All About Resolve 10.1

This is just a quick post as I’m out of the country and about to take my first meaningful vacation in two years. DaVinci recently released version 10.1 of Resolve, with a bunch of great new features; not wanting to rerecord my just-finished “Resolve 10 In-Depth” title for Ripple that runs four hours and covers everything that’s new as of 10.0.2, I thought I’d make things easy for everybody and record a set of free tutorials that only cover the very newest features in 10.1, so that everyone can keep current.

There are seven movies totaling less then an hour, covering new editing features, improvements to Color Trace, an explanation of the new way the Resolve handles stereo, an update on different ways of copying grades in the color page, and much more. You can either access them on YouTube at the Ripple Training channel, or you can view them on a dedicated page at the Ripple Training site. For now, here’s a taste (for some reason I can only link to the very last movie), hope you find them useful!


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

Calibrate That Display!

ProbeSetup

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten over the years is “I’m planning on using a plasma display for color critical monitoring, but I’m not sure how to calibrate it.” I’ve been putting off answering this question for months, as the answer has, until recently, been a bit more complicated then I’ve wanted it to be. However, recent developments – specifically the release of DaVinci Resolve 10 – have dramatically simplified this process, making LUT calibration easier then it’s ever been for small shops.

In this article, I’m going to illustrate the process of automated LUT calibration using the particular software and hardware combination that I’ve been working with:

  •  LightSpace CMS (Color Management System) from Light Illusion
  • DaVinci Resolve 10 (this also works with the free Resolve Lite 10)
  • A Klein K-10 colorimeter (now superseded by the Klein K-10A)
  • A Panasonic VT30 series plasma display (since superseded by the VT60), which used to be my primary client display.

While I’m discussing my particular use case, it’s worth pointing out that these procedures are identical for calibrating any kind of display, be it plasma, LCD, OLED, or projection. In fact, with plasma displays soon to be discontinued by Panasonic (according to the last news I’ve heard), the various debates about whether or not plasma is truly suitable for professional use shall eventually become moot. However, for now, plasmas are still very much in use at facilities around the world, so this information is still relevant.

Overview

Monitor calibration is an obscure corner of the already obscure profession of color correction. However, once you know how things work, automated calibration should be a simple and straightforward procedure. Essentially, you use color management software to control both a color probe and a pattern generator (which can be either hardware or software) that work together to measure your display. The pattern generator outputs a series of color patches to the display you’re calibrating, the color probe measures each patch, and the software saves the resulting measurements.

LightSpace and Resolve Setup

The process of measuring tens or even hundreds of patches of different colors characterizes your display, providing data about what your display is actually capable of showing. This lets you see how much and where your display deviates from an ideal colorspace, such as the Rec. 709 standard for high definition video. Once your display has been characterized, the difference between an ideal calibration and your actual display can then be used to mathematically generate a LUT (Look Up Table) that can be used to transform whatever signal is sent to your display into how it should look on an ideal display.

Your Display

Before you get too excited about the promise of automated, LUT-based calibration, it’s important to know what it can’t do. LUT calibration only works well when your display is already capable of meeting or exceeding the full gamut, or range of colors, of the calibration standard you require. For example, if you’re calibrating a high-end plasma display that’s capable of Rec. 709 to precisely meet the Rec. 709 standard, then you’re in good shape. However, if you’re trying to calibrate it to meet the DCI standard of digital cinema calibration, which has a much larger gamut, then you’re out of luck.

LUTs, specifically 3D LUT cubes, are mathematical tables that automatically calculate what RGB value to output based on each RGB value that’s input. When used for calibration, 3D LUTs are capable of transforming larger gamuts to match smaller gamuts, but there’s no way you can make a display with a smaller gamut properly display a larger gamut. Physics denies you.

So, LUT calibration doesn’t let you off the hook as far as getting a good display; you still need to do the research and purchase the best display technology you can afford. LUT calibration is not about making poor displays good, it’s about making good displays accurate.

Whither Plasma?

In my case, in 2011 I purchased a Panasonic TC-P55VT30. Within the context of my small freelance grading practice, it’s been doing well for me. That model has been discontinued in favor of 2013′s VT60 series, about which I’ve heard many good things.

However, Panasonic’s professional series TH-42PF50U displays are an easier purchase to make for the colorist, albeit at greater expense. My understanding is that the pro monitors share panel technology with the consumer models, but they’re set up with more professionally oriented menu options for selection of gamut and gamma, so that it speaks the same language you do. There’s also the option to add HD-SDI inputs via an expansion slot. However, the base cost of this display with HDMI 1.4 built-in is quite reasonable, and while HD-SDI input is much more convenient for professional facilities, proper connection of an HDMI 1.4 signal path can yield perfectly useful results. Lastly, it comes in a 42 inch size which can be more appropriate for smaller rooms. I always take a look at Panasonic’s pro plasmas when I’m at NAB and usually come away impressed.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for Plasma is tempered by news that Panasonic is discontinuing plasma TV manufacturing, with the last Panasonic plasmas supposedly being sold in March of 2014. LG and Samsung are still making plasmas, but it’s been the Panasonic models (and the now legendary Pioneer Kuro plasma before them) that have really brought the quality. However, at the time of this writing there’s still a lot of plasma displays to go around, and they’re still viable contenders for color-critical monitoring, if you calibrate them properly.

Why Haters Hate

On the other hand, Plasma has plenty of detractors, and to be fair, they have valid points. To quote from my updated Color Correction Handbook, 2nd Edition:

The advantages these displays have in price and large size are partially offset by two less useful aspects of plasma technology. First, imaging detail in the very darkest shadows is not as good as LCD or OLED displays, owing to the subtle noise pattern that’s inherent in plasma technology. This isn’t the worst problem in the world, but it’s something to be aware of.

Additionally, plasma displays all have an auto brightness limiter (ABL) circuit, which is designed to reduce plasma power consumption by automatically dimming the display whenever image brightness exceeds a particular threshold. This can be readily exposed via test patterns and can be a problem if you work on graphics-heavy programs. However, most conventionally shot live-action video isn’t going to trigger this circuit in an appreciable way, and in any event these limitations have not stopped plasmas from seeing professional use.

So that’s what I have to say about the topic. If you’re mindful of these limitations, and you trust your video scopes, and you’re careful about how you set up and calibrate your plasma display, they can be useful in color-critical environments, and I’ve never had a project that I’ve graded with my plasma bounced back from a client (for which I’m very thankful).

But it’s also true that, as of 2014, I’ve finally moved away from Plasma, to a Flanders CM500TD (a process I’ll blog about after I’ve used it a little while longer). This decision was made for a wide variety of reasons – smaller size, passive stereoscopic 3D, more stable color needing fewer calibration passes over time, less noise in shadows, lighter weight, easier to switch among different monitoring standards and more standards supported, built-in LUT support, 3D SDI inputs standard, etcetera, etcetera, that makes more sense for the equipment I’m using and the programs I’m working on these days. I’m sacrificing the perceived blackness of shadow to a small extent, but in real-world use this is not proving to be a liability.

