Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Kodak TEC System

I happened to be at a seminar which included a number of senior DP's (by that I mean ASC, "names" and Academy award nominees, not old). The topic of having some reliable, perhaps numerical way of communicating with the telecine colorist kept coming up: something to replace the printer lights that we are all familiar with and which are an easy and repeatable way of assessing the negative.

With only one or two exceptions, no one seemed to have heard of the Kodak TEC system which does exactly this. A shame, as this system has the potential to provide exactly this sort of numerical feedback and control everyone was asking for.

I've been looking for anyone who has used the system in a real world use.

Frankly, I'm hoping the system will catch on as it is exactly the sort of thing I've been looking for (you've heard my rants about video dailies before).

Anyone out there use it on a project?

A part of the system is, of course, the Kodak Grey Card Plus. On Monday, I was doing a transfer at a major facility here with (I was told) their "top guy" (in actual fact, he was very good). I asked him about it and he told me that he had experimented with it along with a major DP (I don't want to get into names since this is hearsay, but also an Academy Award nominee) and they had found that it "doesn't really work." But reports I've read here indicate that people here have used it successfully, albeit with some modifications of the aim points (no suprise, Kodak recommends that you "customize" to your own purposes). I imagine that the need for this customization might be what the colorist was referring to.

I haven't used it myself, but the theory seems rock solid.

Feedback anyone?

Thanks, Blain


Like the Wichita Lineman I'm still on the line. (an old song, but I'm an old person)

Before I respond to Blain's note and offer some insights, I'd like to sincerely thank all of you who've sent me your kind wishes and compliments on winding up my career with Kodak. You've really made me feel great, and you've given me far more credit for contributions to this forum than I deserve. Thank you!

*********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

>>With only one or two exceptions, no one seemed to have heard of the Kodak TEC system which does exactly this (negative assessment). A shame, as this system has the potential to provide exactly this sort of numerical feedback and control everyone was asking for. I've been looking for anyone who has used the system in a real world use.<<

Ah, one of my favorite subjects having been very involved in the development and applications of Kodak's TEC film and the Gray Card Plus. I also wrote the users' guides.

For the purpose of exposure evaluation (feedback to the cinematographer) Kodak Telecine Exposure Calibration (TEC) film is used to briefly turn the telecine into a giant densitometer. The colorist puts up the film and sets his/her RGB primary controls to the values specified for the three density patches on the TEC film. Maintaining that calibration the colorist reads a gray card that the cinematographer has shot to represent his/her exposure for a given scene. RGB voltages or IRE values are read from the wave-form monitor, or more easily, from a digital display. Using lookup (conversion) tables for each Kodak film, the colorist can determine RGB "transfer points" comparable to "printer lights." Thus, the cinematographer can get an exposure report from telecine similar to what he/she is used to seeing from the film lab.

That's a very brief summary of the procedure. For the complete story on Kodak TEC film and the Gray Card Plus, go to "Telecine Tools" -

http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/products/tools/

(Please! I'd like _someone_ to read the stuff I write.) Conversion tables for most Kodak films can be accessed from the TEC film page -

http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/products/tools/tec.shtml.

Tables for the latest Kodak films are now being prepared.

Aaton incorporates the conversion tables as an adjunct to their Keylink software, providing an exposure report automatically. But JPB should be the one to tell you how that works.

>Anyone out there use it on a project?

Mark Woods -- You want to comment? You were one of the five "senior DP's" testing the system when we rolled it out a few years ago at Universal with evaluation at Laser Pacific. Before posting, however, perhaps you should let me read what you write. Nah, just kidding. Speak your mind, not that I need to coach you in that regard.

Best to all,

Don Ver Ploeg Kodak consultant, emeritus

But still on the forum and for those of you who have invited me, I may surprise you and show up one day to slide down your snowy mountain or sail and dive in your warm waters.


>Anyone out there use it on a project? >

Just shot a quick, simple test using Kodak TEC chart. It read perhaps 1/10th lower than my old Fotokem chart and was just a hint warmer. Their manual sorta "overinstructs" the process, but it is thorough.

