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There's Color and then there's COLOR!

The editing process was behind me and we had picture lock. Now on to color grading.

Color grading was a new term for me. I had no concept of the work involved to get the film visually consistent and interesting. I remember how surprised I was when I initially reviewed the raw footage of Army & Coop. The picture was so dim and dull that I thought we were using the wrong settings on the camera.

Color grading is a true art. Being able to manipulate the contrast, hues, colors, saturation, and much more for each frame of a film is amazing in itself.

For me color grading was more of a “I’ll know it when I see it” kind of thing. We all know horror films usually have a dark or cool tone. Many times action/adventure films are somewhat yellow in tone. Since Army & Coop was a comedy, I felt like I wanted a simple, bright, cheerful picture.

Like all of the Colorado-based cast and crew, I wanted the colorist to also be based in Colorado. We got started with a colorist in Denver who we found through one of the crew members. He seemed to be a nice guy and he clearly understood color grading, so I gave him the job. I described the look and feel I was after and he went about his work.

A few weeks later my cinematographer and I got together with the colorist for a first pass. I was unimpressed as the color still seemed very dull – not good for a comedy. About halfway through the meeting my cinematographer abruptly left saying he had another meeting. I was surprised as I looked to him as the expert in this area.

I left that meeting concerned and discouraged about the direction of the colorization. On my way home I received a call from my cinematographer. He told me he was so upset with the color that he had to leave. He’s a pacifist so I understood.

The next day I fired the Denver colorist. I ended up using a post-production company based in Connecticut to color the film. They did a good job and, after 5 or 6 passes, we had our film colorized. Now we were on to sound.

Next week we’ll talk about music, sound effects, scoring, Foley and completing sound design for a feature film.

Checkout my first feature film, Army & Coop, at:

And checkout my video series, Make A Movie Now, at:

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