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:

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‘O Color, Why Should I Bother?’

Here’s the reason why you need to hire a professional colorist to grade your works

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A screenshot from Bobby Nguyen – The photographer, a short film produced by RICE and color graded by DIGIPOST

Since “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” was released in 2000 and became the first feature film to get fully digital color grading, color grading techniques have gone through a huge evolution.

Nowadays anyone can color grade their works quickly and effectively like a pro with the assistance of advanced software. Or, so the software marketers have been telling you.

That has raised a critical question: if color grading sounds that easy, do you still need to pay high prices to hire a professional colorist to do your works?

Definitely yes. Here’s why.

In order to add the emotional engagement to your works, and big one at that, you do not need someone who masters grading techniques only.

You need someone who is also an artist, or a painter in particular. Someone who has a taste and an eye for colors. Someone who knows how to choose the right color to provoke desired emotions from audience.

And, that taste is something natural. Either you have it or you do not. Just like in arts, it’s one thing that you can paint, but whether you are a talented painter is another thing.

“Color grading is about shaping the emotional effects of a scene, rather than just fixing technical errors happening during filming such as lighting,” Laura, a colorist at DIGIPOST, said.

“It’s like sculpting,” she said.

In an old interview on the breakthrough color grading of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Randy Starr, VFX producer at Cinesite, which did the film’s VFX, once said color was like a character in a movie.

“As a character, it let you feel the period of time. It let you feel the heat in the air. It let you feel the sweats on the body. And that’s something a filmmaker couldn’t capture on a camera.”

In other words, without a professional colorist who plays as a good director to bring out the best of that character, your works are never complete, emotionally.

‘Editing is an artistic creative job,’ says DIGIPOST senior editor

An insight into the job of our senior editor Nick Jones

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Nick works at his office at DIGIPOST

The first time I came to Nick’s office, it was for the interview.

In a not so big and gloomy room, there were only two giant monitors, a few wall pictures and a small sofa. It looked minimalist and quite lonely. But, the man, who welcomed me with a bright smile, looked so comfortable and happy in it.

As soon as we sat down for the interview, I couldn’t help but ask him right away the question that had bothered me, since I first read his brief profile on DIGIPOST’s website.

“How come an English Literature major from a UK college ended up being a senior editor at a post house in Vietnam?”

“By chance,” Nick said, smiling.

“I first became interested in editing films, when shooting and editing a fashion film for my friend,” he said. “I had previously edited a lot of behind-the-scene videos. But, it was not until then had I realized how fascinating it was to shape a story.”

“I felt so free. While there were rules to follow, I could follow my feelings as well,” Nick said.

He then started freelancing. And, like most of people in the post-production industry, where the hierarchy was strongly integrated, he started with small projects such as music videos and short films, and low positions.

But, it is never easy to do a good job. It is even harder to do a good job as a professional.

Working around tight deadlines, Nick spent countless hours a day sitting in front of monitors. He had to go through hours-long footage and a lot of related materials to find a good story to tell, sometimes just within just 15-30 seconds.

“It took a lot of my personal time, but I wouldn’t change it,” he said. “I know that the harder I work, the better the outcome will be. And I love to know that I am doing a good job.”

His hard work and patience over years were finally paid off, when his expertise started bringing him jobs with big clients such as Adidas, Comedy Central, Future Cinema, Marks & Spencer, and MTV Networks.

Nick spent about 8 years working as a freelance editor in London, before coming to Vietnam and working at DIGIPOST through a friend’s recommendation.

A senior editor now, he has never stopped learning, from other professionals, from books and from films. In fact, since he started working as an editor, the only training Nick has ever taken was advice from more experienced professionals.

“Passion asides, a good editor must have broad understanding about the world around him. Failing to do that, you’ll fall behind,” Nick said. “The more you know, the better you can shape a story. You need to know what you are talking about.”

Although the job demands lots of work and time, Nick said he felt “lucky” to be able to do it.

“Editing is an artistic creative job. I would never exchange that feeling of accomplishment when seeing how ideas on paper develop into something lively and knowing that I am a part of that process, for anything else.”

It’s time to break that prejudice towards Vietnam post-production

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A screenshot from a TVC completed by DIGIPOST

Director Luong Dinh Dung recently told local media that he sent his highly-anticipated movie “Cha cong con” (Father and Son) to South Korea for post-production. He said most of local directors had their works posted overseas, since post-production technologies in Vietnam are not comparable to other regional countries.

The claim is not new, as similar statements have been reported in local media over the past decade.

But how correct are the claims? Is it true that after more than 10 years, there is not a singular improvement in Vietnam’s post-production technologies at all?

It’s not.

The high-profile movie “Tam Cam: The Untold,” released at the end of August, was praised for its visual effects that were created by Vietnamese artists. Major newspapers such as Thanh Nien and Saigon Giai Phong have reported how Vietnam’s post-production technologies have been on par with regional and even Hollywood standards in recent years.

Vietnam’s young artists even have upped their game and created an animated short film, using the latest 3D Virtual Reality technology.

“These days, how advanced your technologies are no longer matters in post-production,” Andy Ho, executive producer at DIGIPOST, commented on the evolution of post-production. “Anyone who has money to spend on high-end software and other top tools can create standard effects.”

“Post-production is now about professionalism,” he said. “What distinguishes a top post house from average ones is how professional its workflows and personnel are.”

A Ho Chi Minh City-based post house with more than 22 years of experience and a team of international professionals, DIGIPOST, for instance, has provided services for both local and international film studios.

Now, however, due to business reasons, DIGIPOST only makes post-production for feature films selectively, like when its services are meant as a support for young filmmakers, Andy said.

“While feature films demand longer workflows and more complicate technologies, they take post houses longer time to recoup investment, compared to TV commercials,” he said in an explanation why DIGIPOST has focused more on TVCs in recent years.

“When the post-production market grows, DIGIPOST will expand its range. Meanwhile, it will continue to focus on the sector of TVCs where it has proved to be a leader in Vietnam,” Andy said.

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

Happy Monkey Year!

Digipost wishes everyone a prosperous Monkey year, may it be filled with abundance of laughter and mischief!

Speaking about laughter, here is a fun video from out team outing! Beside working, we do know how to have a good time!