My thinking is that this is how most DP's have always used gray scales. Kodak TEC chart is a simple, high quality gray chart without color chips. I suppose its also easy to setup on waverform because it has no color chart or progressive gray scale above or beneath.

So far I like it. And I bet it also works with Fuji, Illford...

Mark Doering-Powell Los Angeles based Director of Photography


Mark Doering-Powell wrote :

>>Just shot a quick, simple test using Kodak TEC chart. It read perhaps 1/10th lower >than my old Fotokem chart and was just a hint warmer. Their manual sorta >"overinstructs" the process, but it is thorough.

Mark -- In saying, "Kodak TEC chart" are you referring to Kodak TEC film or the Kodak Gray Card Plus? I assume the latter; Kodak doesn't make a "TEC chart."

On a closely related issue, some colorists and DPs have assumed that TEC film can be used to setup for grading. IT CAN'T! That's what the various Kodak TAF films are for. TEC film is to calibrate the telecine to determine "transfer points" only. If you use it to set up for grading, in most cases you will be very disappointed!

Don


>I was one of the DPs who initially used the system when Kodak introduced it. I had just done a rather extensive test on the "new" 5279 and knew the LAD and the print LAD for FotoKem. I did my part of the test and when we went into Laser Pacific, I said to George Gush (tech rep from Kodak and an all around good guy) what the points should be if the system worked. I was one point off on the Red and one point off on the Green. It works just fine, but your really need to do your homework, shoot the gray card correctly, and do an LAD test on the negative to really determine the EI of the film in relation to how you shoot it. I use a Grey Card Plus exclusively and have had great success with both print timers and telecine colorists.

If you want to read about how to shoot a gray card, go to http://cameraguild.com and click on the Tech Tips section. BTW, the ICG now has the "Testing the Limits" article I wrote about cross processing and skip bleach complete with the characteristic curves I plotted. Hope this helps.

Kind Regards,

Mark Woods, Director of Photography

Stills That Move, Pasadena, CA

http://www.markwoods.com/


> Mark Woods -- You want to comment? You were one of the five "senior DP's" testing >the system when we rolled it out a few years ago at Universal with evaluation at >Laser Pacific.

I seemed to have jumped the gun and posted without your guidance

>Before posting, however, perhaps you should let me read what you write. Nah, just >kidding. Speak your mind, not that I need to coach you in that regard.

Boy does that bring back some memories about some "quiet" discussions we've had. I know I posted you privately, but I'll say it on the forum that I've really enjoyed your friendship, the opportunities to speculate about possible products with you, and your (and Kodak's) invitation to be a part of the continuing evolution of the cinematic image in our art form.

Mark Woods, Director of Photography

Stills That Move, Pasadena, CA


>On a closely related issue, some colorists and DPs have assumed that TEC film can >be used to setup for grading. IT CAN'T

If I remember correctly (no guarantees!), the gray is 18%, the white is 90% reflectance, and the black is 7% reflectance. If the colorist sets the telecine to these values from the gray card, the image will be somewhat flat and lack the "pop" we like to see in our dailies. Also, there's no fine setting for the chroma -- which is the biggest problem in the system. That said, I've had some rather interesting discussions with different transfer houses that don't believe that I shot a scene the way I did and "protected" me from the producers and director.

The event that comes particularly to mind is where the supervising colorist of the transfer house told me that "although I wrote the definitive article on how to shoot a gray card, I could still f**k up!" I agreed and went to a timing session with the director and asked them to pick any gray card from any day and time and scene with it. They didn't believe it, we did it, the director had most of the dailies re-timed, and I went home after the second example came up.

I can't say it enough. Do your homework, shoot the card correctly, rate the film in a manner that you can predict the results, and stand firm when someone tells you that you "really didn't want all that yellow and blue in the shot." Or whatever color floats your boat.

