OmniScope Featured Artist: Walter Volpatto

May 31, 2024

OmniScope Featured Artist:

Walter Volpatto

Colorist on Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis”

Award-winning colorist Walter Volpatto is a bit of a legend in our color grading community. With over two decade's experience in the industry, Volpatto has contributed color expertise to some of the world’s most famous films – including Dunkirk, The Woman King, and Star Wars:  Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. His color work has also been recognized by his peers with nominations and awards from the HPA for Outstanding Color Grading for Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, Sweet Tooth, and Green Book.

The team at Time in Pixels were so excited to chat with Walter and learn about his career and recent success – grading Francis Ford Coppola’s Megapolis!  Here we let Walter tell his story:

Career Path - From Engineer to Sr. Colorist

“I’m currently a senior colorist at Picture Shop in Hollywood. I come from Italy, in the first part of my career, I worked as an engineer in broadcasting, then switched to post-production (still as an engineer). In  the early 2000s I transitioned to online finisher and then colorist. I’ve been a colorist for 20+ years. Originally, I wanted to become a VFX artist, (I was interested in 3D lighting, texturing, and compositing), but life decided otherwise!

Normally I work on different types of projects, mostly theatrical features, but I also deal with episodic, commercials and smaller independent projects. There is no project too small or too big. A client is a client.”

Feature Film Achievements:

“The project that I’m most proud of is without a doubt Star Wars: The Last Jedi, because it is impossible to work on a Star Wars movie without being proud of it; but recently I worked with a true legend: Francis Ford Coppola on Megalopolis, it is a dream come true!”

“On both Last Jedi  and Megalopolis I was the leading colorist. The two projects where different in scope and scale, Jedi had multiple deliverables: the normal theatrical, the 3D version, the IMAX version, Dolby, and then all the home distributions (HDR/SDR), plus deleted scenes, behind the scenes, and an entire documentary of the making of! It took 6 months when all was settled.

For Megalopolis, we wanted to mimic IMAX in our Toronto theater, so we equipped it with a Christie 4K laser projector and coordinated with IMAX HQ for the calibration, so even in a reduced screen size, we had a similar visual experience (of course once you see the film on IMAX screens it become majestic!).”

“Working with Francis is like working with a legend! He is very into storytelling, leaving the photography and the visuals to me and the Cinematographer (Mihai Malaimare jr. ASC) and only giving us the general feel for it. The photography was simply amazing!”

“The biggest challenge about being a colorist? it’s the communication with the client. Color is very subjective and there are many ways to tell and show the story. Good communication, good collaboration is one of the most difficult things to achieve.”

Tools of the Trade:

“My main tool for color grading is DaVinci Resolve at the moment. I used Quantel for a decade when my career was starting, and at one point the sheer brute force of dedicated hardware was surpassed by the ever increasing computational power of GPU. This combined with the constant improvement in functionality forced lots of us in post-production to rethink their equipment strategy – hence, the change for me.

I like to work with big pieces of iron, (who does not like them) especially given the amount of data we have to turn around in real-time. This includes  big Supermicro computers with dual CPU and 3xA6000 GPU cards. We usually project on a 4K Barco projector, or working off x300 Sony monitors and a big 77in LG for client review. I use the big Blackmagic Advanced panel, with Nobe Omniscope on my left. At home my setup is more modest with a lot of recycled hardware,  but it is just for training and odd projects.”

Working with OmniScope:

“For years I used hardware scopes, different brands and different setups. And while they are precise, they only serve one purpose: to measure the signal. Hardware scopes offer no flexibility, are difficult to read, and really have no extra functions.

When I was introduced to Omniscope at Pictureshop, I was skeptical at first. Changing is difficult in human nature, but as soon as I tried it, I got hooked. Omniscope is not only extremely flexible, it’s precise, versatile, and adapts to the user. Since OmniScope runs on a normal computer, it also reduces clutter on my main working surface. I’m ready to toss my old HW scopes in the E-Waste!”

“I run a classic RGB parade and Vectorscope, and I have multiple configurations depending if I’m working in HDR, SDR, or if I also need to monitor the audio itself. For challenging dark shows, I also have a second vectorscope and parade zoommed on the blacks only. It is so easy to change size, zoom, configuration, it immediately senses a change in signal and rearranges itself, a flexibility I never had with the competition.

I have two favorite OmniScope features: how easy it is to crop an image to focus on only the part of the image I really need– that is so elegant. And when I’m in HDR, the continuous peak nit reading… clients often ask “how many nits is that light” and you can answer with a simple glance at the scope!

I’ve had an excellent experience with Tom and the team at Time In Pixels. Custom service was fast to answer my questions. And then without even me knowing, my features suggestions had been implemented!’

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