Sjors Krebbeks

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  1. Throughout the past couple of years, Assimilate SCRATCH has become the #1 tool among professionals for today’s on-set dailies workflows. If your production requires excellent metadata management, highspeed background transcoding, superb audio sync capabilities, or solid color science for look transfers on-set, while keeping a maximum of flexibility and operating speed - there is hardly a way around SCRATCH for Dailies. Instructor Kevin P McAuliffe covers everything from project and system setup, through audio syncing, LUT-application and metadata QC all the way through rendering and reporting, so you can get your assistant editors the dailies they require. About the instructor Kevin is an award winning editor and visual effects creator based in Toronto with over 15 years of teaching and training experience. Over the past years Kevin has delivered world-class work for clients such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Elevation Pictures. Who is this course designed for? DITs Conform Artists Editors Colorists Visual effects artists Lessons Overview: Lesson 01: Overview Lesson 02: System, User And Project settings Lesson 03: Media Browser Lesson 04: Audio sync Lesson 05: Color Luts Lesson 06: Exporting Lesson 07: Metadata reporting Software required Assimiliate's SCRATCH. Download the trial or use the code PR3MIUMUSER at checkout to activate a 20% discount when buying SCRATCH.
  2. In this DaVinci Resolve tutorial series you will learn about the exciting world of Stereoscopic 3D and immersive entertainment. DaVinci Resolve has become an industry standard for this types of work, and our instructor instructor Lee Lanier dives deep into workflows and techniques that will give you the foundation to kickstart your career. The DaVinci Resolve project files and footage are available for download so that you can easily follow along. Download project files About the instructor Lee Lanier has created visual effects on numerous features films for Walt Disney Studios and PDI/DreamWorks. Lee is a world-renowned expert in the video effects field, and has written several popular high-end software books, and taught at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Who is this course designed for? DaVinci Resolve (no experience is needed) Video makers who want to build a career in VR360 and Stereoscopic 3D Lessons overview Lesson 01: Working with Stereoscopic 3D Lesson 02: Grading Stereo 3D Lesson 03: Rendering Stereo 3D Lesson 04: Working with Stereo 3D in Fusion Lesson 05: Using Stereo Disparity Lesson 06: Adjusting Stereo in Fusion Lesson 07: Setting Up 360VR Lesson 08: Adding a 360VR Paint Fix Lesson 09: Stabilizing 360VR Lesson 10: Using 360VR in the 3D Environment Lesson 11: Working with Stereoscopic 360VR Software required DaVinci Resolve
  3. My interest in Stereoscopic imaging started in 2006. One of my close friends, Trevor Enoch, showed me a stereo-graph that was taken of him while out at Burning Man. I was blown away and immediately hooked. I spent the next four years experimenting with techniques to create the best, most comfortable, and immersive 3D I could. In 2007, I worked on Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert directed by Bruce Hendricks and shot by cameras provided by Pace. Jim Cameron and Vince Pace were already developing the capture systems for the first “Avatar” film. The challenge was that a software package had yet to be created to post stereo footage. To work around this limitation, Bill Schultz and I slaved two Quantel IQ machines to a Bufbox to control the two color correctors simultaneously. This solution was totally inelegant but it was enough to award us the job from Disney. Later during the production, Quantel came out with stereo support eliminating the need to color each eye on independent machines. We did what we had to in those early days. When I look back at that film, there is a lot that I would do differently now. It was truly the wild west of 3D post and we were writing the rules (and the code for the software) as we went. Over the next few pages I’m going to layout some basics of 3D stereo imaging. The goal is to have a working understanding of the process and technical jargon by the end. Hopefully I can help some other post professionals avoid a lot of the pitfalls and mistakes I made as we blazed the trail all those years ago. Camera 1, Camera 2 Stereopsis is the term that describes how we collect depth information from our surroundings using our sight. Most everyone is familiar with stereo sound; when two separate audio tracks are played simultaneously out of two different speakers. We can take that information in using both of our ears (binaural hearing) and create a reasonable approximation from the direction of where that sound is coming from in space. This approximation is calculated by the offset in time of the sound hitting one ear vs the other. Stereoscopic vision works much in the same way. Our eyes have a point of interest. When that point of interest is very far away our eyes are parallel to one another. As we focus on objects that are closer to us, our eyes converge. Do this simple experiment right now. Hold up your finger as far away from your face as you can. Now slowly bring that finger towards your nose, noting the angle of your eyes as you get closer to your face. Once your finger is about 3 inches away from your face, alternately close one eye and then the other. Notice the view as you alternate between your eyes, camera 1, camera 2, camera 1, camera 2. Your finger moves position from left to right. You also see “around” your finger more in one eye vs the other. This offset between your two eyes is how your brain makes sense of the 3D world around you. To capture this depth for films we need to recreate this system by utilizing two cameras roughly the same distance as your eyes. Camera Rigs The average interpupillary distance is 64mm. Since most feature grade cinema cameras are rather large, special rigs for aligning them together need to be employed. Side by side rigs are an option when your cameras are small, but when they are not you need to use a beam splitter configuration. Beam splitter rig in an "over" configuration. Essentially, a beam splitter rig uses a half silvered mirror to “split” the view into two. This allows the cameras to shoot at a much closer inter-axial distance than they would otherwise be able to using a parallel side by side rig. Both of these capture systems are for the practical shooting of 3D films. Image comes in from position 1. Passes through to camera at position 2. It is also reflected to the camera at position 3. You will need to flip it in post since the image is mirrored. Fortunately or unfortunately most 3D films today use a technique called Stereo Conversion, which is the process of transforming 2D ("flat") film to a 3D form. Conversion There are three main techniques for Stereo Conversion. Roto and Shift In this technique, characters and objects in the frame are roto’d out and placed in a 3D composite in virtual space. The scene is then re-photographed using a pair of virtual cameras. The down side to this is that the layers often lack volume and the