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Article: Colorgrading Round-Up

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Dennis KutcheraArticle: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 12, 2012 at 1:22:34 am


Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate
Colorgrading Round-UpColorgrading Round-Up

Dennis Kutchera went to Vegas with a goal - to be tantalized by the new colour-grading options - in essence, to cheat on his beloved Avid. What happens in Vegas, this time, comes back with some great stories.

Feature   05/11/2012
Author: Dennis Kutchera



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+2

walter biscardiRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 13, 2012 at 9:14:38 pm

About SpeedGrade and Adobe. They just took over Iridas last Fall and Wes Plate joined shortly thereafter.

CS6 was already well into production when all of this happened. Hence the VERY limited workflow between Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade, let alone any other software packages. I would expect by this time next year you will see a very different look to the workflows both within Adobe and for external workflows to move into SpeedGrade.

Personally I'm just waiting for Avid to fix the workflow from Avid to Resolve. It's been a nightmare for us making that work with P2 / XDCAM media. In this regard, FCP was much easier to get materials into that tool. Hoping Avid can finally address the issues this coming week.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"This American Land" - our new PBS Series.

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Dennis KutcheraRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 14, 2012 at 2:10:37 am

Walter,

Can you offer any comments on the technical support offered by Black Magic Design for DaVinci Resolve?

Dennis Kutchera
EggStudios.ca


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Dennis KutcheraRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 13, 2012 at 10:54:25 pm

Is the problem unique to P2/XDCam? What is the issue in Avid that hampers the workflow? Would it impact the workflow to other colour grading systems such as Scratch or Baselight (which would both follow similar round-tripping).

Dennis Kutchera
EggStudios.ca


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Jarle LeirpollRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 14, 2012 at 6:22:47 am

Dennis, you wrote: So SpeedGrade, no matter how good you may be, we are not likely going to play together unless I can convince our editors that we should abandon Avid for Premiere. What Avid lacks in effects, it makes up in the tools for cutting story and has no problem with massive amounts of data. It is fast and responsive to editing and takes care of things like autosaving versions when your mind is deep in the story and ignoring the computer. No such thing as working all day, forgetting to hit command S and then a crash at 4 pm takes you down. Avid solved this more than 20 years ago: it saves every autosave in an attic folder. If you accidentally delete your sequence and hit save, you've lost nothing. Could I convince our editors to switch? It could be a battle

It will probably be a battle, but people need to know the facts before they choose. Premiere Pro has always done auto-save as separate files in a separate folder. CS6 is as fast and responsive as any NLE I've tried, and the new Trim mode is even better than Avid's. And all the effects and color correction is done in 32-bit float, so the quality is superb. Being a 64-bit NLE, it also handles large projects with ease.

I do my color correction in Premiere Pro because I save so much time not having to round-trip. And there's nothing I can't do in Premiere Pro CS6 except real tracking. But manual tracking works for most of my Secondary CC work with soft masks, and I have AE (with Roto Brush, 3D tracking and Mocha) just a right-click away if I really need a tight track.

Check out my tutorial on Color Grading and Finishing in Premiere Pro CS5.5 on http://premierepro.net/.
I need to make a new tutorial. With CS6, we got Adjustment Layers too, and a revamped 3-way color corrector. You can make adjustments in real-time, while playing.

Just want people to know what their alternatives are. :-)


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Barend Onneweer@Jarle Leirpoll
by on May 15, 2012 at 8:03:23 am

This is not meant to be elitist, but if you ever try grading a feature with a dedicated tool and a control panel, you'll find the workflow and most importantly speed benefits stunning.

I started out in visual effects and compositing. The first short projects I colourgraded were done in After Effects. It's got all the tools and the render quality is excellent. But it's a real hassle.

On longer projects I'm convinced the time spent on the transfer of the project into DaVinci, Scratch or another tool is more than made up because you work faster in those environments.

So I'm in no way saying that you can't finish a project in Premiere at high quality. I'm saying you'd probably be faster in a grading app with a panel.

