‘It’s like having a dress tailored for you’

DIGIPOST’s music composer and sound designer Lucia Violino talks about the role of music composition in films and commercial videos.

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Lucia Violino working at DIGIPOST’s audio suit

Can you tell me something about yourself?

I first learned playing violin and piano, when I was 9 years old. From playing music, I gradually moved to composition. I held two degrees in violin and composition at the High Conservatory of Music of Málaga. Later I studied piano and electro-acoustic composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts of Vienna.

After graduation, I started freelancing as an orchestra violinist, a music teacher, a music composer and a sound designer for short films, TV series, video games and web series.

As both a music composer and sound designer, what do you think is the difference between the two jobs?

I don’t think there are many differences between them. Music is an international language allowing people all over the world to communicate. And, sound, in a sense, is also music.

However, when it comes to films, music composition is more about storytelling, reflecting the mood of a specific scene. So, it’s more abstract and freer. Meanwhile, sound reflects a specific action in a specific scene such as opening a door, raining and hitting.

In your opinion, why do we need music composition for commercials?

Although it is common that people use copyrighted music libraries for commercials, I think that practice may compromise the identity of their works.

If you want the best for your works, you have to ask professionals to compose music specific for them. It’s like having a dress tailored for you – you are the one and only person who can wear it beautifully.

However, in order to create a perfect music score for a commercial, it is not easy. Music composers need a good reference and understanding about the product and commercial in question. They also need to bond with everyone involved in the process, including clients and directors, to understand what they want. Open and good communication may help a lot.

Once they know what people are expecting from them, music composers will find slots in the expectations to fit their ideas in. It may sound time-consuming but it’s the best way to find the best solution in post-production industry.

Meet DIGIPOST’s newest colorist

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Please tell me something about you.

My name is Laura F. Knieling. I’m from Spain, where I finished my study in Audiovisual Media. I came to work in Vietnam about one month ago.

Why Vietnam?

I first visited the country on a vacation five years before and loved it so much. So, I decided to come her to start the adventure of working far away from my hometown.

It’s nice to work at DIGIPOST, where people are very open and helpful like a family. I think that homey feeling is very important in such a demanding environment as a post house.

Do you remember the moment you decided to become a colorist?

I always love painting and colors, so when I watch films, I often found myself wondering how that scene could have such a specific look. I was especially intrigued by the cheeky grade of “Drive” by Nicolas Winding Refn, and the elegant, discreet and effective grade of “There Will Be Blood” and “The Master,” both by Paul Thomas Anderson.

I assumed the impressive looks were created by the Director of Photography until one day I realized that they were the creation of colorists. I also realized that I wanted to and could become a colorist.

Is there a gap between your imagination about the job and its reality?

It is more difficult than I thought at the beginning. Once I started doing the job, I realized how many techniques and work are involved. I also realized that there are many ways to do things in color grading. In other words, it is much more complicated, but also more exciting.

It is also different when you are a professional colorist. My first-ever project was a short movie. As a freelancer, I had total control over the work and schedule.

Now, as a professional colorist, I have to meet the expectations of all people involved in my project, including directors and clients. But, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t nice. In fact, it is more challenging and demanding. It helps shape my grading skills and ideas about colors. When people feel happy with the results I deliver, I do too.

I want to keep running and running, improving and improving my skills. I want to make the best.

So, to you, what is color grading and colorist?

As a kid I used to paint, but for different reasons I stopped it and for many years I didn’t took a pencil again. Now, years later I see the color grading as a second opportunity that was given to me to get in touch again with the world of color, accompanying another passion: the audiovisual world.

To me, color grading is a craftsmanship. It’s like molding wax or carving wood. You get the “raw” (in a color meaning) product and you polish it with discretion and care.

You can watch Laura’s showreel here:

The Artist behind ‘Gecko Post – Inside the Post House’ comic series.

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” I’m Que, the concept girl who draws the comic strip: Gecko Post – Inside the Post house. I’m also a designer and creative of Digipost.

The comic was an assignment that my superior gave me when I was still an intern here. I was so excited about it because I love to draw things that had stories and characters.

My first thought is maybe my boss just wanted to test me to decide whether he should offer me a full-time job (and I am a full-time employee now, so congratulations to me haha), but after all, I had a lot of fun doing the comic.

To me, the comic is not a job, I feel very relax when I make it. It is a combination of small and funny stories, they’re all based on true stories (of whom, when and where are confidential haha). At first I often consulted my boss about ideas for stories, and he was willing to share all the interesting stories he saw or heard in the company.

Gradually, I talked more with my colleagues, listened to their stories at lunch or dinner or any relaxing occasion, and they never guessed that even the smallest thing could become inspiration for my comic strips. Of course later they would realize their stories are used, but I’m a good listener (I guess), so they never stop sharing, they like it too.