Here’s the thing; as I’ve tried to explain at length in “What Display Should I Buy? An Opinion Piece…,” buying a display is a highly personal decision that has as much to do with you and your clientele’s preferences as it does with a given display technologies’ level of accuracy. Don’t buy a display because you read that I like it, because my reasons may not be your reasons. Instead, you should evaluate the different legitimately color-critical options for yourself, and then get what suits your particular needs. This is the approach I’ve tried to take when describing the various display technologies that are currently available in chapter two of my updated Color Correction Handbook, 2nd Edition, and I think it’s the only way to be honest about this frequently debated subject.

Back to Calibration – The Software

Steve Shaw graciously provided me with a license of LightSpace CMS to work with in the comfort of my home grading suite for some classes I was running some time back. For those who don’t know, LightSpace is a fully featured color management application that has tools for display profiling, LUT generation, LUT conversion (with a truly long list of LUT formats you can convert among), CDL to LUT conversions, and batch LUT image processing tools. It also includes probe matching and probe offset capabilities (so you can calibrate your $500 colorimeter to your friend’s $26,000 spectroradiometer). In short, it’s a swiss army knife of calibration and LUT tools.

Note, if you’re only doing calibration and don’t need all those features, there’s a less expensive LightSpace CMS for Quick Profiling license that’s focused on display profiling and calibration, and if you have a facility with 50 Flanders Scientific displays, there’s a Flanders-specific version of LightSpace that you can get at a discount.

LightSpace runs on Windows only. At Steve’s suggestion, I bought an inexpensive Windows netbook-class computer a couple of years ago (Toshiba, if you must know) to run it portably for teaching purposes (it’s still going strong). When buying a standalone computer, CPU horsepower is less important then available RAM, and at least 2GB of RAM is recommended to insure a smooth flow of data from the probe to the computer. However, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool OS X user, LightSpace will work just fine on an Apple laptop running bootcamp, or even more conveniently within OS X using Windows virtualization software such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion, so you’ve got several options.

The Probe

There are a wide variety of color probes designed for display calibration on the market, with several new models having become available in the last year. If you’re planning on doing your own calibration, your choice of probe is going to be dictated by (a) which probes are compatible with the color management software you’re using, (b) what kind of display you have, (c) where you need to set the bar for accuracy, and (d) how much money you care to spend.

LightSpace supports a variety of probes at several price points. As this article is not a review, I’m not going to compare probes other then to say that different models have different sensitivities, and may work faster or slower at various light levels. Less expensive probes are capable of solid results, but what you choose and how much you spend depends on how exacting you need to be.

Luhr Jensen, president of Klein Instruments, has been good enough to provide me with a Klein K-10 colorimeter, which I’ve been working with over the past two years. This model has since been superseded by the Klein K-10A, which is more accurate at lower lighting conditions. At $6,900, it’s at the middle of the pricing spectrum; as LightSpace-compatible probes range from $249 at the low end for an i1 Display Pro colorimeter from X-Rite, to $28,000 for a Konica Minolta CS-2000 Spectroradiometer.

The K-10 is a non-contact colorimeter suitable for a variety of display technologies including projection, CRT, plasma, and even OLED. Its sturdy, sealed construction and glass filters make it a rugged and professional choice for facility use. In the last year Klein has introduced the updated K-10A which sports increased low-light sensitivity, for faster and more accurate readings at low levels.

My K-10 came in a spiffy case, inside of which is the probe, a mini-tripod, and some accessories for different lighting and display situations.

While the included tripod is nice, it’s small, so I’ve been using a cheap $40 photo tripod instead, which has been better for getting the probe in the correct position for my suite. When positioning a probe, you want to make sure it’s perpendicular to the display, facing dead on, not angled. Luhr tells me that the probe’s distance from the display is not particularly critical. In my case, having it about ten inches away from the display works fine. Note that the photos shown don’t have my suite’s blackout shades drawn, for the sake of showing the setup. Ordinarily you should always take readings with the controlled lighting conditions you usually work under.

Once in position, the probe connects to the computer running LightSpace via USB.

Getting Test Patterns to Your Display

With a Windows computer running LightSpace, (or an OS X computer running Windows using virtualization software) and a probe that’s pointed at the display which is connected to your computer, you need to get the test patterns to be measured to play on your display in sync with the probe’s measurements. Fortunately, this has just become the simplest part of the process if you’re running DaVinci Resolve 10 (either the full or Lite versions).

Traditionally, LightSpace and other calibration solutions use a controllable hardware test signal generator to output the necessary color patches to the display being profiled. However, LightSpace is capable of using a new feature of DaVinci Resolve 10 in order to control Resolve as a “calibration client.” This means that, using either wired or wireless networking, LightSpace can remotely control Resolve to send colored test patches to your display in sync with LightSpace taking readings with the probe. Basically, Resolve Lite (which runs on OS X, Windows, or Linux) has become a free pattern generator.

All you have to do is to open Resolve 10 on your grading workstation, and then open LightSpace CMS on whatever computer it happens to be running on. In LightSpace, click the Network Manager button, and the Network Manager window opens with the controls you’ll need to synchronize Resolve to LightSpace.

LightSpace

This window lets you set up how LightSpace connects to client software that it will be using as a pattern generator. Now, if you’re calibrating plasma, you need to make sure that you’re not sending a full-screen color patch to the display, because this will trigger the plasma’s ABL circuit and render your calibration profile useless. LightSpace principal Steve Shaw suggests making sure the patch size is no larger then 1/6th of the screen size to avoid this problem. Fortunately, this can easily be accomplished by setting the W (width) and H (height) parameters of the Network Manager to 16, which is a percentage; set the X and Y coordinates to 40,40 to place the small patch near the center of the screen, which is the ideal area in which to take your measurements.

Other display technologies (LCD, Projectors, OLED) don’t need these settings, and can happily be calibrated using full-screen color patches. Either way, when you’re done setting what needs to be set, then clicking the Enable button sets LightSpace to watch for incoming connections from client software capable of being synchronized (the above screenshot shows this window after having made a connection).

In DaVinci Resolve, choose Color > Monitor Calibration > LightSpace to open the LightSpace dialog, and type in the second of the two network IP addresses that LightSpace lists in the Remote Machine field (making sure the Port number matches). Click the Connect button to connect Resolve to LightSpace, and you’re good to go.

LightSpace Calibration Window

Assuming all is well, the LightSpace Calibration dialog in Resolve should show the word “Connected,” and the Network Manager dialog in LightSpace should show that there is “1 available client/s.”  You can now close the Network Manager dialog in LightSpace and continue on to the next steps.

Performing the Calibration

Now that everything is set up, it’s time to use LightSpace to measure your display and generate a LUT for calibration. The broad strokes of how any calibration application works can be summarized in three steps.

