We are happy to introduce you to Charles Little II, ACE, a film and television editor-director-producer and an award-winning multimedia creative. Charles and the editing team for FX Network’s internationally acclaimed documentary series, Welcome To Wrexham have recently been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Picture Editing For An Unstructured Reality Program – 2023. Charles took a moment to share some of his insights and experiences with us including how an ACE’s event inspired him to start editing, how his background in the US Navy helped to give him valuable skills for a collaborative career in editing, and how being a good person is one of the keys to making it as an editor.
Los Angeles Post Production Group: Thanks for taking the time to share your story and insights with us, Charles. For starters, how did you get interested in editing?
Charles Little II: I became interested in picture editing at a time early in my career when I began to seek more substance in my work. I was first introduced to computer graphic design in the mid-1990s which progressed into Motion Graphics 3-D animation, and stage/production design by the mid-2000s. As a visual artist, I took a lot of pride in my work, but in a concert or theater environment it often felt like the audience paid little to no attention to all of the video content surrounding their experience, and that led me to pursue an avenue to channel my creativity that would result in a more poignant and lasting result. I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2007 and at that time I wanted to be a Director of music videos and television. In 2010, a friend invited me to the Egyptian theater for ACE’s ‘Visible Artists Invisible Art’ event, which was a live panel where the current roster of Oscar-nominated film editors discussed their work before a crowd of like-minded, wide eyed storytellers. Witnessing that discussion was the exact moment that I knew I wanted to become a picture editor. I’ve been on an amazing journey from assistant editing to cutting reality television, scripted television, and documentaries; and now I’m a member of ACE, one of the industry’s most respected organizations of film and television editors and the producer of the event that first lit that fire within me.
LAPPG: How did your time in the US Navy prepare or offer you skills that are important in the world of editorial?
CLII: My time serving in the United States Navy (the world’s greatest navy) has impacted my life in the most profound ways. It was there I learned how to collaborate, how to lead, and how to follow. Film making above everything else, in my opinion, is a collaborative experience. So the fundamental respect for and ability to collaborate continues to serve me each and every day.
LAPPG: What is the biggest difference for you between editing a show like “Welcome to Wrexham” which is under Emmy consideration as an unstructured reality show vs. a narrative show that you worked on like “9-1-1” or “9-1-1 Lone Star.”
CLII: Yeah, that’s a great question which I do get asked from time to time. I’m sure that my answer here will be a subjective one, but for me the biggest difference between working with unscripted material and scripted material is a fundamental one. With unscripted material, it’s very much what I call hands on. I have to manhandle that material to make it often do what it was never intended to do, in order to tell a story that viewers can follow, connect to, and believe in. That’s a direct contrast to my approach with scripted material that has been pre-visualized and crafted to do a specific thing. With scripted material I have to get out of its way and allow the performances to be, allow the elaborate sets, costumes, and dialogue to live in all its glory. With unscripted material I am creating a script from the material. With scripted material I am serving the script to bring its story to a level beyond anyone’s expectations including my own. I am always trying to amaze myself and everyone else in the process. LOL.
LAPPG: For you, how much of editing is technical vs creative?
CLII: Oh yeah, that’s also a good one, but for me, the answer is rather short and simple. The act of editing is 100% creative. It’s the act of utilizing the tools that is technical. And similarly to photography, picture editing today requires a mastery of the technical aspect, so that you no longer have to think and you can just do. So that the creativity can flow through you freely without the technical aspects hindering that process and rather fostering it.
LAPPG: How does a platform like Avid Media Composer allow for your creativity?
CLII: Avid Media Composer does a great job of allowing for that creativity to express, because it streamlines the process enough that the technical, the bells and whistles, don’t overshadow or hinder the creative process. For me, cutting in Avid Media Composer is like playing an instrument. I don’t think anymore, I just do.
LAPPG: You are a member of major industry organizations such as the American Cinema Editors and Motion Picture Editors Guild. Can you tell us about the work that you are doing on the Motion Picture Editors Guild’s African-American Steering Committee?