The one that I made fun of most is probably our Online Artist. When I started designing the characters, there were 2 of them, both were fun men, so I just combined them, and the result is an “Islamic Italian Virgin” character (according to Rahul =]]). And the way he gave me feedback was also so funny, so I made that into my plots too haha (sorry Rahul). He used to asked me: “You made fun of everyone in this company, so who will make fun of you?” And I just said, “I made fun of myself too!” But he didn’t accept that. He said he would draw a “stick figure” comic himself about me. Well, I’’m very much waiting for it :p

Kungfu-loving editor returns to Vietnam!

Welcoming the latest member to our team, kungfu-loving Boon Le!
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Boon graduated in 2008 with a degree in Video Production emphasizing in editing. He has been creating web content for CreativeLive for the past four years and now has transitioned into the world of promotional video production with Digipost.

During his days off, Boon enjoys creating automation Videos for YouTube and speeds time watching kung fu movies with his wife.

Check out his reel!

The Science Behind Colour Grading and Monitors

This is an article by our colourist Alexis Odiowei explaining the science behind colour grading and monitors.

IMG_2600“I want it to the look the same on every screen it is viewed on.”

This is the impossible task that colourists the world over often find themselves confronted with by agencies, clients and directors.

Over the course of this blog I will detail in simple terms why this is ultimately unachievable.

The best place to start is to give a brief summary of the science and technology that dictates the way that we view color on different monitors. Various video cameras shoot in different color spaces that can be utilized for different reason at the various stages of post production but the current colour space or standard for television broadcasting is known as REC709. Every TV Broadcast colourist will be working with a broadcast monitor that is calibrated to REC709. Most consumer HDTVs are also roughly calibrated to this standard.

 

So why does it look different on my TV at home?

The most simple way of explaining this is to use a real life example that almost everyone will have experienced. If you have ever been into an electronics store and seen 3 or 4 televisions lined up next to each other all playing the same image you will have noticed that they all display the colour differently, some differences are very subtle while others may be more extreme.

One of the main problems is that most new HDTVs offer a multitude of settings ranging from dynamic through to sport and so on that enable the consumer to modify the picture they see on their television. Quite often televisions ship with one of these settings applied this can greatly distort the way that we see the image from grade to broadcast. This often results in an image that is drastically different from the work done in the colour grading suite.

Many people in the industry feel so strongly about the way that images are distorted through these TV settings that there are various petitions to ensure that TVs are shipped with standard settings. You can see a few articles on the subject below.

https://www.change.org/p/hdtv-manufacturers-please-stop-making-smooth-motion-the-default-setting-on-all-hdtvs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19650769

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This picture was a recent internet phenomenon with many people seeing the dress as white and gold while others saw it as blue and black. This again shows how lighting situations brightness and different screens vastly effect the way cololur is perceived.

 

Ok well what about my laptop home computer?

Clients often ask colourists to send on a file that they can review and give changes on. This is every colourists worst nightmare as 90% of laptop and computer screens are not calibrated to any standard. On top of this if you are using your laptop for work purposes (word, excel etc) chances are you have adjusted the brightness settings to your liking. So often feedback in this way can be at best pointless and at worst damaging.

I can think of a recent example where I spent over a week going back and forth with a director making changes based on his laptop image, only for him to finally come in and approve the original grade that I had done at the beginning of the week.

 

So whats the point in color grading at all?

The thing about colour is that there are various things that affect the way we perceive it, whether it be lighting, back drop or adaptation (your eyes adjusting to an image after viewing it too long). We color grade to ensure that at it’s best the image is seen as closely as possible to how it was in the grading suite, however if it is not observed in this environment we are still greeted with an image that has an overall complementary colour pallet and doesn’t for instance become too dark in the black levels or have clashing colours.

Overall the small differences between televisions set at a REC709 standard will have very little impact on the viewers experience providing the colorist has carried out their duties properly.

So to conclude the key is not to worry about whether it’s going to look exactly the same on every screen. It’s not going to! The main thing to take into account is the medium your project is destined for and employing a colourist that can ensure that the image is going to look good in this medium regardless of the subtle changes between the various screens it will be viewed on.

ARTICLE BY ALEXIS ODIOWEI

Bollywood coming to Saigon!

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VFX star from Bollywood, Rahul Kallankandy, strives to add to the growing film industry in Saigon with his ‘explosive’ skills! We are proud to announce him now as part of the Digipost team!

Having been in the post-production industry since 2000, Rahul has worked for some of Mumbai’s leading facilities as well as done a few stints abroad. Whilst in Malaysia, he worked on various commercials for the Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam markets.

Rahul, who also has a not-so-secret love affair with photography and motorcycles, has over the years worked on innumerable projects for both films and commercials as a Flame artist & VFX Supervisor.

