Final Call : Tommorrow - Color Correction Workshop

Last Call! The 1-Day Color workshop I’m leading is happening tomorrow. In Manhattan. 2 seats are open. Registration closes early this evening. To sign up directly, go here. Below I’m re-posting full details that went up on this blog a few weeks ago.




Full Disclosure
: I am on the Board and Treasurer of Moving Pictures Collective (Mopictive is a DBA of the New York Final Cut Users Group and also a certified 501c3 not-for-profit) which is hosting the following event. You can be assured that over 50% of the proceeds will go to Mopicitive and furthering its mission to the training of Digital Storytellers. The instructors (including me) are paid only a nominal fee.

It's that time of year...

If you're in the New York City area in June or July, there are TWO color correction seminars being held. These seminars are a collaboration between myself, Mopictive, Manhattan Edit Workshop, and Alexis Van Hurkman (author of the Color user manual as well as several books on color correction and effects with Final Cut Studio). I'll be teaching a weekend of one-day seminars with Jamie Hitchings on the basics of working in Color. Alexis will be teaching another weekend of one-day seminars on Advanced Color Correction techniques with Color.

These will be jam packed days. I last did this class several times last year and they were pretty well received. Jamie and I cover the basics of color theory, FCP -> Color workflow, the Color interface, and solving real-world problems on real-world footage. In July Alexis presents his own material, picking up where I leave off. He'll cover the ColorFX Room, advanced grading techniques in the secondaries, and how to get Color's tracker to work properly. Both of us will leave time to make sure you get your questions answered.

The best thing about all of these classes - every enrollee will have access to their own computer running Color. These are hands-on classes designed to get you feeling comfortable on the software and giving you a strategy for sculpting your own images.

Cost: $300 / class with 50% of the proceeds going to Mopictive (the NY Final Cut Pro User Group) and the remaining split between the facility providing the equipment and the instructors.

Sign-up: To sign up directly, go here. For more info on the June workshop, go here. And for more info on the July workshop, go here.

Questions? Feel free to use the Comments.

- pi
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Book Review + The Finishing Line Library Shelf


SafariScreenSnapz001
On The Finishing Line I've previously listed links for learning color correction. A book I've been reading for the past few months has prompted to me to update / refine that list (now in the sidebar). I pre-ordered this book, The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction, almost a year ago. It finally shipped in the middle of January 2008. I wrapped reading it in April. What follows is my review:

First question: Is The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction worth reading?

Answer: Yes! Absolutely.

Second question: Is it targeted at newbies or advanced users?

Yes. To both.

The first two thirds of the book "Primary Color Correction" and "Secondary Color Correction" deals with the fundamentals of our toolsets: monitoring, understanding waveform monitors and vectorscopes, balancing shots, vignettes, HSL isolations, and more. While this part of the book can be safely skipped over by more advanced users to whom all that info is second nature, Steve Hullfish does a nice job of surveying how different software apps approach the same concepts. And when a particular software package has a unique tool for achieving a particular task, he breaks it down for the reader.

The upshot: Even if you're experienced colorist on a Symphony you'll walk away with a strong understanding how other software apps work and what you might be missing (or what advantages you may have that you didn't realize). My advice, advanced users should at least skim through these parts paying particular attention when Steve takes a moment to pull a quote from the working professionals he features in the last third of the book. There are some great tips in these sections - especially on how different colorists set up multi-display scopes to help them nail black balance or tweak color values. I ended up changing some of my displays and found a few new setups that I really like.

Overall, the first two parts are not a dumbed down discussion. While Steve starts by laying down the ground-work emphasizing monitoring and external scopes (the latter being a deep discussion that permeates the entire book - which I very much appreciate), he seems to anticipate some of his readers finding material redundant and thankfully breaks out basic terminology to sidebars. Appropriately, those early chapters work through the subject matter in the same order a colorist will typically approach their problem-solving.

The final third of the book "Pro Colorists" is likely where the advanced users will want to begin. Why? That answer leads us to our third question...

Third Question: What makes this book different than other color correction books (or DVDs)?

The soul of this book is contained in the last few chapters and on its supplemental DVD. Steve sits with over a half-dozen accomplished, professional colorists and puts them in front of a common software color grading platform, Apple's Color (at the time called Final Touch HD), with a JL Cooper control surface Tangent control surface. He gives them all the same set of footage (also provided on a DVD), presses 'record' on a tape recorder and grills the colorists about the approach they are each taking to color correcting those images. The result is the author presenting up to three colorists approaching the same shot using different techniques. Or the same technique being used on different shots. Usually in the words of those colorists. It's a great education.

Even better are the transcripts Steve provides on the DVD that didn't make it into the book but he thought were informative. I've just started to read those and already I've gotten some new ideas about different approaches to common challenges.

Another thing that differentiates this book is its largely software-agnostic approach. Color, Avid Symphony, After Effects, Color Finesse, even Photoshop are all been featured in the first 2 Chapters alone. Where interfaces are similar, Steve picks a software package and follows it through - pointing out where users of other apps might find things different. I suspect that if iMovie had a color correction module Steve would have a found a place to feature it.