Raamw3rk - independent colourist and visual effects artist


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stig olsenRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 7:53:14 pm

Hi Jarle,

Im sure its a matter of taste. For some reason people that is used to FCP and Premiere compare the different trimming tools and use that as an argument. -"Trim mode is even better than Avid's"

I think its important to tell that not many professional editors use these tools in Avid because the the way of dealing with this is based on more high-precision editing tools inside of Avid. The keyboard is most often mapped for extending clips.
It takes some time to get used to this way of thinking, but when you are familiar with these functions, they allow you to work faster than in any other program in my opinion.


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Jarle LeirpollRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 17, 2012 at 6:07:22 pm

Stig, of course it's a matter of taste. But being an editor who has tried them all, I challenge you: Try Premiere Pro CS6 Trim mode (and assign and use all the shortcuts), and after that tell me what you miss form Avid's trim mode.

Premiere Pro CS6 Trim mode allows you to to very high quality fine tuning in a minimum amount of time.


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Steve ShawRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 14, 2012 at 8:38:26 am

No comment on the SGO Mistika?

Probably the most powerful DI system out there, and not just for Stereo 3D, although that is where it first made its name.

I use it, and am amazed just how powerful it is, with no rendering (all work is non-destructive on-the-fly), and some of the best colour tools I have used - especially with the v7 version shown at NAB.

And it's all on off-the-shelf hardware, nothing proprietary.

For high-end DI workflows it is seriously worth a look.

Yes, I do some consulting for SGO, but only because as a user I like the system so much!


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Dennis KutcheraRe: SGO Mistika
by on May 14, 2012 at 11:27:34 am

Steve,

I have a couple of comments on Mistika.

There are a number of higher priced and lesser known products that I just was not able to budget time to see, in part because I am not likely to buy them. Perhaps you can share with us what the price of Mistika will set us back. All indications I find say that Mistika is a premium priced product. Blackmagic Design has proven that premium features no longer need to translate into premium prices.

All the systems we reviewed here are non-destructive. They never alter the original file. Scratch can do something crazy like 75 layers of effects in real time. None of the systems we discussed here use proprietary hardware or storage. You are making a comparison to the likes of Quantel Pablo and other Big Iron graders, but it is hardly valid to compare with Resolve or Scratch which use commonly available cards and computers. A Red Rocket card is proprietary, but it is specific to one camera line and not required if you never use Red. We use Red in our shop.

Since you are a user and consultant, perhaps you might consider hosting a user forum at the COW or presenting a product review of Mistika. There's always room for a new community of users here. I'd love to learn more.

Had I had more time on the floor at NAB, SGO Mistika was going to be next on my list. With limited time, It was a coin toss between Baselight and Mistka. Since Baselight had made contact with me during the show, they were my final stop.

Dennis Kutchera
EggStudios.ca


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James MilneBaselight Tracker Re: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 14, 2012 at 6:14:46 pm

Baselight doesn't just have a single point track. Baselight 4.3 introduced a powerful, area-based tracker. Rather than tracking a single point, it tracks multiple features within an area and automatically determines translation, scale and rotation, with support for extrapolation and continuing to track objects as they move partially off the frame.

We should have demo videos of it up soon at Baselight Videos

Regards
James Milne
FilmLight Ltd.


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Christopher LowdenRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 15, 2012 at 5:40:08 am

Thank you for a very interesting assesment.
As a Smoke, Avid, FCP, CS 5.5 and Resolve Lite user, I just wanted to mention that for me, it is horses for courses. I often use the Avid / Resolve round trip for TV work because the quality of the camera files (5D, XDCAM etc) does not need more and clients want fast turn around. Contary to common belief, unless you shoot flat gamma, there is virtually nothing to grade on a 5D. For commercials, this workflow is not a real option, but that is often more of a client issue than a technical one.

