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Behind the Title: Colorist Mark Todd Osborne

NAME: Mark Todd Osborne (@marktoddosborne)

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE? Senior Digital Colorist

WHERE DO YOU WORK?
I perform color at several facilities in Los Angeles, and I have a side company called MTO ColorData, which helps keep me busy when I’m in between post house jobs.

WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL?
As a color artist, I help bring out the production value of the digital neg and design a “look” that helps best tell the story through mood and tone.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER YOUR TITLE?
Client management and having to be a bit of a psychologist at times! Understanding the personalities of your clients and how to treat them is extremely important.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
The satisfaction of seeing my client’s hard work coming to fruition and going beyond their imagined expectations in the final result.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Having to squeeze a three-week DI into a six-day DI schedule. Sometimes budgets don’t allow for all the days truly needed to do the work required, but I still have to find a way to make it work.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
When all the “heavy lifting” is done regarding getting the project roughly put together and matched. From there, it’s just fine tuning each shot creatively.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d be making films myself. Years ago, I wrote a few screenplays and spent some time directing music videos that aired on all the music video channels. I was still working as a colorist at the time, so it became a bit much. I decided to focus all my efforts on coloring.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I’ve been a TV and movie junkie since I can remember. I always knew I wanted to be in the film business. I started in production and then quickly moved into post. That’s where I discovered there was such a thing as a “telecine colorist.” I went to work for Stefan Sonnenfeld two months after he opened Company 3 and he told me that I had an “eye” for color. That encouraged me to grow my craft from there.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS?
I’ve recently colored commercial spots for Nissan, Toyota and California Avocado, and a television pilot to air on Adult Swim for DJ Douggpound.

It Follows4 It Follows8nice

I also graded the theatrical film It Follows (pictured above), Cooties for Lionsgate and Need for Speed for DreamWorks. Plus, I’ve done a decent amount of short films and a couple of music videos. It’s been a busy year!

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
It’s hard to pick any one particular project. The first project that comes to mind is Capote (2005), because it won an Academy Award that year and it serves as a personal bench mark in my career — I’ve grown so much more as a colorist since then. I do things much differently now.

If I had to choose, I guess it would be It Follows, because I got a chance to be really creative on that project and do things that were a bit “off normal.”

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More from It Follows

WHAT IS YOUR TOOL OF CHOICE?
My tool of choice is DaVinci Resolve. I work on several color systems, but DaVinci is my favorite.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I study the great painters and what they did in terms of light, shadow and texture. I look at lots of photographs from photographers I like, and see countless hours of television and cinema.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My iPhone, my iMac 5K and my iPod.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Any sites dedicated to film production and finishing — Shane Hurlbut’s “Hurlblog” for which I am a contributing writer (see link), LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Only at certain points do I listen to music while I work. Usually, once looks are set, and I’m in my quietly focused “matching mode,” I like to have some music in the background. I’ll play ‘40s- and ‘60s-era jazz, movie soundtracks, classical and a healthy dose of ‘80’s music when I need to stay awake. That includes B52’s, Depeche Mode, New Order and the Cure.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I hang out with my kids as much as I can and try to be outside as much as possible since I’m in a dark room most of the week.

I also like to play old-school video games on Atari and Intellivision and read ‘50s-era comics like Tales from the Crypt and other titles.

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DaVinci Resolve 10 Used for Advanced Color on Hollywood Blockbuster “Need for Speed”

Fremont, CA – March 24, 2014 – Blackmagic Design today announced that DaVinci Resolve 10 was used by freelance colorist Mark Todd Osborne for advanced color on the Hollywood film “Need for Speed.” Osborne worked at LA based production and post company Bandito Brothers’ state of the art facility on the 2K DI color for various screenings and previews.

