Soft Clipping in DaVinci Resolve

This article was originally published on Premiumbeat’s blog here.

Limit the extreme registers of highlight or shadow detail using the Soft Clipping feature in DaVinci Resolve.

DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve and a drool worthy color grading suite [via Blackmagic]

A small but powerful feature in Davinci Resolve called “soft clipping” makes a huge difference in the way I work. A component of the software for several years now, soft clipping allows me to bend footage far further than I normally could by limiting the extreme registers of the highlight or shadow detail. Since I use it in every single session, I really can’t undersell using this powerful feature.

Soft clipping is found inside the Color page, in the middle, bottom-half of the screen within the first Curves tab. Select the second drop-down to modify the soft clipping. You’ll see the red, green and blue curves, but these react differently than the main curves; here, you won’t be able to draw points on the curve to change the contrast of the image. Rather, you’ll be able to change where the high and low ends of the shot begin clipping.

You can change the soft clip of the channels individually, but by default the three channels are grouped, or “ganged,” together. Unless you’re dealing with an image that has, say, a bright red traffic light that causes a spike in only the red channel, the default ganged style is my my choice each time.

In practice, a colorist can initially limit the highlights on a particularly bright image where, for example, light bulbs or sunlight are blown out, as you’re performing your primary grade. As you balance the image, you can white balance the highlights to taste as you’re controlling the clipping or utilize the soft clip while you’re lifting any part of the image. I find it useful when working with commercial clients who are trying to achieve a bright, saturated look where the image is naturally dark. Consider an image of several people inside a living room with bright afternoon sunlight outside. The filmmakers have exposed for preserving the highlights that are streaming in, leading to an underexposed interior where the people are. This is a perfect time to use soft clipping.

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Let’s Get (Quantum) Weird: Quantum Dot Technology Takes Off in Displays Everywhere

This article was originally published on Premiumbeat’s blog here.

Quantum dot technology is ready to explode…and it’s going to forever change the display industry.

Quantum Display Technology
3D, 2D, and photographic images of three different quantum dot form factors for enhancing color saturation in display backlights.

The science behind an emerging technology known as quantum dots will soon allow for improved color performance and an adherence to standards that have largely been ignored on the manufacturer’s end. The technology is already powering award-winning 55” Sony displays as well as the 8” display of the Amazon Kindle HDX.

You may have heard of quantum computing, in which bits not only exist as ones and zeros, but as either at any time. Quantum dots are similar in concept, harnessing a different property of quantum mechanics that allows engineers to change the color of the material by changing its size. This relates to quantum weirdness, a real term, believe it or not, which states thatsubstances can be determined not just based on what the materials are made of but by the size of these materials.

QD-Vision is a company dedicated to developing and advancing the quantum dot technology and has been shipping optical products worldwide since the beginning of 2013. QD has the world’s largest manufacturing facility of the technology, and markets a type of tube which is just one component of an LCD display. A manufacturer like Sony puts the tubes into their LCDs to take advantage of the dots when it designs their TVs.

Quantum Dot Technology Benefits

Quantum Dot Technology
QD-Vision’s Color IQ optic alongside a TV, to show size

The advantages of the dots themselves are manifold. First, they deliver OLED color at the cost of LCDs with an improved color performance of 50%. The technology is cost-effective as well as efficiently scalable, so it can be used in small and large displays alike, and will be able to support the upcoming Ultra-HD standard. Quantum dot optics also offer the only full NTSC color gamut solution in a market riddled with unmet broadcast standards. If that’s a bit over your head, consider this: Sony’s Triluminos series that houses the technology won the Best in Show Award from Tech Radar as well as a Blue Ribbon for Best Home Theater Product during CES2013.

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10 Accessible Records For Jazz Newbies

This article was originally published in Buzzfeed here.

For many, jazz continues to be an impenetrable music genre.

Its structural complexities, use of non-electric instruments and improvisational nature seem to demand more from the listener. There’s no question that the jazz world is vast and it may be hard to find an easy entrance point. I decided to assemble a list of ten accessible jazz albums for the complete newbie.

The selections are often less about the individual records and more about the artists. Jazz musicians are incredibly prolific and it’s difficult to choose just one album to showcase their styles. I’ve leant towards choices that favor higher audio fidelity with generally shorter runtimes, and as jazz is largely collaborative, I’ve paired musicians together to get the most mileage out of these ten albums. I hope you’ll find the music often referred to as “America’s classical music” to be just as enjoyable, not to mention danceable, as many other genres. By no means are these the quintessential jazz records, but more of a starter kit. And yes, these are all streaming on Spotify – just follow the links in each heading.

1. Miles Davis: “Birth of the Cool

Miles Davis: “ Birth of the Cool ”

Before Miles embarked on his challenging “Bitches Brew,” he pioneered another style of jazz known as cool jazz. It’s interesting to hear how the melodies and themes on this album are developed, all of which run at an economical three minutes. “Birth” would soon be followed by “Kind of Blue” which is the highest-selling jazz album of all time and an excellent place to continue listening to this monumental artist.

2. Charlie Parker: “Charlie Parker with Strings

Charlie Parker: “ Charlie Parker with Strings ”

To foreign ears, the rapid runs of Parker’s signature style might sound cacophonous at first. On “Strings,” Parker employs tender, sweeping classical-style strings as a bed over which to play his signature runs. The end product is remarkable, best exemplified in arrangements like “Everything Happens to Me” and “If I Should Lose You,” and his oft-imitated playing can be heard on tracks like “Dancing in the Dark.”

3. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: “Ella and Louis

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: “ Ella and Louis ”

Two of the most distinct voices in jazz, Ella and Louis would collaborate several times throughout their careers. “Ella and Louis” brings us some of their most recognizable tunes, including “Can’t We Be Friends?” and “Cheek to Cheek.” Check out Louis’ signature sound during the solo for “Moonlight in Vermont.”

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