  1. Measure how a series of color patches appear on your display, and save the results as a display characterization.
  2. Use this characterization to create a calibration LUT that transforms your display to the desired display standard, such as Rec. 709.
  3. Export this calibration as a LUT in a format that’s compatible with your particular system.
The following image shows what this looks like once everything’s ready to go. My little netbook is running LightSpace, which is taking readings from the connected Klein K-10 probe while the  display shows the test patches generated by DaVinci Resolve.

Calibration Setup

Since all the gory details would triple the size of this article and I’m only looking to provide an overview, if you’re interested in more information there are extensive instructions on using LightSpace at the Light Illusion website.

Using a Calibration LUT

Once you’ve created a calibration LUT for your display, you need to apply it to the video signal you’re monitoring. There are three ways of doing this.

The first, and least expensive, is to create a calibration LUT that’s compatible with your color correction application, which in my case is DaVinci Resolve. LightSpace can export LUTs in the .cube format, which Resolve can use, and you can apply the result as a 3D Video Monitor LUT in the Lookup Tables panel of the Project Settings. Since Display LUTs are never rendered into the output, this is a safe and inexpensive way of applying LUT calibration, at the expense of a tiny bit of real-time processing.

Resolve 10 LUTs

The second way of applying a calibration LUT is to use outboard hardware to apply the LUT transformation to the video signal. Typically, this is some kind of stand-alone box that sits in-between your video output interface and the display’s input. As of this writing, there are several options – the Pandora Pluto, the eeColor processor, and the FujiFilm IS-Mini are all trustworthy devices that support LUTs generated not only by LightSpace, but other color management software vendors as well.

LUT-Box

This method has two advantages. First, it calibrates your display without imposing processing requirements on your computer. Second, this lets you apply a specific calibration LUT to just one display, without affecting video output on the whole. This is important if you’re using external video scopes and/or multiple displays in your suite.

A third possibility, depending on the model and manufacturer of your display, is to output a LUT that can be loaded directly on the display itself. For example, Flanders Scientific displays let you load both calibration LUTs and so-called DIT LUTs onto the display, so that no intermediary calibration box is necessary.

In Summary

So that’s what it takes to accurately calibrate your display on your own. Automated LUT calibration isn’t cheap, but it’s nowhere near as expensive as it used to be, and it gives you and your clients the peace of mind that your monitor is displaying as accurate a look at the program being graded as possible. As I repeat ad naseum, if you can’t see the true color and contrast of your images with accuracy, then you can’t do the work. Keep in mind that the principles of this workflow are similar for other color management applications and other color probes that you can choose from.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth From Ripple Training

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I try not to post two promotional articles in a row, but I’m still wrapping up the whopping five book year I started in 2013, and I’ve been too busy to bloviate any further here since my last two books came out. However, many of you have been clamoring for Resolve 10 training, and with Resolve 10 finally shipping on November 7th, I’ve heard your pleas and have been working with Steve Martin and the good folks at Ripple Training to make it happen, incorporating updates for 10.0.1 and 10.0.2 as they’ve since come out.

It wasn’t easy! Resolve 10 was a deceptively gigantic release, as is reflected by the now-available DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth title’s length—5 hours divided into 48 movies that are focused exclusively on the new features found in DaVinci Resolve 10. And I do mean every feature, large and small. Updates to the Media page are discussed. There’s a whole series of movies on the brand new editing features in the updated Edit page. Of course, there’s lots of content covering the myriad new grading features to be found in the Color page, including an overview of how to use Resolve Live. Finally, there’s a substantial amount of updated workflow information, including tips on new Deliver page functionality and a quick look at easyDCP integration.

Best of all, we’ve kept the price low, so it’s an easy add-on for folks who already own the Resolve 9 Core Training title, or who are already familiar with Resolve. In fact, this title is designed to work together with the previous Resolve 9 Core Training title, which remains the main starting point for people who are just getting started with DaVinci Resolve, since most workflows and much of the basic and grading functionality remains the same.

Depending on what you need, there are three ways you can get Resolve 10 In-Depth:


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

Color Correction Handbook, 2nd Edition

Color Correction Handbook     Color Correction Look Book

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@hurkman) probably know that, among other things, I’ve been working on the second edition of my now three-year-old Color Correction Handbook, updating it to account for new developments in our industry, and expanding it to include topics that were not previously covered. What you didn’t know was that I added too much to be contained within a single volume. After a bit of reorganizing and even more writing, I’m proud to announce that Peachpit Press is now releasing TWO books, in both print and electronic form—

  • The now 672-page Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition continues to cover basic, intermediate, and advanced topics spanning the breadth of color correction technique, and adds about 200 pages of brand new content alongside many updates to existing topics; this includes a new chapter on grading workflow, a completely updated and expanded chapter on displays, calibration, and room setup, new sections on log-encoded grading, a new section examining the intersection of fine art portraiture and color grading, additional skin-grading techniques, and many, many new and updated techniques spread throughout nearly every chapter.
  • The former 69-page “Creative Techniques” chapter from the first edition has been split off from the handbook, and greatly expanded into its own self-contained 216-page Color Correction Look Book, focused entirely on creative grading techniques. Previously discussed techniques have been updated to cover the latest generation of software, and expanded to include even more creative options then before. Furthermore, entirely new techniques have been added including film stock emulations, flat looks, greenscreen grading for compositing, flaring, light leaks and color bleeds, vibrance and targeted saturation, monochrome looks, grain/noise and texture, and more.

Together, these two books provide over 800 pages of grading workflow, theory, technique, and application spanning the entire process of color correction for any program, and I’ve expanded the examples that are presented in DaVinci Resolve, Adobe SpeedGrade, FilmLight Baselight, Assimilate Scratch, Autodesk Smoke, and SGO Mistika.

Additionally, I was lucky enough to have two industry heavyweights review the contents; Charles Poynton, digital imaging authority and author of “Digital Video and HD: Algorithms and Interfaces“ kept me honest by reviewing my more technically oriented chapters, while Dave Hussey, senior colorist at Company 3 and colorist of “Constantine,” “500 Days of Summer,” and music videos, television shows, and commercial spots too numerous to list reviewed both volumes, contributing some key insights and generously writing a new forward to the Handbook. To quote one of Dave’s closing paragraphs from the forward:

I’m a huge fan of Alexis’s book. This is a great tool for anyone who has ever wondered, “How did they get it to look like that?” Whether you’re an aspiring colorist or a seasoned pro, you’ll find it an amazing learning tool or a great book of reference. For the novice, it’s organized in a way to make even fairly advanced ideas easy to understand and to emulate. For an experienced professional like me, some of the techniques discussed here inspired me to try things in a different way than I might have. I can’t think of any major color correction issue that this book does not cover.

