The FilmLight Colour Awards celebrates the art of colour around the world, reflecting the cultural, visual and technical values of the international colour grading community of today.

FilmLight colour awards le labo

In 2021, Le Labo won the Innovative Use of Baselight category for the TV series ‘Miss’.

The FilmLight Colour Awards is celebrating the art of colour around the world and aims to reflect the cultural, visual and technical values of the international colour grading community of today. It aspires to encourage the growth of the colourist’s prestige at all levels – from junior colourists to industry veterans – and to recognise the value they bring to the film industry.

The Colour Awards have been organised in association with professional bodies and are open to colourists using any grading system. Submissions close on 31 July, and the winners will be announced at EnergaCAMERIMAGE 2022, 12 to 19 November in Toruń, Poland.

CEO of FilmLight Wolfgang Lempp noted that, since colour cinema first started, a demand has existed for skilled, sympathetic people to guide colour throughout a production. “Back then, the colour timer worked to the instructions of the cinematographer using irreversible wet chemistry, essentially to achieve consistency. Dramatic colour shifts were rarely undertaken,” he said.

Today, in the digital era, the colourist has a creative role, working in partnership with the director and the cinematographer to create a distinctive, evocative look. Subtly, they work together to use colour and light to create the atmosphere of every shot. The manipulation of colour has become a key part of the mood-building and storytelling.

Even so, while the director and cinematographer may be household names, the colourist is still a relatively unknown member of a production,” Wolfgang said. “To correct this neglect of a vital talent in the overall creative team, last year we created the FilmLight Colour Awards.” Also, although FilmLight has developed grading tools for over 20 years, the awards are open to users of all grading systems, intending to recognise the work of the best artists, whatever software they use.

New in 2022 is a new category called the Spotlight award, looking for new talents in the industry who can demonstrate their contribution to the creative impact of a low budget feature film or television movie.

Judging Panel

The judging panel is made up of a diverse group of colourists and cinematographers, creative directors, colour scientists and mastering specialists. “Criticising is easy, art is difficult,” is the comment from Yvan Lucas, senior colourist at Company 3 in LA and a new member of the 2022 judging panel. “It's a first for me to be on the judging side, as it’s usually my work in the spotlight in collaboration with directors and cinematographers. I’m excited to join the cinematographers and colour experts in on the jury this year and see what hidden gems might emerge.”

Another jury member is Cinematographer K K Senthil Kumar who said, “The whole process of colour correction is extremely challenging and creative. Colourists give their magical touch to enhance the visual expression of the DP. It’s high time they are brought out into the limelight from the darkrooms.

FilmLight colour awards kk Senthil Kumar

“With imaging technology and standards growing by leaps and bounds, colourists have an increasing number of tools to play with, and the colour grading process has become more creative and challenging. I would advise young colourists to explore, experiment and express themselves with these new tools, and let their talent work towards enhancing and complementing the emotion and the story.”

Maxine Gervais is Senior Supervising Colourist at Picture Shop, and remarked, “As a judge, I think it will be fun to take an objective sit-back and evaluate my peers’ work, to deconstruct what they did and see both the artistic value but also technical achievement.” What she will be looking for is colour balance and technical accuracy, of course, but also innovative looks and a large element of surprise.

FilmLight colour awards Maxine Gervais

About submitting her own work to awards competitions, she said, “I always pick a project that I am proud of, that looks amazing and that required a lot of fine work. Advice I give colourists who are just starting out in the industry is to be good at balancing first and foremost. There is no gain in reproducing looks or creating cool images if you can’t get them to match shot to shot. Less is more when learning. It’s very easy to break a grade, and that will not survive time.”

Sherri Kauk, Cinematographer, also considered what appeals to her about participating in the FilmLight Awards. “Final colour is an artistic process that begins in the previsualization phase.  When I experience movies, TV and commercials with a point of view in colour as much as in story, framing and editing, my experience with that piece of work becomes immersive. I am looking for choices in colour, contrast, tones and brightness that enhance the story experience and directly impact how I feel about the character I am watching.

FilmLight colour awards Sherri Kauk

If I were submitting to the Awards, I’d consider two of my projects with almost opposite colouring choices. The Snapchat Original 'Endless Summer' leaned into the log look to create a subdued, reflective experience of a woman's summer of love, energized through situational pops of saturation. The LVMA music video ‘ICU’, graded by Jacek Bulik, went deep into the shadows, golden hues and high contrast to separate one woman as she questions her experience in love. Two love stories, two completely different looks. 

Her advice to a colourist starting out is to “build your 'board and tribe' of mentors, peers and rising colleagues. Study the masters, practice your craft, get feedback.”