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Colourist Leandro Arouca discusses his craft and career
03 Oct 2023 : Luke Shanahan
Leandro Arouca
RAYGUN, the creative post production house that provides full picture and sound finishing across TV, radio, film, as well as digital content, has appointed the award-winning colourist Leandro Arouca to their team.

With over 15 years international experience in the craft of colour grading, Leandro Arouca has worked on a range of award-winning TV documentaries and series, commercials, features, shorts, and music videos.

They include Channel 4 TV Drama Vardy V Rooney, RTE Storyland 2022’s Mustard and Every Five Miles, The Black Guelph, Holy Island, Tripped Up (Universal) and Pray for Our Sinners. Leandro has also worked on commercials for a number of domestic brands such as Guinness, Jameson, Redbreast, Electric Ireland, Boots, Arnotts, Cadbury’s and An Post. His work was recently recognised at the Sharks Awards 2023 where he won Best Colour Grading for Music Video for his work on the music video Lacuna by Irish artist Boku.

Before moving to Ireland, Leandro spent a number of years with O2 Filmes, the largest production and post-production company in Brazil. During his time there, he worked alongside Brazilian directors and cinematographers such as Fernando Meirelles, César Charlone, Adriano Goldman, Adrian Teijido and Cao Hamburger among many others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Communication, Radio and Television from Universidade Metodista de São Paulo and later studied photography at Senac São Paulo.

Leandro is the latest in a number of new additions to the RAYGUN team over the past two years. Ciara Walsh was appointed as Head of Facilities in late 2021 following a decade with Outer Limits. In early 2022 Andy Kirwan, a Sound Engineer known for his work on dramas such as Kin and Smother, joined the team after eight years at Windmill Lane.

“Myself and the team are delighted to welcome Leandro to RAYGUN as a colourist,” said Ciara Walsh, Head of Facilities at RAYGUN. “Leandro brings significant experience in the art of colour grading as well as extensive knowledge of the Irish and international film, broadcasting and music industry. He really thrives on exploring new stories and bringing his Directors and Cinematographers visions to life by combining his technical knowledge, trained eye, and creativity.”

“This, combined with his supreme passion for his art, means he will be a fantastic addition to our dedicated team as we continue to work on a number artistic concepts across a broad spectrum of projects.”

We sat down with colourist Leandro Arouca to discuss joining the RAYGUN team, his most recent work, and the importance of colour grading.

IFTN: Congratulations on joining the RAYGUN team as a colourist! Could you tell us what attracted you to RAYGUN and what excites you most about this new opportunity?

LEANDRO: “When I was first approached by RAYGUN’s Head of Facilities, Ciara Walsh, and Senior Sound Engineer, Steve Maher, there was an instant connection between us. I was excited by the facilities they offered and I wanted to further expand my knowledge of the industry. Their care for the work they do and the directors, producers and cinematographers they work with are fantastic and that really interested me.”

“I did the grade on a lot of jobs that RAYGUN were doing the sound on so I was really familiar with their work and it just felt like the perfect partnership and the right next step for me. Having picture and sound work happening under one roof allows for a really wonderful creative process. I love speaking with the team about the projects we are all working on together and discussing our ideas, I believe it massively benefits the end result.”

IFTN: With over 15 years of international experience in colour grading, could you share some key insights or experiences that have shaped your approach to colour grading and post-production?

LEANDRO: “I had the privilege of learning colour grading when digital grading systems first appeared. A lot of the work was still being shot on film and at the same time the first digital cameras like RED and Arri Alexa were beginning to come on the scene.”

“I’ve learned a lot from working directly with cinematographers, what they are looking for in an image, how they prepare for the project, the choice of camera and lenses and perhaps most importantly for me, the way they light a scene. I think as a colourist, having a good relationship with the cinematographer and being brought in on the conversation early in the production phase can be really beneficial.”

“One of the most memorable moments for me was working with cinematographer Cesár Charlone on a commercial. His references for grade were gorgeous and extremely strong in contrast which is a style he likes. I had to work hard to achieve what he wanted and working with him was a huge learning curve for me. Having a legend like him complimenting my work was just wonderful.”

IFTN: You've worked on a diverse range of projects, from TV dramas to commercials and music videos. Is there a particular project that stands out as the most challenging or memorable for you as a colourist?

LEANDRO: “It is fair to say that the most challenging projects were probably the first ones I worked on. As a young colourist I felt a lot of responsibility being the last person to finesse the picture shot by some of the best cinematographers in Brazil. But each project can have its own challenges and getting to a place where you have helped realise the vision of a director or cinematographer, or in some cases surpassed it, is very satisfying.”

“I’ve just finished an RTE Storyland project with director Mia Mullarkey called Wrapped. This was shot beautifully on Arri Alexa Mini by Dave Grennan. We played around a lot with texture on the film to bring more tension to the story which I loved and worked very well.”

“Right now I’m finishing a wonderful feature directed by Eva Birthistle with Treasure Films. Also brilliantly shot on Arri Alexa Mini by Burschi Wojnar. Hazel Doupe’s performance is mesmerising. I think the acting and story of the film really inspired the feel of the grade on this one.”

“And for me now, having all of the post sound work for these projects happening at the same time under one roof in RAYGUN was such a privilege. I loved being able to discuss and get inspiration from how the other team were approaching their work and I’m excited about this new version of the post production journey for me.”

IFTN: Your work on the music video Lacuna by Boku earned you the Best Colour Grading award at the Sharks Awards 2023. Can you walk us through how you approached your contribution to the music video’s visual style?

LEANDRO: “Working on Lacuna with director Lochlainn McKenna and cinematographer Tom Pierrepont was an amazing experience. The project was shot on 16mm Kodak film stock with a gorgeous colour palette The story is about the breaking up of a relationship so we had an interesting task of balancing the sadness through cooler and moodier tones, with the happy memories which we gave a warmth to, all while maintaining a crisp and beautiful final image.”

IFTN: In your opinion, what role does colour grading play in enhancing the storytelling aspect of a film or video project?
 
LEANDRO: “Digital colour grading has expanded the possibilities and I think the role of colourist has grown in importance as part of the post production process as a result. We have so many tools available to us now to manipulate the image and affect the viewer’s experience. For example, colour temperature, contrast, saturation and texture all play a part within a scene and can completely change how it’s perceived and how it makes the viewer feel.”

“Each job is different for me. Sometimes the director or cinematographer will have a very clear idea about the look they want, but usually it’s a collaborative process and I am able to bring something new to the project, my own style. Music videos usually create an opportunity for experimentation and that’s a very enjoyable experience for me, an opportunity to push boundaries a little and try new things.”

IFTN: What do you find most rewarding about your work as a colourist?

LEANDRO: “I love being responsible for finishing the look of a film and being able to help the director and cinematographer to achieve what they had envisioned. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching a completed film, series, documentary or commercial and seeing how my grade has contributed to that. When the director or cinematographer’s expectations are surpassed in terms of the transformation they see, that’s a nice feeling.”





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