“There was a team aspect that went into the post process for this film that enabled us to start work on color much earlier than the norm, which also allowed the color to evolve with the cut over time,” said Mark Graziano, Executive Vice President of Post Production at DreamWorks Studios. “In addition, this collaborative workflow afforded us the luxury of having screenings at a higher resolution with a more refined picture.

“Mark put us in a really fantastic place early on in the post process as far as 2K DI color,” he continued. “The workflow at Bandito Brothers coupled with Mark’s color helped us put our best foot forward for important screenings very early on, five to six months in advance of delivery. It also enabled us to take our time through the process of refining the picture, as opposed to the frantic pace at the end of the film that is typical.”

In addition, Bandito Brothers were able to provide 2K color corrected footage for 3D conversions. According to Graziano, very rarely does a stereo conversion provider receive color corrected files to use for its conversion process, and Osborne’s advanced color work made it much easier to address creative notes and made the overall 3D process smoother.

Based on the popular series of video games, “Need for Speed” is a high octane, action packed thrill ride that follows a street racer on a cross country race of revenge. Osborne was tasked with enhancing the film’s authentic look, while also creating a rich setting with high saturation and strong contrasts to help convey mood, tone and intensity. With numerous high energy race scenes and real life stunts, Osborne used DaVinci Resolve 10 to subtly heighten emotion and excitement, helping to draw the audience in through color.

“DP Shane Hurlbut introduced me to photographer Todd Hido, and we used his work as inspiration to achieve a natural look that still had an edge,” said Osborne. “We often had three or four different sources of greens, yellows and blues, so a mixture of warms and cools with different gradients across the frame, but still maintained a source of light. DaVinci Resolve’s Power Windows, custom curves, chroma keys and luminance keys helped me finesse these looks and enhance the qualities in Shane’s footage.”

Osborne noted that there were several major race scenes where color not only enhanced the intensity, but was also necessary for consistency. “The lighting alternated between sun and heavy clouds in one scene, and that change can distract the audience and take them out of the experience. I used Power Windows, keys and curves to maintain a consistent overcast look with cooler colors and a saturation pop for effect, which also helped convey a darker, more turbulent mood,” he explained.

Osborne added: “On the flip side, there was a big race sequence in the Red Rock Canyon desert, and the red rocks weren’t filming consistently. We wanted them warm and yellow to play up the heat and tension, but sometimes they looked cool and blue. On top of that, the scene is shot in and out of cars, between the rocks and then back in the cars. DaVinci Resolve’s tracker was a big help in delivering precise color in a snap.”

Osborne was also able to rely on DaVinci Resolve’s auto key frame tracker without having to extensively track and key frames manually. “Tracking made so much difference for me,” said Osborne. “DaVinci Resolve’s auto tracking got it right the first time. Some shots can move too fast for a system to handle, and you have to go in manually and fix them, but that rarely happened with DaVinci Resolve. It’s these things that add up and save on time.

“It’s also so user friendly that I don’t have to think about the technology and tools when I work. Instead, I can focus on crafting the image and stay in the creative process. There was a lot of meticulous color that went into this film, and it draws the audience in and helps tell the story,” he concluded.

“We don’t just have a dedicated DaVinci Resolve suite at our facility. Blackmagic Design makes up the backbone of our operations with a Videohub router, numerous DeckLink cards and HyperDeck Studio Pro SSD recorders. We were thrilled to have an artist like Mark showcase his creativity and sophistication in our color suite,” said Jacob Rosenberg, CTO and Director at Bandito Brothers. “Scott Waugh is not only the film’s director, but he’s also a co founder of Bandito and an editor on the film. So ‘Need for Speed’ was a really personal project, and we were all deeply invested. Mark came in and immediately invested himself 100 percent.”

Press Photography

Product photos of DaVinci Resolve, Videohub, DeckLink and HyperDeck Studio Pro are available at http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/press/images.

About Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and film restoration software for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including stereoscopic 3D and 4K workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. For more information, please check http://www.blackmagicdesign.com.

