Editor and color artist Stephen Hens has launched KiddKolor, provider of edit, color and finishing services. Hens and KiddKolor have collaborated with writer/actor Rob Benedict and director Michael Weithorn on their new featurette, The Sidekick, which premiered at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 last weekend.
The Sidekick is a 30-minute featurette, directed by Weithorn and Benedict, featuring Ron Livingston, Lizzy Caplan, Jordan Peele, Martin Starr and Jason Ritter. The Sidekick is an offbeat take on the superhero genre and an allegory about finding purpose in life, even as life repurposes you.
“We wanted this to appear to be like any big-budget, superhero feature that could morph into a banal world where people just happened to be superheroes,” Benedict said. “This put an enormous amount of responsibility [on Hens,] who was the hero of our postproduction journey. He brought character to the vision of the movie, which we honestly thought could not be done.”
KiddKolor was hired for The Sidekick by Nathan Adams of Cinematomic, which uses freelance artists to provide postproduction services for web, television and theatrical projects. “By decentralizing postproduction, we’ve created a facility-free solution for clients on more sensible budgets to achieve high-quality results,” Adams said.
“I was thrilled when Nathan called me to do finishing work on The Sidekick,” Hens said. “I found Rob and Michael to be incredibly open and collaborative. They had shot the film with two very different looks, and after an initial pass, it was clear that it wasn’t working. We did a second pass that got us closer. Then it was time to throw the playbook out the window. The filmmakers let me do my own pass, and we decided together to just focus on making this a beautiful film, which I believe we did.”
Hens was able to take on the project and work within the filmmakers’ budget. “The economic structure of KiddKolor has given me the opportunity to return to being an artist, taking on projects that I feel passionate about since I am not beholden to bill by the hour to a multi-million dollar facility. This also gives me the freedom to collaborate one-on-one with my clients until we get it right,” Hens said. “Because the cost of technology has dropped so significantly over the past few years, with KiddKolor, I don’t have to compromise on quality.”
In addition to The Sidekick featurette, KiddColor also recently collaborated with production company atSwim on a new Jeep commercial with director Tom Gatsoulis. “Stephen has always been the creative end of many projects we have done together,” atSwim producer/partner, Daniela Humi said. “Coming back to his new company was like coming home. AtSwim had already worked with Stephen on a five-spot Acura campaign, so there was no thought about using anyone else.”
“Stephen is certainly very creative, but he is also intuitive,” Gatsoulis added. “On the Jeep spot, I gave him my vision for what I wanted to see, and he showed me several looks; all of them were in the zone. We had a lot of inclement weather on that project – shooting in the desert, which had sunshine in the afternoon, and then gray skies and snow in the morning. Stephen was able to make the whole piece look very cohesive overall, but also maintain skin tones and make it look very real.”
Hens is currently working on a children’s educational web series for CHALK Preschool, inspired by the teaching approach of CHALK Preschools. Created and produced by Capozzi Productions, it will debut this fall. KiddKolor is also working on a profile piece on Kelia Moniz for Ford. “Another component of KiddKolor, which has been very refreshing, is the diversity of projects I’ve been able to work on already: a featurette, a commercial campaign and a web series,” Hens added. “I am finding that clients have a lot of great content that they just don’t know what to do with. The distribution platform is no longer the driving factor. Often times now clients say: ‘We have this piece of content. Let us know what you can do with this.’ As an artist, I love to hear that.”
The company uses Avical, which uses the same technology and expertise to calibrate all of KiddKolor’s systems that the studio uses. That means a clients’ picture will look the same at KiddKolor as it does anywhere else. Technically, the KiddKolor studio is calibrated by David Abrams of Avical, who works with studios including DreamWorks and Paramount. Equipment and support choices offer the broadest palette of creative tools that work seamlessly in the background, so that the artist and client can focus on elevating their content. The KiddKolor DI theater runs a Sim2 DLP Darkchip processor 1080p projector that outputs 14 foot-lamperts; the same as theatrical specs at a local cinema. A system with the KiddKolor corrector – which features the fourth-fastest possible configuration for the Mac platform, for real-time playback and rendering all-in-one energy efficient enclosure – powers the projector.