This is the first post in a short series for absolute beginners who want to get started in DaVinci Resolve. First off, we’re going to discuss workflow concepts. A “native” workflow in DaVinci Resolve where camera media (R3D in this example) is used through all stages of post, and in a single application. Get Started in DaVinci Resolve For those of you that are cinema5D regulars, or anyone who knows me from my blog or social media, you’ll know color is something I spend a lot of time explaining, teaching, as well as doing. I love colour: the art, the science, physics and effects on human perception and psychology as it relates to our experience of story. I was recently accepted as a full Colorist Society International member. There are a lot of experts in the field online, and they are all good, so soak up everything you can read and watch online. This short series will be both conceptual and practical with the aim of getting you off to a good start in Resolve using the same concepts and methodology as a professional colorist. What is workflow? What do we mean when we talk about workflow? A workflow is simply a process, or set of defined steps that will take you from where you are, to where you want to be. It’s a repeatable set of instructions to get from A to B. We talk about workflow mostly in the context of post production, and there is also on-set workflow in terms of data management and any number of processes that may happen on set. In the end, it’s all the same workflow: what takes place on set and what takes place in an editing bay or color grading suite is just a matter of location. Why is workflow important? A defined workflow allows a high level of control over how things happen, when they happen and what the results will be. A workflow ensures consistency, and ultimately, the quality of the final product. It ensures that technical standards are met and maintained. It simplifies and defines the process into steps that every person involved understands and acknowledges. It ensures problems can be identified and solved quickly. Breaking down an example post production workflow A workflow is designed and customised for a particular job and there are as many possible workflows as there are jobs. There are, however, some basic starting points. I’m not going to list them all or describe them all, my purpose here is to explain what workflow is, so that you are better equipped to approach your own projects in a logical way. For those of you that are already familiar with all of this, the example I’m about to give is simplified, but it should help those who are new to this entirely. One possible workflow in the context of editorial and finishing, is a round-trip workflow. Let’s say we’re working on a film or commercial which has been shot with a number of RED cameras in REDcode RAW. I want to edit this on my laptop, but I don’t have storage space or the performance required to work with the native REDcode RAW media easily. So, that’s when I’d employ a typical round-trip workflow. This is just one of many basic types of workflow. A typical “round-trip” workflow using Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve. Premiere could be substituted for any NLE, such as FCPX, Avid, Edius, etc. Specifically, I’m going to edit in Adobe Premiere using compressed proxies, which are low resolution copies of the original camera media. Once the edit is locked, I will import the edit (sequence) in DaVinci Resolve using a XML file, but this time I will link back to the native REDcode RAW camera media for color grading and finishing. DaVinci Resolve may end up being my final destination as far as the picture is concerned, or I may need to take the graded picture back into Premiere for some other reason such as final titling and packaging. Here’s a breakdown of the basic steps in this example workflow. Create the low resolution proxy media by transcoding all of the REDcode RAW camera media into HD Prores Proxy codec (or Avid DNxHD, or some low/medium bitrate, edit-friendly codec). This keeps the files small, but they are high enough quality to edit with. Edit the film. Export the XML and a low res video export (“cutting copy”) from Adobe Premiere. Import the XML into DaVinci Resolve, linking to the REDcode RAW camera media. Problem solve any missing or unlinked media. Check the sequence against the low res export (cutting copy) from Premiere. Color grade the film. Export the graded shots in a high res, high quality format with an XML from DaVinci Resolve. Import the XML and graded media into a new Premiere sequence for packaging and final output. The above steps are what we would normally refer to as a round-trip editorial workflow, and it applies no matter what NLE is used. But this is only a small section of a much longer list of steps in the larger overall workflow for the project. There are steps that take place on-set before any of this begins, and these steps define what happens to the camera cards, how they are handled, and how camera media is copied, duplicated, managed and organized. There may or may not be some on-set processing to generate graded previews for the director, typically referred to as a “dailies” workflow. You may even have access to, or create LUTS used for monitoring on set, which can be used later as a reference for color grading. We haven’t even mentioned audio workflow yet, which weaves in and out of this overall workflow. In conclusion I hope this gives you an understanding of what we mean by workflow when talking about how to get started in DaVinci Resolve. There is the large and sometimes