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Media Match Blog Promotion: What Does a Colorist Do?

Posted on March 27th, 2012 by in Production Jobs

Here is the latest blog submission in our ongoing Media Match Blog Writing Promotion; ‘What Does a Colorist Do?‘ by Media Match member Gregg Miller. If you are interested in participating please send a 500 word blog to If your blog is selected you will get a free annual subscription to our Media Match services.

    Image from Alexis Van Hurkman - Thinking Aloud

    What Does a Colorist Do?
    By Gregg Miller

Simply put. A good Colorist makes your film or TV show better. How does he do this? By first communicating with the director or producer in charge of post production to find out what they are trying to say in their film or show, what feeling they are trying to project to the viewer. Believe it or not, this informs many of the decisions a Colorist makes. Whether it relates to a particular scene in a film or the whole film’s look.

Many people feel that a Colorist is there just to fix things, while this notion is not all together wrong,( a colorist does in fact fix many problems) this approach will only get you so far. A colorist job is to enhance you project, to set a tone for your story telling and a look that will meet the filmmakers idea for his story.

A good Colorist will take all of this information as well as the state of the film before it is color graded, this includes things like how well the film was shot, on what kind of medium it was shot on, such as film or HD video, and how much information is in the media that he is working on. When I say how much information, I am talking about the exposure on the film, i.e. whether it is blown out (way over exposed) or shot without enough light. Both of these factors are just a few of the things that will limit the amount of information a colorist has to work with, other factors include, but are not limited to, how much information a digital or HD video format will record.

After taking all this information into consideration a Colorist will then come up with a look that he will be able to maintain for the film or a particular scene. The fun thing about being a Colorist is that every film or show is different and requires a certain amount of open mindedness on the part of the Colorist and this is where the creativity comes in. If a Colorist just decides that crushing the blacks and pumping up the whites for every shot he works on is good, chances are you are not working with a good colorist. Your project should look better with the story enhanced when a good Colorist is done.

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4 Responses to “Media Match Blog Promotion: What Does a Colorist Do?”

  1. Gail Simone Says:

    Great article, very insightful. This gives be me a better understanding to what a colorist does. I know when a see a movie or tv show that did not have a good colorist and it really bothers me, it seems like such an important aspect of a production.

  2. Lesley Says:

    This is so true! The colorist plays a big role in the final look of the project. I have seen Gregg Miller work his magic to really bring the story to life and enhance it!

  3. Gg Says:

    Sorry to be a party pooper but your article explains the Why but not the What.

    I am guessing the What is the colorist adjusts the colors of the production to maintain a consistency of the colors over the whole production in keeping with what is happening on the screen.

    Presumably the actual technical adjustments are defined by the technical, artistic and narrative issues that have to be dealt with. Is this correct?

  4. How You Can Light for HD… Until You Can Afford to Hire Professionals Says:

    [...] will never fix “it” in post. The best Colorist collaborate with the DP and Director and build upon what was originally lit. That’s how we [...]

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