We’re lucky enough to have Shahriar Rahman on today, a talented post-production colorist and compositor, and creator of recent NewBlueFX ColorFast tutorials. Join us while we get to know Shahriar a little better, during a personal interview.
NBFX: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into filmmaking?
Shahriar: All my life I had wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps and study medicine. I was well into the medical track in college until the film bug bit me in my junior year. While taking an introductory film class, I made the anguished decision to declare film production as my major. My poor immigrant parents and pre-med friends were horrified and perplexed.
Upon graduation, I was accepted into a mentorship program at IFP East. However, jobs did not come. I started shooting and editing anything I could find, including birthdays, weddings, and low-budget shorts. I was beginning to gain notice for my work, and in 2004 when a new Bangladeshi channel started in New York, I was offered the job as its chief —and as it happened, only— editor. It was a one-man operation for a year, until I got employment at the much larger network STV. A year after I started work at STV, I was promoted to Chief of Production and was in charge of all shows produced by the 24-hour news and entertainment channel. In the four years that I worked there, I had directed and edited over 40 episodes of TV shows that aired, along with over one hundred commercials for local businesses and promos. One made-for-tv feature I directed at this time with two friends was sold and broadcast on a TV channel overseas.
After STV ceased their New York studio, I became freelance and worked on several music videos and commercials as director, editor, colorist, and motion graphics artist. However, I yearned to return to my primary passion of narrative filmmaking, the reason for which I had made the choice that had anguished my parents so many years ago. I needed to prove to myself that I could become successful in a path I chose for myself over a path that was paved for me.
I knew I had to move to Los Angeles to pursue my career as a director, but I could not afford to leave my family whom I was supporting. There was only one way that I could allow myself to leave my family; that is if I start a new one by marrying. I asked the woman I was seeing at the time, if she would agree to move with me to LA if we got married. Three weeks after we were married, we indeed moved to LA. That was almost three years ago.
After the move, I have worked on such Hollywood films as the last Harry Potter film and the Smurfs, as well as music videos for Sean Paul and Fitz and the Tantrums. I also directed a few shorts, including one that won first place at the On Location video contest, and a spec for Tesla Motors. I am also writing my next feature.
NBFX: Tell us a little bit about your company and your role.
Shahriar: I work under the company name of Factorial Productions, but my website features my work under my name. I am creative director, colorist, editor, and compositor. shahrahman.com
NBFX: So how did you hear about NewBlueFX?
Shahriar: I learned of NewBlueFX at a presentation at the Los Angeles Post Production Group in mid-2012. I was intrigued at the time with Titler Pro, which was unlike anything out in the NLE market. It made me interested in their other plugins. A few months later, I had the pleasure of being one of the artists chosen to present their entire line of plugins at a convention. I was hooked ever since.
NBFX: Give us an example of how plugins enable you to streamline your work.
Shahriar: I use plugins on every project I work on, whether it be in my NLE or After Effects. In most cases, the desired look or effect will not be possible to recreate using the built-in plugins of the software package, especially for NLE’s.
Most plugins are used to create obvious effects, but the ones that I use extensively are those whose subdued accents bring an overall polish to the piece. The skin softening, color grading, and font treatment plugins are good examples of these. Plugins not only make it faster for me to deliver, but they also give a more professional product.
NBFX: Describe one of your projects and how NewBlueFX was part of that experience.
Shahriar: I used NewblueFX plugins extensively in an ethnic calling card commercial that was broadcast in Australia and England. The commercial for Lumyatalk was largely created in my NLE. Only the end logo animation was created in AE using a non-NewBlueFix plugin that supported 3D text. If I were to design this segment today I would use the just-released version of Titler Pro which supports 3D camera-aware text in AE.
The plugins I used on every shot was Skin Soften, Vignette, and Colorfast. Colorfast’s ability to quickly dial in a grade to affect specific regions in the image without manual masking or keying is unlike anything else I have used. Though Lumyatalk was shot on an overcast day, I selectively brought up the vibrancy and detail in the skin tones and in the trees and grass, while simultaneously bring down the brightness of the overexposed, blown-out sky. I used the plugin Metallic as a polish for the text effects, and the Tint effect for the end animation background. There are other NewBlueFX plugins I used throughout.
NBFX: Can you talk about any upcoming projects and why you’re excited about them?
Shahriar: Next week, a music video for the indie band Fitz and the Tantrums, on which I served as Lead VFX Artist, is being released. I am currently doing a stereo conversion of a shot for an IMAX 3D nature documentary produced by National Geographic. After that, I will be finishing post-production on a spec branding video I wrote and directed featuring the Model S electric luxury sedan for Tesla Motors.
NBFX: Are there any tips for using NewBlueFX that you’d like to share with our readers?
Shahriar: Colorfast and Tilter Pro can be your best friends, if you learn how to use them! If you are creative, you can use Colorfast with atypical techniques to produce amazing grades and effects.
NBFX: Thanks, and how about any tips in general for our audience?
Shahriar: One tip I give for editors and filmmakers is that while in the grind of work, it is easy to forget the reason why we are making videos in the first place: to touch and entertain an audience. Always remember what the aim of the specific piece is as it relates to the audience, and base every decision -whether creative or technical- to serve that.
Guard yourself from your perfectionist self that wants you to master everything technically and that makes you waste hours trying to get the exact “look.” Start doing this now or you will burn yourself out and become jaded. Pace yourself to deliver on deadlines, and don’t take too many creative detours during the process unless you have the time. Result-oriented thinking will keep you from going in circles or falling into a trap.
NBFX: Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with us.
We always enjoy getting to know editors, filmmakers and video artists and sharing their stories with you.
Here’s a link to the commercial Shah mentioned above, and to some of those NewBlueFX ColorFast tutorials we’ve been fortunate enough to have him create.
Commercial made using NewBlueFX plugins