Our Color Correction Demo Reel is up

After finding myself with some extra time on my hands - I decided to finally finish (actually - start) Fini’s color correction demo reel. You can find it here.

There are two types of demo reels for color correction. The traditional reel is a series of beauty shots. The less traditional reel is the Before / After reel.

I spoke to a few producers with lots of experience hiring film colorists. To a person they said the traditional reel was what I should produce. They felt that a Before / After reel was the sign of an inexperienced colorist. I thought about this long and hard... I decided to go against this advice. My clients aren’t their clients. I was talking to the wrong people.

Unlike clients buying $600 / hour telecine suites, my clients don’t have experience sitting with a Color’ist. At best they’ve worked with a good Avid Symphony online editor who does a good job but rarely approaches it as a career specialty. At worst, my clients don’t quite get it; after all, except for a few tweaks the footage already looks good.

So - unlike a film colorist, I have a ton of educating I need to do with my clients. The Before / After Reel is a tool designed for that job. In fact, I’ve already had one producer say to me, “Perfect - my client has been having a hard time understanding the need for color correction. This reel explains it clearly.”

And before you ask/complain, the music is temporary. A friend is scoring to it.

Any feedback on the reel is always appreciated!

- pi

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Silent Auction: 30 hours of Color Correction

NEWS FLASH: Fini is auctioning (3) 10-hour days on January 15, 2009 in New York City! The proceeds will go to Mopictive, an educational 501(c)3 serving New York City filmmakers. Details on the Fini auction can be found here. Mopictive's website is here. Up-to-date information on all the Silent Auction items here.

Help a good cause and post this info where appropriate!


Black Friday - Coming to you next January

Fini is going on sale!!!

Or rather, we’ll be auctioning off our color correction services to the highest bidder in a Silent Auction.

That’s right. We don’t care if it’s a short, your 20 minute student film, or your 120 minute feature going to the silver screen - if it’s ready to go by the end of March, we’ll color correct it!

Of course, there will be limitations (don’t bother trying to pull Artistic Creativity on us and take 3 weeks to work on one scene) - those details will be announced soon enough.

The silent auction will take place at the January meeting of Moptictive (the New York Final Cut Users Group). I’m their Treasurer and we’re a great 501c3 educational non-profit. We have big plans next year. We haven’t named this promotion yet but it’ll hopefully be the headlining auction of dozens of great products and services.

Feel free to pass around the news. Sometime before Christmas I’ll be putting up a web page with full details, including all the niggly restrictions and required workflow.

In the meantime, Happy Turkey Day!

One programming note: Yes, 5 months, no posts. Let’s just say it’s been busy around here... and this blog is undergoing some changes to better align with my needs. Mostly, it’ll spend less time talking to my peers and more time talking to my clients. But there’s some good stuff buried in these pages, so I’m just going to let this puppy lie. But beyond one or two more posts - this iteration of The Finishing Line will be going dormant.

And I’ll be posting at least once more before putting Finishing Line 1.0 to rest.

- patrick

Shameless Plug: Genesis "Come Rain or Shine"

I just got an email from Martin Baker, a friend in the U.K. He caught the airing on BBC of one the first HD jobs that ran through Fini. "Come Rain or Shine" is a 90 minute behind-the-scenes documentary of the band Genesis' most recent European tour.

I've been a Genesis fan since high school (mostly anything prior to Abacab). For me the highlight of that doc is the moment in the hotel room when Phil Collins and Chester (the band's long-time second drummer) are practicing drumming on leather benches. That moment blossoms into the inspiration for the centerpiece drums solo in their live performance. Any Genesis fan will love seeing that moment.

It was also the only moment where the footage was nearly un-watchable. It was the first day that the crew had used the camera they were shooting and the color balance was so far extreme into the reds there was zero information in the blue channel. You can see the before / after on the homepage of this website. It took some fancy footwork to save the shots in that sequence - mostly on my own time, as I worked on it on nights and weekends. (It turned out the scene required two solutions since the exposure changed in the middle.)

