A few months back – yeah I know, I’m trying to catch up on the blog posts here – I worked on a tourist film about Jackson, WY called “Jackson Hole to the Max” with Wink Inc Productions and producer Peter Israelson. It’s a 45 minute film about the history of Jackson Hole, narrated by Reba McEntire. I was working on the color for Destination Extreme (for National Geographic) in another room and, not happy with the color correct they had received from another facility, they invited me in to fix up a few shots. They had me re-color the action sports segment because of the previous experience I had working on winter-based action sports films, but they also asked me to see what I could do with all of Reba’s standups. They told me she would not be happy if she saw these shots and to give her “the Hollywood treatment.”
After a few minutes I showed them the first standup and everyone agreed it was way better and I should do the same thing on the rest of the shots. The funny thing is that they wouldn’t show me what the other colorist had done. I wanted to see what they considered “bad” so I could work in the other direction. But they wouldn’t let me see it. They just gave me the original raw shots and told me to do my best. In the end, I’m glad they forced me to work that way because I was able to see that what I would do normally turned out to be exactly what they wanted. Later on down the line I did see what the other colorist had done and I understand why he graded the shots the way he did. But I could also see why the producers didn’t like it. I started with the subject and made her look as good as I could – then corrected the background with secondaries. I could tell that the other colorist balanced the background first – because I actually liked some of his backgrounds better. But then the subject of the shot doesn’t look as good. 2 different methods that are both correct that produce different outcomes. This is why color grading is so subjective and why most in the industry refer to it as color grading rather than color correcting.
I also authored the Blu-Ray for “Jackson Hole to the Max” that plays in the theater. It was a very simple Play-Only that I made using Compressor, Adobe Encore and Toast. I was very impressed with the quality of the MPEG-2 that Compressor made. Kinda odd that the Blu-Ray looked so good when the same Compressor, in my opinion, makes sub-par DVD encodes. But that’s the subject for another post.
“Jackson Hole to the Max” plays every hour at the Pink Garter Theatre off of the town square in Jackson, WY for the rest of the summer.