Role of the Colorist
Colorist is a standalone profession. The colorist creates looks in collaboration with the DOP and applies them using the appropriate tools in color grading. She or he serves as the central contact for the DOP, director, VFX and production operatives and facilitates efficient communication and a common color language
Colorists are specialists in color design and the manipulation of motion pictures in post-production. They have up-to-date knowledge in the fields of creative and technical image manipulation and a sense for color trends and styles, both current and historic. They can connect with storylines and have a sense for dramaturgy. They also know about film production workflows and the processes of the departments involved, e.g. production design, costume and makeup.
The term “color grading” describes the process of color image manipulation of moving images. Colors, their hue and brightness, as well as image contrast can be altered in great detail for the whole image or selected parts in order to create a consistent, creative look for the whole motion picture. Different cameras and aspect ratios can be matched and issues during shooting, like changing weather conditions or different white balances can be solved or smoothed out.
Other common but partly incorrect terms for color grading are, color correction, color matching, digital intermediate (DI) and color timing. The term color timing exclusively describes adjusting the printer light settings in the analog film lab process, which is conducted by color timers.
II. Duties of colorists
Colorists follow a film production usually for the whole period of production. They evaluate and work on the images in collaboration with the DOP to enable the highest possible quality for the final product, following creative decisions and the visual concept. This requires basic theoretical and practical knowledge in most or all of the following areas according to the project involved:
III. Field of activities of colorists
Sorted in production phases of pre-production, shooting, and post-production.
The actual scope of activities may vary depending on the kind of production, i.e. commercials, documentaries, episodics, or features. Colorists may work in fixed employment, project-related employment or as freelancers.
Note: This text is based on original work by the following authors, on behalf of the BVK, and is reproduced here with thanks to them. Some changes to the original text have been made by Colorist Society members in order to keep the definition current.