Dedicated grading apps let you compare between shots very easily and for me, that is the principal difference between SFX / editing apps like AE / Smoke and Resolve. Secondary grading in Symphony is cumbersome to say the least, as is shot comparison except if the shots are next door.
Lastly, Smoke currently does not have an autosave archive probably because of the architecture. Timeline is saved as part of a clip in a library and FXs / actions and the batch are saved as XML style files called Setups. The system is very modular, allowing to easily exchange with the flame (if you have the same version). The smoke is actually quite cluncky in comparision to an avid of FCP but it is this clunckyness that forces you to save regularly. As an Avid user, I found this terrible at first but with time, I understood that it is an advantage because it forces you to lock things down. An Attic style idea would become difficult in my opinion when you start adding 3d geometry into your project (the 3D space is the real force of the Smoke. It is 3D for idiots like me). To be honest, Smoke has a very powerful grader but for compositing / FX work. I used a Artist Color control surface with it, but it was a gimmick. The same interface on Resolve was just primordial.
To conclude, even if it is all colour grading, each tool has a reason to grade but not for the same reasons, it just depends on the workflow (and how much you wanto pay!).


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Dylan HargreavesRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 15, 2012 at 4:18:40 pm

I'm gonna focus on a negative here and say this review was really lacking any insight into Speedgrade.

As an FCP refugee to Prod Prem 5.5, I will be shortly upgrading to CS6 and have been dying to hear more about Speedgrade - Colour Correction being the one thing letting the Adobe suite down until now.

But a round up from someone who has no interest in Adobe and skates over the entire system is a big letdown.

Other than that, great stuff though, thanks Dennis.


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Dennis KutcheraRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 1:26:38 am

My priority was to find something that works in our current workflow as a busy commercial production house that cuts on Avids. I just could not afford the time to delve into Speed Grade at NAB once an Adobe product manager suggested that it would not currently play nicely with Avid.I would love to run through Speed Grade as well as Premiere and share my findings. I've used Premiere off and on since CS3. There is a lot to like in CS6. I'm sure you'll hear more on Speed Grade from me in the future. If I can get to IBC this year, I may pick up where I left off...

Dennis Kutchera
EggStudios.ca


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Eric WilliamsonRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 15, 2012 at 5:25:32 pm

This is a wonderful article. Thanks for the roundup.


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Peter VogtRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 15, 2012 at 6:37:03 pm

Premiere doesn't have autosave and versions? I feel special. Mine does.



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Dennis KutcheraRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 1:31:47 am

Like I said, I reserve the right to be wrong. I use Gridiron Flow to save versions in Photoshop and AE so I can have something like the FCP autosave vault. It's saved my butt a few times. I assumed Premiere worked the same.

Dennis Kutchera
EggStudios.ca


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Clement HobbsRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 15, 2012 at 8:16:17 pm

Regarding XDCam round tripping with Avid & Resolve, we've been doing it here for a while now, well since version 8 came out.
Our biggest headache is that Resolve didn't support the mxf wrapped XDCam files we were supplied, only mov wrapper.

We ended up transcoding to DHxHD and from there it worked just fine for our 13x30min series. It's not always a smooth process though, we had metadata and timecode issues from time to time so there is definitely room for improvement. We did not have any P2 shows in so I can't comment on that workflow.

The availability of local colorists who know Resolve helped push us to go with DaVinci.


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Dennis KutcheraRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 1:35:42 am

It was suggested to me by a well known colourist that it is best to send everything to Resolve as an AAF with everything in DNxHD. Do you work with DSLR footage? How does that work for you from Avid to Resolve?

Dennis Kutchera
EggStudios.ca


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Clement HobbsRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 1:53:23 pm

Hi Dennis,

We haven't had the chance to work with DSLR footage (yet). I'm sure it's coming though along with GoPro footage.

Once we were in DNxHD with our last series the round trip worked as advertized. I would have preferred to avoid the time and space of a transcode but that's the way he had to do it at the time.

The next series we'll be working on could necessitate colour correction done half way around the world with the creators here in Toronto so the remote grading feature will come in handy.

Thanks for the article, much appreciated.


