Category: Learning

Mixing Light & Sound

How To Think Like A Post-Production Supervisor

Tonight I’m teaming up with Peter Levin of Splash Studios to do a free seminar, “Mixing Light & Sound: Strategies for Finishing Your Project”.

It could also be called, How To Think Like a Post Production Supervisor.

Peter is a terrific audio mixer, his wife Barbara a talented Dialog Editor. Their recent projects include the festival circuit’s acclaimed My Peristroika (nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year) and the upcoming You Tube Symphony Orchestra (it’s a doc commissioned by You Tube following musical proteges culminating in a gala symphony).

Mixing Light & Sound

Peter and I have been working together for over a year (we were introduced by our dear departed friend, Michael Vitti): He’s the ears of the operation, I’m the eyes (and our wives are the brains!). When comparing notes we found are clients are consistently confused by the same technicalities of the last few steps in finishing their projects.

The two of us decided it was time to get in front of producers, directors, editors, documentarians – filmmakers – and start answering all the questions we both get asked, day in / day out. Such as:

  • What should you expect from your color correction, when should you do it, how should you prepare for it?
  • What is a 5.1 audio mix? What is an LtRt? What’s the best way to prepare your audio for your sound edit? What is Dolby E encoding and why should you be thinking about it?
  • What are the different tape formats and what are festivals and networks going to require? What’s the best way to upconvert NTSC to HD? What about mixing HD formats and Frame Rates?
  • How do your decisions to these (and many more) questions affect the finishing pipeline?

Our number 1 piece of advice: Begin at the end. You need to define where your project will most likely be seen. Once defined, your roadmap becomes very clear – and allows for unexpectedly happy detours (like, getting picked up by HBO).

We did our first free seminar 3 weeks ago. A total success. It ran almost 3 hours, an hour longer than planned. The group was small, 15 people. The questions came from all parts of the room. Tonight’s session is (again) a sellout. This time around we’re adding a ‘recommended workflow’ that should cover about 80% of the projects out there.

Building Out The Concept

We’re excited about this seminar and plan to take it on the road and evangelize these strategies. We’re  developing a website / forum specifically devoted to finishing strategies.

Our goal: Demystify the complexities of finishing picture and sound – resulting in educated clients making informed decisions in pre-productions saving them time, money, and frustration. Stay tuned for more details as the website goes live.

If you think you might be interested in attending one of these NYC seminars (we’re still developing the content based on how the early seminars progress), contact me and we’ll keep you in the loop. Or just subscribe to this RSS feed. Or Fini’s Facebook page… or…

– pi

 

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

 

Book Review + The Finishing Line Library Shelf

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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

 

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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Meet Your Colorist: Patrick talks Color Grading, Finishing, Workflows, Final Cut Color
via Digital Production Buzz

Testimonials

Guto Barra, Director/Producer
Beyond Ipanema

"Your expertise and patience proved to be essential assets to finalizing our documentary, especially under the huge time crunch for our MoMA world premiere."

Chris Ripper, Director
Ressurection Man (in post-production)

"I love how you add production value to the feel of a shot not just "color"and create a mood appropriate to the content. And pushing your color a certain direction so cleanly. Impressive."

Fini

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