I’m incredibly proud of these books; they’re the best things I’ve written to date, and offer a definitive understanding of what it means to be a colorist for video and cinema. Whether you’re in film school exploring different disciplines in postproduction, already in postproduction and looking to add grading to your skill set, or you’re a producer or filmmaker who wants to understand the process of color grading in greater depth, the Color Correction Handbook and the Color Correction Look Book will expand your understanding of this highly interdisciplinary field, discussing how to analyze different images, how to methodically approach all manner of different situations, and showing you how to actually make each grade, with a heavy emphasis on the thought process that goes into each aspect of the work.

Additionally, each book is accompanied by an improved set of downloadable companion media, including many new clips, all in the ProRes 422 (HQ) format, so you can get better results as you use it to experiment with the techniques that are described.

It looks like the Handbook will be available late November/early December, and the Look Book will be available in late December (I just finished it). If you don’t yet own the color correction handbook, these two volumes are a huge step forward from the first edition, and should be worth the wait. If you’ve already read the previous edition, this update should provide enough new and updated material to make getting the new version worth your while. However, you also have the option to choose the book that has the most interesting new content for you.

For now, Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition and Color Correction Look Book are available for pre-order through Amazon, either in print or for Kindle. The Handbook is also available for pre-order through Barnes & Noble in print. I’m assuming both books will eventually be available through the Apple book store as was the previous edition. Finally, I also understand the Color Correction Handbook will be translated into both Chinese and Japanese at some point in the near future, I’m not sure of any other translations that are planned at this time.

Added December 3rd

I just received my author copies, and I wanted to add that the print quality of the 2nd Edition is simply phenomenal; it’s the best looking book I’ve ever had published. To my eye, all of the subtle examples I was worried about being clear enough look fantastic, and illustrate their points beautifully. Also, Suzann Beck’s artwork in chapter 8′s comparison of fine art portraiture and video looks particularly lovely. Kudos to the production department at Peachpit Press and to the printer for doing such a great job. Everyone who buys this in print should be thrilled.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

Even Freelancers Need Health Care

The exchanges created by the affordable care act are now online, and here is a web page with information about heathcare for the self-employed.

If you’re in post-production, a writer, or a filmmaker, there’s a very good chance you’re self-employed, and unless you’re a veteran or you’ve been elected to office sometime in your life, self-purchased health care is the only game in town (unless you’ve access to union health-care and you’ve managed to put in the hours to keep it going). If you’re just getting started, or if you’re currently in a slow period, paying those premiums probably seems like a low priority relative to rent, groceries, and gas.

My advice? When it comes to your long term well-being, buying health insurance is not optional.

Believe me, as a long-time freelancer I know that self-purchased health care is a pain in the neck. Up until now it’s been difficult to get, difficult to navigate the bureaucracy, it’s been expensive, and in my experience it’s difficult to use when something other then a routine doctor-visit is involved. And this is with private insurers. Maybe folks who are paying way more money for higher-end insurance policies then mine are having better experiences, but as as the beneficiary of a middling plan, I’m not persuaded that the service being offered by the private sector is any better then the government-run services I’ve been dealing with, including Medicare, for my elderly mother. Frankly, Medicare has been much easier to deal with then either our current or last private insurance providers.

Granted, I’m not necessarily thrilled with the way the Affordable Care Act has been conceived, as I don’t think that being compelled to purchase a service from a private corporation is the best precedent. However, it would appear that the Affordable Care Act was the only politically possible way to get rid of the absolute evils of (a) preexisting conditions denying people coverage for critical care, (b) the ability of private companies to simply rescind coverage for a variety of bureaucratic technicalities, (c) lifetime limits on provided care, (d) uselessly low annual limits on coverage. Paying for this by taking some baby steps towards creating a pool of more affordable insurance plans is, in my view, a reasonable tradeoff to get more folks insured, so I’ll take what I can get.

Yes, being required to pay for something sucks. But I’ll say it again, regardless of the law, no matter how healthy you think you are, health insurance is not optional. If you think it is, then you’re gambling with your life and your happiness.

I briefly went without coverage for a few years in my twenties. Just out of college in 1992, I was interning for free at a postproduction facility and also at a production company (unpaid) while working a seven day schedule doing two part-time jobs – watching an art gallery on weekends and working part-time retail in a computer store on weekdays. Neither of the paying jobs offered health care, and it was an easy thing to put off because I was broke, and I had the imagined invulnerability of youth (never mind that I was bicycle commuting in San Francisco at the time, which was an accident waiting to happen).

But I had a wake-up call when another twenty-something colleague of mine revealed that he had survived a rare bout of testicular cancer at a young age. It was perhaps the first time I realized that something medically catastrophic could potentially happen to someone like me, youth or no youth, and it made an impression. It took a while, getting to the point where I had climbed the career ladder a bit after freelancing as an editor and broadcast designer in San Francisco, but I finally started purchasing health care at the age of 26. I didn’t particularly enjoy sinking a lot of money every month into something I felt I never used, but I didn’t really want to flirt with the alternative.

In the years since, the only time I’ve had employer health care was when I was on staff at Apple for five years (their health care was fantastic and wide ranging). When I left Apple to go freelance again, my wife (a life-long freelancer) and I went back to purchasing it independently. Going forward many years, now that we’re in our forties, we both consider health coverage to be a vital monthly payment. We’ve seen too many friends and colleagues suffer too many illnesses that required financially ruinous medical intervention.

Here’s one last personal anecdote. Kaylynn recently had “elective” knee surgery. I certainly didn’t think it was optional, unless you consider limping painfully for the rest of your life and not being able to work in your 20-year-plus profession to be a valid option. Without insurance, that surgery would have been prohibitively expensive. But we have insurance, and so this relatively simple issue could be taken care of.

For all of these reasons, I’m glad for what little the federal government has done, and hope that this is the beginning of a more serious look at how health care delivery in the United States can be improved to be more universally accessible.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

Late-Breaking New Features in DaVinci Resolve 10

Resolve Icon

If you’re reading this, you probably already know the public beta of DaVinci Resolve 10 is available for download, soon to be followed by the final version. As is usually the case, I had to turn over the User Manual (also in beta) to production much sooner than the software was actually finished in order to create the final layout. Because the DaVinci engineering team is so ambitious, this means a few new features were slipped in at the last minute that either aren’t in the manual, or are easy to miss. Here, then, is a short list of some great new features you should know about, lest they slip beneath your radar.

Importing Media into a Blank Project Updates Project Settings

A welcome update, if small, is an automatic prompt whenever you import media into an empty project that lets you change your project settings to match the incoming media. No more accidentally creating quick projects for dailies processing that accidentally have the wrong frame rate.

Speed Change UI in the Edit Page

A late-breaking feature is a new “speed widget” for creating multi-speed effects in the timeline of the Edit page. Select any clip and press Command-R (for “retime”) to turn a clip into a speed effect clip.

A new UI for multiple-speed changes in the timeline.

Once the clip has been set up as a speed change, you use the pop-up menu at the bottom to set speed handles at the position of the playhead that you use to retime clip speed segments. Once handles have been added, you can drag them to the left or right to create fast or slow motion effects. Clicking the close button at the upper left-hand corner of the speed widget hides the speed controls, but a stopwatch icon in the collapsed clip shows you it’s a speed effect, and you can press Command-R again to open the speed controls back up for further manipulation.

