Franz Rabl: A Master of His Craft


Franz Rabl, one of the last Masters of analogue film post production, gives us a little insight in his work and why he sticks to film. Let’s have a look over his shoulder to get a glimpse at his work.

Photo by Franz Rabl

Can you tell the community a little bit about yourself, what you do for a living and what you like to do in your spare time.

My name is Franz Rabl and I was born in 1961. Since July 2008, I work at ARRI Film TV in the laboratory as a color timer, but I prefer the title “Photochemical Colorist”, because it makes more sense in this day and age. In our spare time, on the weekends, my wife and I, she works also at ARRI, sit or work in our garden and enjoy the privacy that the Austrian Boehmerwald region provides .

Your biography shows you working as a colorist, a film grader and a color timer, among others. Can you describe what each of these positions is? What does a typical work-day look like for you?

That‘s right. Here at ARRI, I work only as a color timer. In my opinion, a colorist is a digital job, a person who works on different grading systems ( Lustre, Baselight, Filmmaster, DaVinci, etc. ), based on files or tapes, whether for TV or cinema. A film grader or color timer works only analog, from film to film, with no digital intermediate steps.

Most of the time in a typical work-day is spent reproducing the work of the digital colorists, during the DI-Process, to get a perfect match between the digital projection and the film projection.

Photos by Franz Rabl

What drew you to the film industry?

The creative work with DOP‘s and Directors.

How did you get into this line of work?

Color timer was the most exciting job in a laboratory.

What advice would you give a reader trying to get into the film industry?

For the whole film industry my advice is, become a scriptwriter, because I find there is always an absence of good stories.

For the future of post-production my advice is, become a digital colorist.

What has been your favorite project to work on and why?

The film “BAL” , winner of the Berlinale 2010. Because it was a complete analog film and workflow, and there you can see and feel that film is still the best medium to reproduce natural colors. From 1989 till 2005, all films with Michael Haneke, each one of them was a challenge.

You work with primarily with analogue mediums, what are the aspects of film that attract you?

Film is still the only worldwide standard for highest quality and i don‘t like to watch calculated or digitally compressed images. Film is the only „real raw“ format.

What challenges does working with analogue film present?

That is really difficult to say, but it comes down to what I am used to seeing on the movie screen.
Right now the biggest challenge for me is to convince people that film can look much better than digital.

Photo by Franz Rabl

What projects are you working on now?

Now we are working on a film called “Königin Luise”, it is a film from 1913 and we are in the process of restoring the film here at ARRI. We scanned the Nitro Original version and are using it as a reference to make a brand-new print with the “Desmet method”

Lastly, if you could work on any film (whether it be a classic, or one that has not yet been produced) what would it be?
A story about “The Return to Analog Film”.

written by gabysalas on 2012-07-11 in #lifestyle #post-production #color #film #arri #franz-rabl


  1. clownshoes
    clownshoes ·

    Awesome Q&A

  2. gabysalas
    gabysalas ·

    @clownshoes. thanks!

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