Mark Woods, Director of Photography

Stills That Move, Pasadena, CA


I recently had the chance to attend a forum sponsored by Fuji and a Los Angeles Post Production facility here in LA. The majority of attendees were Local 600 Directors of Photography, and the subject of the evening was improving communication between the DP and the telecine colorist. Many interesting points were raised and discussed. The general direction of the discussion was in trying to determine if there was some empirical standard by which the Director of Photography could communicate his vision accurately to the colorist who would be transferring his work. Two things occured to me.

The primary issue is trying to compress the ability of film to record an expanded brightness range into a medium with a more limited capacity. The major problem is not in the mid tones which are easier to connect, but rather at the ends of the range. The ability of film to hold detail in the highlights and shadows that video simply can not reproduce without help. Sure we can throw a power window around the blown out background to help equalize the image, but it all comes down to the judgement of the colorist in how he compresses the film image to fit into video. We can provide polaroids, tear sheets, digital images, lengthy verbal notes, accurately photographed chip charts, even digital images of the vector scope and waveform monitors, but it all boils down to what the colorist thinks the DP wants to see. It is the relationship that is critical not necessarily the technology.

Which brings to the second point. I think everyone is searching for a technological solution to an artistic problem. In an ideal world, every DP will have a long standing relationship with a particular colorist who knows what the DP means when he says, "make it a little cooler". Unfortunately this is not always the case. Nor does the Cameraman always have the luxury of supervising his own footage. I think it is important on long term projects to meet with the colorist before hand to educate him or her what the DP has in mind and to develop a common language that is understood by each. On shorter projects, (commercials) this is not always possible, and so by providing as much visual information, (polaroids, tear sheets, chip charts, notes etc.) you can have a better chance of getting back what you expect. But again it all comes down to the judgement of the guy spinning the swami balls.

As you can imagine the Kodak system was not discussed, (it was mentioned in passing), but again, we are facing the problem of stuffing 10 pounds of image into a 5 pound video bag. What we can cram in and what we have to leave out makes all the difference.

- Ed Colman -

Cinematographer Supervised Video Dailies

SuperDailies

www.superdailies.com


Don writes :

>On a closely related issue, some colorists and DPs have assumed that TEC film can >be used to setup for grading. IT CAN'T! That's what the various Kodak TAF films are >for. TEC film is to calibrate the telecine to determine "transfer points" only...

Don is of course correct in that the gray scale is the same "Greyfinder" card Kodak has had. I assumed that perhaps the name had been upgraded to fit with all the new "TEC" literature I got with it. Sorry for the mixup.

I was also only referring to the instruction manual, not the TEC conversion tables (wherein you can determine the IRE or voltage for each filmstock) which are obviously Kodak specific.

So far, I've noticed that some Dailies Colorists are not too thrilled about systems that require at least some level of work with regards to exact IRE or other numbers to lock in the work. I've heard some complain about all systems, claiming "they've never been in a telecine bay" which I know to be untrue since I've investigated (somewhat) Yuri's system and now Kodak's and I think what they mean is that the designers of those systems are not the ones that have to rush through several rolls of dailies by the time 7am hits. Seems at 3am some Colorists would rather rely on their experience rather than "the math."

And the problems the poor colorists have at times... on any show. DAT's and Slates with bad numbers. Reports with a doctor's handwriting (2nd AC had 5 hits of espresso ?). A night supervisor who doesn't want OT. All this during a night shift. Its no wonder I heard a veteran Colorist refer to the job as "the Chair". :-)

I also think that Colorists have seen these systems used innacurately. I can see how you can really help lock in the intention of your work via these carefully designed systems as long as you also carefully execute the gray scales and extensively test the lab, telecine and filmstocks themselves.

Otherwise, its a crapshoot of sloppy charts and lab aim numbers that are way off whilst telling the Colorist the dailies should look different ! Give thanks to film's extensive dynamic range to get you through that.

Sometimes I simply cannot shoot gray scales each and every setup (depends upon the schedule of course). I would also doubt how often I would get a chance to do a really accurate scale, complete with color temp. Normally I get the glare off the chart, take a spot reading on lens axis... and then tweak that stop according to the scene. I don't think I'm alone in that one must, on occasion, rely on a Colorist's judgement to figure out a day/ext (with lots of recognizable colors: blue sky, white clouds, green foliage, skin tones). If I'm doing any sort of gelled lighting or colors I go ahead and force a gray chart in there somewhere.

