To get beneath the skin we're in

Me Me Me (2020)

Photographed by Jesse Mazuch

Graded by Edmond Laccon

Background

A UK-born film colourist (since 2013) I have a varied background in cinema-related professions including documentaries, camera operating, editing and festival programming. Raised in West Africa, I have lived in a multitude of countries and presently reside in Berlin.

A graduate of UP.GRADE, the German Film and Television Academy’s revered 9-month, full-time post-graduate colourist programme, I have been fortunate to have received extensive guidance and expertise from some of the most distinguished professionals in the post-production industry.

Having worked for UP.GRADE (alongside my colour mentor Dirk Meier) since 2016, I now enjoy demystifying colour grading and motion picture imaging for other professionals, lecturing at film schools and on a one-to-one basis.

In my spare time I produce studies of the characteristics of film images or optical effects with the aim of reproducing them using image processing tools.

I also explore the history of cinematography using forms of mimesis – for example re-photographing location scenes from popular films. This site also contains a number of examples of my personal creative work with images, including cinema ‘timeslices’ and traditional still photography.

Freelance colourist

In Berlin and the UK, I work as a freelance DI colourist and workflow consultant. I enjoy developing creative partnerships with cinematographers, developing show looks tailor-made for specific projects and colour-managed workflows – mainly for long-form projects.

For me, just as cinematographers have the responsibility of authoring the image, the colourist should be responsible both for realising that image from the camera material and for maintaining its intended expression through today’s many viewing scenarios.

Grading tools

I typically work in Resolve, Baselight, Nucoda and On-Set Dailies and am experienced with developing and working within colour managed workflows (ie ACES) and working on projects originally acquired on 35mm or 16mm photochemical film. I also work a lot with mimicking photochemical characteristics using digitally-sourced material.

Showreel (with a narrative)

During Corona I put together a reel that features some form of narrative, a reflection on how the role of the colourist came into existence – to serve as a supportive partner to the cinematographer.

Creating show looks

Many productions use exactly the same combination of cameras and lenses, however its rare that any production should wish it’s film’s ‘base look’ to appear exactly the same as many other productions. Back in the era of photochemical movies, a production obtained unique looks after testing optical and chemical processes in the lab stage prior to shooting.

Today such a transform can define a tailor-made rendering of the look and feel of the world of your characters. Having a custom show look in place in the imaging pipeline from the outset of production gives everyone involved a clear picture of their film’s visual style and will differentiate it from other productions.

"A show look helps to define a palette for the world of a film"

Image: ALICE COMING DOWN (2019) photographed by Alina Albrecht
Example of a custom picture treatment

 I’ve found this approach dramatically reduces time spent on defining a satisfying look in final grading and helps cinematographers both carry forward and refine their aesthetic intentions. Such a show look helps to define a palette for the world of a film:

  • Establishing how contrasty, colourful or harmonious the overall film appears
  • Defining the appearance of characters’ skin tones, foliage and other natural elements
  • Adjusting spatial characteristics such as sharpness, grain and diffusion

Films, filmmakers and festivals

ProjectLengthCinematographerDirectorFestival
STORIES FROM THE CHESTNUT WOODSFeatureFerran ParedesGregor BozicToronto
GUNS AKIMBO (additional grading)FeatureStefan CiupekJason Lei HowdenToronto
JIBRILFeatureCarolina SteinbrecherHenrika KullBerlinale
THE LAST TO SEE THEMFeatureKatharina SchellingSara SummaBerlinale
HAGAZUSSAFeatureMariel BaqueiroLukas FeigelfeldLondon Film Festival
SNOWBLINDFeatureSimon DrescherArto SebastianSaarbrucken
ICH ICH ICHFeatureJesse MazuchZora RuxAwaiting release
BORGAFeatureTobias Von Dem BorneYork-Fabian RaabeAwaiting release
DETOURFeatureTobias Von Dem BorneNina VukovicBlack Nights
FRAU STERNFeatureAdrian CampeanAnatol SchusterMunich
FOR THE TIME BEINGFeatureTom OtteSalka Tiziana
FULL MOONFeatureRudi SchröederAndreas Arnstedt
CON AMORE, FABIAFeatureMichael Bertl BVKMaria Teresa Camoglio
TABORJesse MazuchStanislaw DanylyshynAwaiting release
TRADING HAPPINESSMeret MadörinAwaiting release
LIFE WAS GOOD IN LIBYADoro GötzCannes (out of competition)
I WANT TO RETURN RETURN RETURNGiulia SchelhasCannes (out of competition)
BEAUTIFUL YOUCarolina SteinbrecherBernadette KolonkoPalm Springs
LAKE OF HAPPINESSBehrooz KaramizadeClermont-Ferrand
BEFORE LONGJan Bastian MarthinsenSylvia Le Fanu
YOUTHMarco Müller
NUMBKonstantin Minnich
CRYSTAL BETHKonstantin Minnich
ALICE COMING DOWNAlina Albrecht
FUCKINGS ADOPTERTJan Bastian Marthinsen
ALJONAPhilipp Meise
Constantin Campean
Leo Bruges
Birgit Gudjonsdottir
Francesco MeCe
Claudia Schröder
Jasper Techel

Teaching & UP.GRADE

Why teach and where

Since the transition to predominantly digital workflows in the early 2000s, it’s hard to imagine a creative role that has become more muddied by misinformation and confused dogmas than that of the colourist.

