An Interview with Pablo García Soriano
Pablo García Soriano is head of colour at Mission Digital. He has worked as colourist, colour supervisor and digital image technician on productions including, His Dark Materials, Downton Abbey, Mr Sloane, Fleming, Night at The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, London Fields, Six and a Half, Cats, Cuckoo, The Inbetweeners Movie, The Escape Artist and Mad Dogs.
How did you get into colour grading?
I was the assistant editor/online editor on a Spanish/Argentinian co-production when the in-house colourist gave his notice. We were about to start the grading process and I was asked if I thought I could do it. I had some previous experience in television only and the leaving colourist spent a week with me teaching me the how-tos and don't-dos till I felt confident enough to have a one on one with the DoP. It went very well!
Can you explain what the role of colourist entails?
Each colourist has different ways and approaches. I like to compare colourists with chefs, they can do the same recipe but none of them would do it the same way... Some are more technical, some more artistic and that varies very much their roles. I'm my case I've specialized in pre-production and production, assisting my Cinematographers in camera choice, lenses, filters and more importantly, Look Creation and Colour Management throughout the production process (onset, dailies, etc...). This doesn't mean that I don't do finishing and mastering too, I do it more as paid "hobbies" (at Mission we don't provide finishing services but I have a fully operational studio with all the latest tech (HDR reference monitoring, HDR WFM, Resolve and Baselight, etc...) for some cinematographers that are also close friends of mine. Love doing Short films, Music promos, etc…
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
When pre-production has been miss-treated or non-existent (we'll fix it in the post...).
What does your day to day schedule look like when working on a series such as His Dark Materials? What is the workflow like?
Very busy... I oversee many different productions simultaneously most of the time at Mission.
On "His Dark Materials (S2)" it was a bit special due to the long relationship with cinematographer David Higgs BSC. We've worked together many times before and he wanted me to look personally after all colour related topics: Look development, colour pipeline, monitor calibration and all communications between set and Dailies, VFX and Post facility.
The workflow we discussed (Between David, Shaw (VFX sup) and myself) from pre-production was based on an ACES colour pipeline. A combo of Sony Venice and Zeiss Supreme was the chosen package for the main camera units (some Alexa Mini and drones were later added to the mix). We developed a custom made ACES workflow to take advantage of the new IDT provided to us by Sony (not yet implemented (now in ACES 1.2 update) when we started the production) which David liked very much when we did the grading session for the look development. It renders tones in a very pleasant way and overall tonality improves.
The camera package gave to VFX all the resolution, bit-depth, and metadata they needed, it's a quite VFX heavy show. The Zeiss Supremes have what is called eXtended Data Technology which was captured directly on the XOCN in the camera body and later extracted to be shared with VFX.
What project have you most enjoyed working on? Do you find the greater the amount of creative input in a project the greater the enjoyment?
The ones where you find a personal attachment to them... Small, Big, Film, TV it doesn't matter. I also enjoy very much those that mean a huge technical challenge and are successful.
Creative input is not essential to me to enjoy a project. The success of the team is. This is a collaborative industry, we should never forget that.
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring colourists trying to break into the industry?
Patience, perseverance and never stop wondering... But most of all, spend some time on-set as a DIT. It will give you a huge understanding of the role of the cinematographer (what he/she does and why), how light works, how cameras work, the team, etc... It also offers good revenue once you start being known.