Digital Dailies Colorist. 

In the January issue of ICG Magazine, this short statement by cinematographer Paul Cameron, ASC caught my eye..


Soon after I began hearing rumors of movement towards the establishment of a new union classification, something like an "On-Set Colorist", to distinguish the task of creating color corrected dailies from the traditional role of the Digital Imaging Technician (DIT). 

Here we are in April now with IATSE Local 600 elections around the corner and I was very surprised to read this mailer in email tonight - 

To CAMERA GUILD/ Local 600

Brothers and Sisters,

My name is Paul Cameron. I am a Western Region Candidate for NEB Director of Photography & Visual Effects Supervisor.  I have been a Director of Photography and member of the Camera Guild for over 20 years.  Recently I had the opportunity to testify on behalf of Local 600 in a closed deposition aimed at reducing rates for First Assistant Cameramen.  It reminded me that decisions are made every day to challenge our Union and its Members.  That now is a time to be focused and aware of our future. That now is the time for all members including myself to participate in our Union .   A union that provides the Film Industry highly talented and qualified craftsmen and women.   A union that secures our rights in the work force.  Secures our rates as Technicians.  Provides its members options for Health benefits and secures a plan for Retirement funds. 

It became apparent to me at the last Board Meeting that all the issues that came to the floor were vital.  Being a board member means looking at the issues we face as a union in an environment that wants organized labor to vanish.   It's also a time of great change with the advent of Digital Capture.  A time where technology is changing exponentially.

One of the issues I would like to address immediately is the re-classification of DIT - Digital Imaging Technician to DDC - DIGITAL DAILIES COLORIST.  The responsibilities of the DIT have changed dramatically over the last 10 years.  It's my firm belief that the position of DIT was created to help bridge the transition and development of new technology in Digital Capture. It was a time when the DIT matched digital camera bodies during the check out and painted the cameras on set while wrangling the endless amounts of new cables and conversion boxes.  The DIT became this hybrid Electronic Engineer/Camera Assistant.  Cinematographers and Camera Assistants were relying on DIT's to handle Camera settings and make decisions regarding how images were captured.  Then almost overnight Cinematographers lost the Off Set Dailies paradigm.   Dailies were no longer sent to be transferred or graded by labs or Telecine facilities.  The DIT became the On Set Colorist.  Now Cinematographers are relying on DIT's to handle all Color Timing and Transcoding of Dailies with those looks applied.   The job of the DIT has shifted.  Producers are aware of the change but confused what a DIT really does.  The DIT color corrects and transcodes all Dailies at this point.  That is certainly the present + future of that position.    Camera Assistants need to stop relying on DITS for Camera Settings and Reloads.  Traditionally the Camera Assistant never let anyone touch much less change a frame rate or shutter angle on a Camera.  It is my belief Camera Assistants need to reclaim that space.  Part of that means additional training for Camera Assistants on current Digital Capture Systems.  Current DITS’s also need further training in Color Correction as well as Data Management.   Establishing the best Digital Workflow is the responsibility of the Cinematographer and the DIT.  The DIT is now responsible for helping establish and securing Cinematographers looks through the Metadata/Digital Pipeline.   Once Producers + Producers understand DDC -Digital Dailies Colorist they will value that position more than ever.  Once there is an honest acknowledgement that DDC's Color Correct all Dailies from Cinematographers there will be a new found respect for that position.  The DDC's are also integral in interfacing with Production and Post Production in the ever-changing world of constantly changing Digital Workflows and needs in Deliverables. There is also the opportunity now to welcome into Local 600 the best Digital/Telecine Colorists from Labs + Post Production facilities and make them union members. The DDC can also be a position in Post Production facilities and Studios can hire to ensure Timed Dailies and Work Flows are being handled correctly in Near + Off Set Labs.  I hereby advocate the transition of DIT to DDC.   Regardless of whether I am asked to serve on the Board or not I plan to push this through.  This is one example of a few changes I will try to bring to the Board.  We need this re-classification as soon as possible.

This would be the first time I serve on the board. It would be an honor to represent and be a voice for each and every member.

Thanks for your consideration. Vote now and send your Ballots in.  Your voice counts.  Every small step or action you take means something.

Paul Cameron, ASC

Candidate -Western Region -  NEB Director of Photography & Visual Effects Supervisor.

To anyone actively working as a Digital Imaging Technician, the constantly evolving nature of our job description is something that keeps the work very interesting but can also be nerve wracking as the future of the position is clearly so tenuous. What I take from this piece is that we need more standardization among our ranks. The reality of so many independent owner/operators offering such a helter skelter variety of services at completely arbitrary rates, has done little more than put a gigantic question mark in the brain of many producers as to what a DIT is, what a DIT does, and most importantly - why do I need one? 

The problem is that two distinct skill sets have emerged - video and computer. There are many talented operators out there who excel at both and can effortlessly jump back and forth between doing a live color correct for four cameras one day and then handling Codex deliverables on a workstation on another. But then there are those who really better suited for either one or the other because of their background, interest, conviction about what the position "is and isn't", etc. The problem is obvious. In the eyes of a producer, we are all the same because we are all DIT's. Is there are a 1st AC out there who doesn't pull focus? Or one who only builds the camera? No matter what your opinion is on this sensitive subject, I think we can all agree we have a "brand" problem as a union classification. 

What do I personally want to happen? It doesn't matter. The market will decide. I, like everyone else, just want to keep busy and for the position to remain viable. Whatever it's called. 

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