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Making the Grade: Seeing Colour Differently with Brett Price
Post Production
New York, USA
Forager colourist on a passion for photography, the inherent beauty of film and how to train your eye

Brett Price is a Nashville Based Colorist, Photographer & Filmmaker. After spending several years at Company 3 New York, Brett left to start as a freelance artist and signed with Forager. Brett has coloured a wide range of music videos, documentaries and commercials with brands including Nike, Lululemon, Under Armour, Calvin Klein, Skillshare and Sony. His latest narrative feature grade, LANDLOCKED, has been accepted in over 20 film festivals worldwide.

LBB> How/where did you hone your craft and did you have any particular mentors?

Brett> I had the opportunity to work for Company 3 NY for several years as a feature colour assist, often working under Drew Geary, Tim Masick & Tim Stipan. During that time, I had a bird’s eye view of how a colourist works in our industry. I was able to pre-grade several projects, and the feedback/learning experience from my time there was formative in how I approach the role now.  

LBB> From experience, we’ve found that colourists often love art and photography - when you’re out of the studio, what inspires you?

Brett> Photography is a huge part of my life and was certainly a precursor to learning how to manipulate colour. Lately I’m very inspired by inclement weather and unusually moody lighting, playing with shadows and hiding things with light. It’s very nice to be able to practice your trade in a small way every day. 

LBB> Colour grading is largely a digital affair, but there’s also been a resurgence of film over the past few years in commercials and music videos. What are your thoughts about working on film versus digital formats like 4K? And what are your favourite techniques for capturing a vintage or tactile feel?

Brett> The capture mediums available to cinematographers and colourists today are astounding. While they both share unique characteristics, Film and Digital have reached a place today where they can both be digitally graded for nearly the same display/look. I personally love the inherent beauty of film and the textures that you get easily, but emulating that on a digital image also allows great freedom to change those textures at will. Having photographic experience and some knowledge of how film captures an image is very helpful in emulating it’s characteristics with grain/curves/chroma in a digital environment. 

LBB> When working in commercials, what role can colour and a grade play in enhancing a brand’s assets and what sort of conversations do you have with creatives and clients about that (e.g. is there often a strategic/consistent ‘look’ for a brand? Can these be too heavy handed?) 

Brett> The key to commercial grading is consistent communication. Because a brand can have ad campaigns that exist in other forms (print/web/ect), often the approach or need is to make sure those campaigns translate properly into a different medium; and because all of those mediums handle colour differently, making sure that you’re knowledgeable in those fields is important as well. I often ask for as many print/web references as possible and to make sure that the comparisons between the mediums are being seen by the client properly as well. Since our industry has become much more remote since Covid, setting up good communication to iron out inconsistencies in colour is very important.  

LBB> What advice would you give to budding colourists?

Brett> To trust and train your eye. The tools available to us have evolved immensely in the last two decades and often new colourist’s feel the need to over complicate their work to feel like they’ve done their job thoroughly. Our job is much more about finesse than manipulation; It’s ok to be simple, lend your eye to the DP/director, don’t take the reins. 

LBB> How is the craft and trade of colour grading changing?

Brett> Remote grading has become a huge part of our industry because of Covid. Because we all see colour differently, and because every monitor has the potential to display it differently, learning how to talk about colour and even some more technical parts of our job with creatives has become super important.

Work from Forager
Think of a Woman