Look Development & Workflow in DaVinci Resolve

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Welcome to an in-depth course in Look Development and Workflow in DaVinci Resolve.  

This is an intermediate course for colorists that want to gain a solid understanding of look development workflows, color management, and color theory.

You will learn complex saturation workflows, how to evaluate and recreate film emulations, analyze and create film halation, create custom black and white look, film grain methodology, the teal and orange look and much more.

At the end of the course, we challenge you to use what you have learned, to color grade your own version of an award-winning commercial.

The footage used in this course and a free sample of 35mm film grain is available for download so that you can easily follow along.

About the instructor

Jason Bowdach is a colorist and finishing artist based in Los Angeles, California. He's a Blackmagic Design certified instructor specializing in color and finishing, and he has an extensive background in film\tv post-production with large-scale international distribution at studios like Disney and Fox. He is also the founder of PixelTools, a company that creates color grading tools and presets for DaVinci Resolve.

Who is this course designed for?

  • Intermediate colorists
     

COURSE OVERVIEW

 

LESSON 01: HERO SHOTS

Going through methods for evaluating which shots to include as hero shots.

LESSON 02: COLOR MANAGEMENT & BASE GRADE

Preparing the project by setting up the color management and color space aware tools. Looking at how to work with exposure and balance to preserve details while keeping the integrity of the cinematography and the context of the story. Also going through some image-analyzing tools that helps make better decisions in the base grade process.

LESSON 03: LOOK WORKFLOW AND FILM PRINT EMULATION LUTS

In this lesson, we're diving deep into workflow for look development and node organisation with node hierarch. Then, looking at film print emulation characteristics and setting up a workflow to get the best result out of them.

LESSON 04: WORKING WITH FILM PRINT EMULATION LUTS

Using printer lights and film print emulation on a commercial using the established workflow. Also, discussing order of operations, ways to kill off saturation, whether to apply noise reduction before or after the grade and general color theory.

LESSON 05: SILVER HIGLIGHTED LOOK

Demonstrating three different methods to create the Silver Highlighted Look (Bleach Bypass) on a color chart. The methods include midtone detail work to add micro contrast, shaping luma only curves and primary controls.

LESSON 06: LOOK ADJUSTMENT

Now it's time to implement the look into the established workflow, on top of the base grade. Explaining how to adjust for best possible result and consistency. Then, experimenting by mixing silver looks.

LESSON 07: EVALUATING & RECREATING FILM EMULATIONS

Diving into the characteristics and behaviours of film emulations, and recreating the essence with curves.

LESSON 08: CUSTOM BLACK & WHITE LOOKS

The RGB mixer and the Splitter & Combiner node is used to gain better control over black & white images.

LESSON 09: ANALYZING & CREATING HALATION

Analyzing halation on images shot on film, and creating halation that can be used in a variety of looks from scratch. Talking about the benefits of working in linear light and converting between color spaces.

LESSON 10: FILM GRAIN METHOLOGY

Using charts and scopes to evaluate grain, and continue to emulating both negative and positive film grain. Looking at the best ways to integrate grain for most visually pleasing result, and setting up a real film-scan-grain workflow.

LESSON 11: TEAL & ORANGE LOOK

Building the classic teal & warm look with curves on a test image and charts.

LESSON 12: TEAL & ORANGE CONTINUES

Going through two more methods to create the teal & orange look, using both primaries and the color warper.

LESSON 13: COMPLEX SATURATION WORKFLOWS

Going through different saturation tools, and looking at color management to create technical accurate saturation response in non-managed workflows. Then, using the LAB model to adjust saturation and using HSV and HSL to create deep filmic colors.

LESSON 14: COLOR MODELS EXPLAINED

Looking at some color models to better explain what happens with saturation when converting between different color spaces.

LESSON 15: HARDWARE & 3RD PARTY SCOPES

Jason walks you through his hardware recommendations and looks at Nobe Omniscope.

LESSON 16: CHALLENGE

In the last lesson, we're challenging you to re-create the original grade of a commercial using the techniques and strategies from this course.


 

 

 

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This was one of the most insightful and fun classes yet!