CLII: That’s another important topic to touch on at least for me in my particular career path. During the early days of my career, I was so hungry I literally walked union picket lines before I was ever a union member. I shot photographs of union editors on those picket lines, and I contributed to the Motion Picture Editors Guild’s communication efforts. It was my way of introducing myself to the industry and ultimately it paid off. Once I joined the Editors Guild, my work had really just begun. Because I realized it’s not the union’s job to find work for its members, that’s a responsibility for me and me alone, so I remember thinking to myself, well “if the union can’t do anything for me what can I do for the union?“ And that’s when I sought out ways for me to give to the union. I looked through their list of committees and their diversity committee spoke directly to me, being a person of color, and so I joined. I became very active and as the diversity initiative grew, it spawned the development of various subcommittees, which included the African-American steering committee. That committee has become a great source of camaraderie, inspiration, and mentorship throughout my career and continues to be so today. I am grateful to be a member and proud of the work that we do.
LAPPG: What advice do you have for someone starting their career as an editor?
CLII: I’d say make certain that editing is something that you truly love because it requires a 1000% commitment. And also, make certain you have some heroes and goals. For sure, it’s not about the destination but the journey, that’s completely true, but I feel that you need goals as benchmarks to guide and track your journey as much as heroes to inspire your vision and your pursuit.
LAPPG: How important is it for someone to become proficient on Media Composer?
CLII: Well, Avid Media Composer is the Cadillac of NLE’s and the industry standard tool when crafting feature films, television series, and documentaries at the highest levels. But I do think that today the landscape has a lot of powerful tools that allow creators to express themselves. Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve are among a range of creative tools that are widely and constantly in use in filmmaking today. So I think today’s editors should have proficiency in Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro at the very least.
LAPPG: The Welcome to Wrexham episode, “Do or Die”, which has been nominated for a 2023 Emmy seems to go more into the backstories of some of the players and townspeople. It also seems to use some special editing techniques. Can you share with us what made this particular episode so special?
CLII: Welcome To Wrexham’s Episode 118 “Do or Die” is the culmination of a really interesting exploratory and groundbreaking series of television as much as it was all of the aforementioned for the characters on the screen in real life. The game happened on the pitch, but the real game playing out was the game of life. As editors, our constant responsibility in cutting Welcome To Wrexham Season One, was to tell an authentic story, to make certain that what viewers experienced on the screen within the context of our 18 episode series, was what actually happened. It was our duty as much as our pleasure to just amplify that experience a bit. Season One ofWelcome To Wrexham was always about the townspeople at its heart. And the editing techniques flashing from the pitch into the homes and hearts of the townspeople and the players was specifically designed to give the viewers access to that coveted insight as much as to make the experience that much more emotional and entertaining. The editors with whom I collaborated on Welcome to Wrexham are simply some of the best editors I’ve ever encountered. They made up those techniques off the hip. I myself spent the majority of my time crafting scenes from raw material, and when Curtis McConnell or Michael Brown or Micho (Mohamed) El Manasterly got their hands on the material, the scenes took on a new life which inspired me to another level when the material often made its way back to me. We all touched one another’s work a bit and inspired one another healthily. Working with this team on this series was really like what I would expect playing in a really great band might feel like. I mean I’m not the best musician and I used to fancy myself a singer back in my band days, so please pardon the band references. LOL.
LAPPG: What does it mean to you for this episode to have been nominated for an Emmy?
CLII: For me this Emmy nomination is a confirmation that I am exactly where I need to be and I’m doing exactly what I was born to do. It all really does feel great.
LAPPG: What other skills, besides having good editing chops do you think an editor needs to have in their belt?
CLII: Well, that’s a great one, and another simple answer. Just be a good person. Filmmaking is an intimate, laborious, collaborative and challenging undertaking. It takes a lot. A lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of resources and a lot of people and the latter is the most important ingredient. Of course you need to be a great editor. You need to be a great storyteller, you need to be a powerful creative, because ultimately no one wants to spend weeks and months holed up in a room with someone that’s just no fun to be around. So it’s easy, just don’t be that person. Do great work, be a great person and just give. Give at every turn and it will feel absolutely great. 🙂
Michael Kammes has been a long time supporter and friend to LAPPG and for those of you who may remember way back in 2016, he served as our terrific MC for LA Post Fest! Currently, Michael is the Senior Director of Innovations at EditShare where he shares his vast knowledge and expertise, helping to shape their suite of solutions in the marketplace. If you’ve been in this industry for almost any amount of time, you’ve probably seen him serving as a keynote speaker, presenting at various industry organizations and trade shows, sharing his insights on various podcasts, or on his hit series, “5 Things,” where he does a brilliant job demystifying and simplifying film, TV, and media technology.
Los Angeles Post Production Group: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Michael. I know with IBC and the brand new merger between Shift Media and Editshare you are one busy guy, so I’ll make this quick! What are you most looking forward to seeing at IBC 2023 and what will Editshare be showing?
