Getting Your Look from Set to Screen with Hurlbut Academy & Frame.io
As a cinematographer, you can’t plug a USB cable into your head and download your brain for the director (yet).
So how do you convey your creative intent and, just as importantly, ensure that it stays intact from week one to opening night?
Shane Hurlbut, ASC, and I recently co-hosted a live webinar on this very topic. As many of you will already know, Shane runs Hurlbut Academy, and has been the creative mind behind major films from the likes of Disney, Warner Brothers, and HBO. He has a brilliantly cinematic mind, and is one of my favorite long-time collaborators.
So if you want to know where to find inspiration for your cinematic vision, how a lookbook will help you gain buy-in from collaborators throughout production, and learn some real-world techniques for getting the picture in your head to the big screen, you’ll find it all in this video.
Editor’s note: Each section of the video is linked for easy viewing in new tabs. If you’d rather stay on this page, we’ve included start times so you can manually scrub in the embedded player.
Part 1: Creating your lookbook
Where do you find inspiration for your looks?
In the first section of this video (starting at 02:52), we share some of our favorite sources for lookbook inspiration. We also explore how to deliver a good lookbook, the components required for success, and the practical benefits a lookbook provides. (Links to examples are included at the end of this article.)
Part 2: Post workflow
“The cinematographer’s most important job is to inspire the viewer.”
In the second part of our presentation (starting at 24:20), we look at how the cinematographer fits into the post workflow from the very beginning, and how that process takes shape.
If you find yourself wondering about what’s supposed to happen in planning meetings and who needs to be involved, or you’re not sure what workflow decisions need to be made early on, Shane has some excellent insight for you. His mindset and enthusiasm are based on intense preparation, and they’re infectious.
This section also contains a unique tour through one of Shane’s own lookbooks (39:52) for the movie Rim of the World. You’ll definitely want to take a peek inside the actual lookbook he created to guide the cinematography throughout this film.
Part 3: Color Management
Creativity and technical aptitude are no longer considered exclusive skills, and the best artists are fluent in both.
Understanding color management is crucial to your look, so in this section (beginning at 46:40), we look at how LUTs (display, technical, creative, and show) should fit into your workflow. Our discussion around maintaining a production’s pace through the constantly-shifting demands and delivery formats is particularly fruitful.
A key part of this presentation was walking through how LUTs work at each stage of a real-life production (1:03:07). From shooting log, to Display LUTs, to Creative LUTs, to CDLs, it’s all here.
Part 4: Production and post-production workflow
In the final part of the presentation (1:13:53), Shane leads us through his process for attacking the full production process, from shooting all the way through post.
He goes deep into how he labels and manages his look for every single scene and shot list, and even shares his secret weapon—the look document. In this piece, you’ll see how real-life movies match up to their on-screen expectations, all driven by his clearly-written outlines.
Shane and I wrap things up with a summary of the presentation (1:24:47), which quickly turns into a discussion on how to make sure your voice gets heard in post-production.
Before I sign off, I’d like to thank all of the talented professionals who engaged with this live stream, and thanks again to Shane Hurlbut. It’s always a privilege to see how a creative mind like his works, and presenting alongside him was my favorite part of the day.
Look book references
We referenced several inspirational lookbooks during the webinar. Here are a few of our favorites.