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Making the Grade: Understanding the Tone with Lez Rudge

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Assembly Post Production's colourist and creative director on a love for cinema, organic processes and the willingness to try

Making the Grade: Understanding the Tone with Lez Rudge

Lez Rudge is a world renowned colourist and creative director at Assembly Post Production, who has worked on countless award winning television commercials, as well as music videos and feature films. 


LBB> What was your first experience with the world of colour grading – and when did you decide that being a colourist was a role that you wanted to pursue?

Lez> I was a runner at a post house in Singapore when I first saw someone loading 35mm film onto a telecine machine - I was fascinated and wanted to find out more. When it was explained to me that a colourist had the ability to alter and beautify live video images I knew that’s what I wanted to pursue, being someone who’s always loved photography.


LBB> What was the project that you felt really changed your career?

Lez> The beauty about grading is that it’s so variable and no two jobs are the same. There’ve been big budget Super Bowl spots that I loved working on as much as powerful/ moving PSA’s that maybe have had small budgets but had powerful narratives.


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

Lez> I have been fortunate enough to work globally, from Singapore to Australia to the US - it’s definitely been a rich canvas to keep trying to improve myself.


LBB> Tell us more about your creative process

Lez> The 1st thing I do is to watch it down several times, to truly appreciate what the creatives, director, DP and editor were trying to visualise. Understanding the tone for me is the key as to how best to apply a look that helps amplify the desired emotion.


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

Lez> I am a massive fan of filmmaking, I love the art of cinema, production value, beautiful photography, visceral reactions to what’s seen on screen are highly inspiring. I am also a big lover of music, of all genres, from old blues, 40s big bands, hip-hop, indie to current pop - I love what I intrinsically react to, I never make excuses for liking something - there are no ‘guilty pleasures’ for me.


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?

Lez> I can’t single out a specific technique, again I find grading to be a very organic process, it all depends on the footage in front of me and what’s the end objective. Great DPs/Cinematographers can make anything look beautiful, irrespective of the format it’s shot on.


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?

Lez> As I had said earlier, the key to a great grading session is to first figure out what the objectives of the project are - my job as a colourist is to enhance and strengthen the vision of what was initially conceived by the agency and then the director.


LBB> How do you ensure that each colourist-director partnership is a success?

Lez> For me the key has always been having an open mind - it works both ways - showing clients something they might not have thought of and on the flip side, having someone suggest a direction I might not have thought of and realising it might be a better approach.


LBB> What advice would you give to budding colourists?

Lez> Being open to ideas, and having a willingness to try different looks, but my biggest tip would be for them to listen, have pride in what you’re doing, but don’t get to a point where you become obstinate and closed to ideas.


LBB> In your opinion, what's the difference between a good grade and a great grade?

Lez> A great grade is when the look enhances and strengthens the narrative and emotion desired. When a grade becomes distracting and unnecessary, it’s counter productive


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

Lez> As with almost all creative fields, accessibility to tools have dramatically changed and become much more available. However, just as with any other craft, having the tools doesn’t instantly make one a craftsman/ woman - it’s about the vision and application of creativity & taste.

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Assembly, Wed, 19 Jan 2022 09:02:47 GMT