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Color/Compositing Workflow

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Matt Dunne
Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 27, 2017 at 4:48:45 pm

Hi guys, hoping to have someone with more experience than I help me out with something.

We are working through a video that requires a ton of compositing work, marrying camera moves together, set clean up etc. This whole video is being built in After Effects and then we'll go back to the raw clips to color the footage before delivery. So here's the issue, coloring the files after always leads to problems going back into the composite but we can't color the files before since we can't possibly know if the shots we pulled will be final since the client might change their minds. So somewhere in the workflow someone's time always gets screwed, usually the compositor. OR should we just color the final output, which I don't think is the solution but I guess it's a solution.

Open to thoughts/suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

-editor of things


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 27, 2017 at 7:34:46 pm

I know this isn't the answer you need, but the Resolve/Fusion Connect workflow is a dream for this kind of project.

(Not to mention that Fusion is a far better compositor than After Effects will ever be.)

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 27, 2017 at 7:45:03 pm

Your question has been asked by editors since the beginning of time... And, the answers have not gotten any easier as technology and software have advanced, because the time component of post has contracted, not expanded, in spite of adding more tasks to the overall post workflow.

The only way to achieve color perfection in a composite is either to delay the compositors work until color is completed, or to proceed with building the composites with the understanding that all color corrected shots will be replaced in the final composite after grading is concluded. Typically, the latter solution is the one most wound tend to adopt, but as with any part of the workflow that happens at the bitter end, any delays encountered along the way will tend to put "the squeeze" on the person at the end chain. Good luck eliminating that issue, few in the biz have ever figured a way around it.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 29, 2017 at 3:59:05 pm

This is why clients have to sign off on the edit before we move to the next stage, whether that be color, composite, or sound. Any changes after signoff could result in further charges. You have to say them, "we can't move forward until you signoff on the edit"

Its their schedule, if they want you to stick to it, they have to adhere to some rules, or pay the price.

Glenn


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Matt Dunne
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 29, 2017 at 9:34:00 pm

Hey guys thanks for your responses and trust me I know about the importance of a picture lock. We try to enforce it and be as straight forward with the expectation as possible but it's not a perfect world and at some point someone will want to make an adjustment. However; we found a work around. It's a little strange but it works well.

Our original footage is 8K from a red weapon so storage and processing power were obviously a concern so we worked with 1080p proxy files. For each clip the footage was brought into an 8K pre comp and that pre comp was worked on, the theory being we could swap that pre comp out with the red files and not have to reposition anything. We tested this with the raw files and it worked like a charm. So now the tricky part was the heavy lifting of those 8K files. We don't want to work off the entire clip since we're really only using a second or so. What the compositor did was give me the clip name as well as their in and out timecode. I would take that raw file into premiere and drop the entire clip into an 8K timeline. I would then edit their in and out points BUT leave black video where the remainder of the clip would have been at the head and tails of each clip. Then I can spit out an XML to davinci, they can color that clip, give me the entire thing back and all the speed remapping and compositing done in after effects translated beautifully. Also the clip with black was about 3 GB where as the full export was around 40 GB.

I know that's a weird way to go about it but so far so good. Hoping it helps anyone else who finds this post with the same issue. Someone in the pipeline always gets screwed and their time gets crunched but in this case we were able to figure out a clever little work around. The main takeaway is that 8K files and tight turnarounds don't really play well together.

-editor of things


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Marc Wielage
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 30, 2017 at 3:16:38 am

[Matt Dunne] "Our original footage is 8K from a red weapon so storage and processing power were obviously a concern so we worked with 1080p proxy files. For each clip the footage was brought into an 8K pre comp and that pre comp was worked on, the theory being we could swap that pre comp out with the red files and not have to reposition anything. We tested this with the raw files and it worked like a charm."
I think 8K is way, way overkill for this if you're just delivering 4K. Consider transcoding the material to 4K for the VFX path, figure out a reasonable viewing LUT for the VFX department, and have them use that during the compositing process and then remove the LUT when they render the final files for color. This method can work.

I'd refer you to the VES HANDBOOK OF VISUAL EFFECTS PROCEDURES, which goes into several different potential workflows for different processes and source formats:

https://www.amazon.com/VES-Handbook-Visual-Effects-Procedures/dp/0240825187...

I would agree there's a variety of methods that can work, but I've also seen VFX workflows go horribly wrong. I was on a pretty big project a few years ago (one of the NARNIA movies) where six or seven different VFX houses each kind of did their own thing, and every single shot looked different from the shot before it. It was a bit of a nightmare in post, but the final colorist was able to smooth everything out. In a perfect world, this would've been addressed earlier, but this is the kind of thing that happens when 200 new shots come in a week before the film gets released.


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Morten Ranmar
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 30, 2017 at 10:29:17 am

Render to format with high bit-depth (for example ProRes 4444) - and you will be able to grade on the final clips without ruining the compositing work.

- No Parking Production -

Adobe CC2014, 3 x MacPro, 3 x MbP, Ethernet File Server w. Areca ThunderRaid 8


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Michael Gissing
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on Apr 30, 2017 at 11:49:51 pm

On a recent job the issue of grading post composition was highlighted. These days most cameras shoot flat or log images. I had a sequence of shots behind a generated graphic that had movement. Parts of the graphic crossed the background camera images. So the grade for the background shots would have changed the colour and luma of the graphic.

I had to get the shots as a separate sequence and the graphics person provided the generated layer with alpha so I could re composite with the the graded shots in Resolve. I had to animate some movement of the background or my other option was to send the graded shots back to the graphics person to re composite. Time was against this option and the animation was not too difficult to keyframe in Resolve.


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Marc Wielage
Re: Color/Compositing Workflow
on May 1, 2017 at 1:22:18 am

Michael, one thing you can always do is have the VFX people send you the shot as a layer with an alpha channel. If you do the key yourself, you have control over foreground/background color. The alternative is to have them provide external mattes, which will let you grade separate layers in context.

But all things considered, I'd rather they just use a viewing LUT, which works very well.


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