The pop-up menu you use to add speed handles and choose from preset speed settings.

The pop-up menu you use to add speed handles and choose from preset speed settings.

This pop-up menu also has options for setting speed segments to preset speeds, reversing clips, and adding speed ramps to ease into or out of speed changes.

Independently Resizable Video and Audio Tracks

This one’s actually in the manual, but it’s easy to overlook. You can choose separate sizes for the video and audio tracks in the timeline. Handy for prioritizing space in the timeline depending on whether you’re working on the audio or video of your program.

Composite and Transform Settings in the Title Generators

This was a late-breaking feature that I wasn’t able to demo in any of the available videos, and that isn’t yet in the manual. There’s a set of composite, transform, and cropping parameters available at the bottom of the Inspector when you select a text effect in the timeline. These can be used to blend text into superimposed layers using any of the available transform modes, and to fly text around using keyframable pan/tilt/zoom/rotation and anchor point parameters.

Composite and transform settings are available in the Inspector for blending and flying text effects around.

Composite and transform settings are available in the Inspector for blending and flying text generators around.

Where’s the Loop Option in the Edit Page Viewers?

In the event you were looking for the Loop control in the Edit page, it’s a menu item in the Option menu (in the upper right-hand corner) of each of the Viewers.

Duplicate Timeline

FINALLY! I’m as excited about this small but meaningful feature as you are. Simply right-click any timeline in the Timelines list to access options to rename, duplicate, and alter the timecode of timelines. More than any other new feature, this makes me want to buy the whole engineering team beers.

Append At End and Select Clips Forward Key Shortcuts

This is in the category of features it’s easy to think Resolve doesn’t have because there’s no visible control. There’s a whole edit method hidden in the Edit menu, “Append At End,” which does exactly what it says. Additionally, there are commands to “Select Clips Forward” on the current track or all tracks. You can either use the Edit menu items, or the corresponding keyboard shortcuts shown below to initiate these commands.

Hidden features in plain sight

Hidden features in plain sight

Copy and Paste Grades in the Color Page

In the Color page, you now have a new way of copying grades. Simply select the thumbnail of any graded clip and press Command-C to copy the grade, then select another clip and press Command-V to paste the copied grade. As an added bonus, keyframes and motion tracking are also copied and pasted when using this method.

You should note that if you don’t want to copy tracking data and keyframes, you can still use the middle-mouse button method of copying grades.

Apply Grade Keyboard Shortcuts for Everyone

This one actually is in the manual, but I wanted to point it out to make sure you knew about it. Two features long enjoyed by owners of the DaVinci Control Surface are “Apply Grade From One Clip Prior” and “Apply Grade From Two Clips Prior.” They’re fantastic for rapidly moving through scenes shot with coverage when doing shot matching, and they’re now available to the masses via two keyboard shortcuts.

Split Screen > Gallery Grades

This is a feature I actually hadn’t seen until hitting the show floor at IBC (proving the DaVinci team surprises everybody). More options have been added to the Split Screen submenu for creating whole frame side-by-side comparisons in the Viewer of the Color page, and all of these options are now available in the Viewer submenu, which is very convenient.

Split Screen options in the Viewer submenu.

Split Screen options in the Viewer submenu.

One late-breaking new feature is “Neighbor Clips,” where you see a four-up display showing the current clip next to the previous and next clips in the timeline, automatically. However, another new feature that bears a bit more explanation is “Gallery Grades.” Basically, once you choose this option, any saved grades you select in the Gallery of the Color page are displayed side by side as they’d appear applied to the current clip. This can be seen below.

Using Split Screen > Gallery Grades to preview different grades as they'd look on the current clip.

Using Split Screen > Gallery Grades to preview different grades as they’d look on the current clip.

This’ll be a really useful feature for style-intensive projects in which you want to raid your personal collection of swank looks, and you want to preview a selection for your client. Like all the other split screen options, this will be displayed on your hero monitor via video out.

Grab Missing Stills

Another small new feature is “Grab Missing Stills,” which only grabs stills from clips you haven’t saved stills for already. This is useful for timelines where you’ve already saved a set of archival stills in a gallery, but in which you’ve added some shots that you’d also like to archive without spending time overwriting everything you’ve already saved.

Shape Presets UI

This made it into the manual, but it seemed worth pointing out here since it’s quite useful, but may not be immediately obvious. If you’ve created one or more windows that you think will be useful to apply to other shots later on, you can save and recall them using commands in the Window palette’s Option menu.

Saving preset shapes

Saving preset shapes

Choosing Save Preset As pops a dialog you can use to name the window preset.

Clicking OK saves your newly named windows preset to the preset pop-up menu in the lower right-hand corner of the Window palette.

To apply a window preset to the current node, choose the window preset you want from this pop-up menu, then open the Option menu and choose Apply Preset. Window presets overwrite any other windows you’ve already set up in the current node, so you may want to create a new node before applying window presets.

Burn-In Palette Gang Render Text Styles

Another small change that’s easy to overlook is the ability to either gang the styling of all text items you’re burning into the timeline, or to independently style each text item by disabling this option in the Options menu of the Data Burn In palette.

New Camera RAW Settings

Two new items available in the camera raw settings for all formats provide both convenience and quality for folks pursuing raw workflows. The first one, Decode Quality, lets you choose from Full, Half, or Quarter resolution debayer settings for all formats, making it easier to work with camera raw formats on lower power workstations.

An additional parameter, Sharpness, applies a brand new sharpening algorithm specifically for improving camera raw media conversions should you be someone who likes to add a bit of sharpening (similar to what Lightroom does by default). This new Sharpness parameter is automatically set to 10.

It’s a very subtle adjustment; the two images below show a comparison of the maximum setting of 100 (I cranked this setting to make it obvious) and the default setting of 10. You should zoom in to see the difference more clearly.

Max Sharpening

A zoom in of maximum debayer Sharpen being applied to a CinemaDNG image.

Default Sharpening

A zoom in of the default debayer Sharpen being applied to a CinemaDNG image.

Render to AVI

Personally, I can’t remember the last time I rendered an AVI file, but apparently there are still plenty of you who do, and the Resolve team has listened to your pleas.

You can now render to the AVI format.

You can now render to the AVI format.

When you choose AVI from the Render to pop-up menu of the Deliver page, you get access to the four codecs that are available to this format. This option is available to Resolve on OS X, Windows, and Linux.

Where Did the Select All Button Go?

Lastly, some folks have been asking where the Select All button I’ve been demoing in the Deliver page went. In a last-minute change, this was changed into an icon to conserve space, but don’t worry, it’s still there.

The now textless Select All button.

The now textless Select All button.