overall effect feels like a grade school diorama. Projection For this method, the 2D shot is modeled in 3D space. Then, the original 2D video is projected onto the 3D models and re-photographed using a pair of virtual cameras. This yields very convincing stereo and looks great, but can be expensive to generate the assets needed to create complex scenes. Virtual World Stupid name, but I can’t really think of anything better. In this technique, scenes are created entirely in 3D programs like Maya or 3DS Max. As this is how most high end VFX are created for larger films, some of this work is already done. This is the best way to “create” stereo images since the volumes, depth and occlusions are mimicking the real world. The downside to this is that if your 2D VFX shot took a week to render in all of its ray traced glory, your extra “eye” will take the same. Cartesian Plane No matter how you acquire your stereo images, eventually you are going to take them into post production. In Post, I make sure the eyes are balanced for color between one another. I also “set depth” for comfort and to creatively promote the narrative. In order to set depth we will have to offset one eye against the other. Objects in space gain their depth from the relative offset in the other eye/view. In order to have a consistent language, we speak in number of pixels offset to describe this depth. When we discuss 2D images we use pixel values that are parallel with the screen. A given cordinate pair locates the pixel along the screens surface. Once we add the 3rd axis we need to think of a Cartesian plane laying down perpendicular to the screen. Positive numbers are receding away from the viewer into the screen. Negative numbers come off the screen towards the viewer. The two views are combined for the viewing system. The three major systems are Dolby, RealD, and Expand. There are others, but these are the most prevalent in theatrical exhibition. In Post we control the relative offset between the two views using a “HIT” or horizontal image transform. A very complicated way for saying we move one eye right or left along the X axis The value of the offset dictates where in space the object will appear. This rectangle is traveling from +3 pixels offset to -6 pixels offset. Often we will apply this move symmetrically to both eyes. In other words to achieve a -6 pixels offset, we may move both views -3 instead of one view moving -6. Using this offset we can begin to move comped elements or the entire “world” in Z space. This is called depth grading. Much like color, our goal is to try and make the picture feel consistent without big jumps in depth. Too many large jumps can cause eye strain and headaches. My first rule of depth grading is “do no harm.” Pain should be avoided at all costs. However, there is another aspect of depth grading beyond the technical side. Often we use depth to promote the narrative. For example, you may pull action forward to be more immersed in the chaos, or you can play quiet drama scenes at screen plane so that you don’t take away from performance. Establishing shots are best played deep for a sense of scale. Now all of these examples are just suggestions and not rules. Just my approach. Once you know the rules, you are allowed to break them as long as it’s motivated by what’s on screen. I remember one particular shot in Jackass 3D where Bam gets his junk whacked. I pop’ed the offset towards the audience just for that frame. I doubt anybody noticed other then a select circle of 3D nerds (I’m looking at you Captain 3D) but I felt it was effective to make the pain on screen “felt” by the viewer. Floating Windows Floating Windows are another tool that we have at our disposal while working on the depth grade. When we “float the window” what we are actually doing is controlling the proscenium in depth just like we were moving the “world” while depth grading. Much like depth offsets, floating windows can be used for technical and creative reasons. Firstly, they are most commonly used for edge violations. An edge violation is where there is an object that is “in front” of the screen in Z space, but is being occluded by the screen. Now our brains are smarter than our eyeballs and kick into over-ride mode. The edge of the broken picture feels uncomfortable and all sense of depth is lost. What we do to fix this situation is to move the edge of the screen forward into the theater using a negative offset. This floats the “window” we are looking through in front of the offending object and our eyes and brain are happy again. We achieve a floating window through a crop or by using the software’s “window” tool. Another use for controlling the depth of the proscenium is to creatively enhance the perceived depth. Often, you need to keep a shot at a certain depth due to what is on either side of the cut but creatively want it to feel more forward. A great work around is to keep your subject at the depth that feels comfortable to the surrounding shots and move the “screen” back into positive space. This can have the effect of feeling as if the subject is in negative space without actually having to place them there. Conversely you can float the window into negative space on both sides to create the feeling of distance even if your character or scene is at screen plane with a zero offset. The fish will have the feeling of being off screen even though it’s behind. Stereo Color Grading Stereo color grading is an additional step, when compared to standard 2D finishing, which needs to be accomplished after the depth grade is complete. It is much more challenging to match color from one eye to another on native shot 3D footage. Reflections or flares may appear in one and not the other. We call this retinal conflict. One fix for such problems is to the steal the “clean” information from one eye and comp it over the offending one paying mind to offset for the correct depth. Additionally, any shapes that were used in the 2D grade will have to be offset for depth. Most professional color grading software has automated ways to do this. In rare instances, an overall color correction is not enough to balance the eyes. When this occurs, you may need a localized block based color match like the one found in the Foundry’s Ocula plugin for Nuke. Typically a 4.5FL and a 7FL master are created with different trim values. In recent years, a 14FL version is also created for stereo laser projection and Dolby’s HDR projector. In most cases this is as simple as a gamma curve and a sat boost. The Future of Stereo Exibihition The future for 3D resides in even deeper immersive experiences. VR screens are becoming higher in resolution and, paired with accelerometers, are providing a true be “there” experience. I feel that the glasses and apparatus that are required for stereo viewing also contributed to it’s falling out of vogue in recent years. I’m hopeful that new technological enhancements and a better, more easily accessible user experience will lead to another resurgence in the coming years. Ultimately, creating the most immersive content is a worthy goal. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment with any questions or differing views. They are always welcome. By John Daro