Michael Kammes: I’m interested to see how real the implementations with AI technology are with the existing products in our industry. While I have no doubt there will be more AI tools than we can count, I’m interested to see just how useful implementations are. More steak, less sizzle.
MediaSilo’s integration with Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio is now shipping – no need to leave the application to use the MediaSilo goodness! Our integration with MASV and Telestream’s Content Agent is also available today!
On the new side of the house, EditShare One gives a single, streamlined user experience across our high-performance production asset management and media storage solutions. Plus, Editshare’s EFS Swift Link (bridges the gap between remote editing and centralized EditShare EFS storage systems in the cloud or on-premises) – now adapts to the network conditions of individual workstations allowing users to maintain a strong connection to the storage network.
LAPPG: Over your long career you’ve designed and built thousands of production and post-production systems, workflows, and facility integrations. So were you always on the technology side of post figuring out how everything works and goes together?
MK: I had collegiate aspirations of directing, and then picture editing, but these roles didn’t fulfill me creatively. Sound editing fit like a glove, and I did this for many years. However, it became apparent to me that I was often “painting by numbers”, that is, triaging more than creating. Subsequent jobs that leaned on technical know-how resonated with me. The logical flow of the technical processes- the cause and effect – just made sense. I parlayed this interest into live A/V, and ultimately the hardware and software that are used to create media. Having been on the creative side, I had a great balance of what was needed by creatives, and now how technology could provide that.
I had to take the long way to get here, however. But without perusing what I believed was the right path at the time – creative roles in the film industry – I think I would have always wondered “what if…?” Discovering where the creative spark started with me allowed me to know when to look elsewhere for additional professional fulfillment.
LAPPG: It seems that all the AI buzz has really been keeping you busy! (LAPPG members should be sure to check out “AI in Post Production – Your Questions Answered” on Michael’s 5 Things series and “Is Artificial Intelligence Coming for Your Job? Maybe…and Here’s How to Prepare” on Zack Arnold’s Optimize Yourself.) So we’re wondering if there is one particular AI advancement that you think will have the most impact on the post production workflow or the industry as a whole?
MK: AI will be your co-pilot. The tedious tasks that are cumbersome – that’s where AI will fit perfectly. Object, logo, and facial recognition, speech to text. Natural language processing – meaning, interacting with AI conversationally like you would like ChatGPT – will enable less technical users to “build” smaller applications for more post production specific tasks. We’re going to be flooded with applications and tools with varying degrees of reliability and accuracy, unfortunately.
LAPPG: Many years ago you were very vocal about the importance mental health and the industry and at a time the subject wasn’t talked about very much. Recently mental health has taken the spotlight and is finally being addressed more openly. So, first, thank you for being open and working to end the stigma surrounding mental health, and secondly, how do you think the post production industry and even the entertainment industry is doing with this subject? Have you personally seen a shift in the way mental health is being addressed and what else would you like to see?
MK: Thank you very much! Over the years I’ve had many folks reach out and share their struggles. It legitimizes the fact that every single one of us is built a bit differently, and we all react to our life’s experiences in our unique way. And sometimes that unique way means getting help. The Media and Entertainment industry, more so than most fields, has traditionally encouraged longer and more grueling work schedules – not to mention most of your work is reacting to notes from folks who want changes to what you’ve done!
In terms of addressing the topic of mental health, our industry is being dragged along kicking and screaming. M&E is risk averse. Change is bad. However, the staggering amount of content that’s being made outside the M&E realm means there are more jobs outside of M&E. This helps to introduce a more normalized work/life balance for creatives. I’m hopeful that the recognition of the importance of mental health in other verticals will influence how our industry addresses the issue. But it’s going to be slow.
You may not know this, but one of the interesting things about LAPPG is that it is not just for post production professionals. Case in point, we’d like to introduce you to the super talented writer turned director, Dedi Felman, who has been a longtime LAPPG member. We spoke with Dedi about how she got interested in directing, what her experience was like winning some prestigious and exciting fellowships, and why she joined LAPPG.
Los Angeles Post Production Group: Thank you so much for sharing your time with us. Can you tell us about your work as a writer and how you got interested in filmmaking?
Dedi Felman: I’ve spent my entire life working in story and with storytellers. I just happened to spend the first part of it in the publishing industry, eventually as a senior editor at Simon & Schuster.
