Navigating the Booking Process: Inquiries, Rates, and Essential Details

I often receive inquiries about my rates and availability, and I'm always delighted to provide the information.
To ensure I offer the most accurate and competitive quote, it's helpful when inquiries include sufficient details.
Here are some relevant questions that can assist in the process of booking a colorist.

Where do you expect to grade?

I have a range of options to cater to your preferences:

1. Remote Grading, allowing us to work from anywhere.
2. The convenience of a home studio setup.
3. A professional grading studio for a more collaborative and immersive experience.

Alternatively, explore a combination of these options:
initiate the process with an in-studio session, transition to remote work, and reconvene in the studio for the final touches.

When do you expect to grade?

It's recommended to plan ahead when scheduling your grading sessions.
Typically, the process begins with making a preliminary "pencil" booking at the earliest convenience.
This allows for initial advice before the grading sessions commence.
The pencil booking also grants priority if others seek to confirm the same time.
While initial dates may occasionally shift, collaborative efforts are made to maintain a tight schedule.
Requesting to start a significant job on short notice may indicate poor planning or unforeseen issues, both of which are not ideal.
While post-production can be unpredictable, I am here to address challenges, and this advice serves as a proactive measure.

For the booking, it's essential to specify a start date and estimated duration.
The duration can vary based on several factors, and here are some general guidelines:

  • Online/Web/Social Media: Generally, plan for 10 minutes of material per day of grading
  • TVCs: Typically 1 – 2 days
  • Music Videos: Typically 1/2 – 2 days
  • Feature Films: Typically 1-4 weeks, with a broad range from 2 days to 6 months

How long is the program?

Understanding the length and intricacies of the content allows for better planning, ensuring that the color grading process aligns seamlessly with the project's requirements.

This information serves as a foundation for efficient workflow management, enabling the colorist to address potential challenges and optimize the grading session for the best results.

How is it shot?

What is the shooting setup like? This includes details on the cameras used, the codecs applied, and the color profile employed.

Personally, I find it valuable to ascertain whether the source material is available in log format.
Maintaining the material in log form provides a broader dynamic range, affording greater control during the color grading process.

I've encountered instances where material shot in a proprietary log format was later transferred to a more universal format like .dpx and converted to linear, potentially compromising the dynamic range.
Various workflows may unintentionally affect image quality, making it crucial to discuss and establish the workflow early in the process.
It's a proactive measure that can prevent complications down the line, as discussions about workflow are rarely too early but often too late.

What are the deliverables?

Before setting up a color grading session, it's super important to know what the end goals are—what we call "deliverables." Think of it like this: different projects might be headed for the big screen, TV, online streaming, or somewhere else, and each one comes with its own set of rules. Knowing these rules upfront helps us plan things out smoothly.

Each type of project has its own technical quirks, like how sharp the image needs to be or what colors work best. Having this info early on means we can pick the right tools for the job. Plus, it helps us keep things creative! Different platforms might want different vibes, and knowing where the project is going helps us make sure it looks just right everywhere.

But it's not just about the technical stuff—it's also about time and money. Some projects have tight schedules or specific budgets, and knowing the deliverables helps us schedule our color grading time and use our resources wisely.

So, when we chat about deliverables, it's not just about paperwork. It's about making sure your project looks awesome, fits the vibe you're going for, and stays on track with your timeline and budget. It's like giving your project a roadmap to success!

Will the color session include conforming?

Using a timeline conformed in the grading system brings significant benefits, although it often extends the timeline a bit. It's crucial to ensure that the conforming process is thoroughly checked as early as possible. Ideally, the editor would oversee this phase before the actual coloring kicks in, but practical constraints may limit this.

On the flip side, grading from a flattened timeline is likely faster and more secure, but it can compromise the precision and flexibility of color correction, especially across transitions and composites.

Will the color session include VFX?

When dealing with VFX or animated elements, there could be mattes involved, offering significant time savings during grading.

It's important to explore various ways to optimize these special effects elements and ensure unanimous agreement on a single solution.

While a post-production supervisor typically manages this, a cohesive team can also collaborate effectively if given the chance to discuss and decide together.

Will you need some Finishing touches?

Knowing in advance if a project will require elements like an opening title sequence, credits design, subtitles, or various VFX retouching tasks is essential for getting the quote and time estimates right.

This information allows for tailoring the quote more precisely based on the complexity of each element.
It also aids in effective workflow planning, ensuring that the right resources and expertise are available.

With clear insights, it becomes easier to estimate the time needed for different stages of the project, preventing potential delays.
Moreover, early discussions about these creative elements promote better collaboration between the team and the client, aligning everyone on the project's visual goals. 

What is our goal?

Color grading adds fantastic production value, enhancing the visual appeal of content regardless of budget constraints.

The primary advantages include:

  • Continuity Correction: Ensuring a consistent visual flow throughout the project.
  • Stylizing Images: Adding a unique and intentional aesthetic to enhance the overall look.
  • Matching or Adding Effects: Harmonizing visuals or introducing specific effects as needed.

While most projects encompass all three goals, it's beneficial to identify the main objective.

This understanding, although likely not significantly impacting the quote, helps align expectations.

Additionally, sharing references and test shots beforehand ensures everyone is on the same page creatively, fostering a smoother color grading process.