  4. Sorry about that, Lesson 2 is available now.
  5. Sometimes a dream might become reality before you know it 😄
  6. In this tutorial series instructor Lee Lanier teach you everything you need to know about how to create 360VR videos in Adobe After Effects, and how to work with Stereoscopic 3D footage. You will learn how to set up your After Effects project for VR, masking and nesting, paint fixing techniques, stabilizing and motion tracking, using immersive plug-ins, working with Stereoscoping 3D and much more. The After Effect project files and footage are available for download so that you can easily follow along. Download project files About the instructor Lee Lanier has created visual effects on numerous features films for Walt Disney Studios and PDI/DreamWorks. Lee is a world-renowned expert in the video effects field, and has written several popular high-end software books, and taught at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Who is this course designed for? After Effects users (no experience in After Effects is needed) Video makers who want to build a career in VR Lessons overview Lesson 01: 360VR Overview Lesson 02: Setting Up a VR Project Lesson 03: Paint Fixing in VR Lesson 04: Masking and Nesting VR Edits Lesson 05: Applying Immersive Plugins Lesson 06: Stabilizing VR Lesson 07: Motion Tracking VR Lesson 08: Converting a 3D Comp to VR Lesson 09: Working with Stereoscopic 3D Lesson 10: Stereoscopic 3D and 360VR Lesson 11: Using a VR Headset Software required Adobe After Effects
  7. T he Scratch Essential Training is designed for new Scratch users, and DaVinci Resolve colorists who are looking to add another excellent conform and finishing tool to their toolkit. Kevin P McAuliffe covers all the basics you need to know to perform the most common tasks that you do on a daily basis so that jumping in or making the switch will be as smooth as possible. About the instructor Kevin is an award winning editor and visual effects creator based in Toronto with over 15 years of teaching and training experience. Over the past years Kevin has delivered world-class work for clients such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Elevation Pictures. Who is this course designed for? Editors Conform Artists Colorists VFX artists Lessons overview (subject to change) Lesson 01: Getting Started Lesson 02: Working in the Construct Window Lesson 03: Working in the Edit Module Lesson 04: Working with Layers in the ColorFX Module Lesson 05: Working with Versions in the ColorFX Module Lesson 06: Working with Qualifiers in the ColorFX Module Lesson 07: Working with LUT's and Comparing Grades Lesson 08: Effects, Transfer Modes & Mattes Lesson 09: Nodes Lesson 10: Creating Dailies Lesson 11: TBA Lesson 12: TBA Lesson 13: TBA Lesson 14: TBA Lesson 14: TBA Software required Scratch (20% discount for Lowepost premium members)
  8. We are proud to introduce The Fusion Essentials Training with instructor Kevin P McAuliffe! With 3 hours of in-depth fundamentals, you will get up to speed with the powerful BlackMagic Design Fusion inside of DaVinci Resolve and gain the knowledge you need to start creating your own effects. The matte clip that is used in the course can be downloaded below Download matte clip About the instructor Kevin is an award winning editor and visual effects creator based in Toronto with over 15 years of teaching and training experience. Over the past years Kevin has delivered world-class work for clients such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Elevation Pictures. Who is this course designed for? Editors, Colorists, Finishing Artists, DITs Some of the topics Understanding the Resolve/Fusion workflow Working with the Fusion Interface How do nodes work? Working with the inspector Animating with Keyframes Understanding masks Adding additional footage to animations Working with the merge tool Creating texts and titles Creating basic effects Mastering the transform node Basic 3D Software required A free version of DaVinci Resolve or the free standalone version of Fusion Enjoy the training!
