Tag Archives: black magic

Color Grading Insight From Pro Colorist Alexis Van Hurkman

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

We interviewed professional colorist Alexis Van Hurkman and asked him to share how an aspiring colorist can tap into the competitive world of color grading.

The niche world of color grading is filled with highly specialized artists that have made it their craft to perfect the subtle art of manipulating moving images, matching shots, and crafting grades that realize their creator’s vision. I recently chatted withAlexis Van Hurkman, one of the more visible personalities in the field.

Hurkman has literally written the book on DaVinci Resolve, the instruction manual for the popular grading software that clocks in at a staggering one thousand pages, not to mention also having written The Color Correction Handbook and The Color Correction Lookbook.

Color Grading: Color Correction Lookbook
A still from the cover of Alexis Van Hurkman’s Color Correction Lookbook

“The Handbook is the vegetables,” Hurkman says, “while the Lookbook is the dessert.” The Lookbook is the smaller of the two volumes, but Hurkman says it’s the more fun of the two, focusing on interesting grades more so than the Handbook, which teaches a budding colorist the practice of color grading through an application-agnostic methodology. “The Handbook is about fixing the images, and the Lookbook is about screwing them back up.”

Hurkman also wrote an Encyclopedia of Color Correction which pertained to the now-defunct Final Cut Pro 7, but he’d written about color for Final Cut since software version 3 way back around 2001.

In addition to writing technical documentation, Hurkman has also created half-a-dozen Ripple Training series for Resolve. And then of course there’s the regular darkened-room grind of the professional colorist.

Best-Case Scenario

Color Grading: Zombie Movie Still
Video still via Alexis Van Hurkman

Obviously, Hurkman’s got many pots on the kettle, but we first discussed his writing career, his entrance point into the world of color.

When I write documentation like for Resolve, I consider myself to be the first end user for new features that have just been engineered or that are in the middle of being re-engineered. To make the writing resonate with an editor or colorist, it’s really helpful for me to know what users will want to use the new tools for. I try to present real-world examples on how to use the controls.

Hurkman found color correction in much the same way I did: while he was working as an editor, clients would ask him to make a few color tweaks to their footage.

Once you learn a little bit about color correction, you can’t unsee the problems. I’d make a few changes here and there. Gradually, clients came to me for that particular service.

For a while, Hurkman still didn’t consider himself a colorist, but clients liked the image fixes. Over time, Hurkman realized that he enjoyed color grading. This was 2005, a time when clients not commanding considerable commercial budgets were considered an underserved market for color.

As he started getting busier, Hurkman migrated to Final Touch, which later became the Color program in Final Cut Studio when it was acquired by Apple. He received a coincidental call around that time to write a user manual for the program, since he had written documentation for the color sections of Final Cut Pro in the past. It was a perfect fit and a great learning experience for the types of skills he was rapidly acquiring.

Read the full article on PremiumBeat’s blog and don’t forget to follow Tristan on Twitter.

Organize Your DaVinci Resolve Work Area with New Compound Nodes

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

In a fast-paced session, it’s easy to lose track of each node’s function in the tree, especially when time doesn’t allow for labelling each one. DaVinci Resolve 12′s compound nodes offer a solution.

When time doesn’t allow for proper labeling, it’s easy to lose track of each node’s function in the tree. New to DaVinci Resolve 12, the compound node condenses the complexity of the node tree, which can organize client comments or help otherwise clean up the node editor. Compound nodes can also allow for various workflow applications, like applying one correction that affects multiple nodes.

Or, consider a scenario: perhaps you’ve been addressing an art director’s comments for several minutes, creating multiple serial nodes that can be stepped back through if needed. Let’s say the art director now wants to toggle the result of all of those changes. The easiest way to show this would be to enable and disable a single node. In this case, compound nodes can also help.

To use this new feature, nodes must be in direct sequence with each other; the first and third node in a serial node tree can’t become a compound node. First, command-click on each node to be included. The active node doesn’t need to be one of these nodes.

Below, the third and fourth node are selected, denoted by the red bar above the thumbnail. The second node will not be included in the compound node even though it is the current node, as seen by the red box highlight.

1. Compound Node Selection

Right-click on any node and select Create Compound Node at the bottom.

Create Compound Node is revealed when several nodes in sequence with each other are highlighted.

2. Create Compound Node

The selected nodes will be grouped and the new node will be identified by a thicker border resembling a stack of cards. It’s subtle, which is why Blackmagic probably thought it was a good idea to label the node by default.

Read the full article on PremiumBeat’s blog and don’t forget to follow Tristan on Twitter.

