Filmworkz met with Blake Jones, a colourist for over 35 years, to discuss how our DVO tools have changed the way he works, both in his colour-grading work and his role as an official trainer for the International Colorist Association (ICA). Formerly a Technical Director for Condor Digital, Blake has graded a number of well-known films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Poltergeist.
In his career, Blake has seen a lot of changes in the industry. “When I started, it was a film-centric environment. On films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Poltergeist, the studio would supply me with the negatives and then I decided which ones would work the best for me.” Now things have entered the digital realm, the art of restoration has changed. He explains, “You have an operator who scans the film for you, and then you go through and grade directly off the scans, which makes things considerably easier, especially when hopping through one element to the next.”
However, one thing remains the same: your success as a colourist relies on you using tools you feel comfortable with. “That’s the key when you’re doing a colour-grading session. No one wants to see you sweat in the grading suite!”
Blake believes the Filmworkz tools make post-production easier than ever. “The fact that you can do everything using one system makes a lot more sense – it simplifies workflows, is cost-effective, and makes everything so much easier.”
“I can take the tools and bring them into Power Grades in Resolve, where you can build a library of pre-set effects and store these for your users. Then, when you say, “Oh Gee, I need a Regrain for 200 ASA Film”, all you do is drag it across, pop it in there, and you’re ready to go. It’s as simple as that.”
But ease-of-use isn’t the only great thing about the software. Blake appreciates how granular the tools allow you to become when creating a certain effect or finish.“There’s no degradation to the picture – you can sharpen it without sharpening the noise or anything. Filmworkz really does an exceptional job with that.”
It’s not only modern films where the tools come in handy. An experienced film restorer who was involved in reviving such classics as Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, as well as restoring the official film for the 1952 Oslo Olympics, Blake knows a thing or two about what’s needed in the software you use. “The Filmworkz tools fill a gap in the requirement for restoration tools. At the moment when people are colour-grading, there’s a need to fix dead pixels, sharpen the picture, take noise out of the picture, and things like that. Filmworkz tools actually perform this fantastically.”
Blake believes that plug-in tools have the potential to change how colourists work. On his latest project, Lavaline – a documentary about two men achieving a slackline walk over an active volcano in New Zealand – Blake used a plug-in to remove an element from the footage. “The guys wore ear-plugs so they wouldn’t hear the planes overhead but these were bright orange and stood out. So, I used the Patch Replace tool to take them out so you don’t see the ear-plugs anymore.”
An official trainer at the ICA, Blake is responsible for honing the skills of the next generation of colourists. For those just starting out in the industry, he has one piece of advice: “Set your tools in a way that you will feel good about because that’s important when you’re doing a colour-grading session.”
“Do that and you’ll go on to be self-assured, comfortable and confident and that’s the main thing. That’s the big goal of doing it, and that’s what I try to get across to everyone I’m training.”
All images credited to Blake Jones.