November 20, 2017

Watch: An Ode to Colorists and Their Often Underappreciated Art Form

Have you hugged your colorist today? After watching this video, you might want to.

Every role in a film production is important to the success of the project, from the director to the cinematographer to the PA getting your coffee, but there are plenty of professionals that don't get enough recognition for the tremendous amount of work they do. In this video, Sareesh Sudhakaran of wolfcrow highlights the oftentimes overlooked job done by talented colorists, exploring the many ways these talented artists can add to a film's visual aesthetic, make a narrative more dynamic, and even hide any mistakes a director or DP might've made.

If you acknowledge and give credit to a film's colorist, that's really awesome because a lot of people don't. To be fair, casual movie-goers may not even know that this role exists, and even if they do, they probably don't know what it takes to design and apply a grade to an entire feature-length film.

But the filmmaking community knows—or at least we should know. This is was kind of the very passionate point Sudhakaran made in the video, that even though the job of a digital colorist is relatively new, it has yet to be given its own category at the Academy Awards despite contributing so much artistically to the medium. Not that receiving such accolades is any indication of one's own importance or capabilities, but I have to agree with Sudhakaran—considering how much a colorist can add to the look and meaning of a film, it does make sense.

It's certainly an interesting argument and regardless of which side of it you find yourself, feel free to share your thoughts down in the comments.      

Your Comment


Every third post on every production site is about color grading these days. It's the hot new thing that everyone seems to believe is the most important part of production for some god-forsaken reason. Underappreciated? It's basically dominating the industry at this point because everyone is under the impression it is the pivotal step in filmmaking.

November 20, 2017 at 11:25PM

Joshua Bowen

Yes, because most cameras shoot in a log format now. I would say it's still massively undervalued and usually an afterthought for a lot of productions. Nothing can ruin a decent project faster than a monkey with a colour wheel.

January 20, 2018 at 6:21PM

Sean Loftin

I think these days, Color grading has real importance and people are aware of it.
Great video.

November 21, 2017 at 2:09AM, Edited November 21, 2:09AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

He brings up some decent points but many of the films he shows (Hero, Amélie, Grand Budapest Hotel) are incredible because of their set design and costume design and not known for their color correction. Color is powerful but agree with posts below that it is just one thing cinematographers can use to tell stories.

November 21, 2017 at 10:58AM

Ben Hamilton
Director of Photography

Anybody have the Star Wars LUT from the thumbnail? LOL.

November 21, 2017 at 12:33PM, Edited November 21, 12:33PM


Great article! Altough I wouldn't say that there is no awereness for color grading. Excellent video

November 29, 2017 at 4:12AM