"This scene looks a little too dark, don't you think?"
"Yes, add some vignetting and make that orange wall blue."
I paid close attention to the projected image on the cinema screen and the colorist who painted the moving image proficiently with her digital palette of red, blue, and green based on the aesthetic choice of the director and cinematographer. My apprenticeship during the recent Eid holiday was an intensive three-day experience to observe the pre-distribution process of image digitization and color grading for motion pictures and commercials. As a film student, the opportunity to work with a professional film crew in my home country of Thailand was a dream come true.
At the start of the fall 2012 semester, I began researching short-term internships and apprenticeships, opportunities that would act as stepping stones to help me gain connections and learn more about production work in the film industry. Through my Directing the Camera class, I learned about an apprenticeship position with NYUAD Associate Arts Professor Sandra Sissel, who is also head of Cinematography in the graduate film program at NYU New York and a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, regarding post-production film work in Bangkok.
As a film student, the opportunity to work with a professional film crew in my home country of Thailand was a dream come true.
After being offered the apprenticeship through the NYUAD Arts Apprenticeship Program, I traveled to Thailand to work with Sissel and Visra Vichit-Vadakarn, an independent filmmaker and Sissel's former student in the NYU Tisch graduate film program. The apprenticeship centered on the intensive post-production process of Karaoke Girl, Vichit-Vadakarn's graduate thesis film and her first hybrid feature. The color grading was the detailed work of Yuwarat Chanawong, a project colorist with more than 15 years of experience in her field.
I was intrigued by the number of possibilities that DI — or digital intermediate, a motion picture finishing process that typically involves digitizing a film and manipulating the color and other image characteristics — technology had opened up within the past ten years in terms of digital cinematography. Despite the short duration of my apprenticeship, I learned about the fundamentals of digital grading in comparison to the photochemical process. Although the process is rigorous, we got through it with a collaborative mind and a good sense of humor, which made the detailed work enjoyable.
I would encourage other students to engage in apprenticeships. They offer a great way to learn more about professional aspects of a craft both in Abu Dhabi and internationally. The post-production work not only broadened my perspective on the details for pre-distribution in the film industry, but also supported me in forming connections with a local filmmaker and her crew. I look forward to the possibility of interning with Vichit-Vadakarn and her crew this summer on a set for a feature film in Burma, and learning the craft of digital cinematography from Chanawong.