruesome, but I love that dusty look.
I was asked to come up with a video that incorporated ice cream into it in a way that linked it to real life.
It’s for a collective called the I SCREAM FACTORY which do very cool exhibitions using different mediums from photography to science.
I am doing a video in my video portraiture style using ice cream and kissing. Yes kissing. This will be a fun video to edit. I shot a few of my good friends, one of them a married couple (I didn’t force strangers to kiss this time, I know that’s all the rage at the moment, a haw haw guffaw).
My friend Nuno works in the Tea Building in Shoreditch which an amazing building that overlooks east London. They had all the equipment, wide open plan spaces with beautiful light and mostly importantly…a freezer. Important for ice cream maintenance. A lot of ice cream was consumed.
I shot everything on Canon cameras using a wide angle for general shots and a macro lens for those beauty up close and personal licking shots. Sexy eh? I usually shoot Nikon so it was an interesting shift. They feel different.
I’ll keep updating my progress on the video. This is the first time I’m doing a video for someone else to be a part of their exhibition and concept. Let’s see if I can pull it off for them!
So today I had a mega amount of grading to do…well bits and bobs (still an assistant, I know, didn’t achieve the goal in 24hours, for shame, bits and bobs are my thing)
I arrived in this morning to a job of matching grading about 44 shots for a re-versioning of a documentary series about Mongolia and China, exploring. That’s not really the point. Well, when trawling through the grade scenes of the previous episodes there are a lot of shots of the same person…walking somewhere. Difficult to spot the shot you want. Which is a lot of what I have to do at times, re-applying grades.
Match grading is okay if the shots exist already in the show. If not you have to try and find something similar and probably tweak a bit. My problem is not having the confidence to mess with one of the colourist’s grade. Also, if you don’t know what shots are coming before or after that clip…it’s a bit unnerving since grading is all about continuity of style and colour.
One of the senior colourists sat with me and started helping, though it did just make me a tad more nervous. He didn’t have a job today, he had a coffee though, that wafted beautiful caffeinated fumes (I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet)
I’m a bit tentative and if I speed up I just go blind. Speed blindness in mere panic of not being seen as slow. He was giving some good advice of tweaking based on the shots I was given in the sequence. Then, if unsure, ask the online editor to let you know if they don’t work when they are dropping the shots into the programme. Good idea. If I make a mistake, it can be solved.
It all worked out.
I also did a lot of ingesting of clips and shots for a sci-fi show and prepping the sequence. This involves applying EDLs (Edit Decision Lists) and putting markers in. Never underestimate the beauty of markers. I quite like just being that super efficient assistant for the colourists. It goes down well. A lot of the time the D the colourist I was assisting today would ring asking me to do a job for him…but I had already done. It goes down well.
I graded two new shots for a British show today as well, again super fast, in and out of grade for the online editor who had to play the master tape out. We work with tapes still. Good old longform television.
This means a single tweaked shot goes out of the online suite onto the conform tape, from the conform tape into the grading suite, out of the grading suite onto the DCP and from the DCP back into the online suite. *breathes* See?
I spent most of my day in the grading suite today. I was very happy. I’m not officially called the grading assistant yet, despite that being what I do all day usually. I call myself it. In fact a lot of what I do is often junior colourist type work. But D the colourist said he would put in a word about. I appreciated that. You need someone to have your back or you’ll get lost sometimes.
I’m going to see if P can train me tomorrow. He doesn’t have a job on and I want to see how he grades a TV show by going through an old programme already done. I want to see the approach he takes and the decisions he makes about what needs to be done to a clip and a show as a whole.
I am going to attempt to document my time learning and crafting my trade in colour grading in this wonderful energy zapping brain melting beautifully disgusting industry of TV and Film.
I’m currently a colour grading assistant in a post production house in Soho, London. Assisting the colourists from day to day, working with Baselight, tape decks and busy TV schedules and workflows to make sure all of those images on the peoples’ televisual screen look rather lovely to the eye.
I’ve always graded my own video work, documentaries to my own branded video portraiture (which I’m still doing and aim to continue to do…)
But, I aim to become a full time colourist.
Not just an assistant.
I’ve only been in the industry…per se, officially, for coming up to a year. But I want to document my path. Mostly for me, I doubt anyone else will get much enjoyment from my ramblings of climbing the slippery steep rootless ladder that is the media industry.
But I shall endeavor. I tend to learn something new nearly every day.
My current goal: to become a junior colourist in the next year (a big ask…yes)
Let’s see how long this will take…
Preferably under a year.
Hand Portrait: The Sound Editor
The debut portrait in my new video hand portrait series! Let me know what you think. Hand mannerisms…they’re rather great aren’t they?
Took some photos for a magazine at this Raw Vegan Food talk in London during the week. Mmmm chocolate chia mousse was delightful.