TV Bay Questions


Name & Title?
James Willett, Freelance Colourist
Who are you? (about yourself and who you work for)?
Freelance Colourist living and working in London
What do you do? What does your company do?
I'm the guy that has the brilliant job of doing everything from lining up and visually matching shots to creatively stylising and achieving the Directors look for the film, promo, commercial or documentary.
Tell me a little about your previous experience, what you've worked on and with up to your current position?
Before sitting in a darkened room day in, day out and colouring things in - I was involved in the technical side of running Unit Post during the early days of its existence in Soho. Keeping a post house running behind the scenes has proved invaluable over the years. I'm a bit of a techie if I had to admit it! During this time - being an 'All-Apple' facility - we had Silicon Color's 'Final Touch' grading system in-house. This product was later bought by Apple and became 'Apple Color' being bundled with Final Cut Pro. As a result, it was then available to anyone who bought Final Cut Pro Studio….many people would open it……then close it - scared by it's 'alien look' and say…"Well it doesn't look like Final Cut does it!.." Making this software really work in a post environment was very rewarding and stood me in good stead when I went freelance.
What specific project(s) do you have in the works?
I've just completed the DC100 concept films for Jaguar Land Rover that were shown at The Frankfurt Auto Show which involved a closely knit workflow between the 3D CGI team and a DaVinci Resolve through the use of an XML workflow and many, many RGB mattes! A few months ago I undertook a 3D programme - 'Elbow - Live on Air' that aired in both 2D & 3D on Sky and currently I'm working with a fair bit of RED Epic 5K material across various projects…
What new technology are you working with?
Day-in, day-out you often work with very established toolsets. You need to - tried and tested workflows are vital for consistent results. New technology is certainly lurking - and with system updates occurring like those in The DaVinci Resolve camp, workflows are becoming more fluid and flexible where the Colourist now has options (shock horror!) and flexibility that may not have previously existed.
What new products/technology are you looking forward to the most?
ACES - Academy Color Encoding System. This could be really interesting….Colour management is often seen as - quite rightly - a specialist area in our industry. The potential of this advancement should allow the use of a theoretically limitless colour space in which to manipulate the image through the use of known values at the input of the grade (relating to the camera/accusation method) and known targeted outputs (relating to the intended output/display device) at the output of grade. That is an incredibly oversimplification of ACES, but you get the idea and the potential!
During your career in post what was the biggest “turning point” into new technology?
Like I mentioned above I'm looking forward to what ACES will bring to the industry. Looking back however, in general - the move to file-based acquisition and true tapeless workflows - although this might not sound too revolutionary to all these days - has made a big difference. I think RED as a company has been fairly influential here. Backups and file verification in data-only environments quickly become your friend - and you need to be disciplined with your workflows and pipelines but hey - that's part of the job and if it leads to a great picture - thats what matters.
What is your favourite / least favourite things about working in post?
Favourite - has to be variety and the fact that you are bringing a certain something to the finished project - be it a promo, commercial, whatever… Worst - hmm…well, being freelance, dates move around like nobodies business…you try booking a holiday…..!
What gets you out of bed in the morning to go to work?
Haha…well what sort of work the day holds has a large bearing on it! Jokes aside, the life of a Colourist can be very for-filling and the fact you always have something to show for your days work spurs you on. The before/after grade button is your friend!

Tags: James Willett | colourist | iss058 | soho | blackmagic | davinci resolve | aces | N/A
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