I’ve always loved filmmaking. My Dad and I used to go to the movies together. He was deeply emotional yet also very Silent Generation. Getting him talk about his trauma-filled past was impossible. Yet, the movies opened him up. We’d see a film, then spend hours discussing the characters’ choices and dilemmas. As an immigrant, he also loved picking apart even the biggest summer blockbuster for what we could learn from it about American culture. The movies became our way to communicate, to assimilate, and an indestructible bond.
At university, I’d skip whatever I was supposed to be working on to attend the weekly auteur film series. I adored Scorsese—how he captured the sounds and silences of his deeply emotional NY tribe, including their rage, anger, humiliation—and love. Spike Lee also knocked me off my feet. His trailblazing, stylized storytelling in Do the Right Thing brought the streets alive. In full color. His stories were uproarious and pointed; and you couldn’t look away. And then there was Hitchcock, the master. I toted that Hitchcock / Truffaut book everywhere!
So, I did have this vague idea what directors did. But I knew no one in the industry. And back then, a career as a female writer/director just didn’t seem truly viable. So, I shelved that thought and went off to publishing.
LAPPG: I understand you were part of the inaugural class of the HBO Access Writing Fellowship. How did that come about and what did you learn from that experience?
DF: It was an incredible experience. It was effing HBO (can I say that?!)
Kelly Edwards, an ultra-wise, gifted woman was our mentor. (Read her book, The Executive Chair, if you want to share in her wisdom.) HBO’s top writers, directors, and development folk all gave us advice, which was thrilling. But it was a most unexpected meeting that changed my life. Two of my fellow fellows had arranged to meet Jay Roewe, HBO’s head of production. Game of Thrones was going full throttle then, but Jay generously made time for us. At first, I was honestly a bit baffled. Why were we there? We were writers, not filmmakers. But when, after over an hour of some of the best advice I’ve ever received, Jay told us that if we ever wanted to write for HBO, we needed to understand production, a light bulb went off. I wanted to know what the best filmmakers knew. I wanted to learn production. And I wanted to direct. There it was. The path I’d always dreamed of.
I immediately signed up for a UCLA extension course in directing and Adrienne Weiss’s invaluable course on Directing Actors. I was going to do this. Come hell or high water.
LAPPG: What is your favorite part of the directing process?
DF: That’s like asking a parent to identify their favorite child! I cannot choose. I love every piece of the process from pre-pro to post. Being able to collaborate with so many talented, creative artists at every stage, is exactly where the joy of directing lies. I’m currently shadowing a friend on a treatment process and learning how 3D artists, illustrators, and designers collab to create the visual language for cinematically intriguing, unique worlds—and it’s been mindblowing.
I love working with my cinematographer(s) to figure out how to frame and tell the story. My DP is my true partner and collaborator at every step. The actors bring all the magic. They also have highly honed bullshit detectors and always help me identify the truthful and untruthful moments. I’m simply in awe of their ability to completely inhabit their characters—and to give us different, brilliant options that allow us to truly feel all the feelings. I always wish I had more money for my production and costume designers, but have marveled at their ability to create rich, believable worlds from next-to-nothing. And I love working with everyone on set from AD to gaffer et al, to create this incredibly special world that we get to step into and live in for all too brief moments. Working with stunt coordinators and grips and Steadicam ops to inject movement and action is its own special joy. And well, I’m not going to tell a post person such as yourself anything new about just how crucial what they do is. Or how they save our stories from dying on screen. But they do. And it’s awe-inspiring. Like when my editor brings me a cut with elements or a solution I never even dreamed of and I’m like, damn, THAT. That wasn’t what was in my head, but THAT is it. Or the composer dreams up a motif for a character that perfectly suits them. Or the sound designer changes the whole feel of a scene for the better by supplying that perfect missing sound. And our incredibly talented colorist just makes the whole thing POP with their painting. Etc, etc. (And this isn’t even everyone!) Collaborating with every single person in the filmmaking process is beyond exciting.
LAPPG: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced creating your short films?
DF: Money. Especially post-pandemic and with the current inflation rates. I believe in paying my crew. It’s short film rates; it’s not even what they deserve. But everything: locations, insurance, has gone sky-high lately. And it’s beyond stressful.
LAPPG: As a director, what made you join a post production group like LAPPG?
DF: As I mentioned, I came to all this late. And I certainly didn’t have the money for film school. So I’m always feeling a bit beyond the curve and always looking for opportunities to learn. Weirdly, enough it was an actor who told me about you. He was hoping to add some editing skills on the side, had learned about the group, and encouraged me to come too. It was way back when, when the group still met in the Community Room at Crossroads. There was delicious cake and coffee on the side and a talk on NAB and assistant editing in scripted TV. There were even lottery tix (though I’ve never won–ahem!) I understood maybe about 10% of what was going on that night, but I was hooked.