There’s Plenty More

That’s all for now, but of course there are many, many more new features available in DaVinci Resolve 10. In the coming weeks, I’ll be working with Ripple Training to create a new features tutorial specifically for covering all the changes for folks who’ve purchased my Resolve 9 training title. Until then, this and the manual should get you started with this big new release.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

About Those New Mac Pros…

Mac Pro

To be honest, the only reason I’m writing this is because I feel a tad guilty about my first post-Mac Pro announcement tweet. The one where I was really upset about the inclusion of ATI GPUs instead of Nvidia. Understand, for the last three years I’ve been fully immersed in applications for which the messaging has consistently been “we’re heavily optimized for Nvidia and CUDA, and the current version of OpenCL on OS X sucks.”

What Apple did a terrible job of making clear in their initial presentation was that a new version of OpenCL will apparently make it far easier for software developers to achieve stellar performance on this new hardware. And I’m not drinking cool-aid; outside of the various announcements that Blackmagic and Adobe have made, I’ve had several email exchanges with folks I trust who are in a position to know, who are sadly hidden behind multiple layers of NDAs. The responses I’ve gotten have been incredibly optimistic.

So that makes me feel better.

I don’t care about the new Mac Pro being forward thinking or progressive or whatever. I don’t care about it being the future. I care about it being fast, reliable, and affordable. Ideally, I’m hoping that I’ll want to buy it because it’ll have the best bang for the buck in terms of price/performance, a characteristic of the best releases of former generations of Mac Pros.

I don’t care what the thing looks like. They can put the internals in a shoebox if the machine runs quickly, quietly, and reliably.

I don’t even care that much about the expandability story, given my own personal use case. Frankly, its two high-end GPUs will be far better then what I’ve got now in either of my current two Mac Pros, and if the integrated architecture sacrificed slots in order to move bits around faster, that’s fine with me. I’ve already got a spaghetti USB hub, USB audio interface, and external RAID connected to my current Mac Pro, so all the new one would add would be a Thunderbolt video box, which I frankly prefer to an internal card as I can move it around and use it with multiple computers, desktop and portable, and an external box for my Red Rocket, which again would make it more portable which is kind of interesting when you think about it.

The only thing I lose is the illusion that I, personally, will someday buy a PCIe expander and fill it up with four highest end GPU cards in order to have a mega-processing behemoth. For those who actually would do such a thing, this is a true loss, but it’s a dream I can’t afford. Two GPUs will do me fine if the architecture is right.

So I’m happy to wait and see. Time will tell what its true performance will be once it ships.

There’s only one thing; if Apple’s going to solder everything together in a non-upgradable form factor, they better update that fucking product every year to keep it current. And it’d help if the price is low enough so that an annual or two-year upgrade cycle is an attractive prospect for power users (I used to upgrade my Mac Pros every other year, back when there was something worth upgrading to). I’m tired of waiting in silence for next generation hardware to help me do my work, and it would be nice to feel that Apple has as much regard for users of this new form factor four years from now as they do for their current laptop and iOS customers.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

Some Things I Saw at NAB 2013

The 2013 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show was so very busy that only now has the dust settled enough for me to write anything. Unfortunately, I hadn’t the time to visit everyone I wanted to, but between the madness I did manage to catch up with a few of the companies who make products that interest me. While there were some major announcements that grabbed a lot of attention, here are some of the smaller pieces that you may not have noticed.

One of the reasons the show was so hectic for me this year was that it came just as the short film I’ve been directing has been winding its way through post. Just before leaving for Vegas, I posted a two-minute teaser online to have something to show off while the overall 12 minutes is finished. The inestimable Brian Mulligan, who’s been contributing compositing to my film (he’s responsible for the dimensional doorway effect) was at the Autodesk booth showing how he created this and several other effects using Smoke 2013 on the Mac.

Brian Mulligan showing how to make a burning doorway in Smoke 2013

Brian Mulligan (right) showing how to make a burning doorway between dimensions in Smoke 2013

While Autodesk wasn’t showing anything brand spanking new just yet, a “technology collaboration” was announced between Autodesk and Blackmagic Design that should eventually be great news for folks using products from both of these companies. There’s plenty of synergy I’d like to see; time will tell.

Speaking of Blackmagic, the upcoming DaVinci Resolve 10 was the other reason I was so busy. They piled in so many new feature announcements that I couldn’t even cover them all in the 25 minute Supermeet 2013 presentation I gave.

The video shows most of the headline features including a continued focus on application interoperability, online-oriented editing features such as timeline audio tracks, 3-point editing, and a unified trim tool; text generators; integrated optical-flow processing of slow motion speed effects; a completely revamped windowing interface with bezier drawing, unlimited window support within one node, a new gradient window, and window naming; all-new tools for splitting color channels in different color spaces for individual adjustment; and support for OpenFX plugins allowing Resolve’s capabilities to be expanded with whatever compatible plugins you want to use.

All of this just scratches the surface, however, and I’ll be demonstrating even more announced features at various events in the coming months (starting with an appearance at the BOSCPUG on May 29th). I’ll be demonstrating the new live on-set grading tools, more online editing features, the new optical-flow based noise reduction and motion blur features, and more.

Speaking of OpenFX plugins, GenArts announced version seven of their enviable Sapphire plugin collection. Anyone doing serious work in postproduction has either used or wanted to use these plugins, which in addition to compatibility with every major plugin format in use, is also available in the OpenFX format, meaning Resolve 10 users will have access to the phenomenal optical glows, lens flares, and video/film damage effects that you know and love.

In version 7, GenArts has added a new Beauty plugin for fast, targeted edge aware skin-tone smoothing, a new general purpose Edge Aware Blur for blurring low-detail portions of an image while retaining edge detail, and an update to their glow filters which allow for the addition of animated atmospheric noise as part of the effect (providing an illusion of volume). In addition, they’ve improved their Lens Flare engine, undertaking a project to shoot real flares through a wide variety of popular and vintage lenses, and rebuilding their flare elements library from terabytes of these scanned source images.

This year, I happened by the Eizo monitors stand, and noticed that they have a pair of LCD-based displays they’re hoping will appeal to the video postproduction crowd. The Eizo CG246 (a 24-inch LED edge-lit display) and CG276 (a 27-inch CCFL-backlit display) both feature DVI-D, 10-bit DisplayPort, and 10-bit HDMI inputs for convenient Rec.709 monitoring.

The Eizo

The Eizo CG276 27″ monitor

An additional feature of these monitors is a built-in Konica-Minolta colorimeter that pops up from the bottom bezel, and takes color measurements via built-in calibration software that can be invoked manually, or scheduled for routine automatic calibration.

The Eizo display's built-in Konika-Minolta colorimeter

The Eizo display’s built-in Konica-Minolta colorimeter

After the calibration routine has been completed, a convenient window can be summoned that shows how the calibrated result lines up with the designated target brightness, white point, and gamut, all built right into the display via its internal menus.

