Interview by Visual Collaborative
June 2020 11 min read
Cory Berendzen is a digital colorist and innovator based in Austin, Texas. As a featured profile in our Oxygen interview series, Cory talks about innovation and some of his inventions like Frogboard, his business journey, collaborations, and patents. He also shares some insight into what motivates his contributions to society at large.
(VC) Hows do America’s present culture, and it’s realities factor into your innovations?
(Cory) The present culture of insecurity, career-changing regularity and an all too familiar have and have nots divide drives me to innovate. On the one hand, it is short-sighted and hopes for financial gain that can ease my lack of security on that end. On the other hand, it drives to push forth ideas into reality whether or not they become any monetary success, but are a flow of consciousness to action, which I am hard on myself not to let ideas stay dormant in my mind. The culture here in America is a confusing one. We have much, we are often hollow in our prosperity, and I often feel a need to innovate even at the thought of broadened public failure. As far as products go, our culture is looking for sustainability, reusability, and green technology. I hoped to sell my solar patent as IP alone, and I created it with a far extending intention with this idea; that if all residential homes were equipped with an automated cleaner, more solar energy is produced to its best ability and collectively contribute more towards their intention. My Frogboard is being designed to use newer means of materials. I am looking into incorporating hemp and hemp propylene and trying to produce parts here in the US, so I can contribute to employment if I can.
(VC) As a digital colorist, you have worked on numerous projects. What can you tell our audience what a colorist does in very simple terms, and with the advent of newer technology would it be a path you would encourage?
(Cory) Becoming a colorist has been quite a winding road, and a very long apprenticeship as well. The easiest way to understand what a colorist does is to think of Instagram. I can create countless looks for digital video, instead of still images, from scratch, and then match that look across entire projects. Making an incredibly still image look great is much easier now with all the tools available for phones and computers. Matching that to hundreds or sometimes thousands of shots in a TV show or movie is the challenging part. Newer technology has introduced a much easier way to get access to all the color correction apps and tools that professionals use. Getting your hands on and seeing what the tools and options do is no longer hidden on a huge mysterious board with a mad scientist colorist controlling it. However, this also makes it appear easier, which it isn’t. I am still learning, and I am still growing, I am not a master by any means. I do, however, have years of experience, which allows me to see things I’d like to correct faster and know what to use to do that faster, making my time put in more apparent. There is still more to learn now that HDR is here, and that is my latest learning curve which I am studying now. So I am far from any vague mountaintop of being a colorist.
You have to try and always look into yourself and be an artist by not fearing to express your feelings or emotions. I know many colorists. If I think of them all, they are all very interesting deep thinkers, they are creative by nature, they are technical by necessity, and always patient people who listen intently
Would I encourage a young person to pursue this career? Tough question. The first test is patience. How long can you sit and stare quietly, looking for the slightest variances in an image? Is your interest in a remarkably beautiful moving image so strong you would love to see it for hours as you bestow different color palettes on it? How long can you accept your first years of training will inevitably produce poor looking work? Do you have a true and honest ear that will listen to your client’s thoughts and translate them into a color that matches their emotional intentions? Sitting with strangers, finding a connection, driving a conversation, all while working towards matching each shot with something they agree brings them creative satisfaction. One of my teachers always said, “Coloring is the easy bit. Talking and then listening is the hard part.” You have to try and always look into yourself and be an artist by not fearing to express your feelings or emotions. I know many colorists. If I think of them all, they are all very interesting deep thinkers, they are creative by nature, they are technical by necessity, and always patient people who listen intently when spoken to.
(VC) A perfect world does not exist and subjective at best, but if one does what core values would you make a staple in your sphere of influence?
(Cory) The podcast I have been doing with my son for almost two years now has been very transforming. It is also a direction and guidance I looked to create with our society in mind. We read and explore books, poetry, health, and fitness. We share and teach what I believe is most powerful, a person to person interaction. To sit down and listen to all people, from all backgrounds, and learn from their life experiences, and give them the respect and appreciation of time, and record it a room with no interruptions, proving to them their words and time are worthy. To show my son by my actions that this is what I find will be most helpful in an ever more confusing world that changes slowly and fast at the same time. Focus, above all else, is a strong factor and skill that needs to be honed and thought about often if one ever expects to make it a habit.
(VC) What do you tell aspiring entrepreneurs or creatives about business success and risk with intellectual property?
