Post production studio Racoon in London has hired well-known senior colourist Enge Gray to join its in-house team. To support the move, Racoon has also invested in a new Baselight TWO grading system and a Blackboard control panel. The system was installed into Racoon’s new colour suite at the Margaret Street office in January 2023 and is now in use.
For the two years since its launch, Racoon has been working through freelance colourists to carry out grading services. So, for Racoon, the choice of colourist was critical not only for the skills and talent it would add to the studio, but also because they were keen to collaborate on the best system for the role, as well as in relation to the wider workflow pipeline across their range of genres.
The team works on a varied television portfolio including Clarkson’s Farm, The Grand Tour and The King’s Christmas Broadcast. With a colourist at the level of Enge Gray now on their team list, they are confident the studio will continue to attract further high-profile work.
Enge said, “We talked about grading systems, and Baselight was definitely at the top of my shopping list. In fact, it was the only system on my list. Having worked with it for a number of years, I know how precisely – and quickly – I can get the results I’m looking for and that my clients like and need.”
He believes that, as a colourist, the basic principle is to help the DoP or director realise their vision for the viewing audience, while adding your own mark of creativity. Television brings a slightly different responsibility, especially for documentaries or factual entertainment, as correcting technical issues is often necessary alongside the creative part of the job.
Enge Gray, Senior Colourist
“This kind of work is becoming more prevalent with the growing number of acquisition formats used and mixed in the same film,” he said. “Combined with smaller budgets, this can lead to trying to fit two days’ work into one, and that’s always a challenge.”
With multiple UHD/HDR projects coming in, Racoon opted for the Baselight TWO system, giving them access to extra processing power, with a Blackboard control panel. The Baselight TWO has four GPUs and comes with either an 80TB or 160TB RAID 60 internal disk system holding two sets of 12 drives that are each cache-protected RAID 6. Its combination of hardware and optimised software makes it possible to work directly from native raw camera footage by removing the need to transcode input media, and an internal caching system enables working in real-time without using lower resolution proxies.
“I’ve used Baselight every working day for a decade now,” Enge said. “While working at another post house, I was using three different systems, sometimes in one day, and Baselight always felt like home. As well as speed and precision, since the introduction of features like Base Grade and the HDR fine tuning tools, it just makes sense – for me and for the images I’m helping to develop and craft.”
The technical team at Racoon, led by CTO Adam Peat, is continuously trying to simplify and speed up the workflow – keeping up to-date with the latest technologies is a speciality. “Baselight fits into our current workflow at Racoon, since we can use the AAF file format for renderless workflows to and from Avid,” said David Klafkowski.
AAF supports cross-platform data interchange and transfers sequence and timeline information from one application to another. All Baselight actions are saved within the project and can be embedded in an AAF file. The grade can be exported from a Baselight suite and imported into Avid, which applies the complete grade in a few seconds, without rendering. It includes grading layers, tracking information and also keyframes – manual adjustment is normally not required.
“Our capability for remote viewing and signoff is being incorporated into our Tanooki remote working platform, which will enable our clients to review grades in real-time viewing sessions with Enge, if needed, or at any time. With a mix of FilmLight and our networked storage, we are already working on large format resolutions for UHD/HDR and multi-delivery to our clients.”
The team at Racoon have tracked Enge’s career with interest for several years, owing especially to his breadth of experience across multiple genres. David commented, “The quality of his work speaks for itself, and we love his passion. Equally important, his ethos mirrors our own, particularly in supporting next generation talent and opening opportunities for those who may not easily find them. We’re very pleased that Enge Gray has joined our staff team and already have some great work for him and the Baselight to get their teeth into.” www.filmlight.ltd.uk