Mark Doering-Powell

Los Angeles based Director of Photography


Hello Blain, The Aaton Greyfinder, designed in close relationship with the Kodak engineers who invented the TEC system, is a software option available for free in all Aaton Keylink Keycode and Aatoncode telecine readers.

It does two things:

1/- sets the telecine in 'densitomer' mode with the Kodak TEC film...see :

http://www.aaton.com/products/postprod/keylink/greyfinder.html

2/- automatically generates a set of RGB numbers DPs are seeking for and stores them in the ALE transfer database sent to the Avid Composers. As soon as the colorist drags the Greyfinder pointer on the grey card (wherever and how small it is in the image) the DP gets both exact exposure values (is my negative underexposed/overposed?) and pretty well-guessed printer lights computed from the colorist's primary corrections...see :

http://www.aaton.com/products/postprod/keylink/page3.html

The only lab I know of which is seriously using the TEC/Greyfinder system is LTC in Paris (contact: Didier de Keyser, dir. of engnring).

--Jean-Pierre Beauviala Aaton France

* hello Don, while you are not yet scuba-sunk would you tell us more? Aren't you the Keycode/TEC great-priest?


The best way to communicate with your colorist is to have them visit the set and see if they can share the vision you have for your project(s). If they resist, or just want to transfer the job and go home, find another one. Colorists are as varied as D.P.'s and have many different operational methods. Request their demo reel, check their credits. At the moment there are many out there hungry for work and should be more than happy to communicate (at least in LA).

I have experimented with the TEC system, and I agree that it is not the final solution for getting 'the look' intended. I don't know any part of this business that can be based on some numeric that will satisfy anyone, let alone a D.P. (It is insulting to someone who has worked for years to progress in the ART of Telecine and communication to have to base what they lay to tape with their name attached on some number generated by a system like this). There are way too many subtleties in film for this or any chart/system to express. Can a chart tell you where to set the highlights when it has more exposure than anything on the chart? It is an issue of only partial reference, among other things. Most projects I get use the standard Macbeth and Greyscale, and as long as you shoot them right and at least have a phone conversation with your Colorist to discuss the look you wan you should be OK.

And does anyone really want a numerical based person touching their film? Seems like a complementary artist sharing the vision would be more attractive.

Mellissa Manzagol

Freelance Colorist * Photographer

Los Angeles

www.manzagol.com


Mark wrote :

>If I remember correctly (no guarantees!), the gray is 18%, the white is 90% >reflectance, and the black is 7% reflectance.

Very close, Mark! You're correct except for the black. It's 3% reflectance. And I just want to make sure everyone knows you were talking about the Kodak Gray Card Plus, not TEC film.

>If the colorist sets the telecine to these values from the gray card, the image will be >somewhat flat and lack the "pop" we like to see in our dailies.

Right. Some colorists tell us they get better looking dailies if they alter the setup values specified for the three patches on the GC+. A little lower for lift and gamma; a little higher for gain. The initial values were selected to preserve as much information as possible in the transfer, assuming that would be desirable for final grading to follow later. However, the card seems to be finding greater use as a reference for dailies grading.

But as Mark Woods and Mark Doering-Powell have rightly stated, in order for any gray card to be a useful reference it _must_ be shot correctly! Unfortunately, that usually takes a little extra time. Too often a gray card is presented to the camera no differently than a clapper board. Many colorists have told us that the lighting they see on most gray cards renders them worthless.

>Also, there's no fine setting for the chroma -- which is the biggest problem in the >system.

Hmm... Do you mean a reference for shading or saturation or both? I always thought that setting RGB on a gray scale (three patches in the case of GC+) put you pretty close for initial grading, be it for film or for video. But maybe that's why some DPs like the Macbeth chart. Comments?

