Creating Crisp Images for Breaking Bad

Published on in Miscellaneous

Even though Breaking Bad has come to an end, it seems everyone is still trying to hold on. (We're one of those people.) So we decided to get an interview with the man who made sure our beloved characters always showed up crystal clear week after week, colorist, Tom Sartori.

Q: As a colorist for Breaking Bad, what was a major post-production challenge you had to deal with?
A: A constant challenge was to maintain stamina throughout the eight-hour session budgeted for final color. Some 500 or more shots had to be perfected within this timeframe, so the procedure, in very rapid succession, was always: identify the game plan, execute, verify color match, and then move on to the next shot.

Q: What has it been like to work with such an amazing, award-winning show?
A: One of the most enjoyable aspects of working on this series was the creative atmosphere established and nurtured by Vince Gilligan. Although the show's popularity ballooned by the end of its run, there was never any deviation from the original vision. Every member of the production team strove to make it the very best it could be, and always brought their "A game" to the table. 


Q: What advice were you given early on in your career that you still follow to this day?
A: My colorist career began with feature work from low contrast film prints, because electronic post production was still in its infancy in the early 1980's. Working with DPs and directors usually created a collaborative environment, and within a short time in the session, "looks" for the show had been established and it became intuitive from then on. It’s been a steady progression of learning and creative collaboration.

Q: What was your favorite part of working with the post-production crew of Breaking Bad? 
A: The "Breaking Bad" production team consisted of the most gracious and talented artists that one could ever hope to work with, from top to bottom. It was an absolute joy throughout the six year run.

Q: What led you to a career as a colorist?
A: From a strong interest in photography in my youth, through USC film school, to production work in the early 1980s, and telecine in 1983, my career led me to FotoKem in 1988 and now Keep Me Posted, a FotoKem company, in 2013. It's been an enjoyable run, to say the least!

Q: What software did you use in post production? Any particular tools? Any favorites?
A: Color correction on "Breaking Bad" was performed on the da Vinci 2K Plus system for the entire series.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: It's been exciting to see worldwide popularity grow for this series. We have now entered into a period where television dramas can exceed feature films in terms of impact and audience, which all stems from the stellar writing, directing, and acting that we're currently enjoying.  

Above image: Tom Sartori, Breaking Bad Colorist

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images courtesy of Google and FotoKeminterview courtesy of Tom Sartori & FotoKem

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