Eizo calibration report

Eizo calibration report

In terms of gamut, I’m told they boast 100% of Rec. 709 and sRGB, 97% of Adobe RGB, and 92% of DCI P3, all of which are reasonable given their respective price points of $2400 (CG246) and $2700 (CG276). I’m told the black levels of these displays is respectable, although it was impossible to tell in the predictably wretched viewing conditions on the floor. There are trade-offs, though, as there are no built-in HD-SDI inputs available for more conventional facility installations. I’ve heard that Eizo has a great reputation among photographers, and I’d venture to say these look like excellent displays if you’re an editor or compositor, or if  you primarily do grading for web video, with a bit of work for video output here and there.

One last note, in keeping with the general theme of 4K throughout the show floor, Eizo was showing a 4K prototype that’s being adapted from one of their high-resolution air traffic control displays (Eizo also makes displays for a variety of other niche markets), so one might hope that they could eventually come up with an affordable 4K display solution.

Speaking of display technology, Flanders Scientific came out with two sets of new displays. The color critical CM series consists of the 17-inch CM171 ($3,295), the 24-inch CM240 ($4,995), and the 32-inch CM320TD ($5,495). The CM series have 10-bit panels that display native 1920×1080 video. Of these, the two that are probably of interest to the colorist due to their size are the CM320TD, and the CM240.

The 32-inch Flanders Scientific CM320TD

The 32-inch Flanders Scientific CM320TD

A 32-inch display is a reasonable size for a display with good off-axis viewing, in a medium-sized color grading suite, in which you’ll be working supervised with clients sitting behind you. Thus, it’s tempting to think that, at a mere $500 premium over the 24-inch CM240, the CM320TD is an easy choice. However, be aware that there are key differences between these two displays that you may or may not find important.

  • The CM320TD is capable of passive stereoscopic 3D, has a glossy screen, and a higher 1,600:1 contrast ratio. Its panel is native 10-bit. It’s also an LED edge-lit display, for which no warm-up period is necessary for critical viewing. However, this results in a narrower gamut then the CM240; the CM320 displays 100% of Rec.709, but it covers a smaller portion of DCI P3 then its 24-inch counterpart.
  • The CM240 is not stereo capable, it has a matte screen, and a 1,100:1 contrast ratio. It uses FRC to achieve 10-bit performance, which you’d likely never notice. Using CCFL fluorescent backlighting, its native gamut is wider then that of the CM320TD, covering approximately 97% of the DCI P3 colorspace, however CCFL needs a warm up period of approximately 30 minutes to fully stabilize.

Other then the size, if you care about glossy versus matte, or stereoscopic 3D-capable versus not, then you’ll have a decision to make. If you care about the difference in P3 gamut, that’s fair, but be aware that both monitors are capable of being switched to the DCI-P3 standard using the proper color transform, white point, and gamma setting with which to get a preview of how this transformation will affect your image.

Flanders also announced the new BM series of lower cost, LED edge-lit, 8-bit displays. The BM210 is a 21.5-inch model ($2,495), while the BM230 is a 23-inch model ($2,995). While not being marketed as color-critical displays, and having a lower 1,000:1 contrast ratio, these are nonetheless great-looking displays covering 100% of Rec.709, and will be right at home in any video village or editing suite.

It’s also worth mentioning that both the CM series and the BM series feature Flanders’ CFE2 Color Fidelity Engine, which allows for the use of two 64-sided LUTs, one for calibration, and a second one for applying “looks” in the field. CFE2 is also compatible with LUTs generated by LightSpace CMS, and in fact Flanders and Light Illusion have announced “LightSpace for FSI Monitors,” which is a lower-priced ($2,500) version of LightSpace CMS specifically for use with FSI monitors for calibration and LUT generation, facilitating a wide variety of workflows. Probes Flanders recommend include the Minolta CA-310 and the Klein K10-A (more on that later).

Incidentally, I did an interview with Larry Jordan on Digital Production BuZZ in which I erroneously mentioned the existence of HDMI input on the Flanders displays. Afterwards, I went back and chatted with Bram Desmet at Flanders as I couldn’t believe I had gotten that wrong. It turns out that, while there is not in fact an actual HDMI connector on these displays, their DVI connector is pin-compatible with HDMI.

The connections available on the back of the Flanders Scientific CM320TD 32" Display

The connections available on the back of the Flanders Scientific CM320TD 32″ Display

This means you can connect, for example, the micro HDMI output of the upcoming Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera to any of the Flanders displays via a simple adaptor. And I mention the Blackmagic Design camera for a reason—Flanders Scientific also added BMD-Log “standard” and “full” monitoring modes, so you can monitor a normalized image even while shooting using the film log setting of this family of cameras. This is in addition to the C-Log and S-Log modes the monitors already support. In conjunction with built-in video scopes and the new ability to display two separate video signals  side by side via two simultaneously connected inputs, these are incredibly flexible displays for field use.

And by the way, that Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is ridiculous; I can’t wait to get my hands on one. A super-16 mm sized sensor shooting 1920 x 1080 video with a micro four-thirds lens mount on a pocketable body recording compressed CinemaDNG raw media to affordable SD cards for $995? Unbelievable.

BMG Pocket Cinema Camera

Connecting the BMD Pocket Cinema Camera to a cinema zoom is a “Where’s Waldo”-esque exercise

After learning of LightSpace and Klein compatibility, I had to pay them a visit, too. The Klein K10-A is an improvement to the original Klein K10 colorimeter, which they’ve been kind enough to provide me for classes I’ve done on monitor calibration. The K10-A has been out for some time, but I finally got the chance to ask Klein president Luhr Jensen just what’s better about it. The K10-A boasts a three-times improvement in lowlight sensitivity over the previous model, and a longer focal length that’s also appropriate for cinema applications where you’re measuring the screen. Like its predecessor, the K10-A is appropriate for measuring CCFL and LED backlit LCD, CRT, Plasma, DLP Projector, and OLED, so it’s an extremely versatile instrument.

The Klein K10-A colorimeter, taking a reading

The Klein K10-A colorimeter, taking a reading

LightSpace, from Light Illusion, wasn’t announcing anything specifically at NAB (they’ve been announcing new features all year), but after some prodding Light Illusion principal Steve Shaw did mention a just-released improvement for identifying probe-induced errors, specifically for darker readings that can be problematic even for high-end equipment. LightSpace is able to use statistical analysis to identify spurious out-of-trend data and average it out of the final result.

Getting back to grading, SGO was showing great new features in Mistika 7, including an all-new (to them) curves interface.

Mistika Curves

RGB curves are new to Mistika 7

This isn’t just limited to the RGB curves (shown above) and Hue vs. Hue, Hue vs. sat, Hue vs. Luma curves often seen in other grading applications. Mistika also includes Luma vs. Luma, Sat vs. Sat, and Luma vs. Sat curves. Those of you looking for a professional grading environment that has a “Vibrance” control, appropriate use of the Sat vs. Sat curve opens the door to all that and more.

