Tag Archives: resolve

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.

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Convert Power Windows to Bezier Curves in DaVinci Resolve 12

This article was originally published  on PremiumBeat’s blog.

Power windows can now be converted to Bezier curves in DaVinci Resolve 12. Learn how to use this timesaving feature.

Colorists use tons of power windows in typical sessions. However, using a standard circle or polygon shape can sometimes “give away” especially extreme corrections.Bezier curves provide finer control by having the ability to add additional pointswithout the jagged edges of the polygonal shape. Bezier softness around each point can be controlled as well, and with their amorphous shapes, they run less risk of being found out by the audience.

In a brand new feature in DaVinci Resolve 12, power windows can now be converted to Bezier curves with the click of a button. This can help you to work faster in session. Let’s take the image below. Perhaps we want to treat the window differently than we want to treat the subject, a normal usage of power windows.

The client has called out the window as being a bit too blue. Normally, the colorist would create a power window to address this concern.

Convert Power Windows to Bezier Curves in DaVinci Resolve 12: starting shot - no correction

Our workflow will be to generate a power window using one of the standard shapes, and then convert it to a Bezier curve for further modification. I’ve found the simpler shapes to be faster to control, and after getting the window into a place we generally want, we can then add nuance by converting the circle to a Bezier shape. Let’s start with a circular power window.

Circles can be faster because the softening affects the entire shape, unlike the polygonal window where each of the four corners has its own softening. Circles are also great to use for ovoid human faces. Draw the general shape, but don’t increase the softening, as converting to a Bezier object will reset any softening information.

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

Speed Up Your Color Workflow Using Scene Cut Detection

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

DaVinci Resolve’s Scene Cut Detection function chops a single file into multiple shots. Here’s how to how to use this time-saving feature.

Colorists occasionally work on projects that only exist as a single file with no accompanying project or EDL. It may also be easier to grade a single file when working with a previously conformed spot, a reel, or in scenarios where the client is located remotely and it’s not practical to upload gigabytes of material.

DaVinci Resolve’s Scene Cut Detection function can analyze a single file and chop it into multiple shots based on where it believes there are cuts in the program. This important feature saves hours of time from finding edit points manually. Let’s look into how to use this feature.

Before importing the single movie file in question, locate it in the Media Storage and right-click it. Select Scene Cut Detection.

Once you find the file that needs to be chopped up, right-click it and select Scene Cut Detection.

Scene Cut Detection Select

A window appears with several options. Click Auto Scene Detect in the lower left. Resolve will try to locate all of the cuts within the piece, which may take a little while depending on the speed of your computer and the piece’s duration.

After analysis, a bunch of lines are created across the timeline. The length of the line corresponds to how confident Resolve is in determining a cut. The purple line that cuts across the interface is your tolerance bar, which will include any lines above this line and exclude those below it. You can drag this tolerance bar to include or exclude shots.

Once Resolve has analyzed the video file, the interface will resemble the image below. The green lines denote where Resolve thinks cuts occur. The purple line is the tolerance bar; all vertical lines above this bar will be included; those below will be greyed out and excluded. More on the image thumbnails below.

Scene Cut Detection Interface

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Speed Up Your Session With DaVinci Resolve Power Grades

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

Check out seven awesome Power Grades that can help you quickly apply killer looks in DaVinci Resolve. Download them now!

Top Image from Blackmagic Design

In DaVinci Resolve, the Power Grade folder stores common custom grades and is the portal for sharing grades between projects. Power Grades can serve as useful shortcuts in session to quickly apply looks that might take more than several minutes to execute. In fast sessions, any time gained is instrumental to focusing on the task of creative grading.

Creating a Power Grade

To create the most effective Power Grades for your color grading style, identify what actions you’re executing over and over again, especially the ones that take either a long time or involve multiple steps. Then strip the look or the function down to its most basic nodes and grab a still of that. Be sure to label it so you can refer back to it.

The fastest way to apply a Power Grade is to double-click it, rather than choosingDisplay Node Graph to select and apply individual nodes. Double-clicking will append the entire Power Grade to the end of the shot, on top of what’s already been performed. To minimize confusion it’s important to include only the nodes you want to repeatedly apply to the shots. Most of my Power Grades are not crazy looks. Rather, they’re usually executions of one specific action.

To strip down a shot for use as a Power Grade, create a second version of the shot you want to be a template for the Power Grade and remove the extraneous nodes, or save a still that you can revert back to while you destruct the node tree to create thePower Grade.

The case for keeping Power Grades simple is that many projects widely veer from each other in terms of how they were shot and the unique stylistic sensibilities that are needed for different projects. It’s best to proceed in small steps toward the grade you’re trying to achieve.