 

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Super Bowl: Collaboration Factory pairs Chevy & ‘Glee’

February 8, 2011
Super Bowl: Collaboration Factory pairs Chevy & 'Glee'LOS ANGELES — Production company Collaboration Factory (www.collaborationfactory.com) recently worked on a new spot for agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners and its client Chevrolet. The Chevy spot features the cast of Fox Television’s popular show Glee and is a modern musical take on the 1950’s “See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet” jingle, which was originally performed by Dinah Shore. A :30 teaser of the spot aired during the game, and a two-minute version debuted following Glee’s season premiere immediately afterward.Movie theaters across the country are showing a minute-long version of the spot, while a 2:20 version can be seen on YouTube.Collaboration Factory was tapped to produce the project by Glee EP Dante Di Loreto. The spot got the green light on January 7, so Collaboration Factory owner/EP Thom Fennessey quickly gathered a crew of 55 to construct a set, a group of 55 dancers and aerialists, and the Glee cast members.The production shot on January 13 and 14 at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles. Jesse Atlas cut the spot, and Brent Bonacorso served as VFX supervisor. Rod Maxwell was a digital artist. Post production took place at Digital Jungle. Mark Todd Osborne handled color correction. The DI was supervised by Kassi Crews. Mike Davis was DI editor.

DPs & COLORISTS

By: Christine Bunish

LXD: THE LEGION OF EXTRAORDINARY DANCERS

A freelance DI colorist who was a longtime staff member of Company 3 and now works primarily at Light Iron Digital (www.lightiron digital.com) in Culver City, Mark Todd Osborne says colorists and DPs have always had a “strong, symbiotic relationship. They’re primarily who we answer to; most directors depend on the eye of the DP to guide them through the color process.”
Osborne likes to have a prepro meeting with DPs, if possible, to address “any problems going into the shoot and what we can and can’t get away with in DI.” When projects wrap, DPs are participating in the DI more than ever before, he reports. “They used to set the looks for half a day then go back to shooting and I’d send them stills as I went along. Now, most try to be there for the entire DI from setting key scenes, which is exciting, to the more mundane task of matching and putting reels together.”
Although Osborne has used FilmLight’s Baselight system and Autodesk Lustre, he’s especially fond of the Quantel Pablo, which he calls “the most logical and user-friendly” of the boxes. “With the level of clients I work with you have to be able to give them five looks fast, and Pablo tends to be a one-button, instead of a three-mouse-click, solution. It’s a real deep box, and I’m still learning just how deep it goes. It’s also a strong VFX compositor and editor.”
The colorist recently finished season one of Paramount Digital’s Web video series, LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, produced by Jon M. Chu (who also directed a few of its 10 episodes) and airing on Hulu. The five- to eight-minute episodes, showcasing the talents of the LXD dance troupe, were shot by Alice Brooks on Red.
“She’s a real Red aficionado with a beautiful eye, so she gave me great images that I further enhanced and shaped,” says Osborne. With the Red One camera “you want to shoot as Raw as you can get it,” he explains. “I’ve found that any manipulation in the camera to help the color subtracts from overall image quality. But if Red Raw footage is shot well, you should be able to see what the DP saw and discuss what’s in the image from lighting techniques to inconsistencies in makeup.”
Osborne’s modus operandi is “beauty in simplicity,” he says. “I can use all of Pablo’s magic bag of tricks, but the DP may have already painted the shot beautifully.” For LXD he largely finessed Brooks’s images. But sometimes the DP captured the exposure and was open to ideas about what to do in the DI suite. “Since I see so much footage every day, I’m often asked what I think the client should do,” Osborne notes. “That’s what I love about the collaboration.”
Overall, the Web video series had “a motion picture look, a strong feature film direction,” which became even more apparent to Osborne when episodes were screened at Paramount. “I color corrected off plasma screens, but the footage held up well projected: The blacks were deep and rich and strong — they didn’t break up and get flat.”