Meet The Colourist
Senior Digital Colourist, Technicolor Postworks, New York
John Crowley has been part of the Technicolor PostWorks team since 2004 and in recent years has focused much of his attention on episodic television. His credits include the series Nurse Jackie, Damages and Borgia.
How did you start out in post?
I started out in post as a tape operator for National Video Industries. My duties were to assist colourists, editors and video shoots that took place in our studios. That is where I learned how to operate various videotape machines, cameras and film chains.
How did you get into the job as colourist?
I got into colour correcting as a full-time assistant to a wonderful colourist, Laura Jans. Once I learned the "ins and outs" of colour correcting, I started to do sessions at night using a Rank and a Sunburst II colour corrector.
What gives you a buzz about colour?
What gives me a buzz about colour is what any artist loves to see: a picture that is painted to perfection. Creating an image with various levels of light and saturation is something that still amazes me to this day. I also get a buzz from being part of a team and collaborating with other people such as directors, DPs, producers and editors.
What types of projects did you first start colouring and how has that evolved?
The projects I started on were student films, music videos, archival footage and, yes, home movies. I then started doing commercials for clients such as Häagen-Dazs, Cover Girl, Neutrogena and Mercedes Benz, just to name a few. My work then evolved into long-form projects, such as Everything's Illuminated, Awake and Adventureland.
Now, I primarily work on television shows like Nurse Jackie, Borgia, Vice and The Americans.
Do you feel there is a trend towards the same/similar look requested by clients or that each is very different?
I feel each project has a unique "look". For instance, the show Borgia takes place in the 15th century before there was electricity, so all interiors and night scenes have a warm candle-lit ambience. That’s quite different from a show like Vice, where most of the shots are lit with natural light.
What’s your single most favourite thing about Baselight?
One of my favorite things about Baselight is the ability to view multiple timelines at once. We were once asked to do a comparison of a film's OCN and IP in 4k and 2k, which was a total of four timelines playing simultaneously for our client to evaluate. Needless to say the client was extremely pleased we had the capability to view these files in this manner.
Can you describe if/how Baselight increases your productivity and creativity?
Baselight increases my productivity and creativity in so many ways. Just to name a few, the endless number of layers and the unlimited amount of shapes I can use throughout a show helps me to be as creative as I want. The precision of the shape tracking and having the tool-set to perform simple clean up work also enhances my productivity on any project.
What makes for a good day at the desk?
For me, what makes a good day at my desk is when my clients and I review a show I colour corrected and minimal or no changes are made. It gives me great satisfaction when a DP, director or producer reviews my work and they leave knowing they have a colourist who is passionate about his work.
What is the best project you have ever worked on? Why?
The best project I worked on was a film called Delirious staring Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt. Tom DiCillo, the director of the film, was amazed by the things we were able to do in the colour session: using layers to create vignettes, isolating skin-tones and helping to tell a story by using light and colour. I vividly remember Tom’s reactions every time I perform one of these tasks. It was priceless!
“The director was amazed by the things we were able to do in the colour session: using layers to create vignettes, isolating skin-tones and helping to tell a story using light and colour."
Colourist: John Crowley
Role: Senior Digital Colourist
Company: Technicolor Postworks, New York