As traditional photochemical workflows fused with broadcast and emerging technologies, confusion over commonly-understood terminologies and the purpose behind even the most common grading tools has become widespread.

Combined with the internet’s growth in disseminating information and an industry-wide lack of vocational/educational opportunities for young people aiming to work in post has lead to misconceptions regarding imaging, grading and their supporting technologies becoming increasingly endemic.

The UP.GRADE programme in its 9-month form, was created to mitigate this phenomenon.

Today as part of an effort to continue UP.GRADE’s positive legacy in education, I have had the honour to lecture for:

One-to-one learning

Sitting side-by-side to evaluate and manipulate images, grading operators and displays whilst working through an individual’s specific project or personal queries relating to colour grading is a uniquely satisfying experience.

Working as a grading mentor for colourists, editors and DOPs (often with DaVinci Resolve), I also cover a range of key foundational topics including:

  • The powerful impact the human visual system plays on our perception of our work.
  • How today’s grading tools often descend from solutions to historical challenges in visual reproduction.
  • The often-obscured influence technology-makers have on the rendering and appearance of our images.

Participants who initially desire to know DaVinci Resolve better often come away surprised by the extent to which things are ‘not what they seem’ and with a better understanding of why their images can appear different in various contexts.

Interested parties are welcome to let me know what they are curious in learning more about.

Sources of knowledge

My years with the UP.GRADE programmes and its subsequent short courses, has brought the opportunity to learn from an incredible pool of well regarded practitioners and lecturers from the fields of post-production, colour science, camera development and of course colour grading.

Below is a sample. The UP.GRADE site should carry a full list of lecturers.

Harald Brendel, ARRI
Team Lead Image Science
Charles Poynton PhD, colour scientist, mathematician
Author of books including A TECHNICAL INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL VIDEO
Peter Doyle, Supervising Colourist, Warner Bros.
THE MATRIX, the HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS films, EDGE OF TOMORROW
Dirk Meier, freelance colourist
HAPPY AS LAZZARO, A FANTASTIC WOMAN, ANTICHRIST, DREDD, ABOUT ENDLESSNESS, HANNAH ARENDT
Greg Fisher, Senior Colourist, Company 3
1917, NO TIME TO DIE, HUGO, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION
Adam Inglis, freelance colourist
MR. TURNER, SHERLOCK HOLMES, BLUE PLANET II, TOMB RAIDER, MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, NICE GUYS
Florian Rettich, ARRI
Senior Trainer & Consultant Digital Workflow Solutions
Vanessa Taylor, colourist, Molinare
RED JOAN, ARMSTRONG, THE GREAT GATSBY
Paul Dore
Image Workflow Consultant
Laurens Orij, colourist, colour scientist
MONOS, THE SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA, MY FOOLISH HEART
Kevin Shaw CSI
Educator, Colourist, President of Colorist Society International (CSI)
Daniele Sirgusano
Workflow Solutions Consultant, FilmLight
Miga Bär
Creative Technologies, Netflix
Franz Lustig, cinematographer
THE AFTERMATH, MASSIVE ATTACK: VOODO IN MY BLOOD
Felix Hüsken CSI, freelance colourist
PAULA, RUSH, THIS IS NOT A MOVIE
Tobias Schaarschmidt CSI
Freelance colourist, Calibrator
Pasquale Iannone, lecturer, broadcaster
University of Edinburgh
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[All images copyright Edmond Laccon]

The UP.GRADE programme

Established by the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB) in 2015, the UP.GRADE programme and its curriculum was defined by its head of programme Dirk Meier as a 9-month, full-time post-graduate education in the art and science of colour grading.

With funding and support from MEDIA, ARRI, Medienboard Brandenburg and later from Technicolor, the programme provided talented emerging colourists with theoretical and practical training, provided by some of the most respected professionals in the fields of colour science and grading.

Second to none: the UP.GRADE trailer gives an overview of the scope of the original 9-month programme.

Hugely successful, UP.GRADE ran for four editions – training 40 highly knowledgable colourists – however a change in its funding has brought about the end of it as a longterm programme.

Short courses

In 2019 I organised a new programme of UP.GRADE courses that covered key aspects of the production process. These were given by the original UP.GRADE lecturers as well as new ones including Prof. Andrew Stockman, Paul Dore, Andrea Chlebak, Vanessa Taylor,  Franz Lustig, Dr. Pasquale Iannone and Pete Ludé.

Art of imaging projects

RE:imaging

When travelling I sometimes revisit shooting locations from specific movies and re-photograph them in the style of the original. Through this process I gain insights into the creative decisions behind how scenes were staged, lit, shot, edited and coloured.

Attack of the clones: I re-photograph scenes from Henri Decae’s cinematography for THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978) and Denis Lenoir and Yorick Le Saux’s work on CARLOS (2010).

Also apparent from this process is whether the original features of a location  still remain – so that the same scene could easily be shot today.

Timeslice panels

132 minutes/frames: in recent years the internet has brought up many arresting ways to view films and a visual and temporal medium. From time to time I produce posters of specific films by extracting 1 frame from every 1 minute of material.

Still photography

In time this site will also serve as a repository of some of my own still photography work.