quite complex view of the entire sequence of events that happens from the second a card is pulled from the camera, all the way to exporting final deliverables, but this is always broken down into smaller more manageable sections. The smaller sections can also be further broken down, and we’ll be doing this by taking a close look at the colorist’s specific workflow within DaVinci Resolve, the steps a colorist takes to create a balanced, matched, consistent, coherent look for a film. In the end, this is all part of the workflow, and defining it long before cameras roll ensures consistent, quality results that meet delivery requirements and keeps all the creatives happy. It gives us a structure for problem solving, and although it sometimes needs to be modified, having a defined workflow makes everything much faster and easier to manage.Read more
Matt Damon on set during during production of Jason Bourne. Credit: Universal Pictures Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve Studio was used to complete the online edit, color grade and HDR delivery for Jason Bourne. Goldcrest Post, London provided full post production services for Bourne director Paul Greengrass. The ever growing community of professional and aspiring colorists and editors who rely on DaVinci Resolve will be happy to see one more high-profile production finished using this software. It’s yet another testimony to the power of the system, as well as of the hard work and innovative development that has been invested in Resolve by Blackmagic Design. While some were skeptical when Blackmagic Design made the move to add NLE functionality to Resolve, it is arguably the most significant decision in the history of this software. Turning Resolve into a fully-featured NLE, with the most seamless workflow of any editing or grading solution on the market has catapulted Resolve into the hands of more creators than anyone could have imagined. Resolve is now relied upon as the heart and brain of more post production workflows than ever before. Seamless Fluidity, Real-Time Collaborative Workflow For Universal Pictures, the online edit and grading of Jason Bourne were in the capable hands of Goldcrest’s Sinéad Cronin and Rob Pizzey respectively. “Working on the project together in DaVinci Resolve Studio allowed us a great deal of fluidity, and we were able to collaborate closely throughout,” reveals Cronin. “I could conform and work on the online edit in Resolve’s Media and Edit pages, whilst Rob could render a grade on the Color page at the same time.” The Asset (Vincent Cassel) in Jason Bourne. Credit: Jasin Boland Resolve’s seamless workflow between editorial and finishing, and its collaborative workflow features seem to be the central theme of its success with Jason Bourne. “There’s so many action-packed scenes, with extended chase sequences and set pieces, so the scale of postproduction was huge; for example, one of the reels had more than 1,000 cuts. Timescales were tight, and I would work on a section of the online edit, knowing that Rob would be in the theater ready to grade with the client. Everything we did in Resolve was in real time, which really helped us to work to a tight deadline,” explained Cronin. Color When it came to color, there were some specific creative requirements to create location-specific moods and looks. Having previously collaborated with Greengrass and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd on a number of films, colorist Pizzey had an extensive understanding of how the team wanted to use the grade to enhance the action. “In Jason Bourne, there are sequences in Las Vegas, Athens and Berlin and an important part of the grade was to differentiate the mood and feel between these locations…but to ensure the overall aesthetic of the series remained in evidence,” he explains. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, once again joins Damon for the next chapter of Universal Pictures’ Bourne franchise “Barry and I worked during preproduction to produce templates in Resolve from test footage, which would then act as a base for Barry to check his lighting on set, and for processing the rushes. Deploying Resolve at the preproduction stage meant that when we came back together to do the final grade, the sessions were extremely smooth and productive.” The grade was also used to enhance the film’s editing, particularly in the action sequences. “One of my favorite sequences in the film to grade takes place in Athens, which was shot entirely at night. As the action is on the streets, which are filled with layers of smoke, and a fire unfolds, the edit intercuts scenes from a CIA control room,” explains Pizzey. “I kept the CIA room very cool and clinical, with a blue palette to differentiate from the warm, realistic riot scenes. Using Resolve’s grading toolset with some shape work, I was able to reflect some of the warmer tones from the screens in the control room back onto the actors’ faces. It was a very subtle, but extremely effective contrast within a key sequence.” Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) in Jason Bourne. Credit: Jasin Boland HDR Delivery The Goldcrest team worked in full 4K throughout the project, and also deployed DaVinci Resolve Studio’s new high dynamic range capabilities to deliver the film in HDR for the first time. “HDR isn’t just a new delivery format, it’s a fantastic creative playground for production teams to deliver a completely new experience to audiences. These capabilities, combined with the NLE toolset and grading capabilities, make DaVinci Resolve a complete storytelling device,” concludes Pizzey.Read more
