Category: Tools

Fini.tv Adopts DaVinci Resolve Workflow

In January of 2011 Fini.tv started the switch from Apple Color to DaVinci Resolve.

In July, with the release of DaVinci’s updated software, the transition has been completed and Fini.tv has adopted DaVinci Resolve as our grading solution of choice. And we couldn’t be more pleased.

When we started on this road it was a big decision. Apple Color hadn’t seen any significant software updates in many years and we were concerned about its future. Meanwhile, from a distance we watched as DaVinci was acquired by Blackmagic Design, the price was dropped significantly, and they seemed to target color grading companies such as Fini.tv. And they impressed us as they released important software updates on an accelerated schedule that signalled BlackMagic’s commitment to a storied color grading platform.

In January we bought a license and slowly started doing paid jobs with it.

Yet we couldn’t embrace it whole-heartedly -DaVinci Resolve Version 7 lacked the integration workflow that our clients were accustomed to with Apple Color, namely: XML roundtrips and multiple video track timelines.

Why XML Workflows Are Important

The XML workflow between Color and Final Cut Pro Legacy is big big feature. You see… XML is a modern EDL that allows a multi-video track timeline to be sent to Apple Color, which also displays multiple tracks – giving the colorist access to each layer, ready for ‘in-context’ color correction. Once rendered, Color exports an XML of that exact same timeline into Final Cut Pro – resulting in a timeline *identical* to the locked offline (and keeping any filters not recognized by Color).

But here’s the kicker: This new timeline links back to the newly rendered color graded footage!

Including handles for each individual shot.

It’s brilliant. And our clients love it.

This workflow allows our clients to make slight editorial tweaks after the color grade is completed. They get a project file that looks exactly like the project file they handed us. And rather than one long Quicktime movie – every shot is individually rendered (with the aforementioned handles). Perfect.

DaVinci Resolve 7

DaVinci Resolve 7 threw a bit of a wrench into this workflow. It only supported EDL workflows. Meaning: It could only see one video track at a time.

Clients accustomed to the simple Color round-trip – if they wanted to work in DaVinci Resolve – had to radically change the way they delivered projects to us (or pay us to make those changes). And from our perspective, EDLs are usually inadequate to carry across filters & transitions – which would have to be tediously placed back into the final FCP timeline. By hand. Shot by shot.

I can tell you – many hours were lost as we learned the unique quirks of antiquated EDL workflows.

But now – something amazing has happened… and its name is: DaVinci Resolve 8

DaVinci Resolve 8: Like Apple Color (on steroids)

Fini.tv was honored to have been invited into the Resolve 8 beta testing team. And we quickly realized everything we had read about the tremendous strides this software made proved to be true. Resolve 8 is the perfect inheritor to Apple Color (which has been now been End-Of-Life’d by Apple).

Resolve 8 supports:

  • Multiple track timelines
  • Import / Export of XMLs for Final Cut Pro workflows (including some big advancements for Resolve 7 colorists when importing the footage, making our lives sooo much easier – saving our clients time, money, and keeping the colorist from quickly falling into a sour mood).
  • Resolve 8 adds several new features that Apple Color colorists will love including: Fully controllable Noise Reduction, Image Stabalization, Masking tools that go far beyond anything Apple Color could do (with a tracker that is so good it induces little fits of the giggles), a grading pipeline that allows us to reorder our operations – all of which is changing the way we grade, giving us more power without taking more time.
  • It also adds the possibility for compositing shots (think: green- and blue- screens) directly inside Resolve with support for imported footage that has alpha channels (for instance, coming from After Effects or CGI)
  • Native Avid Workflows: Including multi-track roundtrips via AAF and ALE
  • Native Avid DNxHD codec support for playback and rendering – and – AMA support
  • Native HDRx support for the RED Epic, Arri Alexa v3 color science, and Cineform support

There are many more workflows, codecs, and features that were added to Resolve v8… but those listed above are the ones of most interest to our clients.

A Next Generation Color Correction Toolset

Apple Color was a great gateway for Fini.tv into high-end color grading. It changed our business. We’re sad to see it slowly lose its relevance. It holds a special place in our heart.

But as the saying goes: A door has closed, but a window has opened. And that window is BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve.

We are thrilled to offer DaVinci Resolve to our clients – a top-notch grading solution that’s under active development by a team of enthusiastic engineers and artists dedicated to providing a color grading toolset that takes us into the second decade of this century!

Come join us.

Ask A Question, Get An Answer

Do you have an upcoming project that might need our color correction services? Let us know!

Call Patrick: 347-878-3464

We’d love to introduce you to Resolve 8 and hope to see you in our (or your) grading suite.

Just like it ever was…

…Only better.

 

NAB 2010 – Initial Thoughts

What are the big items that have caught my eye watching Twitter feeds and reading Press Releases on Day 1 of NAB? Here are my (purely selfish) top three:

DaVinci Resolve on Mac

DaVinci Resolve Control Surface

When BlackMagic bought DaVinci last year here’s what I wished for this NAB:

  • DaVinci Resolve.
  • For Mac.
  • Under $15k.

I figured that BlackMagic would price the Resolve near Smoke on a Mac. I underestimated Grant Petty, CEO of BlackMagic. Grant has built his company by pursuing disruptive technologies that are  priced aggressively.

Man, he got disruptive big-time.