I want to give a special Thank You to the film's Director, Anthony Mathiel. He allowed me to fulfill a dream. Hopefully some last minute hair-pulling didn't overshadow what I think is a final product we can both be proud.

The 3-disc DVD of their final performance on their European tour is coming out this month. "Come Rain or Shine" is packaged as one of the three discs. There doesn't seem to be a release date for the BluRay version. SD only.

- pi

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My First Hate Mail

Hate Mail!

I finally got one, sent from the Contact form on this website. The sender was complaining about finding "another editor claiming to be a colorist" and mentioned something about the real-time nature of his color-correction hardware and how he charges "$1000 per hour" (sniff, sniff).

On the one hand, I love the fact that I got hate mail from a "professional colorist". It means the software is starting to make the hardware-based folks nervous enough to start Googling us. And that means our tools are getting powerful. Though not quite there yet - as evidenced by his 'real-time' comment and another comment he made that Apple Color's "secondary tools are crappy". Gee, I guess he cracked open a copy to check it out (though I'd counter than Color's secondary tools are far less crappy than FCP's non-existant secondaries - we're moving in the right direction).

On the other hand, I'm annoyed by My First Hate Mail. Where did My First Hater get the idea I claim to be a Colorist? Certainly this website makes it clear, my finishing skills are broader than just color correction - but color correction is my specialty. I have grown tremendously in that skill set over the past 7 years. I read everything I can get my hands on and then I do it... over and over and over and over and over again.

Yes, I enjoy color correcting 1200 shots in a few days. Tweaking contrast, balancing tones. Yes, there isn't a single show I've worked on that 6 months later I don't look at and say, "I could do that better today." But heck, if there's *any* professional working today who thinks all their work is perfect and they have nothing new to learn - they're on a professional decline or delusional or both. They've definitely stopped growing.

Color correction - and Final Touch (now Color) - rejuvenated my enthusiasm for my career. I originally renamed and refocused my company to specialize in Finishing and Color Correction for very pragmatic reasons (easier to differentiate myself from every other FCP owner working in his mother's basement). 18 months later I discover I love this focus far more than I thought possible. It blends my dormant Director of Photography gene with my Editor gene and gives balance and indulgence to each.

In the end, the writer of My First Hate Mail and myself have this in common: We both make pictures look better. And, ultimately, who decides if our pictures indeed look better and our services worth paying our asking rates? Our clients.

I'll let My First Hater claim the mantel of "Colorist". I'm on the road to Craftsmanship. I'll continue to grow, learn, and occasionally teach. I'll keep trying to base my business on my Skills. I just hope My First Hater does the same or he'll get Moore's Law'ed out of the business. When today's iMac can handle 1080p, how much longer before it can run his DaVinci? In Real-Time? Something to think about...

- pi

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Upcoming Presentations on Color Correction and Color-ing

Interested in learning more about the color correction tools that ship with Final Cut Studio 2?

I'll be teaching and if you live in the NYC area, here are two dates to mark on your calendar...

  • Thursday September 20 - User Group meeing, Apple Store, Soho : I'll be giving a presentation at the Mopictive User Group (formerly the Final Cut Pro User Group, of which I'm the Treasurer) exploring the differences between FCP's built-in 3-Way Color Corrector, the 3rd party color correction plug-in Colorista and Apple's new color correction software Color. At the end of the presentation you should have a good idea of which of these tools best suits your workflow and inclination.
  • Saturday, November 3 - Color Correction Masterclass : I kind'a hate the name of this class, since I don't consider myself a Master - just someone who has taken a keen interest in the topic and pursues it professionally. Anywho - this class is a full day seminar covering the theory behind video-based color correction techniques and then the application of those techniques to Final Cut Studio 2. This seminar is a collaboration between myself, Mopictive, and Manhattan Edit Workshop (which will provide an Apple-Certified instructor to cover material contained in the Apple Pro Series book Advanced Techniques and Color Correction in Final Cut Pro). It's a jam packed day. I last did this class in the Spring and it was pretty well received. This class has a cover charge of $300 with 40% of the proceeds going to the User Group and the remaining split between the facility providing the equipment (every enrollee gets their own workstation) and the instructors. You can sign up over at Manhattan Edit Workshop's website.