Fourth Question: Any final thoughts?

This is clearly a book about concepts, not tools. As much as it necessarily covers the How To of working with color correction software, it's the Why Do that is emphasized.

In fact, Why Do is the whole point of the book.

Read it. Live it. Learn it.


- end book review -


On a related note:

This posting has prompted me to update my links for recommended reading. On the right side of this blog I've put up The Finishing Line's Library Shelf. These are a list of books I've found invaluable in furthering my education and understanding of color correction, finishing, or editing. They're linking to Amazon via my affiliate account. If you appreciate the time I spend from my day job to keep the Finishing Line something more than a corporate News blog, buying through those links are a nice way of showing your support. Or, you can send me an email. Or both.

Just remember, supplement that book knowledge with the practical experience of color correcting a few hundred thousand shots - and then you'll find yourself well on the road to becoming a craftsman.

- pi


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Color Correction Masterclasses - June 28 & 29 / July 19 & 20

Full Disclosure: I am on the Board and Treasurer of Moving Pictures Collective (Mopictive is a DBA of the New York Final Cut Users Group and also a certified 501c3 not-for-profit) which is hosting the following event. You can be assured that over 50% of the proceeds will go to Mopicitive and furthering its mission to the training of Digital Storytellers. The instructors (including me) are paid only a nominal fee.

It's that time of year...

If you're in the New York City area in June or July, there are TWO color correction seminars being held. These seminars are a collaboration between myself, Mopictive, Manhattan Edit Workshop, and Alexis Van Hurkman (author of the Color user manual as well as several books on color correction and effects with Final Cut Studio). I'll be teaching a weekend of one-day seminars with Jamie Hitchings on the basics of working in Color. Alexis will be teaching another weekend of one-day seminars on Advanced Color Correction techniques with Color.

These will be jam packed days. I last did this class several times last year and they were pretty well received. Jamie and I cover the basics of color theory, FCP -> Color workflow, the Color interface, and solving real-world problems on real-world footage. In July Alexis presents his own material, picking up where I leave off. He'll cover the ColorFX Room, advanced grading techniques in the secondaries, and how to get Color's tracker to work properly. Both of us will leave time to make sure you get your questions answered.

The best thing about all of these classes - every enrollee will have access to their own computer running Color. These are hands-on classes designed to get you feeling comfortable on the software and giving you a strategy for sculpting your own images.

Cost: $300 / class with 50% of the proceeds going to Mopictive (the NY Final Cut Pro User Group) and the remaining split between the facility providing the equipment and the instructors.

Sign-up: To sign up directly, go here. For more info on the June workshop, go here. And for more info on the July workshop, go here.

Questions? Feel free to use the Comments.

- pi
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Tapeless Workflow, anyone?


This post is a shameless plug for a great workshop being held in NYC on Saturday May 17th. If you know anyone who might be interested in the following, please forward them any of the URLs listed below.

One of the hot workflow topics these days is "tapeless acquisition". Whether it be P2 cards for your HVX-200 or those little SD cards for a Red camera, managing that data while on-set has become a valuable asset. Frequently called the "Data Wrangler", the person who manages the off-loading, verification and subsequent re-initializing of these cards is a position of tremendous responsibility. Given that it's a relatively new crew assignment, training opportunities are few and far between - while the stakes in getting it wrong can be hazardous to one's career development.

If you live in New York City metro area, next Saturday May 17th The Moving Pictures Collective (Mopictive) is offering a Tapeless Acquisition Workshop. By the end of the day you'll walk away with a system for data management that can be applied to any tapeless shoot. It's being taught by Michael Vitti - the Fearless Leader of Mopictive who has extensive experience with "data wrangling" - and Jamie Hitchings - an Apple Certified instructor - who will walk the attendees through the entire Log & Capture process. Special Guest is a great guy I've known for many years, Michael Woodworth of Divergent Media, developer of the software app, ScopeBox. He'll be talking up scopes (how read them, how to use them, and why you need them) and monitors - a great ancillary skill for anyone who's trying to break in onto the set.

Here's the rub - signups have been light. If a few more people don't get signed up before next Tuesday or Wed, the event will be cancelled. Keep in mind, class size is limited to 10 people. This is nearly a one-on-one workshop. You'll have full access to the instructors and plenty of time to get all your questions answered. You'll learn the theory which can be applied to any tapeless situation as well as practical applications that'll allow to immediate implementation of that theory.

You can find out more details about the workshop here.

You can sign up here. Price is $300.

Full Disclosure: I am the Treasurer of Mopictive (which is a DBA of the New York Final Cut Users Group and also a certified NYS 501c3 not-for-profit). Over 50% of the proceeds will go to Mopicitive and furthering its mission to the training of Digital Storytellers.

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Give Me Some Skin!


Is one of the reasons you subscribe to this feed (and if you don't,  here's the link to do so) because you want to learn about the art of Color'ing? If yes, then I have a great treat for you today!

Go: here

Stu Maschwitz of the ProLost blog (being the least of his credits) has a great posting on colorists' herculean efforts to maintain skin tones while pushing radical grades.

As always, a great posting - he even provides some homework material. ProLost is a must in your RSS Feed.

