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Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?

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David Jackson
Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 13, 2012 at 10:49:48 am

Hi guys

Hope it's ok to frame a question in this way, but here goes....

I'm a long time Avid editor, always done a lot of online and grading work, but I'm no colourist. However, back in the day, I could operate a Telecine machine. For further background I have been a professional photographer for some time, so I am well used to working on images for maximum effect using subtle colour work, and I bring this to my editing work too.

I recently rejigged my suite in order to be able to run Resolve Lite, and though it's slow on my machine, and I'm very much fumbling my way through it, I've done one paid job using Resolve to finish a set of sequences I cut in Avid, and I did like the results, whilst realising I wasn’t really even scratching the surface of what was possible with it (and since it's currently only running on an MBP that’s perhaps for the best...)

So....(finally) the question is this - Avid now have Symphony available for $999 and I'm pondering if I should go for it, or focus my attentions on improving with Resolve. I found the workflow in and out of Resolve from my Avid edit with XML at best OK, not without the odd bump in the road, and clearly Symphony would win here as I could grade directly in the edit. My issue is that I've never graded on Symphony so I don't know how it compares with Resolve in terms of feature set and quality of results. Avid don't offer a 30 day trial on it either, so I can't check it out that way.

Do any of you grade on both, or come from Symphony grading and now use Resolve out of preference? Or are there any Symphony-sympathisers lurking in here?

In the scheme of things I guess $999 is peanuts anyway, but it's more a case of the amount of time taken up learning new software which obviously eats into my work time. If anyone is wondering, I don't see myself jumping ship to full time colorising - even in London there just isn't enough work to go around for the already established guys, let alone someone in my position (plus, I guess I do like editing), so any advantage in having new skills is really only for me to offer in my own suite.

Thanks for your input everyone.

D


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stig olsen
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 13, 2012 at 1:02:12 pm

Hi David,

Its been some years since I worked on a symphony system myself but after what Ive been told. They have not updated their color grading tools in symphony in years. You can do some regular secondary adjustments and some basic balancing. The workflow is great, since its included in the software but the limitations in advanced techniques are many.

The reduction of the time limited campaign they are offering now are probably a sign that Avid will start developing some new tools for symphony. But as you know, it takes time with Avid. BMD will most likely improve their product in a rocket pace the next months and years, and my guess is that symphony always never really will be able to keep up.

For TV episode work I think this is a great solution because you basically need some balancing tools. No doubt it will be faster. But for commercials and good looking corporate films... Go for Resolve.


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Robert Houllahan
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 13, 2012 at 2:39:54 pm

I downloaded the Baselight plugin for Final Cut 7 and it is pretty nice, not a full grading system but a very advanced CC in a plugin. According to the Film-Light web site they are developing an Avid version. I think this might be an interesting option in the future if you wanted to add more advanced grading within the Avid environment.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.


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Ben Rojas
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 13, 2012 at 3:13:26 pm

I spent many years on a Symphony and having RT CC was a blessing. It's still a strong product today but limited. CC needs in 2012 have significantly change... Working RAW is just one of those needed options. The answer could be as easy as having Symphony & Resolve and bouncing over when needed... Hell, that's pretty much what we've all been doing w/FCP & Color and will have to be done w/Adobe PP & Speedgrade. The sys you don't have to do that in is Smoke, which I have been on for 12 years. The issue w/Smoke is the editing side of things has always been cumbersome... That however may change next week! So the short answer to the thread question may be as simple as Avid Symphony, Final Cut Pro X, Adobe CS6 not in the same league as Autodesk Smoke ;o) Well, price will have a say in it too! These are definetely interesting times friends!

Ben Rojas
Editor|Artist|Dir. of Post Production
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3850 N 28th Ter. Ste. 101
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E. ben.rojas@ksckreate.com
http://www.ksckreate.com


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Josh Petok
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 13, 2012 at 4:28:06 pm

[Ben Rojas] " the editing side of things has always been cumbersome... That however may change next week!"

Ben, you've hit on the one point that keeps Symphony around in my opinion. Being able to do the work IN the NLE is their saving grace. I also hope come Monday morning, that will all change.

For me, it is less of a technical issue than it is a political one. There's an editor, Rob Ashe, who has a really great quote that goes something like this:

Boss: What software do you edit with?
Editor: The one you have.

I use Symphony because the company I'm currently with decided to invest in it 7 years ago. They want to make sure they've paid for their investment. Are there things that it's lacking? YES, YES, and YES. But the shows that I'm working on still go out on time, look good and are on budget. That is their main concern. Symphony is what they've always used and they're comfortable with it. I can use the software well, but if I was given the choice, would I recommend it? No.

At other jobs that I'm at, they don't own their systems. They rent them, and they rent Symphony. I have yet to see a vendor that rents a full blown Resolve system yet (If there are any in the LA area, please let me know!). From what I am told, they do not have the technical resources to support it or the talent pool to run them. I'm not sure I completely agree with that, but that's what I have heard.

It seems likely that a lot of people will use the Baselight plugin for Avid as it solves many complaints. However, I'm not sure how well it works or how long it will take to render. You also lose the benefit of Symphony's real time playback, relational color corrector and sequence color merging, which is a time saver for many people.

