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I remember the exact moment I realised just how much colour impacted on film. It was 2001 and I was watching the bonus DVD that came with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. There was a fantastic interview with colourist Peter Doyle and accompanying behind the scenes package. It really resonated with me, particularly as I was studying Fine Art at the time and investigating ways in which video could be used in my work. It was like the perfect blend of art and science and I loved it.

Shot matching and creating consistent contrast and tone between scenes is the single biggest thing to learn to do with film, as a colourist.

You can sit and stare at scopes all day long (and I often do!) but when the crunch comes, it’s your gut instinct that’s going to lead you on a lot of your colour decisions. With that in mind, you need to give your eyes something they can trust - there’s no point looking at an uncalibrated monitor and going, “yeah, that’s what I had in mind, I love it!” or even “ugh, this is going in the wrong direction, I’m not feeling this look”. If you can’t trust what you’re looking at, you may as well be blindfolded. You need to give your eyes something accurate, so in turn your gut can be trusted.

Colour management tools have always been important in our industry but they are more so now than ever before. With camera costs plummeting, it is easier than ever for people to produce high quality video content. With that, though, has come an increase in the number of self-taught filmmakers, who often don’t know about, or are intimidated by, colour management. Even simple things like white balancing are sometimes ignored and problems start to rear their ugly head in post. That’s why simple, effective, colour management tools, like those made by Xrite, are imperative to the filmmaking process.

The film industry is rapidly advancing at the moment. New logarithmic gamma curves, higher bit rate encoding in camera, cheaper RAW workflows, HDR capture, improved colour gamuts for new delivery protocols, such as Rec. 2020 - all these things put more and more emphasis on a high level of technical know-how, when it comes to colour management.

Time is money and paying a colourist (or doing it yourself) is expensive. You want to save them time by giving them as clean and accurate an image as possible, going in to the grade. Understanding and using colour management tools is a great way to achieve both a better image and save money in one’s productions.