  9. The color-grading specialist Filmlight caused a bit of stir in the colorist community at NAB 2016. They introduced Base Grade, a new grading operator for Baselight. Base Grade is intended to replace classic tools such as 'Lift', 'Gamma' and 'Gain'. That sounds like a small revolution. Filmlight promises more consistent results compared to existing tools and a more natural working style. This is reason enough to take an in-depth look at it - not only for Baselight colorists. For the evaluation of Base Grade, a rough understanding of the evolution of color correction helps. The origins of color grading, as we know it today, date back to the beginnings of television and cinema. For television, video signals originating from TV cameras or film scanners always had to be adjusted or corrected. The profession of the colorist emerged in the telecine, where film footage was transferred into a pleasing video signal. VideoGrade The technicians provided the colorist with four basic technical parameters to shape the video signal: 'Lift', 'Gamma', 'Gain' and 'Saturation'.These are still among the most popular grading tools. In Baselight, one can find them in the VideoGrade operator. The colorist adjusts the black level of the video signal with 'Lift' (sometimes referred to as 'Pedestal') and the white level with gain. For those who are experienced in Photoshop, it makes sense to visualize the resulting gradation curve: 'Lift' sets the starting point (bottom-left) and 'Gain' the end point (top-right). When working with VideoGrade, these are the most important points of reference for the colorist. 'Gamma' is technically a power function whose only parameter is the exponent. The gamma function determines the curvature of the gradation curve between the two endpoints. These three parameters can be adjusted not only for the brightness, but for all three color channels of the video signal (RGB). However, individual controllers for red, green and blue are usually not presented to the user. The user has one controller for the brightness signal and a two dimensional controller for the color component. This results in the basic layout of all grading control surfaces: Three trackballs that adjust the color two-dimensionally and around them a rotating ring for the luma adjustment. 'Lift' is on the left, 'Gain' on the right and 'Gamma' in the middle. These three parameters are often colloquially referred to as shadows, midtones and highlights. With the help of an RGB waveform monitor, these adjustment possibilities have proven to be very efficient to forge a video signal within the given technical specs. A very popular and proven working method of video-style colorists is to first adjust the black and white point of an image. All three channels are balanced both in the blacks and in the whites just before clipping. The brightest point in the image is then pure white, thus without color cast and with maximum brightness. The darkest point is pure black. People often speak of "clean" blacks and whites in this case. Next, the 'Gamma' parameter is set. It adjusts a combination of brightness and contrast. If one wants to put a color tone on the picture, this is often done with the 'Gamma', since then black and white remain “clean”. Baselight provides two modes for VideoGrade. The default mode is RGB. In the Y'CbCr mode, the luma channel is processed separately. Brightness or contrast changes will then not affect the color and saturation of the image. Over time, VideoGrade has proven to be the most important tool of telecine-style colorists. They convert high dynamic range images (e.g. log encoded) manually to the desired output color space utilizing the available grading toolset instead of a technical color space conversion (e.g. a LUT). This means that nowadays VideoGrade is not only used, as originally intended, on images in a video color space, but also for images in log color spaces. The 'Lift', 'Gamma' and 'Gain' trio is probably the most commonly used grading operator in the current video world. However, it dates from a time when handling features such as specular highlights was not that important. Burned out windows or skies were tolerated as long as the faces looked nice. A soft-clip, a gentle transition into the over-exposure, is not realizable with VideoGrade alone. Over time, video colorists developed different techniques to meet this aesthetic demand. Gradation curves, luma keys, blend modes and specialized soft-clip operators are among the techniques that have been used for this purpose. A further disadvantage becomes obvious in VFX workflows. Contemporary compositing works the most realistically in a scene-referred linear color space. Then pixel values are proportional to light photons on the set. VFX pre-grading might still make sense to adjust the general brightness and white-balance and to match shots in a sequence. Unfortunately, 'Lift' as well as 'Gamma' and 'Gain' destroy the scene-linearity of a shot and make VideoGrade impractical for this type of VFX pre-grading workflow. FilmGrade Long before the telecine colorist, the profession of the film color-timer emerged. They determined the look of a film by adjusting the intensity of printer lights and chemical processes in the film lab. This profession required a lot of experience and intuition. Contrary to the telecine with its sometimes saturated or harshly clipped colors, the analogue lab process has film-stock as an aesthetic foundation. With the introduction of the Digital Intermediate process (DI) around the year 2000, the new profession of the DI-colorist arose. DI-colorists correct images digitally before they are recorded onto intermediate-film and printed. The footage usually originated from film as well and was scanned to Cineon log color space. The DI gradually replaced the analogue intermediate process and thus the creative part of the color-timing in the lab. Film is a key component of the DI process, since one is restricted to the colors that can be reproduced in the film print. The lab processes generating the film print and the projection are therefore simulated live during the grading with a film print emulation look-up table. The so-called 'Film LUT' is applied in the preview output and causes the images to react differently to input from the colorist compared to telecine or video mode. The manufacturers developed new grading tools for the DI process based on lab color-timing. In Baselight, the tool is called 'FilmGrade'. Some film-style colorists have previously worked as color-timers and thus got an easy entry into digital color correction. FilmGrade is designed for images in Cineon-Log color space. After the color correction, the image is converted into a display color space (e.g. DCI P3) utilizing a LUT or the more recently available GPU-shaders of Truelight Colour Spaces dating from Baselight 4.4. FilmGrade consists of six tools divided onto two tabs. The main page consists of 'Exposure', 'Contrast' and 'Saturation'. The second page consists of 'Shadows', 'Midtones' and 'Highlights'. All tools offer a trackball and a rotatable ring. The most important tool is 'Exposure', which can be adjusted in RGB printer light steps via the Blackboard control surface. 'Exposure', which is also referred to as 'Offset' in other grading software, controls the general brightness and color of the image. Film style purists try to work as much as possible with 'Exposure', because then the image remains very natural. The contrast in all color channels and the scene-linearity are basically retained during 'Exposure' changes. Color Timing - The 'Exposure' tool in FilmGrade not only simulates the work with printer lights, but also translates the correction to printer points. 