Before there was digital, there was Dale Grahn

As the colour timer for Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, and with hundreds of major film credits, Dale Grahn shaped much of the look of modern cinema. But when cheaper digital tools appeared, Dale's art - the art of the colour timer - was largely lost. Until now.

‘The Dale Grahn way’

My journey to the cinematic world lies in three words, ‘lights, camera, and action’. While scrolling through one of the old photographs in my album I started to think. Think about how certain stories and memories have grown around my first flirtations with films.

Getting back to the Traditional way of Grading - Print Stock incorporated into modern day colour managed pipeline My interpretation of your films and the way I tell stories through colour. Reviving the Forgotten Traditional Grading Process - Negative and Print ! I Craft the look of your film like a Colour Timer equipped with simple RGB CMY, Saturation and Density controls in the modern grading pipeline. By not breaking up the image using tools designed for fixing mistakes, the true beauty of the image will emerge and be preserved.

You still wish that you could get back in time and shoot on Film and get the look and feel of the Motion Picture Film. Those lovely colours, gorgeous texture and depth and not to forget the colour response and density I have recreated the exact same process for you by testing and using the preserved colour response of these film stocks. The Traditional Negative and Positive print film stock that live inside DaVinci Resolve which differs significantly from the recent approaches of just using film profiles.

I have incorporated characteristics like Film Matrix, like Bloom, Push pull, CMY Color Head, Printer Lights, Film Breath, Gate Weave, Optical Vignette, Modular Transfer Function ( MTF ), CMY Subtractive Colors, Film Split toning, Remjet Removal/ Halation, Highlight Blur ( Digital ProMist ) and more ! Mix and match all these parameters, test your footage on different negative and positive stocks and design a unique tailor made look for your film and there is more, we treat the Color and Texture ( add some Grit ) separately. Yes, we use the most advanced technology of Grain Texture mapping. Map different amount of grains in Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. Choose between True 35mm, 16mm and 8mm Texture and vintage dirt and texture, flash frames, head and tail leader, lens flares and splices

What is my Process ?


Select the TONE, Print CONTRAST, Create amazing COLOUR PALETTE using Negative and Print Profiles, use the COLOUR TIMING tool to grade, SKEW the colours towards Film Palette and create beautiful TEXTURES post Colour I will be using only RGB CMY and density to create the look unless contrast issues because that is the best way to do storytelling. By not breaking up the image using tools designed for fixing mistakes, the true beauty of the image will emerge and be preserved.


From his first big break as colour timer for “Predator” (1987), Dale Grahn went on to become one of the foremost film colour experts in the world, timing “Saving Private Ryan”, Francis Ford Coppola's “Dracula”, “Apocalypse Now Redux”, and hundreds of other major films.

In Dale's words: “The term, 'Timing' in the world of film originally started in the days of black and white. It was a developing term and referred to the amount of time the negative should stay in the developing solution to achieve the best image based on the exposure of the film. So the Timer was a master of developing B&W negative as the first part of his job.

Color changed almost everything, and, I think, moved “Timing” into the world of artistry and history. The ability to create something that has never been seen before was now in the hands of skilled technicians- but skilled in B&W. They would find that they had to go back to school and learn everything from scratch, with no one that could help, because colour was brand new to everyone. Exciting but scary.

So what's the best approach, how do you begin? Take all of your experience and knowledge in B&W and use this as your base of operation, and then build upon that.

This was my approach to digital colour timing: Bring all of my film colour timing experience to the digital world and start from there. The digital world gave me tools that I did not have before that would have been very useful in fixing many problems that were very hard or impossible with film. I saw them as a blessing.

But the tools never gave me reason to change the way I looked at an image. They did give me, however, more possibilities and more directions to go in. Yet another blessing.

These are the golden techniques from a film colour timer's perspective

Your final grading session with me won’t be “wow, this is awesome thank you so much I didn’t know it could be this beautiful” instead of “ I guess we’re done then”

Leave your new baby, your film with me and then come back to see how beautifully I have dressed her up in new clothes