The availability of powerful, and relatively low-cost color grading software is contributing to the growth of the post-production industry worldwide and enabling colorists everywhere to expand their skill sets. A prime example of both these trends is colorist and new CSI member Bilal Ahmed who has developed an impressive resume in his hometown of Baghdad, Iraq, a city not often thought of as a media production center.
A graduate of the University of Baghdad’s College of Fine Arts, Ahmed began his career as an editor and later founded Mesopotamia Cinematheque, the first library to build a catalog of Iraqi cinema. More recently, he developed an interest in color grading and taught himself to use Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. In 2021, he became the first Iraqi colorist to be certified as a DaVinci Resolve trainer. “I worked for years as an editor at a satellite television station, but I loved cinema,” Habib recalls. “I wanted to learn how to color movies, but grading systems were too expensive until I found Resolve.”
Ahmed now conducts training courses and leads workshops in grading, editing and sound post-production, while also working as a freelance colorist. His credits include a mix of locally produced short films, television shows, music videos and commercials. His recent projects include editing and grading 31 episodes of the television drama Entiqam Rooh. He also graded the films Rain Music, On A Highway to Germany, Michigan and Black Line. “I see membership in CSI as a chance to further develop my skills and share my work with other colorists and professionals,” he explains. “Membership in an international, professional organization distinguishes me among my peers.”
As production grows in Iraq, Ahmed hopes to have more opportunities to grade features, scripted television shows and high-end commercials. He would also one day like to open his own post facility. Another short term goal is to broaden his experience by working outside Iraq, perhaps in the United States. “I have dreams,” he says. “But working in Iraq is very nice now. The future looks good.”