- pi

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We're Baaaaack...

We lost our FTP access for a month. We were behind another company's firewall and they had things so locked down about the only thing working was web browsing and email. Everything else was completely unreliable. This week we got out from behind their network and installed our own SDSL line. Things have been working swimmingly.

(big sigh of relief)

In other news... you can catch me at next week's NY Final Cut Pro Users Group meeting. I'll be one of several people talking about NAB 2006. The theme for me this year was "Getting Back to Analog". I'll post a roundup of "stuff" I found interesting after next week's meeting.

- patrick

Update: Fini, NYC

It's done!

The edit suite was broken down on Monday, moved on Tuesday, and up and running on Wed. The entire process was smooth as butter. For the 4th time we've used Moishe's Moving. They are terrific. Accurate quotes. Trained movers (usually one guy for each three man team is a trainee). Well protected furniture. The entire move took under 4 hours.

2 blocks South of Penn Station.

Great location. Great people.

We hope to see you.

- pi

Sleep On It

I've posted the very first edit I ever did over on the Visual Tidbits page. I can sum it up in two words: Eighties Hair. Check it out for a good laugh.

The music video was our first assignment in the Post-Production course at Hofstra, circa 1987. The assignment was to focus on matching action across cuts. I had a blast. It was an A/B roll edit bay on a Convergence 201 edit controller and my first experience working with a timecode-based edit controller. It was the high-end room at the school at the time... the keys to the room were jealously guarded. If I remember correctly, the switcher was a brand new GVG 100 but the only way to kick it was with a GPI.

Special thanks to Prof. Randy Hillebrand for saving my master when they were throwing away old tapes in the mid-90s.

- pi

Update: Fini on the Move

As some of our more astute clients will notice, our move date into Manhattan has been pushed back about 3 weeks. Logistically, it's taken a little longer than anticipated to get all the dominoes lined up. Things are now moving as they should...

Electric was upgraded yesterday. Painting begins on Monday. Carpeting at the end of next week. Then we're just waiting for the new console to be delivered, which should happen about the middle of March.

We'll probably be down for a few days at the end of March as the room gets wired back up. We're taking the opportunity to upgrade some of the engineering backbone which will take a few extra days than it would normally take. The object is to make it easy for us to build out new capabilities with little or no downtime.

- pi

Peer Review: Internet Style

After posting the Avid vs Final Cut article I figured it would probably get picked up by other sites and I didn't want to have any of my details wrong. So I posted the link to a few of the FCP-centric email discussion lists I haunt. I asked for some critiques and had a dozen excellent responses. After originally posting it, based on the feedback, the article went through one complete re-write (thanks Martin) and dozens of smaller tweaks and revisions. About the time I had it finished a few sites started linking to it, which pulled in some more comments - resulting in some tweaks on how Avid handles the color corrector across their product line (thanks George).

It was an interesting exercise for me. From finished Draft to Peer Review to Final in about 24 hours.

Reminds me of the explosion of training materials for all the software apps we use. It's nearly impossible to know everything about anything other than some tiny teeny little corner of the world. And then, only if you completely wrap yourself in it. Otherwise, it's always smart to ask for some help.

Thanks to everyone who offered their critique to help ensure that article was as accurate as we could make it.

- pi

Visual Tidbits

I've just added a section to this site called Visual Tidbits. It's a (growing) collection of various bits of visual stuff that I want to preserve. Why? Dunno. Just because. Maybe you'll find them interesting, maybe not. But I hope it'll leave you grinning.

First up is a Quicktime VR (created with Stitcher 3 and this panorama head) of my edit suite in the soon-to-be-a-memory Living Room. Not because the Living Room is going anywhere, but because the edit room in moving into NYC in about 4 weeks.

- pi

Finishing Line, the blog - Coming Soon?

This website is still under development. And the notion of setting up a blog here,
even more so.

We'll see.

- pi