New Curves

Mistika 7 also has Luma vs. Luma, Sat vs. Sat, and Sat vs. Luma curves

Another thing Mistika was showing off was an extensive suite of tools for improving qualified keys. As you can see below, shrink, grow, gaussian blur, de-speckle, fill-holes, and median blur filters can be applied to refine your qualified key. Additionally, qualifiers can now be combined using blend modes. But that’s not all…

Key filtering

New qualifier key filtering in Mistika 7

Taking this one step farther, Mistika provides the ability to adjust the lift and gain of the qualified key, as well as a “Key Curve” that lets you adjust the contrast of your key in fantastically specific ways. This is a terrific level of control more typically seen in a compositing application.

Qualifier grading

Keys can now be adjusted with lift, gain, and a separate curve control in Mistika 7

Mistika 7 also adds an interface for assigning individual settings to multiple simultaneous outputs, in order to apply different transforms, LUTs, or other effects to each individual output. For example, this lets you apply a transform and LUT to 709 output sent to a conventional HD display, while also applying a separate LUT or other adjustment to XYZ output being sent to a 2K projector. The UI has room for nine different output definitions, which can be used for monitoring and also for rendered output if you’re creating multiple masters.

Multiple Outputs

You can assign individual LUTs and transforms to multiple simultaneous outputs in Mistika 7

Additionally supporting XML import, integrated DCP Creation, and ACES, this is a good update for Mistika-using colorists.

Last, but certainly not least, FilmLight had some great announcements, starting with the sexy new Slate control surface. At $12,000, this is a more affordable Baselight-specific control surface then the Blackboard range, and looks like it pairs well with their more affordably priced Baselight ONE (dropped to $46,000 without external storage). With its compact size, it’s a good fit for smaller suites and on-location work, and connects via either Ethernet or USB.

The new, compact Slate control surface

The new, compact Slate control surface

Like its big brother the Blackboard 2, the Slate has remappable buttons (66 of them) with names and icons that change as you change modes. Along with 12 rotary encoders, and sets of six remappable buttons above each of the three trackball/ring controls, this is a serious control surface with great feel and solid build quality.

More here

The Slate has remappable buttons with updating displays

It’s worth noting that, if the Slate is too rich for your blood, the Baselight One (and Baselight editions NLE plugins) are compatible with the Tangent Element, Wave, and Avid Artist Color panels.

Getting back to the Baselight, FilmLight is clearly interested in making the Baselight ONE a more affordable and attractive option for smaller facilities. The diskless version of the workstation comes in a 4U tower that’s been engineered for quiet, for installations lacking a machine room. With an internal 2TB SSD drive cache, it’s meant to connect to an external SAN or NAS of your choice (although Filmlight’s FLUXStore is always an option) via fibre-channel or 10Gig-E. Filmlight old-schoolers can still get a rack mounted Baselight One with a built-in 28TB or 56TB RAID, but the rackmount and tower versions have identical performance, so it’s purely a matter of form factor convenience.

Baselight also sees some nice improvements targeted at the experienced colorist. For example, a new Result Blending control lets you mix back to the original image, or any other specific layer, at any point in your grade. This also works in conjunction with each layer’s blend mode and source control.

More

The Result Blending control mixes any other layer into the current one

A related feature lets you layer any image into your grade. For example, you can use this feature to add texture to your grade using a film-scan of grain. As an open-ended control, there are all manner of things you could use this tool for.

Image Layering

Layering an image into your grade to add texture

FilmLight has put some effort into streamlining stereoscopic 3D workflows, as well. Stereo clips now appear within a single timeline, rather then requiring you to manage two separate timelines. A new color-matching algorithm does per-pixel color matching across the entire frame, simplifying the hassles of matching both eyes before getting into your real grading. Geometry matching can now be accomplished using track points to account for situations where you need to deal with a moving shot with a flexing rig. On top of all that, automatic stereo correspondence handling has been added for shapes that you’re using for secondary work.

The FilmLight FLIP portable on-set grading workstation has been updated to be thinner, and now has the capability of communicating with compatible cameras via WiFi to, for example, copy metadata from the FLIP to the Arri Alexa, to be written along with the rest of the recorded data. This is all part of their “FilmLight at every stage” initiative, using the BLG (BaseLight Grade) format to copy grade metadata from set, through editorial and compositing (using Baselight Editions plugins), and finally through to be available for finishing inside of one of the Baselight grading workstations.

There were plenty of other announcements from Avid (new Media Composer features), Sony (updated OLED studio displays with wider viewing angles), Assimilate (demoing Scratch 8), and much more, all of which I sadly missed. But that’s okay, it’ll just give me more to see at IBC in a few months.


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

“The Place Where You Live” Teaser

Nina Ashton, a professor of physics, is abducted by her counterpart from an alternate dimension—one in which her husband has died. As her doppleganger takes her place, Nina struggles to rebuild the machine and reopen the gateway between worlds in order to regain the life that should be hers.

I’m very pleased to present a preview of the first two minutes of “The Place Where You Live,” my new science fiction short that’s working its way through postproduction, shot by fantastical shot.

We’re aiming for a May release, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it’s turning out thanks to the fantastic cast and crew, as well as the incredible talents of designer and animator Brian Olson, compositors Brian Mulligan, Aaron Vasquez, Joel Osis, and Christopher Benitah, and 3D artist BJ West.

Kelly Pieklo has begun working on the sound design and mix, which can be heard along with John Rake’s wonderful score. I also need to thank Autodesk for their sponsorship of this project (the entire program is being edited and composited on Smoke 2013), as well as Splice in Minneapolis for their hands-on support.

If you want to learn more, I’ve blogged about the production, and I’ve also blogged about post.

And keep your eyes peeled for my next major announcement, once the whole 12 minute film is ready for viewing!


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.

Creative Looks Video Training

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By popular request, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve done another video training title for Ripple Training, “DaVinci Resolve – Creative Looks.”

Whereas my “DaVinci Resolve Core Training” title provides an 11 hour tour of DaVinci Resolve, from workflow through each of the many tools, this title is a focused 90 minute exploration of the creative process. I’ve long made a point of saying that the whole reason to use a dedicated grading application, rather then filters with preset looks, is that a grading application’s more sophisticated toolset makes it possible for you to be the plugin, crafting custom styles to match the content at hand.

Since the scenes in every project have unique visual characteristics, I show you how to approach each of a variety of oft-requested image stylizations in a variety of ways, in the process unlocking the flexibility of the DaVinci Resolve toolset to quickly customize an image’s look. I demonstrate different methods of evaluating how to apply a given look to a scene, and explore how you might combine techniques to create a style that’s completely your own.

So if you know the basics of DaVinci Resolve and want to get a look at some more things you can do, please click the link and check out some of the sample movies. $29.95 for 720p movies (playable on anything), or $39.99 for full 1080p playback (suitable for a 3rd or 4th generation iPad).


Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
DaVinci Resolve 10 In-Depth: 5 hrs of tutorials focused on new features in Resolve 10 from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.