'Contrast' and 'Saturation' seem self-explanatory. However, the trackball color-setting controls deserve an in-depth look. With the 'Saturation' trackball, the colorist controls the saturation of opposing colors in the color circle. For example, when you move the trackball towards the warm tones (yellow, red), these become more saturated. At the same time, the cold tones (blue, cyan) are desaturated. The 'Contrast' trackball, on the other hand, is used to tint the highlights and shadows in complementary colors. The corresponding pivot point is important when working with 'Contrast'. It defines the center of the curve and thus the strength of the effect on the highlights and shadows. 'Shadows', 'Midtones' and 'Highlights' in FilmGrade are not identical to 'Lift', 'Gamma' and 'Gain' because the luma working ranges are limited via pivot points. When you raise the 'Shadows' level, for example, the curve is warped only until a defined point. With 'Lift', on the other hand, the entire image is changed, but the shadows are affected the most. It is difficult to determine maximum black and white with film because the transfer curves are very flat and non-linear in these regions. That is why the LAD grey patch, roughly in the middle of the curve, is the anchor point for both the calibration and the colorist. (The laboratory aim density patch was invented by Kodak and is a bit darker than 18% middle grey. You can find it on the Kodak website. A film style colorist does not care much about whether he hits 100% black or white. A soft clip is automatically active in this system because of the film print emulation. Scopes are less important and the visual impression is mostly guiding decisions. Thus, FilmGrade is a more natural grading concept than VideoGrade. Today, FilmGrade is used not only on Cineon log data, but on any kind of log encoding such as LogC from Arri. More modern approaches like ACES are also used in the output path in addition to film print emulations. There are fundamental problems with this concept as well. The 'Exposure' tool adjusts brightness quite naturally, but it is not exactly like changing the lens aperture or the ISO value. The reason for this lies in the underlying log encodings which, for example, do not define the black value to zero. The detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this article. Another problem is the future proofness. Log encodings can store only a limited amount of dynamic range. The Cineon curve, for example, was not sufficient for the high dynamic range of the Alexa camera. Therefore, Arri developed the LogC curve. Future cameras and HDR displays will require additional tweaks that might be compromising. This also applies to the VideoGrade Operator, which was designed with standard dynamic range video signals in mind. Base Grade: Under the Hood The time has come for a next generation color grading operator. Filmlight uses neither a video signal nor film stock as a foundation, but algorithms modeled on human perception. The dynamic range of Base Grade is not limited by a technical format like Rec.709 or the Cineon coding. It is ready for the HDR future. Base Grade works the same way in every working color space. Therefore, it always feels the same for the colorist regardless of the camera used. This requires not only precise color setup in the scene settings but also correct tagging of the footage. Usually this happens automatically, but for transcoded footage it might require manual adjustments. Base Grade converts the image autonomously into a linear color space in which, as in the case of linear compositing, the original brightness ratios of the scene are restored. The user does not have to care about the internal color space conversions because Base Grade hands the image over to the next operator in the defined working color space. Internally, Base Grade uses an Lab-based color model consisting of a pure luminance component L and two color components a and b. The color plane spanned by a and b was distorted by the developers in regards to color grading. This gives color and saturation changes the same visual effect in all color regions and makes the work feel more intuitive. All exposure values and pivot points are specified in aperture stops. This is a well known unit that mimics human perception and is easy for photographers and DPs to understand. The colorist can give instantly meaningful feedback to the DP. For example: "I made the whole picture half a stop brighter”, or “I lowered the Highlights one stop". If a Dailies colorist uses Base Grade, such feedback — comparable to the camera report from the lab in the past — could conceivably help the DP working on the set. It will definitely make communication between the DP and the colorist easier, especially when the DP is not physically present. Four parameters affect the whole image: 'Flare', 'Balance', 'Contrast' and 'Saturation'. Beside these global parameters, Base Grade partitions the image into brightness zones. This is reminiscent of the legendary zone system by Ansel Adams, which according to the developers served as a source of inspiration. The reference point of Base Grade is medium gray, as found on 18% grey cards. The luminance zones are defined from there in stops. A correction of three stops up or down is the maximum in the standard mode. This is generally sufficient. In extreme cases, up to six stops can be corrected in extended mode. At first glance, there are few parallels to existing tools in Baselight or comparable grading software like DaVinci Resolve. The RAW development experience in Adobe Lightroom comes closest to that in Base Grade. However, Base Grade offers not only luminance controls per zone, but also color and saturation. In addition, each zone's region can be fine tuned via 'Pivot' and 'Falloff', which makes it much more powerful. 'Balance': Adjusts the exposure and the color balance of the entire image. Brightness changes behave exactly like the change in aperture or ISO value. The trackball corresponds to the white balance. 'Balance' can therefore replace settings in a RAW decoder. The scene-linearity remains intact while working with 'Balance'. 'Flare': Influences the lower part of the curve by defining the zero point. A correctly set 'Flare' value is crucial for proper functioning of Base Grade. Otherwise, the real brightness ratios from the set can not be restored. The zero point is usually the darkest point of the image. 'Contrast': Adjusts the image's global contrast. In contrast to other implementations, crushing the shadows is prevented by the 'Flare' parameter. 'Contrast' works achromatically, which means it does not affect the saturation of the image. The colorist controls the intensity of the effect on the shadows and highlights using the 'Contrast' pivot- as with FilmGrade. 'Saturation': This is self-explanatory: the color intensity of the image. The crucial difference from conventional implementations is the visual uniformity, which works in a more natural way 'Pivot': The user adjustable starting point of the zone. It is defined in stops in reference to medium grey. For example “-1” means one stop below 18% grey. The 'Dark' and 'Dim' zones range from pivot to black, the 'Light' and 'Bright' zones from pivot to white. 'Falloff': Describes the transition until a zone has full effect. 'Falloff' is not measured in stops because it changes adaptively relative to the set 'Balance' to avoid negative slopes. Therefore, it is an abstract value ranging between 0 and 1. User interface The user interface follows VideoGrade and FilmGrade. It consists of three main parameters mapped to the three trackball-ring combos on the Blackboard control panel. Below lies a visualization of the current grade as a tone curve, framed by further parameters such as pivot points. The developers have distributed Base Grade onto two tabs. The first page is 'Dim' / 'Balance' / 'Light' and the second 'Dark' / 'Balance' / 'Bright'. The most important parameter, 'Balance', is permanently visible and mapped to the middle trackball-ring combo on the Blackboard. 