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Colourist - Post Production

Colourists work in Post Production Facilities Houses which provide complete end to end services for off-line, on-line and non-linear editing, visual effects, and DVD production to the independent, corporate and broadcast media sectors.

Post Production involves creatively weaving together visual and audio materials shot or created during the production process, and combining them with other media, graphics, effects, subtitles, archive footage, etc., to create a variety of final products including broadcast programmes, DVD titles, corporate productions, etc.  Colourists are responsible for putting the final polish on the picture elements of productions, and for accurately interpreting clients' personal vision and aspirations.

What is the job?
Colourists must ensure that all shots within each scene match one another, by balancing colour saturation and luminance from shot to shot, so that no one shot stands out in the sequence.  They should be able to distinguish and correct colour differences within scenes, and ensure consistency throughout the production.  They must also offer original and creative solutions to any picture related problems, e.g., under or over exposure, day for night corrections, etc.

Colourists provide advice and creative input into the overall look of each production, and work closely with clients in order to accurately interpret their ideas. Colourists should understand the psychological effect of colours, in order to enhance the narrative of each production. They also document, file and report any related project information to relevant Producers or Project Managers, and promptly and accurately document and file all information relating to specific picture related problems, corrections, etc.  They ensure that all work is saved and backed up in accordance with relevant procedures.

Typical career routes
Colourists may begin their careers as Runners within Post Production Facilities companies, progressing to other roles within post production, e.g. Telecine or Quality Control, thereby gaining valuable knowledge and experience of the Post Production processes. 

Essential knowledge and skills
Colourists must have considerable videotape experience, and in depth knowledge of cameras and cinematography.  An understanding of basic editing techniques is also required.    They must understand the properties and requirements of both analogue and digital production. 

Key Skills include:

  • initiative and problem solving skills;
  • diplomacy and sensitivity when working with clients;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • a high level of organisational skills;
  • ability to work effectively under pressure;
  • ability to motivate self and others;
  • effective team working skills;
  • precise attention to detail;
  • advanced IT skills;
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.

Training and qualifications
Although no specific educational or training qualifications are required for the role of Colourists, relevant technical degrees or equivalent qualifications, e.g., Foundation Degree in Broadcast Operations and Production, HE in Broadcast Post Production, etc., may be useful.  A thorough understanding of the Post Production processes is essential.

Where to go for more information
Creative Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media. The first sources of information for all jobs in the industry are the National Occupational Standards. Browse Creative Skillset's website for links to our network of training partners, information about training and access to the comprehensive Creative Skillset/BFI course database. Finally, Creative Skillset Careers is UK's only specialist media careers advice service; for detailed media careers information and advice, visit

- UK Screen Association is the trade body for Post Production;

- BECTU, the trade union represents Post Production personnel; 

- BKSTS (The Moving Image Society) publishes Image Technology;

- BBC Resources

- Digital Post Production

- Broadcast Freelancer

- How Stuff Works

- Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication


- Broadcast, weekly newspaper for the UK TV and Radio industry; 

- Televisual, monthly business magazine for the broadcast industry;

- Audio Post Production for Television and Film - Wyatt & Amyes - ISBN 0-240-51947-7

- How Video Works - Weynand & Weise ISBN 0-240-80614-X

- Video Editing and Post Production - Gary H Anderson - ISBN 0-240-80337-X

- Digital Editing with Final Cut Pro 4 - Mamer &Wallace - ISBN 0-941188-91-4

- Digital Nonlinear Editing - Thomas Ohanian - ISBN 0-240-80225-X

- Editing Digital Film - Jaime Fowler - ISBN 0-240-80470-8

- Technology of Video and Audio Streaming - David Austerberry - ISBN 0-240-51694-X

- The Technology of Video & Audio Streaming (2nd Edition) - D.Austerberry - ISBN 0-240-80580-1

- Video Systems in an IT Environment - Al Kovalick - ISBN 0-240-80627-1


All books available from:


Digitising: Converting all media into digital formats

Linear : Editing in formats where it is not possible to move sections around within edited material, e.g., VHS, u-matic or BETA, etc.

Non-Linear : Editing in formats where it is possible to move sections around within edited material, e.g., film, AVID, Edit Pro, etc.


Adobe Acrobat DocumentColourist - Post Production

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