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Grading: the future looks bright

Blog
16 September 2016

Matthew Troughton, Senior Colourist and Head of Picture Post at Creativity Media, says that the creative possibilities of the grade are now endless, but story must always be the driving force.

It’s always a joy to behold the possibilities that explode into a director’s vision during the first hour of a grade. Having sat with the offline on a pokey screen for so long with a humble LUT thoroughly burnt on to not just the footage, but people’s imaginations, when the team finally sit down, 4k projector beaming ahead, I never fail to see the excitement of a whole new chapter of creativity begin.
 
Over my last 15 years of grading one of the most exciting things I’ve encountered is the remarkable ability for new talent - both directors and cinematographers - to tell incredible stories with smaller and smaller budgets. The huge drop off of the small screen markets in DVD and Bluray have been a major component in the fall off of indie budgets and yet it’s been almost like the regrowth of a forest after a fire. As the cost of cinema quality camera systems and the post technology to support them have become more affordable, one no longer needs a studio camera budget to produce studio quality work. The opportunity for a good idea to become a great and visually stunning film on a modest budget is a revolution I think we are only just starting to see.
 
It’s in this light that I view the future of filmmaking with 3D, 4k and HDR all clambering at the consumer to keep the TV manufacturers selling new models. Whilst awesome in their own right, with HDR offering some tantalizing storytelling opportunities, ultimately, that’s the key - story is king… When people sit down with me to discuss the grade and cinematography it’s all too easy for conversations to roll into resolution and bit depth - the classic chasing numbers game, instead of the mood and look. A bad film in 4k is still a bad film. A great story and great photography trumps all that.

As a colourist the opportunities to work closely with the director and cinematographer on films at Creativity Media provide huge scope and space for bringing that extra layer to the story telling in a way that makes such an impact. Working in the environment setup within Creativity Media both with the top tier technology of Baselight and 4k projection coupled with the company’s attitude to work as a partner to film productions and not just as a provider means that the time, space and technology is there to always achieve the potential of films that we work on.
 
Of course the creative is key but the technology that underpins it is crucial. The most important part of any technical backend is that it be like pure clean glass… totally transparent. You don’t want anything to get in the way of the thing that the director and cinematographer are there for and, of course, the thing the producer is paying good money for: the grading.
 
That’s why Creativity Media’s new partnership with FilmLight is such a great bedrock to the creative picture work we produce. Having worked with FilmLight’s Baselight grading system for almost the last decade at places such as Met Film Post, Technicolor and Twickenham Studios, I know that with tight deadlines and the utmost expectations of clients – the Baselight and their team provide a confidence I haven’t found anyplace else. So it’s a pleasure to see Baselight powering the beautiful Sony 4k projector at Creativity’s grading theatre.

Of course when all is said and done the slightly unnerving truth to all this is; how does it look on a smart phone…? I sometimes now call the “TV Grade” the “tablet grade” – it seems more accurate!

Matthew Troughton is Senior Colourist and Head of Picture Post at Creativity Media

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