The Colorist: The Relationship Between The Director and Cinematographer

During the last years, one of the professions that have developed the most in the film industry is a Colorist, generally known as Color Graders.

With that evolution, one of the relations that has been effected is the relationship that the director and the cinematographer have received with the color correction. First of all, a big amount of possibilities were opened to further achieve their vision, and with the evolution of more accessible software, everybody suddenly has a more accurate idea about what color correction is and how this process can bring the project to a whole new level. For that, Francisco Lorite, a colorist with more than ten years of experience in the field will help us to understand the process.

The Colorist: The Relationship Between The Director and Cinematographer

“Before, the look of the film, (because of the work in the photochemical process), was always done directly on set. The Cinematographer and the Director determine everything: how they want to tell the story, or more technical decisions; for example, what kind of contrast they were aiming for, and what colors they want to use –and once they arrive to the color suite, everything had that harmony, the same direction. Nowadays, that decision is made in the color room, being some time an experimental process to discover the film, a place where decisions are made.

It’s about how you are going to paint the story that you are helping to tell, what kind of color palate you are going to use, how bright or dark the movie needs to be. The impact of all these decisions for the movie are extremely important changing the perception and experience that the audience will have. You have the responsibility to bring together the Cinematographer’s and Director’s ideas, along with the possibilities that the footage has. Even the Producers need to be listened to, because they are the ones that will determinate how many hours we can work on the movie. So, on special occasions when the footage needs more work, you have to be able to explain to them, why the movie will need more time to be worked on, in a way that they can comprehend.

On the other hand, now the cinematographers are more confident when it’s their time to propose looks, or stretch the image to its maximum capabilities. This is because they have the opportunity to play around with a free digital program to get a taste of the formats and possibilities –having the opportunity to test these ideas and bring a more accurate reference to what they are looking for is extremely beneficial. Meanwhile, usually, Directors always speak about emotions and what they are trying to transmit with the characters: the story and how important it is for them for a specific light, shadow, or color, mostly with metaphoric examples.

For all of this, once the relationship between the Director, Cinematographer, and Colorist is established, it is difficult to break –because they learned a common vocabulary that will help that project and the efforts it took to make.

But there is something that doesn’t ever change: the confidence, and commitment that the crew have in the colorist to bring the movie to its best!

Author: Tara Lendon | Entertainment editor, and film reviewer for Movie Begins.

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