Our Origins

The Tao was born out of a discussion on the Connecticut Final Cut User Group’s LinkedIn group. I was invited to do a color grading presentation and solicited requests to their LinkedIn group for questions they’d like answered.

One member mentioned he wanted to know why someone would use Apple Color instead of FCP’s 3-way Color Corrector? I found this to be an intriguing question. Answering it would mean getting to the heart of professional color grading. Why do pro colorists do the things that they do? From room setup to using waveform monitors and vectorscopes – there’s a method to the madness.

Typing out my response, I referred to this as getting to the “Tao of Color Grading” (ToCG).

The presentation was a huge hit and has been given many times since (and will be available as a download from this site). I bought the URL and decided it was time someone (me) finally put together a niche site dedicated – not to buttons and menus – but to theory and practice.

The Lost Apprenticeship

I’ve been involved with User Groups since 2005. At first, it was to get me out of the house. Quickly I realized it was an opportunity to give back to others the way my mentors gave to me. I was trained in a big NYC post house (several of them, actually). My editors taught me best practices, technique, mistakes to avoid, and (most importantly) client management.

Times have changed. Every post house I ever worked at has gone out of business (except for HBO Studios, which will exist for as long as pay TV exists). Those post houses are the victims of guys like me; we’d drop out, start a competing boutique with nothing more than a Mac, Kona card, and tiny (or no) leases. We’d offer equivalent quality at ridiculous prices and treat every client like a jewel.

As the smoke clears, the big losers are the next generation of creatives.

They buy a Mac. Drop FCP, Avid, or Adobe’s Creative Suite on the machine – and they’re ready to go. Except they get to make all the mistakes first-hand. Painfully. Unwittingly. Unnecessarily. They had no apprenticeship. No one to guide them past well-known technological, creative, or interpersonal pitfalls.

Tao Of Color Grading.com

For a long time I was a regular haunt at sites like CreativeCow, the FCP-L, Apple’s support forum. I’ve finally settled on this site as my contribution to the next generation. Mine is a narrow focus: color grading & finishing. But it’s a tricky niche – 1 part technology, 1 part art, and 10 parts client management. I don’t have the patience to explain every feature of every software package – I’ll leave that to my peers who relish in such things. I do enjoy sharing how I work, why I push the buttons I like pushing, and how I (usually) manage to keep clients engaged and happy through an often tedious process.

About Me

My name is Patrick Inhofer. On the ToCG I like to call myself a Photon Wrangler. By day, I run Fini.tv – a boutique color grading & finishing shop. I’ve been running that business since 2002 and been working in NYC ¬†post-production since 1989. I was also heavily involved in the NYC Final Cut User Group (mopictive.org) but gave it up to pursue the ToCG.

I’m also teaching Digital Color Correction as an Adjunct Professor at my Alma Mater, Hofstra University. And I’ve co-written a book about color grading on Avid Media Composer and Avid Symphony, which should be released in 3Q2012.

My credits? You can find a relatively accurate list of my credits for TV and Film programming on IMdB. LinkedIn has my full resume and client recommendations. But for the A.D.D. intertube generation, here’s the Cliff Notes:

I’ve graded films, documentaries, television series (including Prime Time network), corporate videos, promos, and ID packages for a huge variety of clients ranging from broadcast and cable networks, to indie films making the festival circuit, to corporate giants. Named directors that I’ve worked with: Barry Levinson and Bruce Sinofsky.

I’ve delivered to: HBO, NBC, ABC, Showtime, ESPN, Oxygen, AMC, Lifetime, TNT, TBS, National Geographic Channel, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, AOL, TV One, BET, Virgin Records, Astralwerks

Looking For Something?

If you’ve read this far, then I have a question for you? What do you think? Is there color grading training you’d like to see but not finding elsewhere? Contact me through this website. Hunt me down on Twitter or Facebook. Leave a comment below. I’m always looking for new ideas, insights, inspiration and feedback.