So many of the uncertainties about order of operations and workflow that I had were finally made clear in this course. Bravo!


Hope to see more like this, and I'm still very much interested in a course about show luts! ;) 

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Thanks so much for making this course! Is the destination of Download Project Files button active? I've tried it a couple times this week and can't seem to get the download to work.

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Hello, I've been trying to apply the halation technique, and for the most part it works, but when light sources have gradients, the image falls apart pretty horribly (picture 1 and 2). I found that the "add" composite mode in the layer mixer was at fault. After a long time and a lot of hair pulling, I discovered that the "add" mode works properly if I set my timeline color space to rec 709 (scene), and the halation technique works perfectly (as demonstrated in picture 3).

The only problem is that I'm working with Red footage and I have already used REDWideGamutRGB/Log3G10 as the timeline color space for all my grading, and switching to rec709 changes my grade too much, it's brighter and washed out, the keys are all messed up, etc.

The question now is, what is the benefit of working in Red's colorspace? I only followed their guidelines on Red's official website.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I work in DaVinci YRGB unmanaged, because when I use Color management, the layer mixer composite modes don't work properly, and the curves behave in a way I don't understand and are practically unusable. I hope you can also solve this separate question.

Back to the main question, I'm not gonna use halation for this project, so from now on, should I start grading in Rec 709 (scene) for all my future projects? What is the benefit of grading in REDWideGamutRGB/Log3G10 as the timeline color space? Am I losing something as far as image quality or grading capability if I grade in Rec 709? Like maybe I wouldn't be able to take advantage of Red's IPP2 color science?

The other question is what is the benefit of DaVinci's color management? I've found it very limited. The curves don't make sense, the scopes seem to display the information wrong, and the blending modes like softlight etc. on the layer mixer don't work properly. I've found it mostly unusable. Not to mention it does a poor job transforming the log, so I only use a CST node.

Thank you in advance!

1.png

2.png3.png

Edited by leaf XIV
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Hello everyone!

Due to Film emulation LUTS, isn't it better to choose the DCI P3 versions and CST them afterwards to rec709, or there's not much difference at the end if we need to deliver HDR afterwards for example...?

Great course so far. Thanx so much!

Edited by Adrián Aragonés
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5 hours ago, Grant Reynolds said:

Hello. Is there a sitewide issue with download links? I've tried every link from every course with zero success. 

The links works fine here. 

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5 hours ago, Grant Reynolds said:

Hello. Is there a sitewide issue with download links? I've tried every link from every course with zero success. 

Didn't work for me on google chrome, but worked on firefox.  try a different browser

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On 9/2/2021 at 1:13 AM, leaf XIV said:

The only problem is that I'm working with Red footage and I have already used REDWideGamutRGB/Log3G10 as the timeline color space for all my grading, and switching to rec709 changes my grade too much, it's brighter and washed out, the keys are all messed up, etc.

The question now is, what is the benefit of working in Red's colorspace? I only followed their guidelines on Red's official website.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I work in DaVinci YRGB unmanaged, because when I use Color management, the layer mixer composite modes don't work properly, and the curves behave in a way I don't understand and are practically unusable. I hope you can also solve this separate question.

Back to the main question, I'm not gonna use halation for this project, so from now on, should I start grading in Rec 709 (scene) for all my future projects? What is the benefit of grading in REDWideGamutRGB/Log3G10 as the timeline color space? Am I losing something as far as image quality or grading capability if I grade in Rec 709? Like maybe I wouldn't be able to take advantage of Red's IPP2 color science?

The other question is what is the benefit of DaVinci's color management? I've found it very limited. The curves don't make sense, the scopes seem to display the information wrong, and the blending modes like softlight etc. on the layer mixer don't work properly. I've found it mostly unusable. Not to mention it does a poor job transforming the log, so I only use a CST node.

Thank you in advance!

 

 

Ok - let's see if we can break this down one at a time. Just as a reminder -  the majority of the course was presented using the DaVInci YRGB Unmanaged using the default Rec709 (scene) for the timeline color space. 