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dennis quintanillaRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 2:39:53 am

Very interesting round-up Dennis ! I find it quite surprising tho that you didn't even mention Nucoda Film Master. When it comes to picking a colour grading tool, provided you can afford it or at least gain access to it one way or another, you have to consider not only how feature rich it is but also its inner logic and to what extent it fits the way your brain is inclined to work. In that respect Nucoda just shines. I love that they managed to keep it simple and straightforward without ever compromising on its stunning colour correction and finishing capabilities. Obviously it takes all sorts to make a colour grading suite. Ty Dennis for sharing your very valuable experience with us.
++ Another tool that deserves a closer look is ifx piranha.


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Adam WelshRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 16, 2012 at 9:01:58 am

Hi Dennis,
An interesting round up. I am intrigued by the toolsets required for Colour Correction now days, it seems that colour correction is much more than that now as you now perform many more tasks in that room now and I feel the true art of grading is diminished by this.
Colour Correction used to be the manipulation of colour to capture the creative intent of a project, this led to some very good technology for accurately managing colour and produced individuals who were truly artists.

The traditional colour correctors developed the ability to manipulate colour to a fine art/science that is still not met by todays graphic based systems.

An example is the use of keys, originally you would use colour to pull a key, now you draw a shape and track it. in my view the colour key is more accurate, creative and way faster to achieve.

I also find the term "real time" to be an anomaly, real time can be defined in many ways, real time can be the ability to change an image in "stop" or the ability to play back an image at full speed, I always think that real time is the ability to apply all colour correction etc as it is playing and applied as it is playing.

I am pretty sure that most of the systems back ground render or simply have to render to apply changes to the full res image and play them on the fly.

Just my thoughts!

Adam


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Barend Onneweer@Adam Welsh
by on May 16, 2012 at 12:44:40 pm

Hi Adam. I find your comment has some confusing and some incorrect statements.

You are right when you say that the job of a colourist has evolved over the years with technology. You don't give any arguments for your statement that the true art of grading is diminished. I also don't see how that would be true.

What technologies from the past are you referring to that outperform todays tools in accurate colour management? In my experience todays tools offer a lot more precision, consistency and flexibility than say, 10 or 20 years ago.

Your example of the keyer baffles me. How a keyer is 'more creative' than a vector mask is beyond me. All grading applications have multiple types of keyers that are used a lot by most colourists, for secondary grading. But masks are an equally standard part of the toolset, and keyers and masks serve different purposes. Try adding a radial vignette or a gradient on a sky with a keyer.

I've never heard of the term 'real-time' in the way you describe. Color timing was another term for the photochemical process of manipulating color on film. But 'real-time' in this context can only mean instant visual feedback without prerendering to disk.

And indeed I can play back a 2k dpx sequence in Scratch with plenty of layers of grading, masks and keyers in real-time, in full resolution. Nothing rendered to disk. All the systems Dennis mentions in the article (except Smoke) can perform real-time grading in HD or 2k, if they run on sufficient hardware (usually meaning an nVidia Quadro graphics board). Only Smoke for OSX doesn't do much in real-time AFAIK.

Barend

Raamw3rk - independent colourist and visual effects artist


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David CabestanyRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on May 24, 2012 at 8:32:08 pm

Dennis,

A little off topic (also I didn't read all the comments so probably someone already pointed this out), but Premiere Pro does have an auto save version to a different directory, you decide how many versions and how often they are saved, I have mine set up to keep the five latest and it saves each 3 minutes. After Effects does this too natively, I think it's only Photoshop the one who doesn't, but I think I read somewhere that CS6 has now that feature included for Photoshop.

Best,
D.


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James McIntyreRe: Colorgrading Round-Up
by on Jun 24, 2012 at 12:11:16 pm

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for the article. RE: your final warning at the end... would you have any recommendations as to how one should start out on the road to becoming a professional colour grader? Have been editing for over ten years and doing most of my grades in MC or FCP but am looking into moving into more serious grading work. Apart from Da Vinci Training courses any other recommendations?

Thanks


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