Ricky Gausis is a Los Angeles based senior colorist at Moving Picture Company and has been coloring for 7 years. Known for his soft, filmic, and stylized aesthetic, Ricky has colored some of the most popular videos including clients from Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris, Sam Smith, Nike, Samsung, and FX.
How did you get into the world of professional coloring?
I started off as a runner in the MPC London studio. I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a colorist after the first time I saw one of the suites filled with clients and it was explained to me what the guy in front of the kit was actually doing. It was a long journey to work my way through to becoming an assistant as once in the department, nobody was looking to leave. I had to bide my time and grab the opportunity once it was given to me by department director Jean-Clement Soret.
As a professional colorist what is your schedule like, are you coloring everyday? Do you choose most of your projects?
I am coloring every day and in a lot of cases evenings and weekends, too. Evening work will be on projects that have a tight turnaround and there is no time available in the day or on jobs that don’t quite have the budget and need to work around commercial work. I am lucky enough to choose which projects I take on, especially the lower budget music video work. I tend to choose projects with directors or DPs that I have a long-standing relationship with or if it’s a new client and the project/footage excites me.
What program do you use to color?
All jobs are colored on the Baselight. It’s so much more versatile and powerful than any other kit I’ve used.
You’ve done work for some very well established clients. What is that process like? How much say do you get in the look, or is it established from the beginning?
I think after you’ve done a certain amount of work with the bigger clients and on the bigger brands people inherently trust your instinct more. Clients are usually familiar with my work and are happy for me drive the look unless they have something very specific in mind.
What’s your favorite camera and/or gamma to grade from?
Assuming that we are putting film to one side here, I’d have to say that I’m a fan of the Arri digital cameras and the images they can produce. I love the texture that can be added to the file. I always start grading from a flat Log C color space as it gives me the full range to work from. I know a lot of colorists will start with an image that is in REC 709 already but I think this is cheating yourself and your client a little. Grading from a Log C file means you have every possible opportunity to get the best out of the image.
Do you have a favorite look or aesthetic?
I love images that are dark and rich. My style since moving over from London 5 years ago has changed quite dramatically. I left London very early into my career so I hadn’t really established what my look was going to be. I was more in the world of brighter, softer grades whereas since moving to the U.S. I’m always looking to make the image gritty while applying techniques I learned in London to ensure that nothing is crushed and heavy handed and that there is still a nice separation in the image. I can thank Mark Gethin for leaning me in this direction.
Is there a particular piece of work that you are most proud of?
Nike ‘Skates’ and Atlanta season 1 - the only TV show I’ve graded. Looking back, DJ Snake ‘Turn Down For What’ was amazing for my career as that and Sam Smith ‘I’m Not The Only One’ got me my first awards nominations. I’m very proud of both grades three years on.
How much communication is there usually between you and the DP? Do you prefer having set instructions or more creative freedom?
I definitely prefer having creative freedom but I share the same aesthetic as many of my clients so my creative freedom and their set instructions tend to align. When I’m working with a DP for the first time I always prefer to do what I think is best for the footage first. If this doesn’t marry up with their vision then I’ll make the appropriate changes….then hopefully never see them again!
The coloring process is often overlooked by the general public. Do you like it this way or do you feel that it is underappreciated?
I’m totally cool with the process not being acknowledged on a broader scale. The top directors, DPs and creatives know the difference a good colorist can make to a production and that’s all that really matters. I sometimes allow myself to go through comments sections on other colorists’ Instagram accounts and will see remarks like ‘simply stunning work’ and ‘breathtaking’ when all that has been posted is a close up of a piece of bacon. So perhaps having the art form ‘underappreciated’ isn’t the worst thing in the world.