Needless to say, most grading jobs will fall somewhere between where the client will have a strong idea about what they want and where the colourist has made suggestions to take the lead on the look of the film. Colourists must understand their clients and work together to achieve the ultimate goal of a perfect grade.
Having understood the client and the job, it's time to move on to the grade itself and managing time scales is the key to success. For most jobs resources are limited, therefore it is important to use the allotted time appropriately. There is no point having a perfectly graded first five minutes, if the subsequent 85 minutes are patchy and mismatched due to bad time management.
The client may be looking for a stylised look but it is really important as a colourist to get well-balanced images first, before adding the technical elements. A very moody or dark look may be very appealing to the client but when working with footage that includes actors, their features can be lost which can forfeit the purpose and drama of the whole production.
Below are five top tips to remember when grading:
1. Don't try to run before you walk when it comes to grading techniques
2. Be very wary of presets and 'looks' which will depend on the client's vision
3. Know the camera and let the photography do its job
4. Keep the grading simple before reaching for the bells and whistles
5. Remember that consistency is key
A last piece of advice would be to refresh yourself when working on a grade. This means coming out of the grade environment periodically to give your eyes a break. When you return, you can revaluate your work and this will give an indication as to whether you're on the right track and following the clients creative vision.