When you set change the timeline working space, most color grading tools (non-color space aware) will respond differently. It has zero effect on actual image quality, it simply changes how the tools respond when you adjust them.  This should explains why your grades change when you change the timeline working colorspace between RWG\LOG3g10 and Rec709. Unfortunately, timeline color space needs to be decided at the start of the project and you can't really adjust without throwing out your grades.

The issues you describe when using color management are very common, but I would suggest starting to "experiment" with using RCM2. Specifically, color space aware tools (like the curves and HDR Panel) will operate differently than what we're traditionally used to as Resolve is working "under the hood"to manage the color pipeline while we're grading. The initial feeling may be  "strange" and unfamiliar at first, but after working with it for a while, you'll eventually adjust and it does start comfortable. 

The other alternative is to set-up a "manual" color management pipeline using CST nodes - I prefer this pipeline as I get the best of both worlds. It takes more time up front to set up my node structure and systems, but I like the extra control it gives me. I also have MUCH more visibility to my color pipeline than with typical "color management" system, as everything happens at a node level and not in project settings. 

Hope that helps answer a few of your questions. Feel free to follow up if I missed anything or if you have any additional follow-up questions. 

On 9/2/2021 at 8:38 AM, Adrián Aragonés said:

Hello everyone!

Due to Film emulation LUTS, isn't it better to choose the DCI P3 versions and CST them afterwards to rec709, or there's not much difference at the end if we need to deliver HDR afterwards for example...?

Great course so far. Thanx so much!

The built-in film emulation LUTS in Resolve are designed for SDR Rec709 \ P3 so they won't work correctly in HDR.

If you need film emulation looks that work in both SDR \ HDR, I would recommend looking for scene-referred film emulation tools like Look Designer, PixelTools FilmLab, Cinegrain Pipeline, FilmBox, etc. These tools work in a scene-referred (or log) workflow so you  simply convert to your "final" display format at the end of your pipeline, similar to what we did in the course. 

 

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4 hours ago, Jason Bowdach said:

Ok - let's see if we can break this down one at a time. Just as a reminder -  the majority of the course was presented using the DaVInci YRGB Unmanaged using the default Rec709 (scene) for the timeline color space. 

When you set change the timeline working space, most color grading tools (non-color space aware) will respond differently. It has zero effect on actual image quality, it simply changes how the tools respond when you adjust them.  This should explains why your grades change when you change the timeline working colorspace between RWG\LOG3g10 and Rec709. Unfortunately, timeline color space needs to be decided at the start of the project and you can't really adjust without throwing out your grades.

The issues you describe when using color management are very common, but I would suggest starting to "experiment" with using RCM2. Specifically, color space aware tools (like the curves and HDR Panel) will operate differently than what we're traditionally used to as Resolve is working "under the hood"to manage the color pipeline while we're grading. The initial feeling may be  "strange" and unfamiliar at first, but after working with it for a while, you'll eventually adjust and it does start comfortable. 

The other alternative is to set-up a "manual" color management pipeline using CST nodes - I prefer this pipeline as I get the best of both worlds. It takes more time up front to set up my node structure and systems, but I like the extra control it gives me. I also have MUCH more visibility to my color pipeline than with typical "color management" system, as everything happens at a node level and not in project settings. 

Hope that helps answer a few of your questions. Feel free to follow up if I missed anything or if you have any additional follow-up questions. 

The built-in film emulation LUTS in Resolve are designed for SDR Rec709 \ P3 so they won't work correctly in HDR.

If you need film emulation looks that work in both SDR \ HDR, I would recommend looking for scene-referred film emulation tools like Look Designer, PixelTools FilmLab, Cinegrain Pipeline, FilmBox, etc. These tools work in a scene-referred (or log) workflow so you  simply convert to your "final" display format at the end of your pipeline, similar to what we did in the course. 

 

Sure thing. I use look designer since it came out and having the color management inside the plugin makes it easier.I was mainly wondering if using the p3 version inside a colour managed node pipeline makes any difference signal wise. Or since you go back from dci to sdr for the output it doesn't make much change. But I guess if I want to create sdr/p3 deliveries from the same correction, using p3 luts and colour manage them in the output is the best option, am I right? Thank you so much for the feedback. Great course!

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