Matthew Tomlinson, Maxine Gervais, Senthil Kumar, Sherri Kauk and Toby Tomkins

Judges Reveal Metrics For 2022 FilmLight Colour Awards Entries

Matthew Tomlinson, Colour Scientist, Harbor

You are a judge for FilmLight’s Colour Awards. Why is it important for you to be a judge?

Honestly, it’s just humbling to be part of it.  It’s such a great opportunity to be exposed to alternate ways of thinking and methodologies.  I can’t wait to meet new people and be able to enjoy all the hard work that goes into every image.  This is just so much fun for me.
I love the idea that I will be exposed to imagery that I have never experienced before.  I love understanding the different perspectives of how to approach a situation.  This is just such a great opportunity to be exposed to imagery in a unique and in-depth way.
What are you looking for in the entries this year and what will make a winner in your eyes?

I am purposefully keeping myself open minded.  I want no preconceived notions walking into this. To me, color is as much of a story telling device as music, wardrobe, set design or even lighting. I love imagery that enhances the story for the sake of the story, but I am going to allow myself to flow like water and let the submissions take me on the journey.
If you were to submit a project to the Colour Awards, which would you choose and why?

This is tough for me to answer.  I get to work with really great colorists and each show that I work on I try to treat as a unique and special endeavor.  Each has its own bit of magic within, often due to new methodologies tried, experiments applied or simply fond memories of good people.  
As color scientist, describe your approach when working together with the colorist and cinematographer to collaborate on a look (e.g. how does it contrast with many shows that don’t do their first “look” sessions until late in production)?

My approach is to try to listen first, then talk.  I try to understand what the colorist and cinematographer are imagining through verbal descriptions and/or visual reference.  My goal is to take that information and create something tangible that we can apply to imagery.  The beautiful thing is that this can occur before dailies or as the DI begins.  I prefer to work with the colorist and cinematographer earlier rather than later but the methodology of how I approach it remains constant either way.
How does the choice of workflow and color space for grading affect the final look?

This question is less about affecting the final look and more about having control over the show.  If you understand the workflow and you are aware of what color space you are in, or mapping toward, then you know how to manoeuvre the image to where you want it to go.  It becomes about understanding where you are on the map.  My perspective on matters such as this may be a touch unique in direct comparison to colorists, but that is mainly due to my belief that I am here to serve the colorist and cinematographer.  I try to approach the situation with the attitude that we can go anywhere as long as we know where we are right now.

Maxine Gervais, Senior Supervising Colourist, Picture Shop

Why do you want to be a part of this project? What is it that appeals to you?

I think it will be fun to take an objective sit back and evaluate my peer’s work. To deconstruct what they did and see both the artistic value but also technical achievement.

What are you looking for from the submissions?

Colour balance. Innovative looks. Technical accuracy. I hope to be “wowed”

If you were submitting a piece of work to the awards, what project would it be? And why?

I am submitting to HPA almost every year. I always pick a project that I am proud of. That looks amazing and that required a lot of fine work.

What piece of advice would you give a colourist who is just starting out in the industry?

Be good at balancing first and foremost. There is no gain in reproducing looks or creating cool images if you can’t get them to match shot to shot. Less is more when learning. It’s very easy to break a grade and that will not survive time.

K K Senthil Kumar, Cinematographer

Why do you want to be a part of this project? What is it that appeals to you?

The whole process of color correction is extremely challenging and creative. Colorists give their magical touch to enhance the Visual Expression of the DP. It’s high time they are brought out into the limelight from the darkrooms. FilmLight is doing a splendid job by recognizing and celebrating this amazing talent.

What are you looking for from the submissions?

With imaging technology growing by leaps and bounds and an increasing number of tools to play with and ever improving and demanding standards of image quality, the color grading process has become more creative and challenging. I’m looking forward to seeing how talented colorists are using this amazing technology to give some visually stimulating work.

What piece of advice would you give a colorist who is just starting out in the industry?

I would advise young colorists to explore, experiment, and express themselves with the latest available tools. Let your talent work towards enhancing and complementing the emotion and the story.

Sherri Kauk, Cinematographer

Why do you want to be a part of this project? What is it that appeals to you?

Final color is an artistic process that begins in the previsualization phase.  When I experience movies, TV and commercials with a point of view in color as much as in story, framing, editing, my experience with that piece of work becomes immersive.  Honoring these choices that immerse the viewer that journey them through an intentioned experience is why I am honored to be part of FilmLight’s Colour Awards.  

What are you looking for from the submissions?

I am looking for color choices that enhance the story experience.  I am looking for choices in contrast, tones, brightness and darkness that directly support me feeling a certain way about the character I am watching.

If you were submitting a piece work to the awards, what project would it be? And why?

Two projects of mine that offer almost opposite coloring choices are the Snapchat Original ‘Endless Summer’ and the LVMA produced music video, “ICU.” Endless Summer, led by director and visionary Michelle Pereli, leaned into the “log look” to create a subdued, reflective experience of a woman’s summer of love, energized through situational pops of saturation. ICU, colored by Jacek Bulik, went deep into the shadows, golden hues and high contrast to separate one woman as she questions her experience in love. Two love stories, two completely different looks. 

What piece of advice would you give a colourist who is just starting out in the industry?

The question we all face at points in our career!  Build your ‘board and tribe’ of mentors, peers, and rising colleagues.  Study the masters, practice your craft, get feedback.

Toby Tomkins, Founder/Senior Colorist, CHEAT

You are a judge for the FilmLight Colour Awards. Why was it important for you to be a judge, especially since you aren’t using Baselight in your work?

I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that good color grading is good color grading, regardless of how you get there or what software you use. I really respect FilmLight for supporting the craft as a whole, and I’m excited to be a judge for the awards because I love reflecting on other people’s color grading work. It’s such a subjective discipline and I like to think I balance my own subjective ideas with objective technical assessment when it comes to judging. It’s important to judge with feeling as much as it is to do so technically, and I hope I can bring that to the panel.

What are you looking for in the entries this year and what will make a winner in your eyes?

I think there are three pillars that define a great grade. Firstly, it needs to serve the narrative or emotion. Secondly, it needs to complement or enhance the photography. And thirdly, it needs to be executed well technically.

If you were to submit one of your grades to the FilmLight Colour Awards, what project would you choose and why?

CHEAT colorists are actually submitting grades for the awards! We’re submitting the work that we believe has those three pillars I mentioned above, but with an extra emphasis on the first pillar ― serving both the narrative and emotion. Though, of course, I won’t be judging any of the work submitted by my team.


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