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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
For GUI monitor, the Dell UltraSharps and HP Dreamcolor series are popular affordable alternatives worth considering.
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.
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.
Read our full guide to color grading surfaces, which also includes some ultra-affordable alternatives.
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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