How would you describe your job?
Colour grading is the process of altering and enhancing the colour of a film or TV show, putting the final polish on the picture elements of a production, and matching shot-to-shot and camera-to-camera to ensure nothing feels out of place. Colour grading has evolved to become a key part of the creative process, with storytelling through colour, manipulation of the audience’s emotions and perceptions all part of modern colour grading. Colourists are on the finishing team along with the sound mixer and online editor.
What does a typical working day look like?
A typical working day starts when my 17 month old son decides it does. I have a short 15 minute commute to Holywood where Yellowmoon occupy four beautiful Victorian town houses. I start around 9:30 and work until I'm done, which is usually 7 or 8pm. My day is a mixture of colouring, exporting finished grades for Online, prepping the next job and addressing any notes for current projects.
How did you land your current job?
I was placed at Yellowmoon eight years ago on a paid placement scheme by Northern Ireland Screen. The scheme gives people with an interest in film and TV production experience in their chosen department, and provides funding for a training course. When I was learning how to edit at Yellowmoon, digital colouring was still a very new field, but I chose to do a training course on colour correction and grading. I can’t say enough good things about the scheme from Northern Ireland Screen. Without it I honestly don’t know what I would be doing. After the scheme ended our MD Greg Darby offered me a short term contract and then a full time position shortly after that.
I was a year into the position at Yellowmoon when it was announced that HBO would be shooting Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland and that Yellowmoon were going to be their post-production facility. I was asked to be a production assistant and general dogsbody in the editorial department, which I was delighted about. During one of the initial meetings the topic of colour came up – specifically how we would be managing the dailies colour (the process of colouring every piece of footage shot every day for the editors, directors and producers to show a rough approximation of what the finished show could look like. It also has technical and quality control benefits). I sheepishly mentioned the colour training I had been on (basic as it was) and all of a sudden I’m colouring dailies for HBO.
It was the most stressful six months of my life, but when it was over and the fog lifted, all I wanted to do was colour. I spent the next 4 years colouring the dailies on any show or film that would let me (The Fall for BBC1, Morgan for 20th Century Fox and continued as one of two colourists on Game of Thrones) whilst also working as an assistant editor on other projects. I’ve spent the last three years or so as a final colourist.