Jax Harney and Danny Wood reflect on colour and grading developments and share their insights into where the industry is heading next.
Pantone may have announced the colour of the year as the “universal favourite” Classic Blue, but there’s more complexity to colour and grading trends than a simple wash of one shade. ENVY Advertising’s award-winning colourist duo, Jax Harney and Danny Wood, discuss developments over the past decade and cast their expert eyes over what 2020 will bring for colour on screen.
Q> How have you seen colouring/grading evolve over the years and what have been some of your favourite developments?
Jax> There have been incredible advances in grading software over the past decade, which means as colourists we now have much more creative control in the grade. The ability to isolate colours more effectively, track moving objects and delve into the finer detailing in real time, means our grades can be far more intricate.
Danny> I’d say one of my favourite developments is being able to work natively and maintain maximum quality from camera to delivery.
Oh Wonder – Happy. Graded by Jax Harney.
Q> You’ve worked across many fields from fashion to sports to music – are you seeing more of a particular type of brief coming in?
Danny> With a lot of social content being produced there’s more originality with more diversity than ever. Projects no longer have to cater to a broad spectrum of clients so briefs can be much more targeted. I’d say if anything, there’s actually a broader spectrum of briefs.
Beautiful is Relentless – Aston Martin. Graded by Jax Harney.
Q> If you could choose a colour palette to signify 2020 what would you choose?
Jax> WGSM predictions for 2020 include a lot of pastel shades, Neo Mint being one of my favourites. I would expect to see this trickle through in fashion and we could perhaps see a softer approach for the year.
Danny> In 2019 we saw a lot of gritty looking work so maybe for 2020 we might see a slightly glossier style of grading.
Q> What was your biggest lesson learnt in terms of colouring/grading in 2019?
Jax> Last year I completely changed up my grading style moving to my new colour home and shifting from DaVinci Resolve to Baselight. It’s been incredible to work more closely with the VFX team at ENVY – especially for Aston Martin. This really changed the way I approached some of the more surreal elements they were looking to achieve for the film. I was able to bounce ideas off the team and play more with the colours knowing we could really push the footage.
Danny> For me it was how beneficial it is to work on passion projects. I worked on some amazing films with some of my favourite directors and DPs last year as well as some incredible new talent. I feel like it keeps you sharp and fresh and it is something I’m looking forward to carrying forward to 2020.
The Eternal Run – ASICS. Graded by Danny Wood.
Q> Looking ahead, which trends do you predict to see in colouring for 2020?
Jax> HDR content is becoming more available so I predict we will start seeing this more in commercials as well as films.
Danny> I think it’s a really difficult thing to predict, you never know when a film or campaign will do something beautiful and original which totally changes everyone’s taste.
Q> In terms of digital innovation, have you seen any new technologies being introduced to the colouring process?
Jax> The introduction of OLED screens and people consuming more content on their mobile devices has made a huge difference to the way we look at colour grading in the suite. As colourists we need to be aware of where our content will eventually end up so we can maximise on the end result.
Danny> I feel like the biggest change from a tech point of view has been the colour space management and scene referred workflows as well as the transition to HD and UHD from SD. We now have the ability to work with tools in a colourspace aware environment and are able to future proof projects for multiple outputs.
Down From London. Graded by Jax Harney.
Q> Is there a particular type of style that you enjoy working on most?
Jax> Can I say “anything colourful”? I love variety even though I know Danny will say I lean more towards filmy looks.
Danny> Recently I’ve been really enjoying working on sports content with punchy looks, the Nike Air Jordan x Maison Chateau Rouge project alongside MOX agency and Kriss Kyle and Redbull are a few favourites.
Kriss Kyle in Dubai. Graded by Danny Wood.
Q> What are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now?
Jax> As colourists (and perfectionists) we love time! There are occasions with tighter schedules and budgets where we’re not always afforded as much time as we’d like to perfect the look… but in saying that, we know limitations can be fun in order to challenge and push ourselves further.
Danny> The way we consume media is so different now to even a few years ago and it’s going to be a case of finding how we all fit into that.