What can you be doing if you desire to be a colorist? Take it from Marcus Gaskin who just gets busy and learns the craft by doing it. Aussie from down under Marcus shares with us learning resources that he’s found helpful as well as his aspirations of becoming a colorist. We felt impressed by the variety and depth of his stylized look that he’s demonstrated so early on and felt that we should feature his demo reel here. We got in contact with him to discuss his demo reel. He had a great response that we feel you’ll be inspired by. We will be continuing to feature and discuss color grading projects here as part of the digital cinema foundry learning resource. So be sure to bookmark us for color grading examples, features and tutorials :)

Email Marcus with your inquiries

Marcus’s response:
So I was thinking: “Digital Cinema Foundry” … “Why does that sound familiar ?”..

click.

You’re that cool new site that I have in my daily post-production RSS feed. Well, let me say I was a little surprised ( to say the least) to find an email from you guys in my inbox the other day. I must be doing something right ^_-^ and I’m stoked that you would want to feature my demo reel on your site. My reel is exactly that – a demo of what I’ve been able to with Apple’s Color software. It’s 100% aspirational, as I want to get into Commercials and Features grading.

I’m currently an assistant at a production company in Sydney, Australia, and like all others starting out, needed to get a presentable reel together and this is the result. I’ve been using the Color software for about a year and a half now self-taught. It’s like Charles Haine stated on your site when he said “We’re switching from editorial being something where the equipment costs lots of money, to where the equipment is available to everybody….from where what’s scarce is the tool, to a universe where what’s scarce is the skill…nowadays, anybody has the tool at their disposal so anybody can sit in a room, and figure out how to use it, and get really good at it, and if they’re good enough at it, then they’re in equal competition with everybody else..”

I’m a student of the art, an aspiring Colorist with an aspirational demo reel and totally in need of a senior, guiding hand that can nurture me in developing a career in color-correction, but what Color has afforded me with is the opportunity to spend lots of ‘face-time’ with an application that’s pretty much based on the same operating principles as the ‘big-iron’ tools used day-in day out by professional colourists out there. I’ve put the hours in, gotten to know the app, practiced my art, and come out the other side with results that hopefully can get me noticed and most importantly, hired!

Not everybody is going to have a Colorist at a facility they can spend time with and learn their art through osmosis and hands-on practice, so it was pretty much up to me to marshall the resources that are available to me, and use them in an effective manner.

So for training, I made use of Alexis Van Hurkman’s “Encyclopaedia of Color Correction” as well as Color’s PDF Manual which he also wrote. Steve Hullfish’s “Art & Technique of Color Correction” which not only goes in depth into using the Color software but features transcripts of actual Color sessions with leading Colorists, giving you an insight into the ‘why’s’ of color correction and not just the ‘how’s’. Ripple Training’s Color DVD and FXPHD’s Apple Color training courses which I highly recommend. Stu’s blog, Oliver Peters’ blog, Eric Escobar’s blog, Studio006’s podcast…

I would see ads in magazines, grab equivalent stills from Flickr and practice on those. Even Photoshop tutorials – In Color you have Levels, Curves, a Keyer and Layers (secondaries) so some of that stuff translates well. There were R3D files on RED Relay before it went down, Hi-Res Tiffs posted by RED camera owners, there’s OpenCut.. And, just practice, practice , practice.

I want to get into Onlining and grading Commercials and Features, so in the absence of access to untreated footage of movie-stars , I made use of the next best thing: Hi-resolution publicity stills, some 3k to 4k in width and many taken from the same angle as scenes in their films. Coupled with 1080p Quicktime trailers, I would do my best to match the publicity still to the grade from the film, or at the very least do the image justice. If I’m wanting to be in a position to grade footage with a certain ‘dynamic’, I need to be able to show them my grading on dynamic footage. If I’m going to convince someone to let me loose on their Feature or Commercial with a Lexus or a Christian Bale or a Hugh Jackman, then l had better demonstrate to them what I can do with Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman or a Lexus. It only makes sense. So that’s what you see in the first part of the reel.

What I also found really useful about trailers is that you can build up a reference library of frames of different color situations, such as what does skin look like under fluorescent lighting? What’s the ideal ‘Golden Hour’ look? How should you convey ‘desert heat’? what’s a cool ‘flashback’ look? etc . Just pull up some trailers, find your reference frame and drag it out to the desktop. Instant Hollywood Looks library.

There’s so much to love about Color. Firstly, that it even exits at all (thanks for buying it Apple.) Secondly, that It’s an absolute pleasure to use. I have that level comfortability in the app that I also have with Final Cut Pro. I just really enjoy using it, It’s really nice to drive, having such fine-grained control at your finger tips, and that’s even without a panel, just a Wacom.

I love the interface, with its tabbed, left-to-right ‘room’ metaphor. I think, conceptually, it’s done just right, but it does have room for improvement in its practical execution, such as file dialogs (why can’t it remember where I last was or how far down? What about proper numerical sorting?) plus the Color FX room is downright frightening.There’s still prep work to do to get your sequence into Color. There’s no sound for grading in context and it’s not realtime..however, I hope these will be addressed in future releases, but as it stands right now, it delivers exceptional results and exceptional value. It’s a version 1.5 product and It can only get better.

As far as grading itself, I don’t use one ’set’ method over another. One shot will call for basic contrast adjustments in Primary In, others I’ll use the advanced tab for the individual lift , gamma, gain controls. In others i’ll use curves and in others I’ll use all three. Sometimes I’ll really ‘layer -up’ in Secondaries and If i’m feeling brave , I’ll venture into the Color FX room ^_^. It really depends on the shot, what look or feel the DP had in mind, where the shot ‘feels’ it wants to go etc. I just want to end up with something that looks better than the original.

I’ve posted some ‘looks’ and tips over at Coloruser.net , though I might re-do some or all of them because I started in the Primary-In room whereas I should have started with Secondaries to Primary Out to make the grade more share-able. But, people have downloaded them and found them useful so…

Anyway, I’m planning to come out to San Francisco this summer so if anybody wants to hire me, I’m in!

Signing off,

-Marcus

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