Don Ver Ploeg


>I recently had the chance to attend a forum sponsored by Fuji and a Los Angeles >Post Production facility here in LA. The majority of attendees were Local 600 >Directors of Photography, and the subject of the evening was improving >communication between the DP and the telecine colorist.

Actually, it was that Fuji event that got me started on this topic (great forum by the way, very interesting). I was surprized that although so many people expressed an interest in some more substantive way of communicating with the colorist, with a few exceptions, almost no one had heard of the TEC system (also, it was sort of a taboo subject at a Fuji sponsored event). Kodak has got to do better at publicizing the system.

>I think everyone is searching for a technological solution to an artistic problem.

This has been the reaction of many people: "it's art, not science." For me this is not the issue at all: I am much less concerned about telling the colorist what to do (it can always be fixed) than I am about getting FEEDBACK from the telecine.

When I could read the printer lights of the dailies, I knew a lot about what I was doing (right or wrong) and what was going on even if I couldn't actually see the dailies. With video dailies that feedback is lost. It was suggested at that meeting that one thing a DP could do is tell the colorists something like "give me two more units of IRE on the green." Ridiculous, of course, but that's how desperate people are for something more than sending the colorist tear sheets from magazines. (Actually the TEC system is a more rational, understandable way of communicating in terms of IRE units.)

Like many DP's I have a large "image file" of magazine photos, paintings, polaroids, etc. But I personnally don't like to do things such as "I'm trying to imitate this photographer."

I am NOT trying to force the colorist to work like a techno-slave. (I sincerely doubt that it would work anyway.) I am just hoping for something that is a little more civilized and rational like the system of printer points is for print film. After all, if you tell the film timer "give me four points more red", does anyone protest that "this is art not science"? Of course not, it's just a little more precise than "redder."

I think this will become even more relevant as we transition to more and more HD. Of course, the newer people will at some point have no idea what a "printer point" is, then where will we be? We are using equipment that (including all the lab and telecine) costs millions of dollars based on untold billions of dollars of research and engineering: does it really come down to "everything is subjective."

Cinematography is an art AND a science. The subjective stuff is my favorite part but a little techology doesn't hurt. Did anybody tell Ansel Adams "enough with all the science crap, Ansel, just shoot the pictures, the lab'll fix 'em up for ya."

I don't mean this as an attack on your statement (above). I agree that there is no way that the process can ever be reduced to a purely mechanical one. I wouldn't want it to be. I'm actually addressing a different problem - evaluation and feedback; not trying to do long distance ultra micro-management of the colorist: not a good idea and ultimately not a practical one.

Ultimately I consider the colorist a collaborator but not one I can always talk to face to face with the work in front of us.

Thanks, Blain


> Very close, Mark! You're correct except for the black. It's 3% reflectance

A peskey 4% of black can make all the difference in the world.

However, the card seems to be finding greater use as a reference for dailies grading.

The colorists I work with really like the GC+, and the fact that it's shot correctly. 3200K for Tungsten film with the grey read with a spot meter. We generally use a Tweenie since that light is almost always 3200K.

> But as Mark Woods and Mark Doering-Powell have rightly stated, in order for any >gray card to be a useful reference it _must_ be shot correctly!

My assistant shoots the card as he builds the camera in the truck. As soon at the mag goes on, a lens hits the port, we flip on the light and roll off the first image of the day, a grey card.

> Hmm... Do you mean a reference for shading or saturation or both?

Saturation. But on further reflection, the transfer house that had a problem with setting up the card ended up retransfering most of the film. Most colorists really like the card as a reference. I know that my dailies would never look the way they do without the card since I do so much colored lighting in "normal" circumstances.

>But maybe that's why some DPs like the Macbeth chart. Comments?

Again, the GC+ is in the top half of my clamshell case with the FotoKem color patches in the bottom. Saturation could certainly be determined by that. And my 1st AC usually includes the color, although on the new truck rig, only the GC+ is photographed.

We rarely shoot a grey card in a scene since it would be more of a problem than a solution. Production doesn't really want to see production time spent on the card. That's why we shoot it in the truck under controlled conditions. I reccommend it highly.

Hey Don, I always enjoy your comments and insights.