'Flare', 'Contrast' and 'Saturation' are also visible on both pages and can be adjusted via encoders. Look and Feel - The Base Grade user interface. As usual, users can create custom layouts on new pages. The grade visualization display contains a special goodie. A luma waveform of the current image is superimposed over the curve. Thanks to this, the colorist constantly sees which parts of the image he is currently editing and how he should adjust the pivot points. It would be even more useful if the display superimposed a luma histogram. Test-drive It takes some time to get used to the new toolset. However, curiosity and the excitement of playing around with a new toy fuel one’s motivation to dig deeper. I tested the promise of the exact stop scale. Indeed, a 'Balance' boost of 1.0 shows the same result as doubling the ISO value in the RAW developer. And this applies for all tested cameras by Arri, Red and Sony. The clever part there is that you don't need RAW material for that. If you work with a mixed ProRes and ArriRAW Timeline, for example and all RAW shots have been pushed by one stop, you can now apply the exact same correction to all shots. And it is no longer necessary to switch to the DeBayer settings, because adjusting the exposure with Base Grade does not compromise image quality in that case. Unity – Below is pushed one stop in the RAW settings and top with Base Grade. The results are identical. White-Balance should be adjusted with the 'Balance' trackball. It will not yield the same results as the RAW developer because of the ab color plane that was specifically optimized for color grading. In my opinion, the results are a bit more pleasing than adjusting the Kelvin value in the RAW settings. Matching shot to shot seems to be another ideal task for the tool. Many colorists divide their grade into a basic correction per shot and the creative look. Used as the first layer in the stack, Base Grade makes it easier to compensate for exposure differences due to the scene-linear working style. Shots with diffuse lens flares are a common problem while matching. They cause raised black levels in the frame. Even quite clean lenses such as the Master Primes show this effect, especially when there are bright backgrounds. When you try to minimize the flare with VideoGrade’s 'Lift', for example, you mess up the whole picture and the grade does not fit properly anymore. The 'Flare' parameter helps in these cases because it corresponds to optical flare in the lens. If the exposure is basically correct, the differences in the black level caused by lens flare can be corrected quite well. With the help of the 'Flare' parameter, the colorist matches scenes that contain a lot of lens flare. When copying corrections from shot to shot, the colorist should also pay attention to the 'Flare' value and adjust it if necessary. For example, if you copy from a scene with lots of diffuse flare, the black will probably be crushed in the target shot. With none of Base Grades other controls except 'Flare', you can get it back to a decent level. If 'Flare' is set correctly, the black can practically never be fully crushed. Base Grade pushes the shadows into a pleasant-looking compression instead of a hard-clipping. The 'Saturation' control yields pleasant results too. It is astonishing that a tool as widespread as color saturation could be improved further. Base Grade gives more visually pleasing results than existing implementations in a direct comparison. With classic saturation tools, primary colors such as red quickly become overweighted in the frame as you increase saturation. With Base Grade, the strength of the effect is more evenly distributed over the color circle. And the great thing about this is that it works similarly while desaturating pictures. Evolution - next generation of color saturation. Top: A scene containing strong neon colors reduced by 30% with a classic saturation implementation. Bottom: Same reduction with Base Grade. Not only the colors, but also the brightness seems more natural. Base Grade reveals the full extent of its strengths with the zone model. The gradation of an image can now be modeled very precisely utilizing only one operator. With previous software, the colorist was forced into detailed and sometimes fiddly tweaking in CurveGrade or keying. Now there is a more intuitive alternative. For example, optimizing sky definition usually requires luma keying the highlights. With Base Grade, I got amazingly far without any secondary correction. On one shot for example, I initially lowered 'Light'. Next I lifted 'Bright' to tickle out the last details just before clipping. By initially adjusting the correction quite aggressively, I could easily find the right pivot points. Then I reduced to a more pleasing level. If the colorist opts for extremely strong corrections, there is a risk of unsightly effects, a preliminary stage of solarization. Base Grade prevents true solarization - negative slopes of the gradation curve - but the colorist can flatten the curve so much that the definition is ruined in certain brightness zones. In these cases, a larger 'Falloff', the transition of the zone, provides some relief. However, it also reduces the effect. Top: Uncorrected. A difficult shot, as the tonal values are compressed in the shadows as well as in the highlights. Bottom: Avoiding any keys or shapes, just modeling the gradation with Base Grade one obtains a picture with clearly more definition in the crucial areas. Base Grade also performs strongly with Cross-Process Toning, a common case in color correction. The highlights and the shadows are given different hues. Complementary hues are often chosen for this. The shadows, for example, are tinted in cold teal and the highlights in warm orange. Colorists often use HLS keys for this technique to have more control over the effect. With Base Grade and its zone model, one can precisely control the strength and hue of the effect and probably save some keys in the timeline. About VFX pregrading: Flare is an artifact that arises in camera lenses and distorts the scene-linearity. With the aid of Base Grade, the correct brightness ratios on the set can be reconstructed by setting the correct 'Flare' value. Something true black or the darkest shadows in the frame should usually be set to zero. After that, 'Balance' works completely scene-linear. Because of the flare correction, Base Grade is therefore better suited for scene-linear pregrading than 'Exposure' / 'Printer Lights' in FilmGrade. Conclusion Base Grade is very powerful, but it is also complex. Thoughtful setup of the project is essential for proper functioning. If the color space settings are a mess, it will not work properly. My advice is to slowly familiarize yourself with the tool and then integrate it into the daily working style, bit by bit. A good start would be, for example, to perform saturation corrections with Base Grade. The next step would be to make the basic correction from shot to shot, and so on. The new grading concept could also be a good starting point for Adobe Lightroom experienced photographers and DPs to color correct moving images because of the intuitive and stop based approach. The first days with Base Grade were very promising. The tool has potential for both more natural and maybe even completely new looks. In addition, it provides relief from some tweaking and keying in a colorist's daily work. Andy Minuth Most of the software testing for this article was done with an early beta version (5.0.8907). Some things will probably change until the final release. The comment field is open for questions and discussions.
