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My Post House: Finish Post

Shown here is the telecine suite at post-production facility Finish.

Finish Post is a full service post-production facility located in the heart of Boston. Despite years of experience, the post professionals at Finish — including colorist Rob Bessette — are dedicated to approaching every project with a unique perspective.

What specific projects do you currently have in the works?
We are currently wrapping up a campaign for Tufts Health Plan, some of which are already airing on major networks. The spots are cut with great comedic timing, and I was really given free reign with the color. I’m a sucker for a good comedic performance and always love working on something with such great potential.

We are also in the process of wrapping a new campaign for Carnival Cruises. It was one heck of a monster to tackle that was shot on multiple cameras ranging from the RED to GoPro. Needless to say, matching and balancing between those cameras was the biggest challenge, but we managed to pull it off and put out a great product.

What else have you worked on recently?
Two spots that have become personal favorites of mine have just recently been completed within the last month. The first, for Putnam Investments, was shot in super-slow motion on the Phantom. The spot was promoting the U.S. ski team and involved a one-shot take of a skier tearing down a mountain. It was amazing to see something that happens so quickly slowed down so drastically as to distinctly capture each falling snowflake. We graded it in such a manner that allowed the skier to pop out from the blizzard background. Beautiful stuff.

“The fact that there are literally infinite ways to complete a piece is very appealing to me,” says colorist Rob Bessette. “It’s the challenge of getting there and collaborating with the client that I enjoy.”

Another project that we ran through the color suite was a Dell campaign that just went live. Dell is supporting small business owners in their endeavors to make it on their own. This was such a compelling concept and shot beautifully with great interview and establishing shots. Simply put, it was a pleasure to work on. We established a strong look with bold contrast and saturation that really made the piece unique.

What gets you out of bed in the morning to go to work in post-production?
My job is constantly evolving; no day is ever the same. I love being able to walk into the office knowing that I will never repeat what I did the day before. I feel that it is very important to stay on your toes and be ready for what comes your way in this business. Half of the battle is reacting to what is placed in front of you, and moving forward. I am thankful every day that I get to use my artistic eye and instincts for a profession that is incredibly rewarding.

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about working in post?
I love the fact that there is never one right answer to color grading. It is all in the perception of the viewer. The fact that there are literally infinite ways to complete a piece is very appealing to me. It’s the challenge of getting there and collaborating with the client that I enjoy.

My least favorite aspect of post is the range of inconsistency that exists in commercial grade monitors. I can cite multiple occasions — as I’m sure any colorist can — during which the compression brought on by broadcast distorts the color that we have spent hours perfecting. There is no doubt that this is improving and becoming less problematic, but I can’t wait until the day where what we see in the color suite is exactly what we see on broadcast television.

The spot for Putnam Investments promoting the U.S. ski team was shot in super-slow motion on the Phantom.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was wrapping up a photography class toward the end of my college career. I had a great professor who really helped me fine-tune my eye and techniques, many of which I still incorporate today in the color suite.

What do you expect to be doing 10 years from now?
Ten years from now, I hope to still be cranking away on the color wheels and making beautiful images. Massachusetts has put up a strong showing in the film world in the last couple of years, and I would really love to see that trend continue and spill over to post production. This small city has a lot to offer, and I think people would be surprised by the quality work that can come out of here.

What do you consider to be the next big thing in post?
3-D. It’s coming, and it’s coming fast. Some people stick their nose up at it and think that it is just a passing fad. The bottom line is there is a consumer market for it. And as long as that exists, the product will keep evolving to meet customer standards.

I remember being blown away at my first 3-D screening. I was like a kid in a candy store. It’s hard to ignore record setting numbers in the theaters. I feel that it’s only a matter of time before the technology becomes as common as HD is now.

For the Dell campaign, Finish colorist Rob Bessette established a strong look with bold contrast and saturation.

What is your best post memory?
My best post memory would have to be watching my first feature on the big screen at a legitimate theater. It was such a rewarding experience to see all the hard work finally finished and sharing it with complete strangers. Luckily, it was well received, but I couldn’t help myself and looked for things that I wish I had done differently! That”s the nature of the beast, I guess.

What new technology are you looking forward to the most?
I am really looking forward to a new technology that we have just implemented along with our sister company in New York, Soundtrack. We have recently developed a virtual color grading studio that allows clients to monitor sessions remotely while they are in New York working on other aspects of their project. The streaming capabilities are very impressive and the color accuracy is impeccable. This business sure has come a long way!

What was the first editing system you worked on?
Good old iMovie. I first tinkered with it in college, and that”s when I really got the post-production bug. It wasn’t until later that I began to explore the possibilities of color correction with Final Cut Pro. I started out simple with the 3-way color corrector, and then I just moved on from there. I was intrigued by the fact that I could digitally alter moving images in such as manner as to make them more appealing to the viewer and offer an angle of storytelling that says volumes on the piece. I had no idea that such a thing existed at the time, and now I can’t imagine how I didn’t notice it.

What technology do you currently work with?
I run the color suite with a DaVinci 2K plus. That machine has been a workhorse for me. It really has stood the test of time and is a testament to how ahead of the curve the product was. I also jump into Apple Color once in awhile. While it doesn’t offer as much as I would like, it is still a good piece of software. I applaud Apple for bringing such a complex system into the everyday consumer market.

Finish also employs the following technology and gear:
• ARRISCAN film scanner
• Quantel eQ with Pablo
• Autodesk Smoke 2011
• Boxx Graphics Workstation/NVIDIA Bundle
• Avid Media Composer
• Final Cut Pro
• Ateme CM4101 encoder
• Sony 4K projector
• 5.1 surround sound