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Re: NAB 2012: The Year of the Colour Grader

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Dennis Kutchera
Re: NAB 2012: The Year of the Colour Grader
on Apr 21, 2012 at 7:24:20 pm

I spent my entire NAB immersed in the world of colour grading. It was one intense NAB show for me from Sunday afternoon at the new Smoke launch with the Red Users party that evening, followed by Monday at Post World with the rest of the week on the show floor, with late nights at various industry events throughout. I did a redeye flight Thursday night, arriving home Friday at about 1:00 pm. I went to right bed and woke up Saturday at about 10 am! It's going to take me a few days to recover from NAB and catch up with the home office, but I'll be reporting my findings very soon. This is going to build into a series of articles because there is so much to digest.

Have I decided what my solution will be yet? I am closer, but I am going to have to run through an exhaustive comparison to see what works best for our current work and future needs. Should I consider a move away from Avid as our editing base to take advantage of new workflows? That could change everything. Adobe CS 6 has a tight workflow with Iridas Speedgrade now integrated into the package and the new Autodesk Smoke for Mac 2013 has a very comprehensive, affordable and easy to learn, familiar looking toolset. But is the Smoke Color Warper as good as a standalone grader like DaVinci Resolve? I won't know until I am able to play with it. Public Beta starts in June.

Right now, I will say that the available colour grading options exceeded my expectations. And there is a colour grading solution for every budget from free to fantasy prices. One thing that makes the expensive systems so pricy is the hardware. After seeing various control surfaces in action from the Avid Artist Color up to the new made from wood Baselight control surface, I can tell you that this is a must. The speed gain of using a control surface over a mouse and GUI is exponentially huge, even in Avid Symphony.

Not surprisingly, I found that pretty much every system I checked out was amazing at some things and mediocre at others. This is going to be a tough decision and price is not the biggest determining factor because the cost of ownership is more than just the ticket price. If you can work faster at a higher room rate and give your client better results sooner with a lower bill at the end, then paying the big bucks could make sense.

Stay tuned for more in the coming days.

Dennis Kutchera

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