Read the full article on PremiumBeat’s blog.

DaVinci Resolve Workflow: How to Prep for a Color Session

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

Be prepared! When you’ve got a color session looming, do yourself a favor and take these steps to set yourself up for success!

All images from Blackmagic Design

Prepping for any color session entails optimizing elements from one piece of software and translating them over to another platform for further work in the post pipeline. For most jobs, once the offline edit has been locked, the editor must prep the timeline for the colorist. How files are prepped for color can make a huge difference in how much work the colorist must perform before he can actually begin grading the project. If the prep has technical issues, it can add time to debugging, extending the session time, or leaving less time for the creative aspects of the job. Let’s discuss the elements that make a good color prep.

colorist-at-work

1. Before anything else, it’s necessary to duplicate your timeline. Since you’ll be simplifying the sequence, which means destructing it, you’ll need a way to get back to the original edit in case there are revisions or you need to create other outputs and preps. The original timeline can also be used to create a reference movie for the colorist.

2. Remove any unused clips that won’t be graded. Often, editors work loosely and have lots of extraneous clips scattered across the timeline. Many editors also toss extra clips at the end of the timeline. Delete all of them.

3. Remove the audio tracks. Most of the time, audio will not be an aspect of a color session, unless I play a rough cut for a client for their reference. Having audio tracks come in with the XML is a distraction to the colorist and they are most often removed right away.

DaVinci Resolve: Prepping for a Color Session

4. Simplify the timeline by moving all of the video clips down to the base video layer as much as possible. Sometimes you’ll need multiple video layers, but the XML format can support this.

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Tips for Coloring Talking Head Interviews in DaVinci Resolve

This article was originally published in PremiumBeat’s blog.

Talking head interviews are a great place to sharpen color grading skills. Let’s take a look at some ways we can push and improve upon this common setup in DaVinci Resolve.

Any working colorist will likely encounter their fair share of talking head interviews. It’s a great idea to use these projects as opportunities to up your skills. Here are a few quick and easy tips to consider when applying your magic to interview footage.

Pick an Identifying Frame

Choose a frame where the subject’s eyes are open and acknowledging the camera or the interviewer off-camera. This will help us engage with the speaker, allowing us to judge exposure and color tints with better acuity. Picking a moment when the talent doesn’t look their best will hinder our ability to color them in the best possible way.

It’ll be easier to engage the subject if they’re engaging you.

Tips for Coloring Talking Head Interviews in DaVinci Resolve: engage-subject

Initially, Focus on a Single Correction

Rather than creating multiple nodes to grab skin tones and other features in the shot right away, try to accomplish as much as possible in a single correction. This will enable us to correct for exposure and color shifts with the simplest, cleanest method before working on other aspects of the shot.

Matching Two Angles

Matching close and wide shots is easier if both cameras are identical models and are calibrated with similar settings, but this will be the exception rather than the rule. Many filmmakers will choose their best camera for the wide and a comparatively inferior one for the closeup due to various shooting constraints. This means matching shots may be more difficult since the cameras are not only shot differently but inherently contain different sensors and characteristics.

First, perform the best possible grade on the wide shot. When switching to the closeup, grab a still of the wide and put it next to the closeup shot by selecting Play Still. Often, the two angles will frame the interviewee in the same quadrant, so don’t be afraid to move the closeup over using the Sizing tab so you can clearly see the subject in both frames.

Here, the close and wide are framed similarly, which isn’t optimal since part of the talent is covered.

Tips for Coloring Talking Head Interviews in DaVinci Resolve: match-angles-squish

The Sizing tab allows us to move one angle aside to reveal the pertinent parts of both shots.

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Everything You Need to Know About the OxygenTec ProPanel

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

The new OxygenTec ProPanel is aimed at the traveling colorist or the beginning colorist on a budget. Is it the right device for you? Let’s take a look.

 Top image from icolorist

The new OxyenTec ProPanel’s relatively simple interface comes with the most important features for a control surface: the triple rings and dials for controlling shadows, midtones, and highlights. These are commonplace to every single control surface out there, including Blackmagic’s premium surface, which features all the bells and whistles. At only around $800, OxygenTec’s panel is definitely a cheaper alternative to the JL Cooper Eclipse, the Avid Artist Color, the Tangent Element and even the older Tangent Wave model.

OxygenTec ProPanel

The ProPanel is available now and integrates natively with DaVinci Resolve, connecting via USB. Aside from the main dials and trackballs, several buttons line the top of the control surface. From left to right, you have commands for:

  • Undo
  • Redo
  • Grab Still
  • Play Still
  • Previous Node
  • Next Node
  • Start Dynamic
  • Mark for Keyframing
  • Base Memory (resets just the node you’re on)

 

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