Post Magazine

July/August 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 37 of 43

DP/COLORIST 36 POST JULY/AUG 2019 he relationship between DPs and colorists is a very interesting one because in part, it's evolving with the times as technologies and techniques advance. However, it's also grounded in the past through the fundamental sto- rytelling process, which itself is timeless. It's a hybrid of taking on new challenges while still staying true to the core tenants of filmmaking. I come from a unique time in filmmaking, as I'm a hybrid, too. I be- gan by working with film; however, I was at ground zero when the digital revolu- tion occurred. As I went from prep tech to film load- er on up, I was lucky enough to sit in with DPs and colorists. With this apprentice- ship-type approach, I made it a point to study and learn their language and how they speak to each other. It's an interest- ing intersection of technical ("Take the mid tones down 10 percent and drop the shadows down to near zero on the IRE") and creative ("Make greens pop and punchy blues"). A good colorist will understand the technical and creative language and translate the DP's vision in a poetic way. As a new filmmaker, I would often get lost in the technical verbiage. The color- ists had so many tricks up their sleeves. As such, when I shot my first short film, I was intimidated. However, I quickly real- ized that I just needed to be myself and vocalize the emotion. For today's DPs, the digital environ- ment has made the color grading process more tangible and immediate. They're coming up in the DIY age of online tuto- rials, YouTube masterclasses and down- loading the latest software right to their computers. With leading color grading software available for free, the barriers have been lowered for DPs, and they can jump in at the ground floor, getting a deeper appreciation for color science. The DIY generation has a one-on- one relationship with color. However, it's important for DPs to let go of that mentality a bit, engage in conversations and develop relationships. If you do everything yourself, your word base will be limited. Overall, the business is very relationship-based, and by learning to have conversations with the colorist, you develop more fluency. The same is true for developing relationships with the gaffer and producers, as those conver- sations can be translated to the colorist and vice versa. For me, color starts the second I say yes to a project. Color, tone and feel are top of mind, and I'm already thinking about the conversations with the colorist. It's not only about contrast, light and shadows, but also color harmony, rhythm and atmosphere; these components are all equal in terms of emotional response. I'm cognizant of color contrast on-set adding to the visual grammar and being part of the paint brush process. This goes down to production design and having conversations to understand how patterns and light respond in a room. Today's digital age has its advan- tages. I remember sticking two lipstick cameras together for what today I could use a Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. We used them on Season 3 of USA Network's Queen of the South for car work, boat work, plane work, etc., along with Blackmagic's Ursa Mini Pro. Traditionally, the series has been shot using a variety of cameras, but I was not worried about matching the Blackmagic Design cameras. We had a great team at Light Iron ensuring all the cameras matched seamlessly. For the show, we actually live on the run just like the main character, which means moving fast, serving a lot of international looks. I travel a lot and the digital age makes this possible. I can have colorists in LA and New York City working with me on different projects via remote sessions while I'm on-set in New Orleans, for example. Today's technolo- gies can accommodate the displaced DP. How does that impact your relationship with the colorist? Ideally, you'll have at least one in-person meeting or meet when your schedule allows, but it will be mostly remote link location or via down- load files via email. Strong language and communication skills will support the process regardless of location. Developing a strong relationship with the colorist is paramount for DPs. The colorist has to understand where you want to go emotionally and how you respond to color, as well as provide feedback. In return, the DP must be vulnerable and open themselves up to critiques. The colorist is an emotional and technical extension of the DP, and while the time together is short, the work you create together will remain forever. LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF COLOR BY ABE MARTINEZ DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY QUEEN OF THE SOUTH, THE CHI INSTAGRAM: @_ABEMARTINEZ_ T THE KEY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DPS & COLORISTS Queen of the South employed Blackmagic's Micro Cinema Camera in several instances. Light Iron helped make sure the different camera formats all matched.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - July/August 2019