We are definitely at the crossroads just before NAB 2012. It's too early to make any decisions. In a perfect world, I would love it if Blackmagic bought Avid, killed Symphony and highly integrated Resolve. Is that too much to ask?? ;)

Josh Petok
Online | Color
JoshPetok.com
TheCurrentCut.com


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dermot shane
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 13, 2012 at 5:34:11 pm

It's yet to be seen if the baselight plug in MC is as slooowww as it in in FCP.. remember FCP host is locked to a single proc inside a 32bit OS with no cuda... and MC is 64bit/ mutli threads/cuda aware...

We may be surprised by it, we may not... but i would not extrapolate a MC host's performance based on FCP host's...

Just say'n...

d


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Robert Houllahan
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 14, 2012 at 6:48:11 am

Yeah I would not want to for realz grade with a plugin but if you are cutting something that will not go through a colorist for it's final having the ability to do a bit more advanced CC in the editor seems like it's wort the the hit in slow renders. ]

Plus having Resolve Lite on the same machine and the Avid MC Color panel that will drive both seems like allot of toolset for an editor without a ton of cost.

-Rob-

Robert Houllahan
Director / Colorist
Cinelab Inc.
http://www.cinelab.com

MAHC-PRO 6-Core 3X GTX285 20Tb SAS Wave Panel Panny 11UK SDI Plasma.


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Bill Ravens
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 14, 2012 at 10:00:31 am

I'm using Resolve Light and MC6.01 on my workstation. The capabilities of Resolve far exceed what I can do inside MC. The only (small) hiccup is in file transfers between the two, however, keeping everything in OP1 file format REALLY makes the interchange pretty slick and painless.

I, also, use Avid Color Control, which works seamlessly in both applications.

My only real complaint with this workflow is that Resolve doesn't, currently, carry the audio portion of my OP1 files. That's admittedly, a small inconvenience.



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Peter Berg
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 14, 2012 at 4:43:52 pm

Hello David,

Let me offer you my opinion on this question. I have used Avid Symphony and Davinci resolve both for a few years and am pretty familiar with both system. They are both great systems and useful for different projects.

Each system is a little different and offers some advantages and disadvantages over the other system. Symphony is basically an editing system with some stronger finishing tools vs regular Media Composer. Resolve is basically a full color grading system with some very basic editing tools in it.

I have used Symphony to color grade many shows and spots and it works great. It is very fast (especially if your offline edit is coming from Avid) and allows you to finish a show quickly. The color tools are much better in Symphony than Media Composer, but that isn't saying very much. I think it depends on what type of color grading you do and how involved your budget/clients want you to get. If you do alot of secondary color correction (power windows, shapes, vignettes, etc). than Resolve is the far better tool for those types of corrections.

Also if you ever find yourself in the situation where the client needs to change the cut after you have started color grading, it will be much easier to deal with those notes in Symphony than Resolve. You can deal with them in Resolve, it just requires more planning and time to get the new cuts in and out of the system.

Like you have mentioned, the round-trip from Avid to Resolve and back is not without problems. I have done the trip on 5 shows so far and every one has had some sort of issue that I had to find a work around for. Blackmagic support is limited and sometimes you are on your own to troubleshoot Resolve.

So I think it comes down to what you value most. Deep color grading tools that let you do anything you want color grading wise (Davinci Resolve) or a more painless workflow that will allow you to do nice primary color grading work quickly right in your timeline. Symphony is great to allow you to finish your entire project right inside one application. With Resolve you almost always need to send it back to another system for finishing (effects, titling, etc).

I hope that helps. Let me know if I can shed any more light on your decision of which system to use.

-Peter


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dermot shane
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 14, 2012 at 7:45:26 pm

[Peter Berg] "So I think it comes down to what you value most. Deep color grading tools that let you do anything you want color grading wise (Davinci Resolve) or a more painless workflow that will allow you to do nice primary color grading work quickly right in your timeline. Symphony is great to allow you to finish your entire project right inside one application. "

Or get a DS and have both?


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Peter Berg
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 14, 2012 at 9:30:11 pm

So are you saying dermot that Avid DS has color tools that are as good as Resolve and a workflow that is as easy as Symphony? They have improved the color tools and also the ability to move between DS and Media Composer that much? If so I might have to give DS another look. I didn't think it was that good but can you confirm for us?

-Peter


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dermot shane
Re: Avid Symphony? Not in the same league?
on Apr 14, 2012 at 9:47:05 pm

For me?

Yes, i find the color tools head & shoulders above MC/Symp... DS has nodes in the CC UI with masks/tracks/paint/plug-ins.. all while in the CC UI.. very much like Resolve, but with more tools.. plugs like Furnace Core for noise reduction, OGI smoother for digital make-up for example...

And the granularity of the tools is much more precise than MC/Symp, no jumps in values, no stepping, just fast, precice & interactive responce

DS has decent edit tools, more than enough to deal with producer notes, and has audio cutting to a sample, loads of folks cut commericals to to tail in DS.

Avid bins come in via "send to Avid|DS" from MC/Symp, it's not as good as MC to Symp, but it is mile and miles ahead of AAF to Resolve.

So yea, we finish & grade an MOW in DS as fast as we do it Resolve, and the DP/Director's love the flexibality of DS in dealing with things like sky replacements, fast and easy in DS, really not possiable in Resolve or Symp for example.

It's worth a look for gradeing, even more in an Avid centric workflow, but certianly not the only option, just one more option.
d


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