LAPPG is simply an amazing educational resource for someone like me. It’s BEEN my film school. Even better than film school, it’s been a concrete, on-the-ground, this is how the sausage-gets-made and it’s-so-cool learning experience. The group is also led by and filled with the most creative, inspirational, and kind people. As far as I know, nothing else like it exists in LA, except maybe Blackmagic Collective, which I also belong to, but which has a different focus. I can’t express enough how appreciative I am that LAPPG exists. You (Wendy) and Woody are a gift to the community.
LAPPG: What have you gotten out of the group or learned from the group?
DF: Yikes, what haven’t I learned? The breadth and depth of the seminars has been incredible.
Highlights for me include Dan Kneece’s presentation on shooting short schedule features. Dan was such an inspiration to so many of us. He exemplified the kind of fun, creative, collaborative, beautiful, generous filmmaking I try for, even within all the constraints of indie films.
Debbie Berman, who edits Marvel films, was another absolutely inspiring speaker. I remember her describing The Final Girls edit and how they used both black and white and bright, bright color to time shift (the characters end up in the main character’s mother’s movie). Those bright, bold yellows and greens and reds of the movie-within-the-movie also help heighten the comedy in this comedy-horror film. It was an eye-opening solution that has just stuck with me!
More recently, the session at ZEISS led to an all-afternoon camera-test for me and a fellow female director, which was illuminating in all senses of the word. We learned so much about different lenses and their uses that day. Yet another valuable connection formed thanks to LAPPG!
LAPPG: Aw, thank you for your incredibly kind words. Woody and I truely appreciate that. So, I know you were a Blackmagic Collective Directing Actors Fellow in 2022. What was that experience like?
DF: Blackmagic is another educational group that I’ve belonged to for years. The Directing Actors program was a unique opportunity for us to put up scenes every month with a troupe of wonderfully talented actors. Selected sessions included invaluable advice from guest working TV directors. Jenn Page, who runs it, is a powerhouse. She would give us these exercises that pushed us way beyond our comfort zone (my first time dp’ing, ack!) but that really helped us grow. Also, as directors we are often in our own silos. To be able to interact with other directors and view how they approach a scene and the choices they make was invaluable. I miss all those folks greatly and wish I could do it all over again!
LAPPG: Do you still do any writing or teaching?
DF: Yes, I still collaboratively write for my day job. I’m also rewriting two features that I hope to direct next. Hollie Overton, a co-ep on All American: Homecoming, and I also teach TV, novel, and screenwriting at Genre Masters. Check us out at www.genre-masters.com.
LAPPG: What projects or topics are you interested in exploring next?
DF: My short film, TAKE GOOD CARE, which will debut at Hollyshorts, and has also been selected for Burbank International Film Festival, is a deeply personal story about aging, ambition, family, and love. The logline is: In a world where older people are expected to quietly die at 65, a single-minded scientist, desperate for more time, needs her long-neglected artist daughter to take good care–of her.
I wrote it for all the men and women who, willingly or unwillingly, ended up as caretakers, and know how emotionally complicated an endeavour that is. There’s definitely a dystopian edge (as a youth-obsessed country, we are so unprepared for and unrealistic about an aging citizenry!), yet, ultimately, it’s a love story. As I discovered taking care of my mother: it’s never too late to communicate the true care we feel for one another.
I’ve got a draft of the feature version for that. In addition, I have another feature I will pitch to anyone willing to listen. It’s a female-forward heist movie. Two estranged sisters on opposite sides of the economic divide in Kentucky must come together for the heist of a lifetime. It’s a total romp and I can’t wait to make it. Let me know if you’re interested. (wink!) And thank you for these amazing questions. I’ve learned lots too!
We are excited to introduce you to Shaley Brooks, a colorist and workflow specialist based in Los Angeles. He works in episodic television, advertising, music videos, and feature films and has recently restored the 2003 feature film, Perth.
Los Angeles Post Production Group: It sounds like you grew up with a father that was a broadcast engineer. How did that influence you and can you talk about the path you took that got you interested in pursuing a career as a colorist?