Our favourite film stock emulator FilmConvert has released a profile for the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K camera, the popular new offering from Blackmagic Design (which we will feature in our lab tests very soon!). Surprisingly, FilmConvert states that this was the “most requested camera profile of all time”. This has certainly partly to do with the fact that Blackmagic generally takes a while until they actually ship cameras that they announced. In case you hadn’t heard of it, in a nutshell FilmConvert is both a standalone software and extension app for NLE systems like Premiere Pro, Final Cut and Sony Vegas that offers realistic film stock emulation. You start with a base camera profile, tell the software what camera you are using and pair this with a film stock of your aesthetic choice. Grading can then be applied to tweak your desired look. It’s support for the initial process enables you to accurately apply film stock looks to the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K. Download here. cinema5D readers can benefit from the price reduction as seen below:Read more
The colour correction and grading process is a strange but exciting combination of technical adjustments and artistic expression. These two require a switch in mindset and in toolset when moving from one to the other. Learning how to use your scopes will make everything easier. Without correcting technical issues, balancing and shot matching first, you will be totally lost creatively when it comes to achieving your desired look consistently across sequences that should flow seamlessly. The goal of correcting exposure and balancing luma, hue and saturation shot by shot is to make sure that every common element in each shot, under the same conditions is at the same brightness, hue and saturation. Of course the most important is often skin tones, but it’s also important to look at other elements as well. It can be anything from prominent objects such as the colour of a jacket or a car, a white wall in the background or less prominent elements such as the colour of the soil in the shadows of some trees, and the colour of the leaves on the trees. It could be a fence, or the colour of a wall or building. It all needs to match in every shot in a sequence, and even overall levels from sequence to sequence, tonal ranges and luminance ranges should fit into a coherent balance. Remember however, these elements need to match when under the same conditions! Think lighting here. An object that passes from shadow to sunlight is clearly going to have a different luminance, and it should! You’re never going to try and “correct” that out. However, then the goal is to make sure whenever that object is in shade, it looks the same, and whenever it is in sunlight, it also then looks the same. Luckily, this initial technical correction pass is the most measured and objective, and can be made very easy by tackling one aspect at a time, looking at the elements in your image and learning to use the various scopes properly. Luminance I always tackle exposure correction and luma matching first, and it’s safe to totally ignore colour when adjusting overall luminance levels in your image. Sometimes I’ll even totally desaturate everything in order to clearly match luminance shot by shot, sequence by sequence without distraction. Most often with exposure correction, and matching overall luminance levels, it’s a case of pinning down just three common points in your image and everything else will fall into place. These three points are your darkest blacks, your brightest highlights, and something you know should be in the middle. Often this can be skin tones if you have them, but it could easily be anything in the shot that should be close to middle grey (when desaturated). Not every shot contains a bright highlight, but most will at least contain something that is black. You can easily refer to the Ansel Adams Zone System to pin those three points where they should be. I’ve introduced the Zone System in a previous article, but it’s here below for immediate reference here. 0 – Pure black 1 – Near black, slight tonality, no detail 2 – Dark black, slight detail in shadows 3 – Very dark grey, distinct shadow texture is visible 4 – Medium dark grey, slightly darker black skin, dark foliage, landscape shadows 5 – Middle grey, 18% grey, darker tan white skin, lighter black skin, light foliage, dark blue sky 6 – Middle light grey, average white skin, light stone, shadow areas on snow 7 – Light grey, pale white skin, concrete or grey asphalt in sunlight 8 – Grey white, pale detail in highlights, white wall in sunlight, bright surfaces 9 – Bright white, slight detail in highlights, white paper, snow, white water 10 – Pure white, no detail, light sources, specular highlights The easiest way to objectively check and manipulate luminance levels in your image is the waveform scope. Waveform In DaVinci Resolve, the waveform scope sets up the full range of luma information in your image from left to right of the frame against a 0 – 1023 vertical scale. Zero is black and 1023 is white. You can clearly see above that when you push up the luma level in your lift, your blacks get lighter. The waveform scope shows you that you’ve shifted “black” from 0 up to 128. In the same way, if you decrease luma in your gain, your whites get darker. Finally, changing the gamma luma value affects the mids. Above shows decreased luma in the mids and how it affects the waveform. Increasing gamma luma value pushes up the mids. It’s easy to immediately