5 must have qualities for today’s freelance Colorist.
These are my opinions, not those of the ICA. They are drawn from working with some of the world’s top Graders Director and DPs over the past 25 years.
Being creative is only part of the job, but it is a very important part. Knowing when and how much to push an image or how far to take a look is a fine art.
Sometimes a simple grade is all that's needed. Remember to keep your work fresh and interesting and don’t stamp on the images.
2. Technical. Know what you are grading
RAW, LOG, 8bit, ProRes444, R3D, DNG etc etc all coming into our systems. The same rules apply today as 15 years ago when we just graded film. Then we got to know all the different film stocks. The more you understand how and what format the camera records to the card or recorder the better grader you will be. Welcome the DP into your room as you will both benefit from the partnership.
3. The Business
This is very relevant in 2018. As a freelancer you have to know how to balance the books. It’s no good cutting deals everywhere, then forgetting the invoices or letting your equipment get tired.
Keep the showreel up to date and easily available online. It is hard to keep your foot on the PR pedal especially when busy, but it’s part of the job.
Finally, don’t work for free. I wouldn’t ask a painter to fix up my house for free, even if he was just out of college! If the client is asking for a reduced rate then that is your choice, but always charge something.
4. Look after your clients.
This is hard to teach and to learn, but being able to control a room, tell funny stories and still deliver a funky look on time is an invaluable skill to have. Remember, clients like to feel relaxed and at the same time enjoy your sessions. If they get both they will be more likely to work with you again.
It is all about your clients and the top graders know this.
5. It has to match
This sounds obvious, but I constantly see material that doesn’t match! Consistency across your project is accentual. Sometimes getting the look is the easy bit, however, matching it to the rest of the TVC or show is the hard part. Experienced colorists make this look easy, when in reality it’s actually one of the hardest parts of the job. If you are learning then beg borrow or steal ungraded cut sequences that you can practice with.