Shaley Brooks: I did grow up with a father in broadcast engineering. One of my earliest memories in life is walking into Studio 6A at KRLN (now KLRU) in Austin, Texas. This was the original stage for Austin City Limits. ACL was a new show at the time and we had no idea it would become the event it is today. But it wasn’t the music that intrigued me, although Willie Nelson is a national treasure! The video cameras on large pedestals and a master control room with a switcher and about a million buttons hooked me. I spent the next decade imagining myself operating master control and sending TV programming out to the city of Austin. My dad moved to California in the early 80’s. I followed him after I finished high school and started to navigate my way towards being a colorist, although I had no idea that was where I was headed. I also had a lot of exposure (pun intended) to photography. We had a dark room at home and could process black and white film. I got my first 35mm SLR at age 8. I photographed anything I could whenever I could get my hands on an unexposed roll of film. When I found myself working in the engineering department at Anderson Video building telecine bays I figured out what I was going to be when I grew up. Film and video together was a dream come true. It didn’t hurt that I love movies and TV too! It has been an incredible experience watching our industry evolve. The most exciting aspect is how technology has developed and now allows individuals to create incredible programming with off the shelf equipment. Accessibility to tools like Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve allow the next generation of filmmakers to create content unlike any other time in history. It is an exciting time to be in the post services business.
LAPPG: How long have you had Iris Digital Post and what services do you offer?
SB: I have been doing small projects in a bay I built at home since 2009. My first system was built using Final Cut Studio 2. This was always a research and development endeavor and allowed me to keep my education going and help independent filmmakers at the same time. In 2020 I got the opportunity to finish ABC’s Home Economics and Iris Digital Post was formed. We provide all of your post needs. We have finished many independent films and a lot of short form work. I think of it as “concierge post services” supporting productions throughout the entire process. IDP supports filmmakers from pre-production to dailies, conform, color, and deliverables. For Home Economics I provided final color services and collaborated with DigitalFilm Tree. DFT provided the rest of the post production services including dailies, conform, and VFX. This relatively new approach to providing color services is a wonderful way to go in my opinion. By separating color from the rest of your post services we can focus on the creative aspect of color. This allows the EPs and DPs more access than ever and ensures the images look brilliant all the way through the chain. At IDP we work closely with the editorial team and the above the line creatives to deliver a look that exceeds your expectations. We follow that up by working with the finishing house to guarantee a successful delivery.
LAPPG: It sounds like you are also a workflow specialist. How do you stay on top of the latest workflows since the technology is always changing so fast?
SB: I am indeed a workflow specialist. My experience in this business gives me a unique perspective that allows me to bridge the analog world with the digital world. I am constantly reading about new products and trying out anything I can get my hands on. One of the most important tools I have is my vast network of colleagues that I have worked with over the years. Sharing information with each other and discussing new ideas is a key component to keeping fresh in our industry. Fortunately the information available via the Internet is vast. When I started working in telecine I had the good fortune to join the Telecine Internet Group, created by Rob Lingelbach, one of our industry’s pioneers. I was one of the original 100 members. Having access to the world’s top post professionals via the TIG was crucial in my early education. My years spent reading the posts from that group formed my continued approach to educating myself.
LAPPG: A look at your IMDB reveals that you’ve worked on so many great shows. Do you have one in particular that you are most proud of and what about the work or your experience on it made it so special?
SB: I have worked on many top shows! It is hard to choose one but my experience on Now Apocalypse was a stand out. Working with Sandra Valde-Hansen is a professional treat. Sandra is an incredible photographer and human. Sandra is Gregg Araki’s DP and working with Gregg is an incredible experience. This was a creative team that set the bar high. We finished 10 episodes but treated it more like a giant feature film. Using a RED camera we embraced the IPP2 color management system to allow for consistency from our on-set monitoring through dailies. I really appreciate what RED did with IPP2 and feel like it gives filmmakers a framework to control your images from the beginning. Ultimately the bold contrast and color on Now Apocalypse is something I am very proud of. This is a collaborative field so I am really aware that none of us do this alone. When we all come together under strong leadership we can make some really cool stuff!
LAPPG: You have had a collaborative relationship with the director Djiinn who directed the feature film Perth in 2003. Can you tell us what you were up against when restoring this film that was originally shot on Super 16mm film?
SB: Perth was a challenge. The elements available for restoration were limited. We only had a 35mm answer print. This was created from a 2K scan of the 16mm footage. This was not the best place to start for a restoration! We were immediately limited by the print. This lacked detail and had a lot of dirt and scratches. Using the color tools in Resolve I was able to keep the detail in the blacks and minimize the contrasty nature of an answer print. I used ACES for my color pipeline and feel like this helped me get more detail in the lowlights. We were very limited due to our nonexistent budget. The tools inside of DaVinci Resolve made this work possible. We did our best considering the source that was available. Ultimately this film has a new life in our new digital delivery system we use today.
