Julien von Schultzendorff, colourist at nhb studios in Germany, shares nuances of his young journey in filmmaking (PART 2)

Germany, Julien von Schultzendorff, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Dop, Alejandro Inarritu, Darren Aronofsky, Zhang Yimou, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Rodrigo Prieto, The Wolf of Wall Street, Berlin, VFX, BLG workflow

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What sort of projects do you handle now?
Julien: Most of the time I work on commercials. Sometimes music videos or small feature films.

At what point do you tend to get involved in a typical project?
Julien: On commercial projects, I usually get involved after the shoot. Because I am interested in workflows and also responsible for the colour pipelines, I get involved in the early stages in post, when the VFX team does the preparation for the project in house.

You work at Berlin, Munich and Hamburg? How do you divide your time between these offices?
Julien: I’m currently based in Hamburg, where I work about 75% of the time, but in December I’m moving to Berlin. Each of our offices has its own charm and advantages.
As for dividing the time, there is no hard rule. Sometimes I fly to Munich twice a week, or even stay for two weeks straight. And then I might need to be in Berlin for a month. There are days when I might fly to Düsseldorf for about six hours and fly straight out again. It always depends on the project and workload.

Tell us more about the move to Berlin?
Julien: Berlin is a cool city with crazy people and a great film scene. I love it there. Living there fits in well with my career and my personal life. Also, I’m looking forward to living closer to my Dad, who also lives in Berlin.

Can you tell us more about your work on the Rimowa ‘Never Still’ campaign?
Julien: I had the great opportunity to do the grade for The Anthem commercial with the agency Anomaly in Berlin. Every short film had a different colourist and director working on it.

The Anthem film brings all the stories together. It has parts of each short film plus some additional material.
The interesting thing here is that The Anthem consists of raw film scans that were also used in the short films, raw film scans that weren’t used in other films, already-graded footage, and completely newly shot footage. So, the challenge for me was to get all this in one consistent movie, with the agency having their own colour vision in mind but also not moving too far away from the other movies.
I had to grade on top of already graded footage, making digital footage look like film, and imitate grades from those short films, But that is pretty easy with Baselight, because everything is possible. There are no boundaries. If you can imagine it, you can create it.
As a final step there was a final grading session with the agency to get the desired look they wanted.

Can you tell us more about the BLG workflow at nhb and how this has allowed you to complete huge VFX-heavy projects? How do you work alongside the VFX department?
Julien: One recent interesting project was for the BMW X Range, which involved James Bamford as the main colourist. James started the grade with the director, and I continued with the agency. It is a huge project with over 500 VFX shots and many different versions as well as material for other areas like launch films and social media alongside the commercials.

So a classic commercial workflow was not possible here. Too often the grade got changed: the edit was not final when the grading began, and so on. So we needed to come up with a feature film-like workflow solution for this project, and we relied heavily on [FilmLight’s render-free portable format] BLG. This allowed the effects team to comp on the RAW footage and easily exchange the grades on top of it, without cycling the comp versions and new edits over and over through the Baselight.

The production time was only six to eight weeks, which was challenging but it worked really well. We could not have done it without BLGs – otherwise hundreds of night shifts would have been needed. So nhb has now fully integrated the BLG workflow, and we use it on every VFX-heavy project. It took some time to develop it and getting everyone on board, but now it works great and everyone is used to it.
I work very closely with the VFX department, because I am interested in workflows and pipelines. We saw early on the potential of the BLG workflow, using plugins in VFX and also in editorial. I worked alongside Nuke and Flame people. Together we did many tests, and got Daniele [Siragusano, FilmLight image engineer] on board – always a great help – and finally completed it and presented it to the company.

Tell us more about your Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting? How did you get into this? You say you’re breaking for injury but do you hope to get back into it?
Julien: I am currently recovering from an injury, but will hopefully get back into training before the end of the year.
I was fascinated by how strong you could become. I didn’t only want to look like some pumped-up dude, but actually have the strength to pull a car or tear out a tree. So, I started to go to the gym, where I met a few guys that were into power lifting.
A few days later I found myself trying it too and I was hooked and training towards competitions! I guess I’m an all-in person: if I get hooked I want to be the best I
can get.

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