Time management strategies

Time Management Strategies In The Color Suite



T here’s a saying in the industry, “You know your film is complete when you run out of money”. If you’re a colorist performing the final grade on a film, you witness this saying become a reality. By the time a film hits the DI stage, many of the project's departments have already maxed their budgets so there isn't much money left for DI overages. Therefore, you have to be both a creative partner and a pace setter. 

The films I grade most often are modest budget Independent films that finish in time for festival delivery deadlines. The established timeframe for grading these projects is 1 week or more precisely 40 hours over 5 consecutive weekdays. This fits neatly on the calendar when the projects are booked a month or two in advance and allows producers to avoid weekend hotel bills for traveling creatives by starting color on a Monday and wrapping on a Friday. This schedule works well for the 80 minute projects I grade, however, for films between 90 and 100 minutes, 40 hours of grading may not be enough. That's when time management becomes essential.


For me, time management of a DI begins well before our first day in the theater. As soon as  the project is booked, I ask to see the latest cut of the film to get a sense of the visual scope of the project. After I watch the offline, I set up a call or email exchange with the director and DP. This is a creative call. We discuss looks and inspirations for their film, LUTs, look books, VFX, etc. I avoid discussing time concerns until after I hear their creative goals for the film. If I feel that we cannot achieve their goals within the budgeted time I will propose these options. 

  1. Ask the producers to schedule more time. This can mean adding a day at the beginning or end of the schedule, working longer days, or booking a day or two of unsupervised pre-grading so I can smooth out continuity and set looks in advance of Day 1.
  2. Ask the creatives to prioritize their visual goals for the film in case we run out of time or are unable to secure more time in the schedule. 

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Amazing way to do the job! But I think having a lunch break (or step outside to breath - 15-20mins) is important. For the body and the mind. To "reset" the eyes. In my case, If I don't do that, I'm less efficient.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Edited by Clément Bouchet
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