LAPPG: Can you elaborate on the tools and workflow you utilized for this project?
SB: I used DaVinci Resolve for the entire project. I also used the Blackmagic Cintel Scanner! With the help of my friends at DigitalFilm Tree I was able to scan the 35mm print to files. I used the .CRI image stack to create an intermediate DPX stack. I did DRS, noise reduction, and some Fusion paint work at this stage. I also converted the image into an ACES format when this was rendered. This became the “clean-ish” archival master. Using the DPX stack I then color corrected the feature. Once I had things ready to review, Djinn came in and added the parts that are the most important in my opinion. We adjusted color to make sure the original intention was satisfied. We improved it when possible. Restoration projects are neat because when the filmmaker comes in for the final review I get to participate in the discovery of an old cherished artifact. It is like when you go through a box of stuff and find an object that brings you joy. All of the memories that go with finding items like this reminds me of watching a filmmaker view their film after two decades. The pain and joy of filmmaking brings a lot of emotion and the people that create these works carry these memories with them. Viewing a film you made 20 years ago is like reuniting with an old friend. There is so much to say and feel! I always like my work more after the storyteller gives their input and directs the images to look like the world they see in their minds.
LAPPG: Did your knowledge of Fusion inside DaVinci Resolve come in handy?
SB: Invaluable! I started really using Fusion about 2 years ago. I am very happy to have Fusion in my toolbox now. I use Fusion in TV to do light VFX work like painting out actor’s marks on the ground or easy object removal. For Perth I used Fusion paint to paint out the scratches too large for the Dust Buster and Automatic Dirt Removal. It was a thoughtful blend of all of these tools together that got us to a finished product that was acceptable.
LAPPG: How has the evolution of DaVinci Resolve impacted your work?
SB: This is a great question. I have used DaVinci products since they were da Vinci products! The early tape to tape systems were incredible works of engineering. When Blackmagic purchased da Vinci Systems, Resolve was already a product but it wasn’t anywhere near what it has become under the ownership of Blackmagic. Resolve allows me to provide post services at a level equal to large facilities of the past with a much smaller crew of people. With this software you can support any type of production. The skills required to use Resolve comprehensively include what used to be 6 or 7 separate jobs in a world that used videotape. The tape room, telecine bay, online edit bay, tape to tape color correction suite, titling system, and video effects all live in one place. This is truly remarkable in my opinion. Notice I am not even touching on audio because I am a picture guy but it does that too!
LAPPG: What advice would you give to colorists just starting out?
SB: Download DaVinci Resolve today and start using it. I also like using Photoshop, it inspires me to try new things. You can always use GIMP for free and it will definitely help you build skills that a colorist uses. Also, learn as much about lighting and photography as possible. You need to communicate with DPs and in order to do that you need to understand their job. There are a lot of good books and websites out there that can help you educate yourself. I would also add always keep learning. It never ends and honestly, learning new things is the most exciting part of my job.
LAPPG: Living in LA and working on so may different projects there is always the need to create work/ life balance. How do you best do that? Are there any hobbies or activities you like doing when you have some downtime?
SB: My family is my rock. We are very close and my wife and two sons love to travel, near and far. I also love to hike and take advantage of the hiking trails in Southern California as often as possible. Making sure you have some time away from the console is a must!
Get ready to meet Juliane Grosso, co-founder and CEO of Cine Gear Expo, the premier event for the technology, entertainment and media industry now in its 27th year. In this interview you’ll learn about how this legendary event got started, their key relationship with Paramount Studios, and what you can expect at this year’s LA event from June 1-4, 2023.
Los Angeles Post Production Group: How did Cine Gear Expo first get started?
Juliane Grosso: I’m excited to tell you about an event that’s really close to my heart. Cine Gear Expo is an annual gathering for all the incredible professionals in the film and entertainment industry. The first one happened way back in 1996, when my late husband and co-founder Karl Kresser and I were working with Otto Nemenz. We officially incorporated it as Cine Gear Expo in 1998. Our first expo was held at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California, and it featured just six exhibitors. But wow, have we grown since then! Now we attract over 300 exhibitors and thousands of attendees from all over the world. It’s become an amazing hub of education and collaboration, dedicated to the art and technology of filmmaking. We hold it every year in Los Angeles, California, and we’ve even expanded to include events in other locations like Atlanta and New York.