Here’s what Grant delivered to me this NAB:

  • DaVinci Resolve.
  • For Mac.
  • Under $1k.

Even better, Resolve on Mac (unlike Smoke) when compared to its full-blown Linux counterpart doesn’t hobble the software. It doesn’t hold back features. It doesn’t require a Support Contract. It’s only restriction – 1 GPU; according to the Press Release, the GPU limitation is due to lack of support for InfiniBand for Mac.

Fini, my color correction company, has a 9-month roadmap that I’m executing as I re-tool the company and better position it to compete in the market I’ve targeted (more on that as The Plan moves forward). Resolve on a Mac couldn’t fit in more perfectly. I’m beyond stoked.

The only question I haven’t gotten an answer to: Will Resolve on Mac support RED natively in 2K and HD workflows? It really needs to.

Avid Buys Euphonix

The other news that grabbed my attention was Avid’s announcement of their intention to buy Euphonix – maker of outboard control surfaces.

I’m not yet sure if this is a good thing or not.

I’ve read a few people opine on this topic – but I think most are missing the point of this acquisition. The Euphonix secret sauce is their EuCon protocol. It’s the protocol that controls the interaction between the hardware control surface and the software being controlled. Their product that most interests me, MC Color, is buttery smooth… and it’s EuCon that’s responsible for the feeling that the software, via their hardware, is an extension of your brain. The immediacy of even the most subtle inputs is fantastic.

In the past, an acquisition by Avid was where great products went to wither away. Avid over the last two years seems to have turned over a new leaf and this year has had a great new release.

So now? What is the future of EuCon? I’m nervous. I just don’t know.

I can only hope that Avid decides to continue offering the amazing value that Euphonix seems to be built around.

Me -> Apple: In ProApps, Silence Is Not Golden

Apple doesn’t get it. I don’t build my business based on if I want to operate a Linux-based business or a Mac-based business. I don’t really care what new features the next version of the Mac OS is going to offer. Or when. On this count, Apple can be as secretive as they want.

I build my business with software products designed to allow me to provide amazing value to my clients. If I’m going to plan the direction of my business, I need an understanding of where I think the software I use is going to go. Currently, my software happens to be owned by Apple.

Apple, extending it’s corporate Cone Of Silence around the Pro Apps division, offers me nothing but a blank expression and puckered lips.

And a frustratingly long 2 year development cycle.

So what am I to make of Apple’s silence concerning their ProApps products?

Is it because they’re ready to leap-frog the competition?

Or does de-coupling Final Cut Studio from big events like NAB go counter to Steve Job’s excellent quote: “Real Artists Ship”? With no more external target dates, is shipping Final Cut Studio becoming internally de-valued?

Here’s what’s so surprising to me after Day 1 of NAB 2010:

More and more I’m caring less and less about those answers.

– pi

 

Control the Color Wheels in Final Cut and Apple’s Color

Why do different color wheels in different pieces of software and applications act differently?

How does that answer effect our approach to color grading?

Those two thoughts came to the top of my mind when reading Oliver Peter’s excellent post, Grading with Color Wheels. Why don’t you head over there and read that post? It’s very informative and helps build the foundation for this post. I’ll wait…

Understanding how the color wheels in your NLE process the image has a huge impact on how you approach your color correction. In this post we’ll build out the concepts introduced in Oliver’s article to give us a working methodology.

 

MCS Spectrum works with Eclipse Software

I only have time for a quick post tonight…

The last 3 weeks (and for the next month) I’ve had the opportunity to work on JL Cooper’s MCS- series of hardware controllers. Last week I posted on the Color-L mailing list that the customization software for the Spectrum colorist control surface basically… well, sucks. It’s buggy and it doesn’t have half the controls that the Eclipse software has. I was very disappointed. My buddy Mitch responded that he was told at NAB the Eclipse software would drive those panels.

The thought hadn’t occured to me. On Monday I installed the Eclipse software (instructions here) and it worked. I imported my keyset and that worked as well! Joy, oh happy day.

One small tweak had to be made since the Eclipse does have one extra button that the Spectrum doesn’t.

So Spectrum users – get out there and behold the power of a fully functioning control surface. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

– pi

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Errata – BluRay & Compressor 3

In this previous post I lamented how Apple seemed to be dragging its heels on providing BluRay authoring tools in its Pro Apps suite.

I got at least one fact wrong: Compressor 3 does export for BluRay.

Compressor4_000

Where did I go to find this out? Adobe!

Specifically, the DAV TechTable blog – which is filled with useful how-to’s on BluRay authoring and I’ve placed into my RSS reader (now that I’m an owner of the Adobe Production Suite CS3 bundle, which supports BluRay authoring on the Mac).

Here’s the post which gives explicit instructions on how to export from Compressor for BluRay authoring in Encore DVD. It’s not a built-in preset in Compressor, so you’ll want to build and save these settings as a Custom Preset.

If you’re a glass half empty person, you’ve got to wonder why this setting isn’t shipping as a preset in Compressor. Is it an ominous sign of Apple trying to keep its boot on the neck of BluRay? If you’re a glass half full person, hopefully this is a positive omen that the next version of Final Cut Studio will have much more explicit support for BluRay authoring.

– pi

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Meet Your Colorist: Patrick talks Color Grading, Finishing, Workflows, Final Cut Color
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Fini

verb
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