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Colorists & Nights
I'd like to respond to Mr. Newman's feelings that dailies transfers are
bound to be inaccurate because they are done in the middle of the night by
inexperienced people. I have been a colorist for about eight years. Because
of my specialization in episodic television as well as my age (I just turned
31), I have all too frequently found myself on the graveyard shift
transferring dailies. In fact, I feel that there are many colorists in my
age group in the same situation because of the onset of the concept of video
dailies during the start of our careers in the 1980's. We have all been
waiting for the previous generation to retire or move on.
In many ways, I have found this sort of work to be far more challenging
than daytime, supervised transfers for a number of reasons. Unlike day
shift, there is no one to supervise. There is no one who has been on the set
that day, and there is no one I can call to even ask about timing because
it's 2 AM! My only clue as to the color is the film, my subjective eye, and
the hope that getting only 4 hours of sleep in the last two days (because of
daytime construction work) won't affect my judgement too much.
All of this wouldn't be so bad if video dailies were the true "one
light, lock it up and roll" process that I keep on hearing about. I have
never done a show that way because I quickly found out that the client
expectations for dailies were unbelievably high. They all want full stretch
and contrast in every scene. Every shot of every scene must match
perfectly---never mind that 3 cameras rolling 20 minutes of material will end
up as a 40 second edited scene. Even the slightest irises must be fixed on
the spot--it doesn't matter that the tape-to-tape corrector, using non-linear
dissolves, will do a better job. All footage must be transferred as fast
as possible---I once worked at a large house where our "ratios" were kept
track of by management---the colorist with the highest ratio each week was
given a talking to. Above all, virtually no time must be spent in
tape-to-tape after the online. I was once told that the goal for
tape-to-tape time for a half-hour show I was doing was---you guessed
it---half an hour!
All of this would be fine if our efforts were recognized. But everyone
knows that the night guy is the dumping ground for every problem that arises
during the day, mainly because he's never around to defend himself.
Next Monday, I will start permanent dayshift at the facility where I am
working. I plan to throw a party to celebrate.