Everything You Need to Know About DaVinci Resolve 12

This article was originally published at No Film School.

davinci-resolve-12
The Blackmagic team must not sleep.
They just released the first Public Beta for Davinci Resolve 12, which you can download here. Resolve 12 brings over eighty new features to the popular color grading tool, with a host of editing, audio, workflow, and of course, color grading improvements.

Let’s get a little more in-depth with some of the more exciting improvements.

Editing

Resolve is one of the leading color grading platforms, especially among indie filmmakers who can’t afford a Baselight, Pablo, or Quantel system. Having primarily focused on color grading for over two decades, the DaVinci team is now switching gears to develop and push Resolve’s editing capabilities. Its aim is to position the software as a full-fledged editing platform that competes with Premiere, Avid, and Final Cut. Many of Resolve 12’s new features revolve around editing, perhaps because the color grading tools are already so sophisticated.

Several of the tools at the heart of all professional editing systems have been ported to or improved upon with this version, including the familiar overlay that displays options on whether a clip will be inserted, overwritten or fit-to-filled when placed into the timeline.

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Dragging a clip to the source monitor functions much the same way as popular NLEs.

Working in the timeline is much faster. Context-sensitive trim tools avoid the need to constantly change tools to make a precise edit. The trim tool transforms into a ripple, roll, slip or slide tool depending on where the cursor is positioned over the clip. Multiple clips can also be trimmed at the same time.

Asymmetric trimming allows changing multiple clips in opposite directions from each other simultaneously. This can be performed on multiple clips on the same track as well, which was previously not possible. A dynamic trimming option allows you to use the standard J, K, and L playback keys to scrub for an ideal edit point. Just like other NLEs, the audio can play back along with the video. Once you get how these controls function, editing clips in the timeline is a cinch.

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Adjusting multiple clips is a snap in Resolve 12.

The brand new multicam feature in Resolve 12 features a straightforward implementation of working with multiple angles in a project. Grouped angles are clustered together on the source monitor, and editing together a video is as simple as selecting the appropriate angle when it’s needed in the timeline. The timeline gets chopped up accordingly, leaving the editor to further refine edits from there. The multicam clips can also be expanded into their constituent video layers for working in a more traditional, layered approach. This mode also enables slipping of individual tracks in case they weren’t synced properly.

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The brand new multicam feature allows you to select from a handful of angles when editing.

One of the biggest additions in Resolve 12 is the completely new media management system which collects all assets with handles for archiving or exporting to another system. The interface should come familiar to anyone used to Avid or Final Cut, and copying, moving, transcoding, consolidating, and deleting unused media are all available options.

Read the full article at No Film School.

5 Reasons to Get a Color Grading Control Surface

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

A control surface is an essential piece of gear for professional color correction. Here are five good reasons why.

Though this is no secret to seasoned professionals, many aspiring colorists don’t realize the inherent value that a color grading control surface will bring to their work. After all, many professional software packages can be used without additional hardware.

DaVinci Color Grading Control Surface

The DaVinci control surface maps many of Resolve’s functions to dedicated buttons and knobs, making grading a breeze. However, its hefty price tag is out of reach for many. Luckily, third-party surfaces from Tangent, JL Cooper, Avid and newcomerOxygenTec harness much of the DaVinci panel at a fraction of the cost. With fewer buttons and dials, you’ll be scrolling through menus to find the parameter to change,far from a deal breaker to many.

No matter which model you choose, a control surface is an essential aspect of getting any job graded and delivered on time. Let’s take a look at several specific reasons why any surface is a must for the serious colorist.

Tangent Element Color Grading Control Surface
1. Speed and Multiple Actions

The biggest and most obvious advantage to using a color grading control surface is speed. With dedicated knobs, buttons, dials and wheels set to specific functions,muscle memory quickly develops as you learn your panel. When you get fast enough, color grading is no longer frustrating, it’s actually fun! You’ll be wondering how you ever did good work without a panel for this reason alone.

Speed isn’t just about jumping to specific commands to alter your image. When coloring, it’s helpful to adjust several parameters at once to see how the image reacts. This will enable the colorist to experiment with a wide range of looks to gauge a favorable client reaction.

OxygenTec Color Grading Control Surface

2. Trust Me, Your Work Will Improve

Working with a panel enables an organic relationship with your images. By controlling the color wheels, you’ll intuit where the image wants to sit. The physical nature of working with your hands will also prevent you from processing every job in the same way.

Using the color wheels and dials allows for finely-tuned adjustments that are difficult to articulate with a mouse. Many times in session I push the slightest change in the hue of a skin tone to satisfy the client. The software color wheels inside Resolve are small, making these kinds of moves cumbersome.

Read the full article on PremiumBeat’s blog.