Lyubomir Balabanov, with over 100 various-length projects, talks about sharing experience

Lyubomir Balabanov is only 24 years old and already has  over 100 various-length projects in his portfolio, including 21  movies – 11 Bulgarian and ten foreign, 6 TV series with a total of over 150 episodes, a number of music videos, and commercials. He founded two companies – Gray Universe (together with the director Lubo Marinov) and Eurofilms, which are for color corrections and post-production. 

Starting next semester, he will be teaching in the VFX & Animation program at ARC Academy. If you want to be among his students, join the Early Admission until 28 February. 

How did it all begin?

Lyubo got into the cinema by accident. His interests before he started studying at the High School of Precision Engineering and Optics and “M. V. Lomonosov” are headed in a different direction – he has been playing the violin for seven years, loves computers, and wants to study at the “John Atanasov” school, but he didn’t make it there, so he goes to the cinema high school. After finishing eighth grade, he met the director of the Survivor TV show, who offered him an internship. In the ninth grade, he started working on a project for the Bulgarian national television – 40 episodes about the Forgotten Heroes of the First World War.

A family friend introduced him to the then-owner of the Nu Boyana Film Studios. As an intern there, he worked on the films The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Day of the Dead, The bloodline. While he was still a student, he also got into gaming. He worked as a team manager for Bulgaria of the largest gaming association, ESL Gaming/Turtle Entertainment, and traveled a lot to Romania, Serbia, and Poland. After graduating from high school, he entered the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NATFIZ).

“I said to myself that I want to become the best editor in Bulgaria”, says Lyubomir.

The summer before he started studying at NATFIZ, he participated in the filming of an Italian film here in Bulgaria. He meets Alexander Sano, a Bulgarian actor and filmmaker, who asked him if he can color-correct films. Lyubo told him that he can, although he hadn’t done this before. “I had watched one or two DaVinci tutorials,” he admits, adding, “A week later, he called me to do one of his short films, and I was very pleased.” Lubomir continues to learn “on the go” and persistently pursues his goals.

This was followed by work on the Bulgarian films Revolution Z and Mr. X and the Sea before heading to London. There he met a person from the largest color correction company in the world, who worked on films such as Bohemian Rhapsody and others. The visit to this studio inspired him to open his own in Bulgaria. “We did it and bought the best possible equipment for the moment. Little by little, we started building a portfolio”, says Lyubomir Balabanov.

Currently, this portfolio includes more than 20 full-length films, numerous TV series, commercials and music videos. He has also worked on a number of series, the last of which is the Bulgarian Don’t think of me, for which he did almost all the post-production.

Lyubo admits that he is most proud of a feature film about the story of Mozart and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. He is also currently committed to a foreign film, which he has to complete in 2 weeks.

How does the post-production of a film happen?

Lyubo explains the process of creating color corrections for a film. He usually works with the cinematographer or director of the film, who sets the concept for the vision. For several days, he prepares the first 5 to 15 minutes, which must be approved by the cinematographer.

They monitor if this is the vision they captured, if they want something to change, and give him feedback.

The idea of color corrections is to support the look and feel of the film, to bring it to life.

The most challenging film he worked on was Schönbrunn Palace – Eine Fantastische VR – Zeitreise, as it was in VR. The project took him two months, but the final product was very good.

On movies he likes and recommends as textbooks, he cites Blade Runner. He’s a big fan of James Cameron, and he really liked Avatar 2. Among the last movies he likes is The Lord of the Rings series. The series’ colorist is one of America’s top freelancers.

Lyubomir, however, says that it is difficult for him to watch movies just for fun since he always analyzes what and how is happening.

The motivation to pass on his knowledge and experience

While there are no films without color correction, there aren’t many training options for this part of filmmaking. Most colorists learn through tutorials and forums. Only two places in the world have this discipline – in Los Angeles and London (National film and television school) and only a master’s degree. It is because of this that Lyubomir Balabanov is very motivated to be a teacher at ARC Academy. He is featured as a lecturer in the VFX & Animation program. He considers it his mission to help people who have an interest in the topic to become good professionals.

“Many people have helped me, and in some way, I am obliged to help beginners with knowledge – to show them the steps at the beginning so that they don’t get lost like me,” says Lyubo.

If you want to take your first steps toward a career in film and video games, apply at ARC Academy