see where the darkest parts of the image are sitting as well as the highlights, and where all your mids are in between by referring to the scale on the waveform scope. With practice you end up being able to see the whole image just in the scope, and you will be able to quickly recognise where the elements in your image are in terms of luminance, and later RGB values. One easy trick to isolate a certain part of the image in the scopes is to use a circular window to highlight just the element you want to check. This is useful when making sure that element is in the same luma range across multiple shots. By temporarily desaturating the image and turning on the highlight, you can see clearly what luma value only the skin tones are at, this is incredibly useful for matching certain elements that need to look the same across multiple shots. RGB Parade The RGB Parade scope is similar to the Waveform only it splits the image into Red Green and Blue separately. It is useful in seeing the overall RGB balance in your image, for instance, if there is an obvious offset in one particular channel, and in making sure objects and elements in the shot that should be black, or white are true black or true white. Something that is true black, white (or grey for that matter) will have equal values across all channels. Above you can see that true black through white will have equal RGB values in the RGB Parade scope. If we purposely push only red into the shadows, and bit of green in the mids you’ll see the RGB Parade scope show the values start to separate out for each channel and are no longer equal. This example is artificially created but with a real world image, we can tell our blacks are not black just by looking at the RGB Parade scope. A badly calibrated (or non calibrated) monitor can lie, but the scopes never lie regardless of monitoring. If the scopes are showing equal RGB levels for an object close to zero, you can be sure it is true black, if the values are equal and higher in luminance, you can be sure it is true grey, or white (depending on value) with no unbalanced tint to any particular hue. Hue and Saturation Once you’ve matched and locked in exposure and luminance across every shot in a sequence and made sure your blacks, greys and whites are clean, you’re in a pretty good place to tackle hue and saturation. You can safely ignore luminance, because you’ve nailed that, and just look at hue and saturation. Vectorscope Just as Waveform and RGB Parade don’t lie regardless of your monitor, neither does the Vectorscope. This is the greatest thing about these scopes, they are 100% reliable, trustworthy, accurate and objective even if your monitor is not. The Vectorscope shows you hue and saturation. You’ll see the different points marked for the legal broadcast levels of Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Magenta and Cyan. If you load up a standard set of colour bars, you’ll see just how this looks on the Vectorscope. The trace shows exactly what the hue is and how saturated it is. The less saturated the colours, the further inside the trace is, the more saturated the colours, the further outside the limits they will appear. Black, white and any shade of grey register zero hue, and remain centred exactly on the scope. If the image is totally desaturated, there is no information to show. The Vectorscope above shows the hue and saturation information for the entire frame. By using the circular window trick to isolate a certain element in a shot, in this case the skin tones again, you can see only its exact hue and saturation level. This makes matching it from one shot to the next almost as easy as painting by numbers. Remember this is all part of primary correction. We aren’t isolating anything yet. When you manipulate the hue for lift, gamma or gain, (shadows, mid-tones or highlights) you are affecting the entire image, not just an isolated selection. It’s easy to muddy your blacks, or whites, so it’s important to also pay attention the RGB Parade scope. Just as pinning three points for luma corrections often balances everything else out, often correcting or shifting hue slightly as needed in the mid-tones or maybe highlights to match prominent tones (skin tones for instance in the mids) will achieve the overall balance you’re looking for. Rarely do I push around the shadows if the RGB Parade scope is showing my blacks are balanced and correct. Anything that is needed outside of this overall balance, such as a correction only to isolated hues within certain luminance levels needs to be done with some form of isolation as a separate pass. When making isolated corrections, the window trick with the Vectorscope still works a treat to make sure that element looks exactly the same under the same conditions shot by shot. I hope that this has given you an idea of just how important the scopes are to getting your images balanced correctly, and when they are used one step at a time, first looking only at luma, and then at hue and saturation, it’s not at all difficult to match shots even if they look quite different right out of the camera. For another look at the same principles with some great examples and additional details please take a look at this article on W(a/o)ndering Filmmaking – http://waondering.com/2015/05/18/continuity-of-colors-matching-exposure-and-color-balance/ Also worth reading: A Guide To Using Waveform Monitors As Artistic Tools in Color Grading by Tektronix, it will ask you to register some details in order to download the pdf.Read more
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