Kind Regards,

Mark Woods, Director of Photography

Stills That Move, Pasadena, CA


Mellissa Manzagol wrote :

>The best way to communicate with your colorist is to have them visit the set and see >if they can share the vision you have for your project(s). If they resist, or just want to >transfer the job and go home, find another one.

Certainly a good idea, but it seems to me even harder to achieve and more idealistic than expecting the DP to be available to attend and supervise most transfer sessions.

>And does anyone really want a numerical based person touching their film? Seems >like a complementary artist sharing the vision would be more attractive.

Indeed, and let me make this very clear. It was never the intent of Kodak, nor I in writing about their tools for cinematography, telecine or the film lab, that these aids are expected to replace the good judgment of the experienced professionals making pictures and preserving them throughout postproduction. That's why I have always been careful to say that Kodak's Gray Card Plus and TAF are intended to provide a setup for transfer, "a start grading point" for the colorist. These tools are not, as some others have promised, a set it and forget it solution. As yet there is no such tool for grading in telecine or for timing in the film lab, although certain guidelines work better for printing film where you have a wider dynamic range in which to work.

Don Ver Ploeg


>,,,,,,Production doesn't really want to see production time spent on the card. That's >why we shoot it in the truck under controlled conditions.,,,,, Mark Woods, Director of >Photography

How do you handle switching stocks? Back to the truck to shoot a chart?

On the show I'm doing now I shoot a grey card, followed by a text based card describing one of three looks I'm after, and, often a third card outlining special notes for the particular scene in question.

David Perrault


>Did anybody tell Ansel Adams >"enough with all the science crap, Ansel, just shoot >the pictures, the lab'll fix "em up for ya."... But Ansel Adam's great triumph is that he >achieved everything a sensitometrist could do, with graphs and log functions and >gammas and other "science crap" , with nothing more mathematical than a string of >Roman numerals I to IX.

Don't forget that Ansel Adams' books include not only "the Negative" but also "the Print". Work that's done after the negative is captured is equally creative, because (as others have pointed out) there is so much in the negative that has to be selected, cut down or discarded to make a print (or, in this case, a TK transfer). With two creative processes happening, it's crucial that there is as much communication as possible, and in the absence of DoP presence at transfers, or colorists visiting the set, it's that more important the telecine is lined up to the same parameters that the DoP is working with. That (whether it's TEC, Aaton Greycard plus, or Yuri 'Gamma and Density' Neymans's system) is the common starting point - then, only then, it's over to the subjective interpretation.

Dominic Case

Group Technology & Services Manager

Atlab Australia

http://www.atlab.com.au


>How do you handle switching stocks? Back to the truck to shoot a chart?

My 1st shoots the gray card for whatever stock we're using. Most of the time I only use one stock on a film. On the last film I shot, we used two. The working orders were to shoot gray cards for both if they were going to be used on that day. The mag of the "other" stock would be kept hot and used first when the time came to change.

Mark Woods, Director of Photography

Stills That Move, Pasadena, CA

http://www.markwoods.com/


>The best way to communicate with your colorist is to have them visit the set and see >if they can share the vision you have for your project(s).

We will visit the set to see what is going on if the DP requests. Sometimes even if he doesn't. I always try to get to the set on multi day projects. Makes everyone's life so much easier. ( and I love the red vines on the craft service table

> Kodak's Gray Card Plus and TAF are intended to provide a setup for transfer, "a start >grading point" for the colorist.

Exactly. We tell all our clients to do just that. A properly exposed and

balanced gray card are a great place to start, but we rarely just dial it in and go. It is a great way to evaluate any colored lighting, filtration, basic contrast range, but it is only a departure point. Sometimes, depending on the skill and understanding of the DP, we don't have far to go. Sometimes it's quite a voyage. We will always make the effort to contact the DP, and have our DP supervisor talk to him/her to try to 'get into his head' and become the eyes that can't be there. We also give as much feedback as possible, regarding density and color, contrast and range. It is not a precise printer point

report, but more an evaluation of the negative as it comes up. But as most of the people on this thread have said, it ultimately comes to the judgement and skill of the people in the room, how effective the communication has been, and the relationship with the DP. After years transferring some of our clients work, we have developed a common vocabulary, and have a clear understanding of what they are going for. No technological system no matter how sophisticated can replace that.

