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Re: Colorists & DP's

Yuri Neyman writes:

>We all know about Ansel Adams, and yet we
>don't know a lot about his printer. Without his system, his great
>photographs would not be so great. And Adams,who was  not a lab technician,
>created the famous  "zone system" as a dictionary between photographers and
>technicians. Adams knew what he was shooting , and what needed to be done
>to preserve his vision. Certainly, not everybody is Adams or his printer,
>but let us not forget the principle of the relationship.

        We don't know about his printer because Adams printed his own work,
with the help of assistants. He was the only person interpreting his
negatives into prints.
        This does bring up a good point about communication. When was the
last time a colorist saw good clear notes from a DP about how he would like
to see the daillies? I mean in clear concise language not "NOT TO DARK" or
        If we want to emulate Ansel Adams the DP should shoot the film,
soup it himself (with his own custom formula for that scene), and at least
supervise the transfer.

>It is a bit strange that on the 100th annual anniversary of cinema we need
>to explain the creative role of the cinematographer and the telecine
>colorist. But, if in the traditional lab-DP relationship, the timer went
>through a long educational process, based on the respect of creative side
>of the industry, the process of becoming a telecine colorist today is much
>faster and less formal, with individuals moving up within a company from
>the vault, shipping, or other "unrelated" departments, yet, not having any
>real "formal" film education behind them. There are, of course, the

        You get what you pay for. A typical feature or TV scenario is that
production pays for a "one light" video transfer of daillies, overnight, of
about 50 to 120 mins of film. Then a 1/2 inch VHS dub is made of the 3/4
inch master. Then the tape is viewed in a motorhome on a 19" uncorrected
monitor. At this point the DP tries to make a frantic phone call to a now
sleeping colorist.
        A few thing that might help:
                Talk to the colorist before the transfer.
                Shoot a grey scale at the head of every scene.
                Send good notes with the neg on what kind of "look" you
want for each scene. Also make notes about any special circumstances. For
example, "No 85 filter, please correct", "close-up shot through tinted
windshield, do not remove blue efx".
                Insist on a good 3/4" SP deck and calibrated monitor to
view daillies with.

        The idea that colorists are not "getting the formal training that
they used to" also applies to DP's. I've worked with some DP's that had no
idea what they were doing on the set, much less what happened to the film
once it left their hands.

        Let us try to not forget that many of the same problems today with
video transfers are the same (if not more) problems that we have with film

Don Hayashi      dhayashi at netcom.com