LAPPG: For years, the show has been at the Paramount backlot and then went to the LA Convention Center. Are you excited about returning to Paramount this year?
JG: Cine Gear Expo and Paramount Studios have a long-standing partnership that dates back to the early years of the expo. The partnership between Cine Gear Expo and Paramount Studios has been a mutually beneficial one. It has helped to cement the show’s reputation as a must-attend event for anyone involved in film and video production. Paramount Studios, on the other hand, benefits from the exposure and publicity that comes with hosting such a large and prestigious event on their lot. The expo provides an opportunity for industry professionals to see the latest technology and equipment in action, while also providing a platform for companies to showcase their products to potential customers. We are very excited to be back at our favorite location.
LAPPG: How will this year be different from last year?
JG: Our exhibit space grew to FIVE areas which currently includes indoor locations on three stages with more adding on and outdoor exhibits which take place on the beautiful NY Streets and the B Tank at the gateway to NY Streets. We have several new exhibitors, higher attendance, several groundbreaking equipment announcements, and a packed seminar program to take place during the expo.
LAPPG: What are you most looking forward to for Cine Gear Expo LA 2023?
JG: Cine Gear has a unique vibe and DNA. There is no other show where you have so many production professionals in the same place at the same time – even people who are working come after their shift. We anticipate a greater turnout than ever before and have already seen an increase in the number of exhibitors. Additionally, we are excited about the educational and festival features of this year’s event, including brand-new premier seminars as well as our annual masterclass and the student film competition. And of course, we always look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.
LAPPG: How has the show changed from how it was pre-pandemic?
JG: The show has expanded in all areas. The LA event is expected to be bigger than ever; we have continued our annual show in Atlanta and most recently returned to NY with a successful show and great reviews. The festival side is certainly going to expand going forward, and thanks to our On-Air events, where we host webinars and live event recordings, we are looking to attract a completely different group of people from the production side; film buyers, executive producers, and production companies.
LAPPG: It sounds like you added a day to the schedule this year. Can you tell us why and how the schedule will be different this year?
JG: After careful consideration and feedback from exhibitors and attendees we decided to go back to a 2-day exhibit event for 2023 and will address adding another scheduled exhibit day in 2024.
LAPPG: Can you tell us about some of the Masterclass highlights for this year?
JG: Sure! Every year, we offer master classes on specific industry skills and highlights current technological advancements. As virtual production continues to rapidly evolve, filmmakers are discovering new ways to create cinematic virtual scenes with greater creative control and on-set collaboration. Given the significance of this emerging field of production, Cine Gear Expo has decided to introduce a new master class focused on virtual production. This will premiere alongside the annual and always in-demand lighting master class, which is taught by top experts in the industry. This new addition is expected to generate significant interest and provide valuable insights into this exciting new area of filmmaking. Be sure to visit our website for most up to date information and schedule of the 2023 educational program.
LAPPG: What type of companies are we going to be seeing this year?
JG: CineGear Expo offers artists and technicians the opportunity to discover state-of–the-art technology and techniques including content capture hardware, workflow software, support equipment, and the processes. Latest and greatest tech has always been our main theme for all our shows. As always, the show will feature wide range of exhibits and demonstrations of the technology and equipment for cinematography, lighting and sound, including ARRI, Blackmagic, Canon, Sony, Cooke, Zeiss, Duclos, Brompton Technology, Planar, Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment, Cinemoves, Astera, Aputure, Kinoflo, MBS, Warner Bros, NBC Universal and many more.
LAPPG: What would surprise people that they may not know in terms of the work you do to put a show this big on?
JG: One of the most unexpected things may be my level of involvement in every aspect of the show, as well as the size of our team. Despite having a compact team to run the show, we have managed to consistently make it larger and more impressive each year. We take care to preserve the show’s history and ambiance by paying attention to every detail, while also continually evolving and improving with each event.
LAPPG: With shows also now in Atlanta and NYC, do you plan to expand beyond these markets?
JG: We are always open and on the look for opportunities around the world and are proud that Cine Gear Expo has grown to become one of the largest and most important events for film and video professionals and is known worldwide.
LAPPG: What do you want people to know who will be coming to the Expo this year?
JG: Cine Gear Expo is all about in-person networking, and reconnection with colleagues and friends from across the world. Attendees get hands-on training, gain knowledge and skills from world technology leaders, and network with peers all within a professional and comfortable studio environment with food and drinks at hand.
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