Monday, December 3, 2012

Basher Films Joins Prehistoric Digital!

After 4 years of working out of Pasadena, first with founding partner Phan Tran, and then on my own for the past 2 years; I've finally decided to join forces, so to speak, with a larger operation! After a lot of contemplation and discussion with numerous folks, I've committed to joining the team of colorist Kevin Canon, producer Will Adashek, and assistant Joe Sipkins at Prehistoric Digital in Santa Monica. Basher Films will officially become part of Prehistoric Digital and merge its operations under its roof! Although it means a big move for me across town, I couldn't be more excited about the chance to work with a larger team in a bigger, better, space! The facility that Kevin and Will have set up on Colorado Ave is a beautiful, custom-designed theatrical grading house, specifically tailored to do precisely what I believe a boutique, client-oriented, post-house should do; make clients comfortable, keep overhead low, provide the highest level of technical and artistic service possible, and do so in an environment that encourages creative decision-making at every step of the process.

I started Basher Films wanting to "buck the system" of expensive over-priced post houses and work "one on one" with clients, providing the attention to their projects that they deserved for a price that was a fraction of the bloated fees that the large color grading houses have to charge due to unnecessary equipment, overhead, and staff costs. Kevin and Will had started Prehistoric Digital with the same notion, and had originally run it out of a guest house as a single theater for 2 years! Eventually, they, like me, had reached over-capacity with their work, and needed to expand to a larger facility. When they stumbled on a recently vacated former "finishing" space in Santa Monica, they asked me if I might be interested in joining them and bringing my clients along as well; and needless to say, I jumped at the chance.

The two grading theaters at the Santa Monica location are absolutely beautiful and feature first class digital projection in both 2K DCI, and 1080P Rec709 depending upon client budget. I also brought along my plasma suite, upgrading my monitoring in the process as well, and added what we now call "color suite 3" to feature 3 total grading suites for clients. We offer three different grading environments from 2K DCI on a Barco Projector, all the way to a 55" Panasonic Plasma, with different size rooms for different size projects with varying needs. I really love the fact that we have a solution for every project at the new space and can literally accommodate larger budget theatrical release films as well as the lowest budget student films and shorts. That excites me as a colorist, and allows us to work with a wide variety of clients. So check out the new website at and take a look at the new grading theaters, and feel free to give me a call or come by and take a tour of the new space. We give tours all the time and would love to have you over to show what we're all about. No pressure, no sales pitches, no "BS", you can get a feel for how we do things over at "PhD".

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black and White for Eboost

I really enjoy getting the chance to work in black and white every once in a while, and I got the opportunity to do so a few months ago on a commercial project with Malibu based photographer Jack Guy Jack has been one of my favorite clients to work with over the past year as he has a fabulous eye, and always bring incredibly strong images into the grading suite on every project. Amongst his vast array of work, Jack has a knack for the human form and capturing vibrant and dramatic portraiture, and I'm always excited to see what he's brought in because, quite literally, every shot will stand on its own two feet as an incredibly strong image. Jack's projects are always immensly enjoyable in the color suite as we can really "tweak" and "maximize" the image instead of wasting time trying to correct "mistakes" or just "balance it". Jack's images are always so strong and striking to begin with that we really just end up adding additional "punch" and "enhancement" to what he's already started withe lighting and composition. In this spot, we added some heavy contrast, a bit of grit, and some deep blacks to create a very dynamic look for this energy drink spot. Check it out, and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Free Samples

Earlier this year I had the privilege of working with director Jay Gammill and cinematographer Reed Morano (Frozen River) on the indie feature "Free Samples" that recently made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. The films stars, actress Jess Weixler (who made a name for herself with the indie feature "Teeth" a few years ago), Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network), Jason Ritter (NBC's parenthood), Halley Feiffer, and veteran actress Tippi Hedron (yes, THE TIPPI HEDRON from Hitchcock's classic "The Birds"). The film takes place over the course of one day, in a hot frozen yogurt truck in central LA. Check out the trailer below!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Prototype - Trailer

So a few months ago I had the privilege of working on a trailer and short film pitch for writer/director Andrew Will for his feature "The Prototype" which is currently in development with Cantina Creative, Bandito Brothers, and Variant Films. Its a sci-fi thriller with plenty of action, some amazing visual effects (courtesy of Cantina Creative) and features an appearance by one of my favorite on screen personalities, actor Neal McDonough. The principal photography on this was shot by DP Bridger Nelson on the Arri Alexa, and was an absolute treat to grade. The look we came up with plays off of a few key hues (mainly the greens, cyans, and blues) and deep rich blacks to give this world an "eerie/unsettling/futuristic-urban feel" (hows that for a description?). Check out the trailer above and hopefully you'll be seeing this in movie theaters in the not too distant future!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Anatomy of a Grade - Episode 09 - The "Bleachy Western Look"

