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A picture of Jack Toibin

Jack Toibin

Photographer, film maker, colorist

in film, mac, photographer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Jack, a photographer turned film maker from Dublin. I started out filming rollerblading when I was 14 or so, making skate edits with friends and stuff using a cheap camcorder - it was very basic (Sanyo XACTI VPC-TH1) but it had threads for a fisheye and nice punchy colours so I was happy out. After a couple of years the camera broke and I ended up buying a Canon 550D because it did full HD video. I ended up taking photos with it far more than expected, and bringing it everywhere I went, parties included. A friend saw some photos I posted from a house party and got me a job doing photos in a nightclub, and I started to do several around Dublin from there and was suddenly doing all types of gigs, I slowly upgraded my kit over the followings years, then eventually found what works for me and settled on that. From my first DSLR, I was always fascinated with grading the RAW files, which slowly gave me an interest in grading for film. I'm now working as an Assistant Editor and Assistant Colorist - hoping to become a full time colorist in a few years time.

What hardware do you use?

For photography I use a Canon 6D with an 85mm f/1.2L ii and 35mm f/2.0 IS. I generally use this with 1-2 Speedlites and a trigger for most shoots. I like to be able to fit everything in a satchel type camera bag so I can swap lenses quickly and move around quickly.

The Canon 85mm f/1.2L ii is a monster of a lens but it gives a very unique image with its creamy bokeh and subject isolation - I've never been so impressed with a lens, even if it's not as sharp as modern Zeiss and Sigma lenses, but has a recognisable charm to the photos. It's a nightmare to focus in a fast paced environment due to utilising an early form of focus-by-wire (which have since been greatly improved due to mirrorless cameras improving the technology). You can get them (relatively) affordable second hand now - and I'd tell anyone considering an 85mm to consider this lens.

My other primary lens is the Canon 35mm f/2.0 IS. This is the lens that generally stays glued to my camera. It's a very sharp lens for its compact size, it produces a lovely image with a mild but appealing vignette. For me it produces a nice crisp image, more in line with modern lenses. It focuses quickly, lets in lots of light and is small and unassuming. I'd choose this over the chunky 1.4 alternatives any day - it has image stabilisation too so will make handheld video easy, and getting down to shutter speeds of around 1/10 much more manageable handheld - day to day this is the lens that sits on my camera.

In work I am lucky to be able to practice my grading on a Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, a blessing considering the price of them. We also have a more portable Micro Panel which I can use whenever I need, it is a scaled down version of the larger panels and retains some of the most used functions. There is a serious speed difference in grading on the two of them though. The reference monitor in the grading suite is a Sony 30" BVM-X300 4K OLED - it's professional reference monitor that displays 10-bit 4K OLED. I'm again very lucky to be able to practice on such a magnificent monitor. Also I generally enjoy using a Wacom tablet when possible opposed to a mouse in most situations, although the trackpad on MacBook Pros have become so good that I am considering getting an external Magic Trackpad 2 for my home setup. I love the idea of being able to pair a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad and work while sitting on a couch, haha.

And what software?

In work we mainly jump between Avid Media Composer and DaVinci Resolve. Avid is used for syncing clips, ingesting footage and creating and organising projects for documentaries, TV shows and films. It's a pretty massive program but it's very solid and I've rarely had problems with it, however if you're coming from other NLE's it's much more different and takes some patience to get in line with - it's far less pick up and use compared to say Final Cut X or Premiere Pro, but far more stable and easier to share projects between several people. Resolve is used for transcoding and grading. We get a lot of footage that's mostly shot in 10-bit up to RAW, so we need to transcode this to DNxHD 36 8-bit for Avid so the editors are using compressed versions of the file, which makes the editing experience more fluid and responsive. We also recently started utilising PluralEyes for syncing certain types of clips that hadn't been boarded etc - it just reads on-camera audio and external and matches it that way, but it's very handy to have when you have several hours worth of footage.

At home I use many different programs. For photography I use Lightroom and Photoshop (both part of Adobe Suite). I was using Capture One Pro for a while, and it's better image editing software than Lightroom for sure, however jumping back between LR and PS is made so easy it's kind of hard to not use it. For anything video related I've started to just use DaVinci Resolve (since v16) for actual video editing. I was using Premiere Pro and still love how easy it is to use but just find the interface a bit messy and cluttered - if I was given any narrative work to do I'd go with Avid for sure, but for shorter things that require lots of quick fixes it's hard to beat Premiere Pro. All the video and audio effects it comes with are handy for fixing mistakes on set.

I also use Ableton Live 10 for various things and playing about, and since lockdown I've started learning Unreal Engine and Blender for some personal work - they're both fully free to use, too, which is great. Never been a better time to learn VFX and 3D-related stuff, I suppose.

What would be your dream setup?

In regards to grading, I kind of have the dream setup at work with the Resolve Advanced Panel and high-end reference monitor. I've been taking far less photos as part of my income since I'm working full time in a post-production company, however I've always wanted to pick myself up a nice rangefinder camera - I guess for photography my dream setup would be a Leica M6 (Non-TTL) & Summicron-M 35mm f/2 (or the 50mm ASPH version if money weren't a thing). I'd also like a digital body for convenience, and the Leica M10 would be perfect for that - however I'd need to justify buying these before doing it, maybe in a few years down the line because right now I don't take enough photos to justify 10K on new equipment, haha.

Apart from that I can't think of anything else that qualifies as a dream setup! Technology evolves so fast that products from 2 years ago seem outdated. I'm still content with an 8 year old digital camera, though! i