Marc Wielage

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About Marc Wielage

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  • Birthday 10/14/1954

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  1. I've been doing color for 40 years, and I'm still learning. I go with Malcom Gladwell's "10,000 Hour Rule." That's how long it takes you to be an expert at something, and that includes sound mixing or VFX or editing or cost. As to how long it takes to be good... that's another question.
  2. And let me add to this thread by pointing out @Jason Bowdach's excellent article on various kinds of film-style looks (including halation) over at
  3. It probably would be easy to check with bars and a scope -- try both methods and see what happens. Color Boost also provides a different way to desaturate, affecting the most-saturated or least-saturated parts of the signal (depending on how you use it). Having different methods helps, but I have to confess, I'm so under the gun most of the time, I grab whatever I think will get there fastest and try that first. Keys also provide a way to selectively desat just part of the signal (even a large part, if you widen it out), but you have to be very careful about qualification and making it as soft and artifact-free as possible.
  4. Hue vs. Sat generally works on a pin-pointed shade of color. You can dial the entire line up and down, and as far as I know that's the same as an overall saturation change.
  5. I don't think grading for cinema works without a projector. I think you can do an initial pass in Rec709 on a display, then move the session into a theater and do a trim pass in the right environment.
  6. I would say try everything and see what happens. It's not so much a technique as it is a process: sometimes one thing works better than another. I find learning how to pull a soft key, a qualifier with little or no artifacts, is critical. Every situation is different, and sometimes it requires multiple masks and multiple keys. Once qualified, in Resolve you have the options of using soften tools like -Midtone Detail (minus), or Blur, or Mist, or Beauty, or Soften/Sharpen, or SNR, or Face Refinement. The latter is fastest and easiest if the face doesn't move too much; god help you if it does. It is possible to recreate all (or at least most) of what Face Refinement does manually, with about 10 nodes, but that requires ten sets of mask tracking... depending on what you're trying to do. The trick really is to make sure you do as little damage as possible, and make sure the rest of the image retains some kind of natural sharpness. In situations where I'm dealing with some really difficult age issues, I'll throw Glow on top of it on the theory that that would be the classic "Hollywood Soft" filter approach. But again, every situation is different and it's a question of developing good skills and good judgement over time. There is no single technique except time and good judgement (and sometimes luck).
  7. No. Soft clips. Soft Clips -> High Soft controls. Glow might be another tactic. That can take the edge of "videoish" material to a point.
  8. Sorry for the late reply: I had an unexpected day off and just saw this question today. The standards for film scanning are kind of nebulous, and I have seen vast differences in levels from film scans done by Technicolor, Fotokem, EFilm, ILM, Cinesite, and other companies; even NY and LA divisions of the same companies can be different. I just eyeball it, come up with a reasonable setting for Offset (Printer Lights), then add a node for a Custom Curve (generally an S-shape, but it depends), then subsequent nodes for balance and level, sometimes a few RGB tweaks if necessary. Once the picture is in kind of a "faux Rec709 zone," I color correct it as if it were digital. The same expectations and values still hold: it's not that much different from digital, really. It does help if the filmmakers shoot color charts daily, and you can pull those up and see how far off or how close you are to reasonable hue and vector values. I was always skeptical about the Macbeth color chart in a digital world, but the DSC charts are good, and the XRite Color Checker Video is not bad (but I'm suspicious of the saturation levels). You can get a lot just out of a grayscale chart, which will at least help you balance out the blacks and whites. I've remastered 32 films shot-on-film this year, and sometimes I have to throw my approach out the window because either the elements, the scans, or the actual exposure is just completely whacked. I find I use Printer Lights more than I do with an all-digital show, but other than that, it's essentially the same thing. Modern film emulsions are just about as clean and sharp a 4K digital, done right.
  9. Eh, my usual deal is punch the saturation, pop the whites, consider a soft roll off for highlights, a vignette, and a little film grain. That's a typical "commercial look" to me. Nothing wrong with that, anything to aggressively grab the viewer and make them watch what you're trying to sell.
  10. I had some issues with my original dongle from 10 years ago, and finally hit on the solution of plugging the USB dongle into a 1-foot USB extension cable. After that, the cable itself took all the abuse while the dongle stayed fairly pristine. I needed this when I had to use other client machines or had to move sessions around sometimes. It helps to have multiple dongles as backups: between Resolve and Fusion, I think we have at least 7 or 8 copies at the office, and I have a spare in my laptop bag (including a Linux Advanced dongle).
  11. Anybody who's been at this for more than a few years has had to deal with long shots or long single-shot projects. I did a single-shot music video back in 1984 (Steve Perry's "Foolish Heart"), and I used what we would now call keyframes and about 20 color corrections for it. In more modern times, we have access to more complex methods. Steven J. Scott did an interview five years ago discussing what he did on Birdman, and though this was all done on Lustre, the principles apply to any color correction software. It's a great-looking film and Steven did an amazing job on it.
  12. Gamut Mapping is a wonderful feature. I use that shot-to-shot if I run into scenes with intense car tail lights or (say) a scene in a nightclub with neon signs. It does something similar to a hue-vs-sat curve, but it targets it in a more subtle way. I don't like the idea of legalizing a show with a "one size fits all" clipper, but an occasional Gamut Mapping node will do the job when you see an illegal gamut excursion on a Gamut scope or a Diamond scope. I have had whole scenes of 70 or 80 shots that was all nightclub interiors with intense background signs, and for that, I'll either do a group grade with a Gamut Mapping node or I'll have a fixed node tree with one node just dedicated to legalizing. That's assuming I'm delivering Rec709. If we had an HDR pass, I'd dupe the session and create a new version with no Gamut Mapping and just let it blow.
  13. I sometimes combine the dissolve transition with a color dissolve (or even several color dissolves) just to change the levels as needed. This is very hard if you have a flattened file -- as with a film scan -- but is relatively easy to do with two separate files. Basically, you're dealing with a non-linear dissolve, and you can move around the keyframes as required.
  14. Bear in mind that Richardson was working on a $100 million dollar movie, so he had the time and budget to have his crew go in and fix a lot of lighting issues on set. In the real world, I think power windows and masks and keys and all that are still very necessary. To me, Tarantino's approach is unnecessarily dogmatic (ala Dogma 95), and the trick to me is make all the VFX and color work completely invisible. If you can't tell there was ever a window there, then it works. The moment you can see evidence of it, then the illusion is shattered. On the other hand: I think Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a brilliant film, it looks great, it's very entertaining, and I've paid to see it twice. I can't offer any higher praise of a movie than that. Tarantino has earned the right to have strong opinions on where and how he does things, and that extends to post.
  15. Jesus, if it's absolute silence, it's deadly. On the other hand, there are those people who get distracted by music. Jan De Bont did not want to hear anything in the background when I did one of the home video versions of Die Hard in the 1990s. He was not a cheerful man -- but his cinematography was spectacular. Ultimately, he liked the work, and that's all I care about.