– . – Digital Colourist – Dado Valentic
Digital Colourist – Dado Valentic
Dado Valentic, chief colourist and managing director of MyTherapy D-Cinelab, discusses the musicality of colour and the new possibilities digital technology offers to independent filmmakers.
Born with a condition that gives him “a great sensitivity to colour,” digital colourist Dado Valentic is “almost genetically predisposed” to do this as a job.
“I have synaesthesia,” he continues, “so for me the colours have chords and sounds, and for me there is a melody in a colour.” Thus he sees a strong link between his day job (“in layman’s terms, basically a Photoshop artist for film”), and his night job as a DJ (under the monicker Tito Heron). “I almost approach colour-grading as if I were writing music or a soundtrack for a film. Sometimes you are looking for a very soft underlying effect to support the story, and sometimes colour takes a more important role_just like when music accentuates drama in a scene. It just kind of helps put all the elements together to create a story, to create the illusion.”
Valentic set up MyTherapy D-Cinelab to ensure that, as digital cameras evolved, there would be a parallel development in the technology required to process the data. “In the same way that you used to have a film lab that would take the camera negatives and apply processing and chemicals to make it look correct, there had to be technology or techniques put in place for the digital camera, because we found that if we do certain things to the images, it will make them look much better.” If digital images were promising to revolutionise cinema, they also “needed therapy, needed someone who was going to take this raw footage and turn it into something that looks beautiful and amazing”.
To Valentic, colour-grading is “the single most value-adding factor to film”, with important ramifications for independent filmmaking. “It is possible to make a film on a relatively low-budget camera and, through very clever colour-grading, we can make it look like a 10-million-dollar Hollywood movie. At the same time we help solve many problems that happen throughout the filming. It is impossible, sometimes, to light the whole set the way you want to light it, if there isn’t enough equipment, light and time available. Sometimes the weather changes or you have two shots that are in the same scene, but one’s very cloudy and the other is very sunny. We can fix all those kinds of issues.”
Valentic also sees digital solutions for the distribution problems facing most independent filmmakers. “You can master and create digital film prints for a cinema at less than 10 per cent of what it used to cost for 35mm. Last year something like 80 per cent of films which were made in the UK never got theatrical distribution. There are many reasons for that: one is that people still didn’t embrace the digital technology as such, and second, they are still trying to approach the traditional routes of going to a company that would market and distribute to theatrical cinemas for them. However the independent distributors don’t necessarily want to take a risk with small films any longer. So my approach was to encourage DIY, where filmmakers would be able to book their films not in a chain of cinemas, but in just a few.