“The question is, where does technical mastery actually end?.”
Lots of people believe that unedited camera data are ‘genuine’. But that’s not the case – they are vastly different from the original image, for example in terms of colour. Even good cameras have a delta E [see information block below] between 9 and 10. This means that the camera image can never have interpretational sovereignty. Instead, I have to interpret it. After several years of development and technical upgrades, today GREAT Scan enables us to achieve a delta E between 1.3 and 1.7.
In other words the cost of retrospective correction is no longer necessary?
That’s one thing. But you’ve got to understand how all these tools used in the process work down to the last detail, what they actually do, and of course there are the screens and the light. For example, every piece of software adds very fine discrepancies into the mix. Then there is the transformation into different colour scales – RGB, CMYK, etc. – and different file formats. And we know that very few printers using today’s 8-bit process can print at a delta E of less than 2 anyway. If you really understand all this, then you can draw a few lines and give some proper thought to how you can actually move through this jungle. Jenny’s team uses calibrated proofs as a counter-check to see what has happened in the colour management process (see page 58). Our eyes can detect an unbelievably wide range of colour nuances. And we are pretty critical about the whole thing.
So you can actually control the technology better than is actually required?
The question is, where does technical mastery actually end? Professional photography, for example, in technical terms involves no more than maximum mastery of contrasts on textures regardless of the subject. If we look at it like this, it does not have a great deal to do with creativity but it is a prerequisite for it. If you can do your job well, you will find it easier to be creative. In my career, I have worked in all these fields, even in reproduction, and time and again I have come across people, who do things that look really cool but they do not control the route to them, they do not understand the technology. Then you notice that it was all pure luck and that they have not really learned anything from it. That’s not the way I like to work.
Hasn’t luck got a lot to do with it?
I love finding out about things up to the point at which I no longer have to ask myself technical questions if I want to be creative. Until all this knowledge has become part of my flesh, blood and every movement. And it is important to me that everybody who works at BLUE Studios feels exactly the same. That is when great things happen throughout the company; this is what customers notice when they come for a day’s shooting with us. If the preparation is done properly and everybody knows exactly what they are doing, then the atmosphere is not serious, then music plays and everybody can relax and get involved. And that is when we can also give delivery dates which often astonish our customers because we know exactly what is then going to happen in our studios …
… with colleagues who roll up their sleeves and get on with it?
I would prefer to say, with people who are able to make maximum use of their skills. With the best technology and in smart processes. This has nothing to do with working through the night, that is not the solution. Instead we have lots of highly skilled, clear heads and hands here now. And they should stay relaxed while they work. Simply creating the best conditions and having the best tools that we can offer them to do their job well. The relocation of our reproduction department to a new building allows us to create more space, tidier aisles, smoother delivery and better internal logistics. We now really do have enough space for everybody – and the right person to manage every department. This is why I regard my main job now to be creating this space and designing workflows. Anybody can buy the technology, but our workflows around the image – they simply can’t be bought. As always, the devil is in the detail. That is when we get serious