Picture grading course at Colour Training – Resolve 101

Mytherapy Grading 101 course Dado Valentic

Dado Valentic in action – Mytherapy

I recently went on the Resolve 101  grading course at Colour Training in London. Grading basically means adding colour to RAW digital video footage, but having been on the course I can now say it means a lot more then that…

As a director, I get involved in a lot of different projects: from micro budget and no budget shooting, to full TV commercials and terrestrial TV series and when I’ve got the budget I always turn to Dado Valentic at Mytherapy for my grading and finishing. We first met when I was shooting small fashion films for brands, right at the birth of the fashion industry deciding how to cope with moving image. The problem of course was how to make relatively low budget video look good next to incredible high end stills. Dado of course worked it out and in doing so, made me look good. So I kept returning to him as the workflows became more complex and the need for exemplary grading more vital. For a director knowing what can be done in the grade is very useful, we occasionally have to turn to our graders to change substandard shots into workable shots – perhaps we had too little time on set or the lighting wasn’t thought through enough – whatever, it happens! But these guys really earn their money by bringing artistry into the production mix, raising what we’ve captured and fixing what we got slightly wrong. So why would it be important for a director to actually go on Dado’s grading course? For me it wasn’t about learning how to fix things. It was about learning the science behind digital colour;  how to look at shot or scene with a colourist’s eye and thinking more in advance about the scenes themselves. It was about what emotion was playing out for the viewer to interpret and how to use colour and light to help this emotion punch through. I’ll often talk in broad terms with Dado. when he’s grading, about the look I want to achieve in post: we did the slightly orange skin tones with teal and blue blacks for the Vestiaire Collective ad we worked on last year. It was a noir-ish, cartoonish commercial. Now I understand what else Dado did when he was grading the sequence and that knowledge is going to feed back into my work.

Grading 101 did teach me a lot of technical stuff which I’d half understood before (a dangerous position to be in!) and by the end of the course I felt I could do much of the basic grading with a proper understanding of what was behind it. But, (obvious though it is) I now realise more fully that colourists are artists with their own styles, unique palettes and interpretation. It’s what makes my job and all our jobs in the industry so fulfilling: we get to be creative, work with talented people and ultimately make something together that is better then what we could achieve on our own. And we keep learning, which is the greatest gift of all – if you’re into the moving image then do the Grading course… It’ll make you a better director.

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