I’M HIRING! Assistant Colourist wanted.

I am looking for someone based in Brisbane to assist me on a casual basis in my colour grading studio.  Depending on skill set the role may include prepping Da Vinci Resolve projects and doing preliminary base grading.  Ideally I would find someone who I could train up and mentor into the role of a colourist.  Yay! 

The role will also include administrative support and running errands.  Must be just as happy to do grading, rendering or running to the post office to send hard drives! 

Would suit recent Film and TV graduate or someone looking to move into colour grading from editing or cinematography.  Technical prowess is secondary to a warm and positive attitude, hard work ethic and great communication skills.  Must be highly motivated, a fast learner and lovely to be around!     

A sensitivity to colour, an eye for detail and a background in photography, cinematography or a visual medium will be a big advantage.

I encourage applications of ethnic and gender diversity.

If you are interested please write me a covering letter and attach your CV (with 2 work references) to angelacerasi@gmail.com by Friday 1 March 2019.

colourist balls

What are those colourist balls all about?

Ahhh the balls.  Ok. So let me first put in a disclaimer that yes, the fact that I play with balls all day is one of the oldest colourist jokes around! There is no way around this occupational faux pas.

We play with 3 balls on a colourist console, and they each have a spin-able ring around them.  The balls affect the colour.  The rings affect the brightness.


The left ball is for “lift” (shadows/blacks), the middle ball is for “gamma” (midtones/middle of the road colours that are neither dark or bright) and the right ball is “gain” (highlights/whites/bright colours).  By moving a ball in a certain direction you can push one range of colours toward a different range of colours. For example moving the “lift” ball from left to right will push any yellowy shadows toward more bluey coloured shadows.  Moving the “gamma” ball from left to right will make yellow midtones move toward blue (ie. taking some yellow out of skin tones and cooling it off toward blue). The left/right/up/down movement of the ball mirrors a vector scope. When I was starting out I drew a diagram like this below so that I could remember which way to push the balls! Quickly it becomes second nature.  In the early days during some particularly busy grading weeks I had been known to go to sleep, eyes closed but moving my eyeballs around to make different colours in my dreams.  Now there is a cool and weird colourist confession if I ever heard one!


This diagram replicates a vectorscope (an electronic tool we use to measure hue and saturation).  You push the balls in the direction you want to get either red, green, blue, yellow, magenta or cyan.

Now for the rings.  By moving each ring to the left, you wind it down/lessen the brightness of that parameter (either the shadows, mids, or highlights). By moving each right to the right you wind it up/crank it/brighten that parameter (either the shadows, mids, or highlights).


You can colour grade without a console and it’s balls/rings and just use a mouse. The software usually has little colourful ball diagrams so you can drag your mouse from left to right on the each ball and do it that way. The beautiful thing about a console however, is that it means that you can use your two hands to intuitively move and spin the balls and rings to get your desired effect. When you change one parameter it effects another eg. Lifting the shadows will slightly lift the midtones also. Everything flows and is connected. So by using your hands it really becomes more like an art form in my opinion, very instinctive and reactive and I really love this bit about grading.


Next time you’re in my suite, ask me for a spin!

How to make your videos look better in 2019

1.  Light. Light. Light. Light. It’s all about light.  Without it we would literally have no image.  Look for interesting light to capture… filtered, speckled, coloured, soft, dappled, twilight, harsh, glittering and glorious light.  Capture the contrast between light and shade and this will make your image more dynamic.  If the natural light is not interesting enough cut some of it out and create dark shadows.  Make sure your character has an eye-light – every character needs a light and a twinkle in their eye no matter how dark the scene is.  If you are filming a dark scene, light it up and put light into those shadow details then bring the exposure back down in the grade.  There is no coming back from an underexposed shot and your image may break up with noise.  Hire a good cinematographer!  She/he is worth their weight in gold.

2.  Create a visual mood board of the look that you want before your start shooting.  Show your collaborators and have this on hand when you’re making decisions on costume, location and set design.  Show your cinematographer and your colourist so that every one knows your intention and can aim for the same visual goal.  This planning and preparation will help make your videos look better – if you are wanting a soft colour palette then make sure your lead character or presenter is not wearing a black shirt or a bright, bold red dress.