> -- Ed Colman - SuperDailies


Mellissa Manzagol wrote :

>The best way to communicate with your colorist is to have them visit the set and see >if they can share the vision you have for your project(s). If they resist, or just want to >transfer the job and go home, find another one.

Certainly a good idea, but it seems to me even harder to achieve and more idealistic than expecting the DP to be available to attend and supervise most transfer sessions.

True, in most cases. If it is possible though, it is a great way for you & your colorist to get to know each other, a chance for them to ask questions, to observe if you are too busy to talk, speak with the crew, etc. The best reference to the way a scene looks is by one's one eyesight. My visits to the set of episodic shows (requiring staying up after a long graveyard shift) helped to advance my production knowledge which makes me a better colorist and more credible to the D.P.'s I work with. There are those out there willing to do it, schedule permitting. Otherwise, call them if you can. I worked an entire season on a show and the D.P. never called once. I wonder if he even saw the dailies. On another show the D.P. called every morning to see if there were any problems. I visited this set 4 or 5 times in a year and a half. He included me as part of the project, asked me questions too, and I wish to someday have the chance to thank him. I think what I am trying to say is that you, the D.P.'s are an important part of the education for these colorists. They (hopefully) are trained by other colorists on how to run the sessions, but you can only learn so much in a little dark room.

>And does anyone really want a numerical based person touching their film? Seems >like a complementary artist sharing the vision would be more attractive.

Indeed, and let me make this very clear. It was never the intent of Kodak, nor I in writing about their tools for cinematography, telecine or the film lab, that these aids are expected to replace the good judgment of the experienced professionals making pictures and preserving them throughout postproduction. That's why I have always been careful to say that Kodak's Gray Card Plus and TAF are intended to provide a setup for transfer, "a start grading point" for the colorist. These tools are not, as some others have promised, a set it and forget it solution. As yet there is no such tool for grading in telecine or for timing in the film lab, although certain guidelines work better for printing film where you have a wider dynamic range in which to work.

Understood. The concern I have with this is how other perceive the setting up part of it--- I have had projects (this example is not TEC related) that would say 'set up on the chart and let it fly' --- OK, so I did--- the problem with this is that the colorist on the show previous to me would color the chart then change the color on the following footage and say he 'let it fly'--- so then the D.P. thought I was crazy until I showed him the 'real picture'. This is not the best example, but I worry about D.P.'s thinking this is the holy grail and they REALLY don't need to talk to the colorist now. ---With post houses moving people up from entry level positions and making them colorists with minimal training, I suspect this system is actually a good idea. I know a colorist that doesn't know what an f-stops is and he's been doing telecine for many years. This system would be GREAT for him and especially new colorists---There is an endless amount of stories I could give you on this, but I'll spare you from them. Due to this conversation I have gained telecine time at a TEC supported facility. I am wrong to judge on the past experience I've had with the system (sitting with engineering after transferring all night). I will give it the courtesy of a good study (while awake enough to analyze properly) and get back to you.


>The best way to communicate with your colorist is to have them visit the set and see >if they can share the vision you have for your project(s). If they resist, or just want to >transfer the job and go home, find another one.

A wonderful idea, but what if I'm doing let's say, a dozen totally different lighting setups a day over the course of three weeks on 10 or 12 different sets/locations, some with radically different lighting looks? Which one does the colorist visit? On top of that it is often difficult for even experienced production people to fully comprehend that the way it looks in real life on the set is not necessarily the way it is being "photographed." Great when a colorist visit happens and tremendously useful, but a bit idealistic to think that it's practical as a general solution: not to mention if you are shooting in Burundi.

I have had much greater success in having visual effects supervisors visit the set: that is often critical.

By the way, I want to work for producers that allow the DP to fire post production houses, too, sounds cool.

b.