What Does A Colorist Do?

December 29th, 2016

In today’s digital age, most people are generally aware of the basic process of editing. In an age of video cameras right on our phones, more and more people are taking advantage of basic editing features to shorten longer clips of video or edit numerous clips together to create a longer video or story. When it comes to professional video editing, however, there is not just one editor that does it all, but an entire team of editors that work together to create a finished piece.

Videos are created by a number of different types of editors – not just one

There are Junior, Assistant or Assembly Editors that start off taking all the basic pieces of a longer video and assemble them together for more skilled and advanced editors to take over. There are Story Editors that are responsible for creating the overall storyline and choosing which takes and clips are best to communicate each beat and moment of the overall story. Then there are Sound Editors and Graphics Editors that create or add in specialized pieces or parts that enhance the overall storyline. The last step in the process is generally for an “online” or finish editor to clean up, neaten and tighten every second of finished video as well as adding in graphics packages. They are generally the last stop, before delivering a finished product.

One of the many specialty editors that may work on a piece, however, is known as a colorist. Color is an incredibly important part of almost any film or video. Like many jobs in the video production world, a colorist’s job can range from the most basic to the most artistic. At the most advanced end of the scale, a colorist can be a master artist on par with some of the greatest painters in history.

The best colorists are artists on par with some of the world’s greatest painters

At the basic end of the spectrum, however, a colorist may simply employ a number of color correction tools to ensure that skin tones are even and that various clips match each other. Basic color correction is important for even the most amateur of pieces, but color correction is only the beginning of the full job of a professional colorist. A true colorist is an artist that will actually enhance and deepen the overall mood and tone of a story through the use of color. Rising Fall is privileged to employ a master colorist in Steve Franko. For a brief overview of what Steve does, you can watch a video of some of his work here.

If you have ever used filters on Instagram, then you have a basic understanding of the underlying principles of what a colorist does. Have you ever flipped through the color filters on Instagram or another photo editing app to find just the right one that seems to highlight and accentuate what it happening in your photo? Colors actually affect our mood, so using a different color filter can also change the mood and tone of a given photo. If it’s a photo of a happy event, you might use a yellow or pink filter to highlight the sense of joy exuding from the photo. If it’s a more melancholy photo, you might use a sepia filter or use a rain overlay or some other editing feature to highlight the sense of emotion the photo communicates.

A “video” is nothing more than 30 photos rapidly displayed every second

Imagine going through and applying an Instagram filter to thousands and thousands of photos and you will have a basic understanding of what a colorist does. Unlike a single photo, however, the mood and tone of a film or video often change from scene to scene. At the same time, there is almost always an overarching look, tone, and feel of the entire film that still has to be adhered to. The job of a colorist like Steve Franko is to balance the look, tone, and feel of each individual scene with the overarching mood, tone, and feel of the entire film or video.

Imagine a film like The Dark Knight Rises or Deadpool. The overarching tone and feel of both of those movies are essentially dark and brooding, but within each movie, there are “happy” scenes filled with color and light. A colorist’s job is to use color to enhance the specific mood of the scene, without straying from the overall look, feel, and tone of the movie as a whole. Video production is a long, involved process that literally takes a village. A colorist is just one of the many artists that take thousands of small clips of video and create a work of art from them.

Rising Fall is privileged to employ some of the best and brightest in the video production industry. From master colorists to master strategists, we are your one stop shopping point to meet all of your film and video production needs. Call us today and let us help you create stunning, masterful video to fulfill all of your business and marketing needs.