Woman in Color: Meet Film Colorist Aline Sinquin

Colorist Aline Sinquin shot by Zoe Fisher

From the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz,” the first ever film made in technicolor, to the 2000 dramedy “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?,” which was the first film to be completely digitally graded, there have been massive advances in the world of color grading over the past 80 years.

Though the techniques have advanced exponentially, the amount of women in the field still has something to be desired. The fact that women typically see a broader range of color yet still hold fewer spots in a field that literally relies on someone’s ability to gauge colors, seems to say a lot about the inequality that exists between the sexes when it comes to working behind the scenes in film.

While the playing field isn’t equal yet, there are some incredible women film colorists making their mark, and among them is Aline Sinquin, who founded Five One Color, the first female founded color grading company in New York.

Aline started Five One Color, which runs on a Baselight system, back in 2016. That same year, she was invited to become a member of Free The Bid, a prestigious non-profit organization comprised of some of the top women working in film, which aims to level out the playing field.

“There are not so many female colorists worldwide, and I’m really proud to be part of this female organization,” says Aline. “Free the Bid started to alert the industry to the fact that women were being hired 3 or 4 times less than men. This organization is a huge support for women, it helps them to get jobs in the industry and share their experience and knowledge.”

As a woman who’s clearly at the top of her game, Aline continues to share her knowledge and expertise with others in the industry. In 2019 Aline was a judge for the AICP’s Best Color Grading of a 60 second spot category, and she was also a lead speaker on a panel organized by #GALSNGEAR at the massive NAB conference in Las Vegas where she spoke specifically about women working in the film industry.

“I feel really proud. There are not so many females who lead post production companies in NYC,” says Aline when asked about creating Five One Color. “It is a male dominated industry, but it is starting to be more open to women.”

Aline is a master behind the screen when it comes to coloring. Over the course of her career she has worked as a colorist on campaigns for L’Oréal, Chanel, Kenzo, Dior, Prada, Apple, Coca-Cola, Audi and Louis Vuitton, as well as with major studios such as MPC London and The Mill in New York, both of which have been leaders in the VFX field for over 20 years.

Though she has been the lead colorist on countless TV series and films, such as Chris Shimojima’s 2020 dramedy “Albert and the Concrete Jungle,” which earned the Festival Prize from the Big Apple Film Festival and Screenplay Competition and was also awarded at the Bushwick Film Festival, Aline is known predominantly for extraordinary work on beauty campaigns.

“As I started in advertising in Paris, the city of fashion and luxe, I specialize in beauty ads and coloring the beauty of actresses as well,” explains Aline. “I love my job. I love creating beautiful pictures and being part of the success of projects.”

Earlier in her career Aline was tapped by MPC London to work as the colorist on the “Candy” campaign, a set of three short films for Prada, directed by seven-time Oscar nominee Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and BAFTA nominee Roman Coppola (“The Darjeeling Limited”).

Working on projects by cinematic icons such as Anderson and Coppola speak to the caliber of work Aline tackles. A campaign to promote Prada’s Candy perfume, the film stars Palme d’Or Award winner Léa Séydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), Peter Gadiot (“Queens of the South”) and Rodolphe Pauly (“Before Sunset”).

Inspired by the 1960s French new wave film “Jules and Jim” by François Truffaut, Prada’s Candy L’Eau films center on Candy (Séydoux) and her two would be suitors, two best friends who meet here within an hour of one another and now each vie for her attention.

This is one project where it’s easy to see just how imperative top-notch coloring is as the films had to exude that 60s vibe, which would have been impossible without Aline’s work. The films are beautifully shot and the clean vintage look generates a feeling of nostalgia and makes us feel like we are watching a film from the 60s, which are due in great part to the way Aline colored the frames.

“It was shot on 35 mm film. The artistic direction was really strong and the set was 1960s oriented with the car, the clothing and the light,” explains Aline. “I did a 60s look and added some ‘candy’ color with the shadows cold as the DP asked. As it was a luxe brand, I had to be really careful to achieve this cinematic look but also to be able to do beauty work on Léa Séydoux, meaning it couldn’t be too contrasty on her face and we needed to keep the high profile quality of the footage.”

While she’s a master at working as a colorist on beauty ads, with her work including Chloe’s riveting “Nomade” ad, Cartier’s Cactus film by Jean-Yves Lemoigne, HERMES by Nicolas Provost, Maybelline Blush by JP Philippot, and countless others, Aline has worked on numerous award-winning campaigns for brands that fall outside the beauty sphere, such as the AT&T “Close to Home” campaign.

The campaign, which earned the industry’s top awards including two Cannes Lions Awards, three Clio Awards, several D&AD Awards and countless others, promotes the central message of waiting to get home to answer phone calls through a heart wrenching story of two cars colliding in a fatal crash that results from distracted drivers.

For “Close to Home,” which was directed by Frédéric Planchon, the production used multiple cameras to capture the various angles and different kinds of camera in order to capture the climactic crash in slow motion. For Aline, who was specifically hired on the project by Planchon, a highly-awarded French director, to handle the color grading, the challenge was to give not only a natural look to the footage, but ensure all of the cameras matched.

She says, “I had to find a way to match the footage from the phantom camera, which shot in slow motion, with those shot by the Alexa cameras, where the stops were different.”

The end result is seamless, with all of the footage working together perfectly; and with such a strong message it’s not at all surprising that the project earned such industry wide acclaim. Aline’s work continues to be seen all over the world, even at massive industry events like the Oscars.

It’s clear to see the imperative need for coloring when it comes to touching up the coloring on the skin of an actress or making the footage look as though it’s from a different era, but what about when the film really is from a different era? That is what Aline was tasked with on behalf of Rolex for their “Celebrating Cinema” film, which screened at the 89th Oscar Ceremony.

For the project, which fused together footage from films starring the likes of Harrison Ford, Marlon Brando and Paul Newman, all sporting the iconic Rolex watch, Aline had the hefty task of cleaning up all of the previously graded footage without deteriorating them, and ensuring the scenes from all of the different movies matched visually.

Izzy Levine, the project’s creative director, says, “While keeping the artistic direction of the edited masterpieces, and without distortion at the time in which they were filmed, Aline succeeded in creating chromatic unity and a harmony between all the films in order to deliver a unique look, with the high quality that is expected for screening at an event as prestigious as the Oscar Ceremony.”

From her recent work as the colorist on the award-winning feature film “Albert and the Concrete Jungle” to coloring countless beauty ads and more, Aline Sinquin is undeniably one of the leaders in the color grading industry, and we think it’s so much cooler that she’s a woman.

Portia is a journalist & poet from Los Angeles. You can find her work through №3 Magazine, ElephantJournal.com, Gypsyrich.com, Stillstoked.com and more.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store