(Cory) Acquiring my first patent, and another that is pending is not that scary of a task. I found an affordable and easy to work with an IP lawyer here in Austin. Doing something with it is another journey altogether. I have personally found no success in selling my solar IP, even after connecting with many large residential solar companies here in the US. It is very difficult to create short and also long detailed slide decks that show the importance or benefits of your IP. The risk is always that it gets out there, a modification is made by a company and they release something that you can’t protect against or charge them with anything. The best defense for IP is to think of the broadest version of your invention that can be protected, as opposed to the most detailed.
Here is an example. I invented the car. If I claim every detail in that vehicle, all you have to do is put different headlights, and then they can sell cars all day long and you can do nothing about it. However, if you patent “A moving object on four wheels” then you can fight for every dollar owed to you by anyone making anything that moves on four wheels.
Allowing time to be still is a task most don’t undertake, and it is far underrated. Our minds are so hectic all on their own, to watch them is like watching a movie as I like to say. I have begun meditating regularly now for a few years, and the more I dedicate time to it, the more I can see where I fall short on many accounts, and also where I need to share more love
(VC) You have spent quite some time in Los Angeles which has its own culture. Do you express some of this in your social interactions in Austin Texas your place of residence?
(Cory) Yes, I was in LA from 2001 to 2014. My 20s basically. I brought some of my Texan ways there, but I probably absorbed quite a bit more of LA culture to bring back home. Culture is an odd thing, very subjective, sometimes objective. LA gave me the confidence that I can push forward through any difficulty, and the first one in Southern California is the financial one. All us youngsters head there trying to find someone, and that someone is ourselves. The culture of hustle is first, then navigating the questionable relationships you obtain and their intentions. You end up falling into a skill you didn’t know you’d gain, and then master it and bring it home if you ever return. That is what my journey looked like. I brought back a skill that is known, even if not common, from LA back to my hometown. I think the culture of being slightly rough on the edges hasn’t left me, part of a protective layer you gain from big cities. And at the same time, when you connect with close true friends in a monstrosity like Los Angeles, you have more appreciation for that friendship because you know they have many other ways to spend their days and time.
Cory Berendzen sitting on one of his inventions
(VC) In your quiet or noisy moments, how does Cory get inspired? What ultimately motivates you to work the way you do. Are you religious or in a state of wit and will with life?
(Cory) I’ve found that stillness has triggered the most clarity and inspiration these last few years. I now know when I prefer to write or journal when I feel best for speaking into the microphone. Allowing time to be still is a task most don’t undertake, and it is far underrated. Our minds are so hectic all on their own, to watch them is like watching a movie as I like to say. I have begun meditating regularly now for a few years, and the more I dedicate time to it, the more I can see where I fall short on many accounts, and also where I need to share more love. Trying to pull away from our ever loud-speaking ego is no joke, and the Buddhists have been working on that for thousands of years. I would not call myself religious. I’m not sure I’d even say spiritual. I’m in that space where I’m just not comfortable claiming to be so sure about things of that matter, and I try and pay attention to not tout those ideas from a false sense of privilege. I am undoubtedly curious, willing to listen, speak, and learn from all mindsets whether they be belief system based or not. I respect the importance of that part of many people’s lives and how it can improve inner worlds.
(VC) Some mention different historical times as a period they admire for affluence or culture. If you can time-warp to any era to collaborate with its culture, what period would it be and why?
(Cory) To be an apprentice of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, my favorite artist. If I am in Washington DC, I always visit his piece “Daniel in the Lions’ Den”. His paintings speak for themselves, a large extensive career with incredibly large paintings composed of the most minute details across their entirety. He traveled and lived abroad doing commissions, and was also a family man, building a large home for his family, wife, and children. His art is so majestically dimensional, even 400 years later, I would have liked to see what was needed to find such focus and dedication to art and how to manage a balance with the rest of life.
(VC) Do you have a partnership wish list to work alongside, this could be an international public figure, brand, or enterprise. Who would it or they be, and why?
(Cory) For solar, I would like to work with Sunpower and Tesla Solar (SolarCity) because they are two forces that continually innovate at incredible speed with accuracy and functionality at the core of the design. On my podcast, I have a long list of health companies that I would love to spend time and sit with. The main individuals I listen to and respect their honest care for human health are; Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Dr. Peter Attia, Wim Hof, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Chris Kresser. Health takes time to learn about, and even more, time to implement that change in our lives.