  10. F or one of my latest projects my DoP asked me to create a custom LUT for him. We had a few camera tests prior to the shoot, and wanted to bring our custom look (as an LUT) to the set to see if his lighting, set colors, etc held up. While we were preparing the camera tests I read about the ARRI Look Library, a collection of 87 in-camera looks. The library was first released as part of the software package for the ARRI Amira Premium and Alexa Mini. For the Alexa SXT it is available as an optional license feature for 280 Euro. There is also an free IOS app which gives you an overview of all the looks. Download ARRI Look Library on Itunes or at the ARRI site. The library covers a lot, but if you need to customize one of the looks for different light setups etc, you have to create your own versions. The looks in the library are saved as ___.AML files, so in order to get your own custom look into the Alexa camera you have to create an ___.AML file. There was almost no documentation or known workflow about how to do that, so we ordered an ALEXA SXT (luckily Futureworks has its own camera rental department) to find our own workflow via trial and error. Maybe there is a more elegant way, but the following one worked for us. 1. Baselight setup: I usually work in ACES with a mix of various RRTs. Sadly, the ACES scene setup didn’t work out in combination with the ARRI Look File. It actually makes sense as the ARRI expects a straight REC709 setup. So your scene setup should be as below. 2. The grade: You can use almost everything in your grade layers, even LUTs in a Truelight operator, but you can not use keys or masks to generate your look. The camera viewer is most likely a REC709 or SRGB viewer, so you will get better results if your cursor output is REC709 instead of P3. 3. Export: After your grade is set, go to “Shots“, click right and choose “Export LUTs“. Note: The ARRI Color Tool, which we will need next, needs the AMIRA CUBE format. 4. ARRI color Tool To create the AML file you need the ARRI Color Tool. Strangely, the ARRI Color Tool doesn’t support ARRI RAW files. So either you export a DPX file or work with the dummy file “Isabella”. Now load your Amira Cube file (down left under Look Library) Then “Save Look As” and create the .AML File. Now you have created the Amira Cube file from Baselight and the AML file. That’s pretty much it. Download ARRI Color Tool here.. 5. Check your File As I said before, the ARRI Color Tool didn’t support ARRI Raw files (or maybe we just couldn’t figure it out) so we had to use the ARRI Raw Converter to test the look. Download ARRI Raw Converter here. You can now load your .ARRI file and the .AML look file. In the settings on the right side just choose “From Library”. 6. Setups For most cases, for every scene setup a high-key and a low-key version of your created look should be good enough. The Alexa SXT has four video outputs, but in most cases the DoP wants the director to see a straight REC709 image. The advantage of the Look File is that you can see the look in the camera viewer for quick checks. Andreas Brueckl Senior Colorist, Futureworks
  11. I n this screen-capture, which runs at 4x speed, you can see me working on a scene of a feature film. The scene was shot in the morning, and I also graded it for morning. Later the clients decided that it would be better if this scene was set at night. So I had a little more than a day to transfer the scene of about 5 min into night. It goes like this: A woman leaves a club and walks into a man with whom she starts a fight. When approaching such a task, it makes sense to imagine how it would have looked if it was really shot at night and how the DoP would have helped with lights, if he had known already on set. Night is usually very dark and grading everything low level might be a realistic choice, but in terms of an artistic, photographic approach it can be nicer to create a night filled with a bunch of light sources. I decided to have a big moon as my main light source and a bunch of tungsten practicals to make it more believable. In natural darkness the cones of our eyes are less sensitive, which means that our chromatic vision is limited when light is rare. According to that you can desaturate the image quite heavily. A bit of a bluish tint may be appropriate as well. Strong highlights, typical for daylight, can be attacked with keyers and shapes. The first task is to make it a lot darker without crushing anything. When your eyes are adapted to the dark you can see a lot of details in the shadows. Because this scene was shot in daylight we have tons of information. We just have to keep it. The second task is to darken all the sky and the reflections of sky in the scene. Here, the great dynamic range of the Alexa helps. That involves a mixture of keying and tracking shapes. The next step is to look for areas which might be affected by the moonlight and isolate those to apply a special moonlight bounce to them. In one shot, I decided to make the hair of the guy a bit warmer as he stands not far away from a real tungsten light source. On other shots, I created tungsten light sources, which were not actually in the scene, but make a lot of sense, as the DoP would have created something similar to this. The tungsten lights and the bluish moonlight create a nice complementary color contrast. This is a kind of extreme example of a task but the technique used can also be applied for more subtle changes in normal grading scenarios. Tobias Wiedmer Lead Colorist, Cine Chromatix KB
  12. W hile I was at Columbia College Chicago, I got an internship at Whitehouse Post in Chicago. Towards the end of the internship, I spoke with one of the producers there asking about the next steps to getting into the industry. I had spent quite a bit of time shadowing the senior colorist at The Mill and knew I had a passion for color grading. She said that the senior colorist over at Company 3 Chicago had interned there awhile back and that I could use her as reference. I messaged him on LinkedIn, asking if he would be willing to answer some questions I had about what he does, the industry, and Company 3. After our conversation, he invited me in to the office to talk more. We hit it off, and it turned out they were looking at bringing on another assistant colorist. A couple months later, I was working there part time as a freelance assistant colorist for 3 months. I had to learn quickly. The other assistant was going on vacation the following week so I needed to at least have a good working knowledge of their workflow. I would shadow the senior colorist and the other assistant and re-prep projects to get enough hands-on experience before doing it on my own. The day after I graduated college, I was brought on full-time. It was definitely one of those "right place at the right time" situations. Assistant colorist's responsibilites An assistant colorist’s primary job is to make the senior colorist’s job easier. The senior colorist should be grading with clients in the suite as much as possible. For that to happen, the assistant handles a variety of tasks including preparing projects fully for the session, contacting editorial and handling any conform/workflow issues that arise, communicating with the producer to ensure jobs are completed on time, and finalizing projects and rendering in whichever format the client needs. As you gain the trust of the senior colorist, an assistant may start to be trusted with match grading. A lot of the times, the senior colorist is in session so if another client comes back with revisions on a pending job or there are pick-up shots, it will fall on the assistant to make those revs or match grade the pick-ups. As you continue to build that trust, those responsibilities increase. In my situation, for example, in addition to client revs and match grading pick-ups, I may match long form versions of commercials, short films, and features. For some features, the senior colorist sets looks on key shots and scenes throughout and then it's my job to match the remaining shots of the film to have it ready for the senior colorist to review before they screen it with the client. Technical knowledge, experience and a good personality Some color grading software is not as accessible as others, but with programs like Resolve having a free version to learn from, a general understanding of the tools within a program like Resolve is definitely helpful. The color tools are a great place to start but equally important are the project setup, conform and render portions of the software. An assistant will be given the media, EDLs/XMLs and reference pictures to conform the project. It’s then their job to handle the various media formats provided and use the EDL and/or XML to conform the project. It’s also important to work well under pressure. There’s a constantly changing list of tasks throughout the day that must be handled in a way that ensures everything is completed on time and nothing is missed. While having technical knowledge and experience is great, I feel like the most important skill necessary for working as an assistant colorist is having a good personality. You’re going to be working closely with the senior colorist and producers so it’s important that you’re easy to work with and can be a trusted partner in getting jobs done efficiently and correctly. The relationship with the team The assistant colorist has a very close relationship with the senior colorist and producers. In order to provide the best possible client experience, everyone must trust each other and have excellent communication. If there are issues with prep or anything that may affect the senior colorist’s ability to grade a job with clients, it must be brought to everyone’s attention, specifically the producers, so that it can get sorted out before the session. It’s also important that when the time comes to QC and render a job, that the assistant communicates with the producers to make sure the project can be delivered in the format the client needs and on time. Issues come up all the time so being able to trust your team members is extremely important. In general, the relationship the assistant colorist has with all team members including other assistants, client services, editorial, VFX, etc. is just as important. Whether it’s helping other assistants with issues or completing a job on time, communicating with editorial to figure out conform issues, or maintaining a clean VFX pipeline, an assistant needs to be able to effectively communicate with all team members to do their job well. At the end of the day, everyone is working towards the same goal, providing the client with exceptional service and product that exceeds their expectations. My own client base As the senior assist, in addition to the time I spend match grading, I am also given the opportunity to build my own client base. There are times where the senior colorist is too busy to take on another job given the deadline, so they will recommend the client work with me. It's my job to continue that relationship the company has with that client and provide my own style and expertise that ideally exceeds their expectations. While that is a small part of my client base, I also build relationships with clients on my own and will collaborate on commercials, social spots, music videos, short films, and features. It’s a really great experience to essentially do a micro version of what the senior colorist does. I’m building a growing list of clients, doing my own sales, and continuing to improve my color grading skills. The next step In my experience, there is not necessarily a situation where “once you hit this amount of billings, you become a colorist.” Yes, you must be able to bill enough to justify running a color suite, but reputation is also important. You must have a good reputation in the industry for clients to trust you’re the right person for the job and can increase the value of their work. That starts with maintaining a good relationship with the clients you have because often times, they will be the ones that get you the next job. I’m still working at this and figuring it out as I go, but I have been lucky enough to work for one of the top companies in the industry and work with an exceptional senior colorist and see how it’s done successfully at the highest level. My advice I would recommend reaching out to a colorist or post-house you admire and show your interest in their company and the craft. Be persistent but not annoying; It’s great to show your enthusiasm but people get busy and it’s important to recognize that. Try and get in any way you can. Often times, that may mean starting in client services but work hard at any task you’re given and it will show. Once you work your way up to assistant, work your ass off and build a good relationship with the senior colorist. They will notice your hard work and will want to mentor you and learning from someone with that type of experience is a key part to becoming a colorist. Parker Jarvie Senior Assistant Colorist, Company 3 New York All images and clips copyright © Company 3 are colored by Parker Jarvie
  13. As an IT professional I can tell you that the choice usually boils down to taste and what fits your requirements. I do however recommend looking into compatibility if you wish to switch from one platform to another (You might have to rebuy licenses, which can increase the costs). That said, Windows based PC's are highly customizable and cheaper to upgrade in the future. - In my eyes the Windows route would be a more secure investment for the long term.