MZed Course Review – Directing Color with Ollie Kenchington

MZed Course Review - Directing Color with Ollie Kenchington

MZed has a new course, “Directing Color with Ollie Kenchington“. It’s far more than just about grading, rather discovering the art of storytelling through color. 

DISCLAIMER: Let’s be clear from the start, Ollie is a colleague at cinema5D and also writes for the site, so I might be a little bit biased. But rest assured that all opinions here are mine alone!

Color, with a Difference

When I was given the opportunity to watch Ollie’s new course for this review, I jumped at the chance. Not only is Ollie a talented colorist, he is also a fantastic communicator, and for anyone wanting to learn something, that is a killer combination.

Firstly let me say that this is not your average poke around DaVinci Resolve, it’s not about which buttons to click or how to navigate menus. This course is not even really about color in post at all per se. This course is about directing color, it will teach you how to be deliberate with color in your productions, from concept and planning through pre production, production and finally into post production.

It’s not all color theory either, Ollie touches on, but does not get bogged down in the color wheel or all the possible color combinations. Instead he presents a practical, logical approach to taking full control of color in your production to help you tell a story.

Directing Color

This course is divided into eight modules, of varying duration, but all easy to watch and understand. Check it out on MZed here.

Creating a Palette

Duration: 9 mins 49 secs

This first module is free to watch. In this introduction to the course as a whole, Ollie introduces a few key concepts. Firstly, use what’s naturally in the scene, in fact it all starts with being conscious and aware of what colors are in your scene, and secondly, that you can take control of this very early on. By taking control of your choices of location, time of day, props and wardrobe you can chose your color palette with purpose in mind. If you approach color deliberately, from the early stages of pre production, you won’t be fighting it in post production, instead you’ll be enhancing and bringing out the colors in your shots.

Perceiving Color

Duration: 2 mins 45 secs

We are human beings, and we create, and see visuals within a framework of perception determined by our biology, neurology and psychology. Certain colors have universal meanings that transcend culture and context. Moreover color makes us feel, and this is something very powerful when it weaves subconscious meaning through our stories. In just a few minutes Ollie explains the importance of making sense of our responses to color.

Calibrating Color

Duration: 9 mins 36 secs

In this very practical module, Ollie explains how and why it is important to calibrate your displays on set. It’s also refreshing to see a properly motivated and well explained use of a lut on set. You’ll learn how to calibrate properly, giving you easy to follow steps you can immediately employ in your own on set workflow.

Color Management

Duration: 18 mins 48 secs

One of the most important core modules of the course, Color Management is one to watch more than once, and maybe consider taking some notes. I would argue all of the principles Ollie teaches in this course hinge on proper color management. From getting your image correctly balanced in camera, to understanding gamma and how, when and why we use non-linear (log) encoded images, you’ll come out a lot more informed than you went in. Even if you think you know it all, I’ll guarantee you’ll learn something in this module.

A highlight of this module is Ollie’s step by step guide to shooting a color chart and using it to quickly and easily achieve a perfect balance in DaVinci Resolve.

Deconstructing Color I

Duration: 18 mins 26 secs

In deconstructing color part one, Ollie illustrates how light and contrast brings the illusion of depth to our flat 2D images. Much of this is under the control of the cinematographer in how a scene is originally photographed, but Ollie shows how a shot can be effectively re-lit in post with subtle control of contrast of light and color.

The best thing about this module for me was the excellent visual examples of the use of color and contrast to lead the eye and explore three dimensional physical space within a flat two dimensional plane.

Deconstructing Color II

Duration: 9 mins 48 secs

Continuing on from deconstructing color part one, Ollie shows how the use of power windows can bring focus to objects, directing your audience’s eye. This is about reinforcing what was achieved in camera, using light and color contrast along with framing and composition to add richness, layering and depth to a shot.

Deconstructing Color III

Duration: 14 mins 48 secs

The highlight of the entire course for me was this last and final module. It left a lasting impression on me that, along with the rest of the topics Ollie discussed, has permanently affected the way I see color and desire to use it to invoke emotion and feeling.

Ollie’s excellent use of examples to illustrate just how color can be used to convey and provoke strong emotional reactions, to make certain characters, elements or locations within a scene recede and others to stand out. Learn how certain color combinations not only convey meaning, but become characters within a story in their own right, appearing and disappearing from scene to scene.

Take Notes

I managed to get three A4 pages full of practical notes from the total 1hr 25 mins course and it left me wanting more. The good news is there is more to come from Ollie on MZed, which will be more practical color grading techniques in Resolve rather than theory, so stay tuned for that.

How to Access Directing Color on the MZed Platform

Directing Color is available to stream for USD $79. Alternatively, you can sign up for an MZed Pro subscription to stream the Directing Color course with access to the complete MZed Pro library.

By joining you also get discounted access to popular filmmaking resources like HedgeFilmConvert & more.

Did you watch the first free module? Or have you watched the entire course? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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