He also has a good pedigree in feature films through his Vfx work on movies including “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”, “Dhoom”, “Veer Zaara”, “Swades”, “Don”, “Blood Brothers”, “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na”, “The Last Joint Venture”, “Rock On!!”, & “Miley Naa Miley Hum”.

His recent work include Online work for Tide, Reeva & Vinamilk in Saigon on Autodesk Flame 2015. Rahul believes in speed and optimization and strongly feels that “You are only as good as your last delivery”.

Check out his reel:

7 Years Insights Into Vietnam’s Music Industry

Hisham Shah is no doubt the pioneer of Digipost and the post-production industry in Vietnam.  A seasoned musician, he set up and designed the 2 audio studios in Digipost, supervising the construction from the very beginning.  Not many musicians can claim they built the studio that they are working in.

As part of our 7th year anniversary tribute, he now offers insights on his experience in the music industry in Vietnam.

How is the music industry developing in Vietnam in the 7 years you have been here?

“Definitely there is progress but there is still room for growth if we compare to the music industry in other countries.  There have been major improvement in the quality of music videos with the influx of young and emerging new talents.  However there is no clear diversity in the genre of music.  There must be a concerted effort focus to develop more on the solo artists/bands. “

What are the major developments since you started the studio?

“When we started, it was only me manning the fort with a studio and two recording rooms.  Over the years, we converted one of the recording rooms to a second studio to cope with the growing number of projects.  Also we now have not one but three in-house music composers, including a Vietnamese composer to boost our ability to provide for the market.”

Are there better and more local musicians now in the market?

“There has always been great, talented musician around in Vietnam.  They even have a Music Conservatory here!  The problem is that they are not exposed to the industry and most importantly there is no platform for them to showcase their real talents.  Their common exposure as a musician is to play in pubs where they need to adhere to the mainstream type of music, which makes them a typecast musician.”

Are there better projects now that challenges the musicians creatively?

“There is and will always be projects that are musically challenging in an emerging market like Vietnam.  The problem is not about the concept of any projects but in the budget, the process and the execution.”

What are the challenges for the future of the music industry in Vietnam?

“Firstly the industry has to accept competition so we can gauge ourselves and improve. 

 Next, we need to create more platforms for the development and exposure of talents, either from band, singing, song writing competitions; live music programs or channels.

 Thirdly, we need to embrace and cultivate new ideas, genres of music, and stray away from the typical typecast songs.

 Lastly, there needs to be support from relevant authorities, the masses and fellow artists.  There must be a concerted collaboration and respect of one another to generate and harvest growth.”

As one of the pioneers here in Digipost, what do you think of the future prospects?

“In my personal opinion, what Digipost have is reliability, strength in depth, experience and also an acceptance in the industry.  It has the potential to guide the industry to be as competitive and dominant in the region.  However there needs to be a concerted effort and support from the whole industry to achieve that goal.

I have been in Digipost for 7 years.  We have always been planning for the leap… and I believe the time has come.”

Hisham will be the lead singer for the Digipost band on the 7th Anniversary party.

SON DUONG, 3D Artist

One of the best local talents to emerged out of Vietnam, Son Duong grew from the rank and file of international 3D artists in Digipost and now nurtures an eager team with his years of experience.

When Son was a little boy, films such as Toy Story and Star Trek inspired him to be passionate about CG.  As he grew up, he pursued this passion at University by majoring in Applied Arts and Graphics.  It was also during this time when he forayed into learning the professional software for 3D.

Upon graduation, Son spent 3 years designing furniture in classic and modern styles.  There he developed skills in color combinations, shapes, and contours.  He also improved his skills in modeling, texturing and rendering.   Despite the continuous development, this was not his lifelong goal.

He moved to 3D Brigade Vietnam, a Hungarian company based in Hanoi that specialize in outsourcing manufacturing of gaming firms in Japan and the U.S.  Their clients include Disney Interactive Studios, Microsoft, Activision, Konami, and many others.  It was in this environment that developed his animation and simulation skills.   After 2 years, he was promoted to a supervisory role to oversee a team of 40 Vietnamese artists, honing his leadership skills.  He grew confident in his belief that Vietnamese artists can undertake international projects during this time.

The passion to be a better artist eventually brought him to Digipost in Ho Chi Minh City.  During his four years at Digipost, he found the opportunity to combine all his skill sets to become a rising talent in 3D.

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“The work here broadens up my horizons for creativity and self-satisfaction.  I have been involved in interesting jobs, worked with professional colleagues, co-operated with renowned directors.  I am proud that I have been not only pursuing my dream but also contributing to the development of CG in Vietnam.” 

As long as this passion burns, there is star 3D artist in the making.

Check out his demo reel:

https://vimeo.com/27611312