3.  Stay away from cream walls as a backdrop.  If you’re shooting a documentary interior try and find a wall nearby with some colour or some pattern.  If it’s an interview set up give the shot depth by having them stand in the foreground of a location with a background with objects at different heights (buildings, trees etc).  If you have a stationary subject create depth and interest by adding something in the background which can be out of focus like a coloured curtain, a vase, a sculpture, or a painting.  Cream walls also make it more difficult to pull out/isolate some subject’s skin tones and it limits the separation between background and foreground.  We want a good separation between background and foreground so avoid cream and go find a wall of a different colour or pattern, or if you have time and budget paint the wall!


4.  Limit zooming in on full frame shots during the edit unless very necessary for the story.  Zooming in on a shot reduces the quality of that shot no matter what the source resolution.

5.  Leave enough time in the filmmaking process for the final finishing.  Lock your edit (!) and let the VFX, the sound and colour department have time to craft their magic.  This is the best part (in my biased opinion!) so try and avoid crazy finishing deadlines and soak up the wonderful experience of putting the icing on the cake.  Great finishing will elevate your video and make it look infinitely better.  

ASK THE COLOURIST: PART 2 – Featuring “Magenta”, “Warm it up” and “Softer”

In Part 1 it was explained how this series of blog posts would aim to unpack some colour grading language and turn it into easily understandable terms.  I had some great feedback about “Crush the Blacks? Split the Diff? and How to make something Fluro?”.  Reminder to email me at angelacerasi@gmail.com if you have any terms or questions you would like me to decode or answer.  Here’s the next instalment!


Magenta is basically a fancy pants word for the shade between red and blue.  A purpley-pink.  This word is often thrown around in a grade suite if the skin tones look too pink or red, someone might say “it has too much magenta”.  Poor magenta gets a bad wrap… no one likes magenta!  As a colourist when you pull magenta out of the image you are increasing the green, (decreasing one colour increases the complimentary colour) so often when you pull the magenta out you do it just slightly because no one wants a green image either.  Pulling magenta out of skin tone and going toward green will make it less red and more yellowy instead.  No one wants a ruddy skin tone and often too much magenta in an image can be very undesirable.    

Image with a lot of magenta in it
Image with less magenta in it


All images are basically on a scale of warm through to cool.  A warm image is literally in the realm of red, orange and yellows.  It is probably lit by tungsten (artificial lamps) or candlelight.  A cool image on the other hand is in the world of blues.  It might be lit by natural daylight which is actually blue compared to artificial interior lights.  In advertising warm images can be more appealing and pleasant so being directed to “warm it up” is quite common.  Skin tones are warm by nature and it’s really important to get warmth in the skin tones in most cases so the character looks healthy and well.  As a colourist who needs to warm up an image, depending on the image you are working on you can add yellow/orange to the midtones (which will usually affect the skin tones), highlights (skies, brightest parts of image) or shadows (blacks).  The most common thing to do would be to warm up the midtones/skin tones, and increasing yellow/orange means decreasing blues.

Image which would be considered ‘cool’
Warmed up


Making an image softer has nothing to do with focus and should not be confused with soft focus.  We always want sharp images (unless you are doing a drunken POV for example!) and the sharply focused image can have a soft feeling to it.  You can make an image “softer” a few different ways.  In practical terms it can be executed by decreasing contrast, lifting blacks, rolling off highlights.  You could also desaturate any jarring colours so they were not so bold and strong.  Also slightly blurring the picture or a part of the picture if the pixels looks too sharp.  Often Go-Pro’s are too sharp and will need to be softened to match other shots in the sequence if they are not Go-Pro.  The effect of ‘softening” can make the image more pleasant, feminine, flowing, cozy and “nice”.  The opposite of making an image softer is making it more “punchy”, hard, harsh or crisp.  Examples of commercials that feel soft are usually baby-related ads, life insurance ads and ad’s for fabric softener!  

A harsher image
A softer image