The Magic Of Craft

Behind The Grade Q+A: Karol Cybulski

How do you use your craft to enhance story and emotion, and ultimately drive effectiveness for brands?

Every decision in the colour suite, from the broad strokes to the smallest fine tuning details, cements the emotional temperature and drives home the ‘goal’ of the film, be it to immerse the audience into the world and experience of the protagonist, or to push a brand’s identity. There are countless tricks at the colourist’s disposal that can heighten the story, guide the eye and craft the experience of watching the final film.

Was there a specific film or ad or music video that made you want to get into the industry?

It’s soooo hard to pick just one, but I’ll always remember the impression that Chungking Express left on me in my late teens. After growing up on a diet of Doctor Who and blockbusters, being introduced to the wider world of film, especially more expressive and experimental films, reallyopened my eyes to the full potential of cinema and I fell in love. (No shade on Doctor Who though, I’m going to be rewatching every episode ahead of the new doctor’s arrival…)

[Above: Still from Chungking Express (1994) ]

A lot has changed in the industry over recent years. Which changes have affected your craft for the better?

One of the silver linings coming out of the pandemic is having a really strong remote grading workflow thanks to Streambox. It’s connected me with clients old and new around the world without sacrificing the magic that comes from real time collaboration. Even though I’m overjoyed to be able to work with creatives in person again, I think it’s great that a solid alternative is there whenever it’s needed.

What’s your favourite part of a project?

Honestly every part, I’m so lucky I get to call this my job, but if pressed my top 3 would be -

[Above: Still from NSG Headliner from The Agenda - live]

What’s your process when developing a look?

I start with a in-depth discussion with the director and DoP to get fully aligned on their vision for the project, and especially when working with new people, I find it really useful to chat through image references - It’s a great short hand for me to be able to understand the way they see colour and get a feel for their sensibilities and taste. Then we have an experimenting phase where I push the footage around, find what it likes, find what it doesn’t, and I slowly begin translating our earlier discussion onto the screen.

What advice would you give to aspiring colourists?

Work hard and soak up as much knowledge as you can – People around you will soon see that you’re willing to learn and will be keen to help.

See Karol’s work here.

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