What Clients Expect from a Colorist

After serving different directors, cinematographers, and producers, I realized that ‘pop’ isn’t the most commonly used word by them. There’s one more word that I hear more often, it’s the word ‘Magic‘.

“I didn’t like the shot but we didn’t have enough budget so maybe you can do some ‘Magic’ in it.”

“We just finished shooting and I think the shots are all over the place. We entrust these to your ‘Magic’.”

These are some of my clients’ words.

If you are a colorist, you are expected to be really good. These people spent so much money on the crew, actors, location, etc. I don’t mean to put a lot of pressure on you but you can ruin the whole film if you are not a well-trained colorist.

Recently, I had a conversation with a director who replaced her colorist because of some issues and she told me how hard it is to find a good colorist.

I, myself, looked for an assistant colorist from Upwork and went to give them test clips. These clips are problem clips that will test how they’re going to do ‘Magic’.

Out of 23, there was only one colorist who did it correctly. However, I couldn’t afford that colorist because his price is way higher than my price. I’d be left with negative profits if I hired him.

You cannot be complacent if you’re a colorist. You need to be learning every day. You need to learn different looks. You need to be fast and efficient. You need to train your eyes. And many more.

It’s like becoming an athlete. You cannot be complacent.

In my case, I enroll in every color grading course I can see on the internet. I started with Waqas Qazi’s Freelance colorist. Right now, I’m learning even from Non-English speakers. Luckily they have subtitles in Domestika.

Every colorist has their own techniques and learning all these techniques will make you an unstoppable force in color grading.

At the time of writing this, I have 4 clients with completely different goals. One is an action film that wants neon colors, one wants a vintage yellow look, one wants a desaturated but poppy look, and one wants a modern sci-fi look.

If I didn’t learn and train enough, I won’t be able to handle everyone.

If the director is very strict and demands a lot from you, it’s his right. A lot of things are in the line in each film. If the film goes well, the producer may have larger projects, the director may be discovered, the actors may have more acting gigs or they might be discovered by bigger production companies, etc.

You need to be equipped. That’s why I’m recommending Artgrid because they have clips that are filmed by legit cinematographers and you can also download the raw files. If you can’t afford Artgrid, I suggest networking through social media. I found people who are generous enough to give me practice footage. I just give credit to them whenever I post their clips on my page after grading them.

Find ways to train your skills, eyes, and creativity often. I heard one famous colorist in a podcast say that if he goes on a 1-week trip, he’ll need to practice color grading when he gets back first before handling clients to get the feels back.

Check out my list of the best color grading courses to start your constant learning practice.