Well, it's been a crazy 5 months since my last post here on the blog, lots of work and a bit of travel to boot have made my web updates a bit infrequent alas. BUT, I've got plenty of content to post and hopefully will be adding a number of new entries over the next two weeks here in between projects. So without further adieu, I give you the latest of the Anatomy of a Grade series:

I often get asked to do the "Beach Bypass" or "Bleach Reduction" effect in the color suite (and by often, I mean, every other day, by practically every other person). The problem is that these terms mean a million different things to a million different people and no two are ever the same. Someone may reference "Saving Private Ryan" as their idea of bleach bypass while another may reference "Three Kings", both use varitions of the "bleach bypass" technique but both look very different and used different methods (both photochemical and digital) to achieve their looks. I'm always wary when someone says they want this look as its never as easy as pulling in a "preset grade" and slapping it on. So I ALWAYS make sure to ask, "What does bleach bypass meant to you? Can you give me a film or reference image that conveys the "look" you're thinking of." Once we start to narrow down the specifics, then we can start designing "our vesion" of the bleach bypass effect for the particular project at hand. Beacause of this I have about 20 different variations on the "bleach bypass look" that I've used and probably about 20 more spinoffs from a handful of those as well.

For this particular shot, DP Andrew Russo want a more aggressive look, and I immediately thought that a "beachy, contrasty" look for the scene might play well with the subject matter and the overall mood as well. What we came up with was a hybrid "bleach/sepia spinoff" that I really fell in love. You don't often see a western done in this particular style and its always great to come  up with something fresh in the grading suite.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Keith Urban's "For You"

Well here it is, in all its explosive promotional glory: Keith Urban's "For You", which I had the privilege to color corrected last month at Bandito Brothers with DP Shane Hurlbut and director Scott Waugh. The video features some great practical explosion effects, a fantastic performance by Keith (and yes I'll admit, I'm a fan), some really great visuals out in the California desert, and some selected clips from the film "Act of Valor" (some of which you can't see in the theater...).

The project was shot on multiple formats including Arri Alexa, Canon C300, and the Canon 5D Mk II to name a few. Balancing multiple formats was a bit tricky at first, but eventually they all fell in to line (multiple formats was a staple on the film Act of Valor as well, so the music video stayed true to form and gave its colorist a bit to sweat over!). The Alexa especially shone beautifully as it captured a vast amount of shadow and highlight detail that I pulled directly from the Log-C material to really enhance the sky, the desert, and most importantly, Keith himself. Shane and Scott were looking for a punchy warm look so we pushed the contrast to the edge of blowing out, and really focused on working the highlights as much as we could to make everything feel really vibrant and sunlit (even when it wasn't, ahh daytime exteriors...). Obviously talent is important in a project like this, and Keith's performance is really strong, so we needed to make sure that he looked as good as he sounded, and the Alexa gave us amazing flexibility to reshape lighting across his face when we needed to, and even add a light glow to the highlights on his skin for an extra pop when the weather wasn't behaving.

The footage speaks for itself, and the video has been climbing the CMT charts (currently at 12 at only week 2!, we'll see how high it can go). All in all, really proud of this piece; great song, great concept, great cinematography, great performance; not even a crazy hypercritical colorist could mess that up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Act of Valor - Grading Real Navy Seals in Action

Happy 2012 to everyone! The New Year has come and I found myself dumbfounded that somehow another year has passed us by and a new one is beginning. A cliche' to be sure, but it never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies when your busy! And 2011 was a busy year for myself and Basher Films to be sure! Full of projects both big and small and clients old and new, 2011 turned out to be busiest year I've seen to date, which bodes well for a supposedly "recovering" economy!

As is always the case, many of the projects that were graded last year won't be released or seen until this year, so I've had to hold off on commenting on them on the blog. But the time is finally arriving (to brag a little of course)! One of the first projects in line to be released this year is the Bandito Brothers / Relativity Media Production of "Act of Valor" releasing nationwide in theaters in February. I had the privilege of serving as an additional colorist on this project, picking up where Company 3 lead colorist Stefan Sonennfeld left off on the initial grade early in 2011. I spent about two weeks late in the year tweaking and re-tweaking a number of sections of the film with Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut (Terminator Salvation, Drumline) updating some additional new scenes and building on the initial grade. The film is quite unique in that it was shot primarily with the Canon 5D Mk II camera as well as 35mm film and a few other HD cameras as well! Mixing formats and footage proved a unique challenge, that was resolved with specific color treatments on each format and the removal and addition of uniform film grain across the entire piece. Check out the trailer above to get a taste of some of the incredible visuals in the film... and see if you can tell what's 5D and what's film... you might be surprised!