Enjoy!

Have a great weekend.

- pi

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The Vaule of Specialization

Whatever your business, I believe there's huge upside to specialization. Not only does it allow you to become really good at something - it increases your value and helps you differentiate from your competition.

But don't take my word for it...

One of the students in the last Color Correction Workshop I helped teach emailed me the other day. Here's the last line in his email:

Btw, I did a CC job last week on a tv spot...the skill has allowed me to charge an extra $15 per hour.

Yay!

Woo Hoo! Go Harold!

Yes I'm training my competition. As did the editors who trained me 18 years ago... I do this in honor of them.

- 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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Color Correction Masterclass - Nov. 3, 2007

Saturday, November 3, NYC - Color Correction Masterclass

I'm teaching a color correction class in a few weeks. If you're interested I suggest you sign up now - it's a small class size (20 enrollees, max).

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. 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 (a 501(c)3 non-profit (I'm a board member)), and Manhattan Edit Workshop (Jamie Hitchings, who is an Apple-Certified instructor and will 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 time around I'm going to add more material on properly setting up lighting as well as providing a list of online retailers to help you execute a lighting plan.

Cost: $300 with 50% of the proceeds going to Mopictive (the NY Final Cut Pro 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.

Sign-up: Call Amber 212-414-9570

Place: MEWShop, November 03, 10a - 5p

- pi

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Passion


It's how we do the little things - shift an edit 2 frames, finesse an audio transition, or kern our type - that takes us beyond being professional and into "craftsman" status. To become a craftsman requires persistence over time, inquisitiveness, and a healthy dollop of passion.

If you need a little inspiration this (Friday) morning - maybe you can feed off the passion on a posting about... Copperplate Gothic. Yes, that's right - a font:

"Copperplate Gothic’s default ubiquity and, by consequence, broad misuse, has procured it a place among The Designers’ Holy Hatred Font pantheon reigned by Papyrus and Comic Sans — and while there is still no campaign to ban Copperplate Gothic, it does have its detractors. Yet, to this more prevalent Mr. Hyde side of Copperplate Gothic, there is a valiant Dr. Jekyll ready to shine from its own evil cast."


Passion can be infectious... so if you need to catch the flu this morning (as I did), it's a fun read, if maybe a little cerebral.

HT: Daring Fireball

- 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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Learning to Legalize

encyc_color_correction
I just picked up the book Encyclopedia of Color Correction: Field Techniques Using Final Cut Pro. It's part of the excellent Apple Pro Training Series. I'll do a full review when I'm done but I had to note the excellent entry on Broadcast Legality and the following entry on Broadcast Safe Filter.

These two topics confuse hobbyists and professionals alike. This book does a better job explaining these topics than anything I've read anywhere else, ever. The author, Alexis Van Hurkman, also correctly points out the deficiencies of relying on the Broadcast Safe filter too heavily.

These two entries alone are worth the price of the book, especially if you find this topic perpetually confusing.

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Learn Color Correction

I'm frequently asked how people can learn color correction. Here's a list of resources I've used and can recommend:

Calibrating Video Monitors pdf
http://www.synthetic-ap.com/tips/calibrate.pdf

List of good Color Correction books
http://www.synthetic-ap.com/support/reading.html

Apple's official book, from the top-notch Apple Pro Training Series
http://tinyurl.com/rmg9d

Color Correction Training DVD
http://www.rippletraining.com/color_correction_for_final_cut_pro_.html

There's enough here to keep you busy for 6 months...

- pi
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Never Stop Learning

If you ever get to a point in this business where you stop learning... then you're probably about to stop working.

For most of my professional career, learning resources were few. Outside of Universities or trade schools, the only place you could find training was working at companies doing what you wanted to do. And even then access was limited.

Wanted to be editor? You had better make it to the post department. Best way to get there? Through the shipping department.

How times have changed.

I just recently signed up for FX Phd. High-end training for those of you with high-end aspirations. They focus mostly on 2D compositing and seem to be a logical outgrowth of the Pixel Corps, a great idea for 3D animators that has never really executed on its mission.

The downside of all this empowerment? Knowing and understanding all these techniques are one thing... learning how to interact and communicate with clients, that's where hobbyists are separated from the pros.
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Oodles of Noodles

Noodling.

I recently heard that term on a podcast by Franklin McMahon. It refers to the process of just opening some software and playing with it. Learning by stumbling. It's something I don't do enough - at least not recently, as I've focusing on getting Fini launched.

But starting the summer of 2004 and through the middle of last year I was doing tons of it over at PixelCorp. At the time I was thinking of moving into a different part of the industry. After a year of noodling with Shake, Image Modeler, Cinema 4D I decided I needed to focus. What do want to be when I grow up?

I decided to start at the end. I pictured where I wanted to be in 5 years - and Fini was born.

Now that Fini is nearly up and running, and since some of the skills I acquired over those 15 months are starting to rust, it's time to get back to doing some noodling. And learning how to restore and retouch photographs in a guided reading with the author of a Photoshop book... it's classic PixelCorp.

It's a healthy change of pace. But no teams for me this time around... can't lose sight of the 5-year plan.

- patrick
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