Affordable color grading suite for the home office

    Affordable color grading suite for the home office

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In the early days, a professional color grading suite with high performance and real-time playback was extremely expensive. Today, it’s easier than ever to build a color grading suite for a reasonable cost and get all the performance you need.

In a full-service post facility you may need enormous displays, server systems, perfect lighting and unlimited performance, but here are the basic requirements to build an affordable color grading suite that let’s you work fast and precisely in your home office.

Mac M1

With the massive speed increase on new Apple Mac M1 models, DaVinci Resolve users can play back, edit and grade 4K projects faster and cheaper than every before. The new system is very efficient with their integrated RAM and 16GB is enough for most large projects and demanding tasks. The key to the performance will be the speed of your storage.

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A Mac Mini have all the necessary ports to connect screens, monitor, a capture/playback solutions as the BlackMagic Ultrastudio 4K Mini, streaming solution, and even a control surface (at least with a USB Hub)

Monitor

For affordable professional monitoring, we recommend the DM240 from Flanders Scientific as it delivers extremely precise color accuracy and comes with all the features you need for a good price.

It also comes pre-calibrated from the factory and is equipped with an internal auto-calibration solution that let you perform a fast and accurate calibration yourself with the cheap 1D3 OEM probe.

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Recently, FSI introduced a more affordable version of the DM240, called the DM241 that shares all of the DM240’s advanced capabilities, but uses a more affordable 1100:1 contrast instead of 1500:1 contrast panel.

If you bring directors or clients in for the session and need a screen on the wall, the LG CX 55" is a popular model.

Read our professional guide to color grading monitors to read more about this monitor and other alternatives in the professional range.

Capture/Playback Solution

All you need to connect the monitor and playback video from DaVinci Resolve is the affordable UltraStudio Monitor 3G device. For HD playback you will need the Ultrastudio HD Mini, and the UltraStudio 4K Mini for 4K and capturing options.

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GUI

For GUI monitor, the Dell UltraSharps and HP Dreamcolor series are popular affordable alternatives worth considering.

Audio Monitoring

For clean accurate sound many facilities use these audio monitors from JBL and these from Yamaha, but there are countless alternatives from brands like Genelec, Rokit, Adam, Mackie, M-Audio and others.

Control Surface

Your color grading suite will feel incomplete without a color control surface as that’s the fastest and most efficient way to color grade. While BlackMagic Design offer their Mini and Micro panels for an affordable price, we recommend Elements from Tangent Elements. It’s a cost effective modular design which lets you choose only the components you need and it works with a variety of applications.

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Read our full guide to color grading surfaces, which also includes some ultra-affordable alternatives.

Remote solution

When working from home you will need a remote solution. Pixelview is a very popular all-in-one solution for colorists that enables easy collaboration with remote clients. It has a built in video-chat and you can make changes in real-time while everyone is watching the same high quality image.


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You are right, this is a complete setup for most needs. Apple have rethinked how components work inside their machines, and the way DaVinci Resolve on my Mac M1 is performing at the moment makes it seem closer to 64gb. Even for Fusion work.
 

Edited by Tom Evans
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I have a very similar setting, Mac Mini M1, DM 241, Blackmagic Ultra Studio 4K but my mac mini m1 does not help me much with large files, and it is painful to play these files in real time. Greetings.

 

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On 1/30/2022 at 10:45 PM, Gus Sánchez said:

I have a very similar setting, Mac Mini M1, DM 241, Blackmagic Ultra Studio 4K but my mac mini m1 does not help me much with large files, and it is painful to play these files in real time. Greetings.

I usually works with HQ files from ARRI / RED and that works perfectly fine on my setup. However, there are files such as those from Venice that lags without transcoding but that is also true on the much more expensive Mac Pro. 

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