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Restoration/Coloring Thoughts


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#1 Will Montgomery

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 09:29 AM

I recently picked up "The World at War" on Blu-Ray and watched the restoration documentary. The colorist on the job mentioned that he had about three days per episode. He said that may sound like alot but it really wasn't. What struck me was that it was nowhere near what I would have expected.

I know there are different levels of attention to detail and everything is driven by budget, but I've seen colorists spend over a week on a :30 spot. The idea that something like The World at War with all it's different film stocks and film sizes just in one episode would only take three days to telecine and color blows me away. This of course did not account for the heavy restoration work, dust and artifact cleanup done frame by frame later, but getting the color & contrast right.

The Blu-Ray looked fine, I think the artifact cleanup was probably more impressive than the actual color, but it was a great effort. I guess just like anything, the more time you can put into something the better it can look and of course, the more expensive.

I would probably put the work styles into three buckets:

1) The "just scan it and get a basic color balance" daily type transfer
2) The "Make it look good but don't spend alot of time on it" which is usually the way I have to work
3) The "Spend as long as it takes to get every leaf on every tree the exact shade of green my client wants" which is way multi-million dollar :30 spots and some (only a few) features have the luxury of working.

What's also strange on #3 is that those guys will spend crazy amounts PER HOUR as well as MANY HOURS. So those really high-end guys work slower but are so talented they can get $900+ per hour and spend a week on something. The results are extraordinary of course.

So as the world of the colorist is evolving, is it that these high-end jobs are disappearing or that there are just many more 1's and 2's out there? Or just less of everything because people think they can do it themselves with Final Cut Color? I might argue that those folks are creating new markets in the industrial and web space where traditional colorists weren't used anyway.

With all the tools being made affordable and available to everyone, how do you demonstrate the incredible value of a truely talented colorist over your editor using an eyedrop tool or (god forbid) Magic Bullet (which I'm getting really sick of).
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 03:07 PM

I'm not familiar with that show, but how much color is there in it? The vast majority of WWII stuff on all sides was B&W. The Russians and Japanese shot very little film of any kind.




-- J.S.
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#3 Will Montgomery

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 12:25 AM

I'm not familiar with that show, but how much color is there in it? The vast majority of WWII stuff on all sides was B&W. The Russians and Japanese shot very little film of any kind.

There was a surprising amount from Germany, even before the war. But the main color issues I had were with the 70's interviews shot on 16mm I believe.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 02:08 PM

True, they had the Agfa negative process -- like Kodak's, but without the overall orange color. But Die Deutsche Wochenschau was all B&W. They had 1500 cameras, and probably shot more footage than the rest of the combatants combined.




-- J.S.
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