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from an editor working with a colorist

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Tom Sanders
from an editor working with a colorist
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:35:05 pm

This question is from the perspective of an editor working with a colorist. I cut a short in ProRes 422 that was shot on Red. When I received the footage it had received a basic color grading and I manipulated it a bit further in my 'offline'. When we took it to a facility for grading, the colorist went back to the Red files, as requested, and I assumed that would give him more latitude than I had in 422, as he would be starting from raw files.

My concern is that his outputs are consistently darker than my cut. This is the case whether I view his work on his (presumably) calibrated monitor, or on my uncalibrated Cinema Display. When I put his outputs on my monitor, side-by-side with my 422 cut, there are scenes in his cut there is just black in the shadows, with absolutely no detail, while in my cut there is a perfectly acceptable (good) looking image (plenty of detail, a range of color and contrast) in those same shadowed areas. When I asked about this, he said 'it's too dark, there's nothing there, if I make it brighter it will just get washed out and milky." And, indeed, he spun a few dials and showed me a washed out looking shot. My director didn't want that, so we moved on.

I don't see how this is possible, when my 422 footage looked fine without any manipulation by me (ie, with the settings applied by the person who debayered the Red files to 422). The basic grade that I edited with looked fine. I don't want to tell the colorist how to do his job, but at the end of the day I want the director to have the film he was expecting when I completed my cut.

I was thinking about sending the colorist frame grabs from FCP, with my cut in the canvas, his in the viewer, to show him what I'm talking about. Is there some reason that that would not be a valid point of reference?


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David Roth Weiss
Re: from an editor working with a colorist
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:29:20 pm

Tom,

Color in general (not Apple Color, jut the principles of basic color and perception) is a very complicated matter to discuss with only words and no pictures. Color grading adds an enormous number of variables into the dialog, exponentially complicating the discussion.

Without knowing the qualifications of the colorist and without seeing examples of both before and after clips, it is impossible to wade in on your question here with any degree of certainty. I know exactly what I'd do if I were you, and and I'd be happy to discuss that with you privately, either on the phone or via email if you'd like. You can find out how to reach me by looking at my website, which is listed below.

David


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/FCP-10-MAC-Lion/1

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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Chris Borjis
Re: from an editor working with a colorist
on Jun 30, 2011 at 4:51:39 pm

Tom is he using Color?

I noticed a gamma shift (to darker) when using "force RGB" on a recent doc I finished in color.

After seeing that I disabled it.



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Matt Lyon
Re: from an editor working with a colorist
on Jun 30, 2011 at 7:56:52 pm

Tom, I think it is very common practice to send "reference stills" to your color grader so they can get an idea of the look you are going for. For example, a DP I just worked with often takes still from his footage and mucks with them in photoshop to establish a look, which then gets sent along to the colorist.

Although it sounds like your editing system isn't a proper color evaluation environment, there is no reason that you still can't evaluate how much "information" is lurking in those shadows of your footage. I would think it totally reasonable that if you are seeing shadow details in FCP, you should expect them to be retrievable in the final grade.

Now, if the colorist said there was some technical reason that she/he couldn't boost the shadows, like too much noise, or banding, that would be a whole different story.

Hope this helps,

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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David Roth Weiss
Re: from an editor working with a colorist
on Jun 30, 2011 at 8:33:30 pm

[Matt Lyon] "I think it is very common practice to send "reference stills" to your color grader so they can get an idea of the look you are going for."

There's no doubt about it, discussing the expectations of color grading with the colorist in advance of his/her work is invaluable to both the producer and the colorist. Tom's post indicates the color work is already completed, and it doesn't seem to meet his expectations for one reason or another, and he's trying to determine exactly why there's a disconnect between his expectations and the reality of the finished grade.

There are many questions that Tom's initial post raises, which may not be wise to discuss online, hence my offer to discuss the situation with him privately.

In any case, technically speaking, if the material was shot properly on the RED camera, there's no inherent reason why he should be suffering from blacks so totally crushed that he has lost all information in the shadows. RED has built it's reputation two things: 1) resolution and 2) color latitude. Coaxing detail out very deep blacks is something an experienced colorist should be able to do easily if the material was properly photographed. If the DP erred and crushed the blacks during shooting beyond the point of no return, that's a whole different matter.


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles
http://www.drwfilms.com

Don't miss my new tutorial: Prepare for a seamless transition to FCP X and OS X Lion
http://library.creativecow.net/weiss_roth_david/FCP-10-MAC-Lion/1

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums.


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Rob Tinworth
Re: from an editor working with a colorist
on Jun 30, 2011 at 10:38:51 pm

It's hard to make any suggestions without knowing the offline + colour correction configs, but the issue you're seeing may have something to do with how your NLE or colour corrector is interpreting the RED RAW settings.

As mentioned above, unless your DP underexposed (which it doesn't sound like he has), that information is there in the blacks. It may be that your colour corrector is bringing in the RED material at a different ISO than your NLE, or your transcode to ProRes.

Color has a RED tab where you can change the ISO (among other things). Take a test clip into Color and try changing the ISO to see if you can find the detail in the blacks.

Although it seems likely that given you saw detail in the blacks in your offline, and you can't retreive that info in the colour correction, there is a problem somewhere in your workflow.

Rob Tinworth
http://www.1021.tv


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