Monthly Archives: September 2014

Numbers, numbers, numbers

Having just been to IBC and seen all the new kit and listened to everyone talking numbers it was refreshing to talk to Les Zellan, Carey Duffy and Jon Thorne who were only interested in talking about images.

I then did a 30 minute TV appearance with Rodney Charters and Bill Bennett where the conversation was again about pictures and not numbers, no matter how often the presenter tried to bring it back to numbers!

I’m really looking forward to this week as I’m doing two presentations of “Fuck the Numbers!” which started life as a one off to finish a series of events organised by Graham Hawkins of 24-7 Drama, I don’t think he realised what he was unleashing on the world! I’ve now done variations on this show all over the world and it gets punchier every time.

The first one is in Utrecht on Monday during the Netherlands Film Festival and this is followed by Birmingham City University on Thursday.

I’ve updated the show and hope to see some of you there!

Resolve 11 the good and the bad

Now that I’ve finished grading The Taking I thought I’d comment on R11…

Generally I love it, I particularly like the ability to group sequences and grade those groups pre and post an individual clip grade.

This means that an overall pre clip grade can be applied to a sequence to get the whole sequence into the general area and the each clip can be matched in the clip layer whilst post clip level can be used to add an overall look to that sequence. It makes changing your mind, or the director changing his, very easy, you just change the post clip layer.
Of course on top of all this you have a timeline layer that alters the look of the entire film, great for an overall desat or grain pass etc.

So whats wrong with this?

Well, the big problem is that when you export a project only the clip adjustments are carried over so when you get a completely different AAF from the editor you can’t just use trace color to recreate the grade.
You have to make sure that you save every pre and post grade to the gallery and then export that.
You then have to recreate the groups and add the pre and post grades. It’s a pain.

One of the big advantages to this system is that if you have a lot of VFX work, and we did, you can export DPX files with just the pre clip and clip setting for the VFX guys as these are just files which have been colour and exposure matched but not had a grade applied. You can then send them a reference QT file that has all the looks applied.

It’s relatively easy to then add the VFX shots back and get a totally matching look.

Please BMD add total layer matching to color trace…

Final post of The Taking

It has been interesting grading an entire film, an eye opening look into the realities of a colorists life.
Creating the overall look of scenes was pretty easy, after all I’d shot it with a look in mind.
The difficulty, huge at times, was matching shots within a sequence.
Sometimes we had shot indoors in controlled lighting and it was really a simple case of apply the look and walk away for 30 shots.
Other times i had a controlled shooting situation but it had large light sources in shot and with the Arri/Fuji Alura zooms I was using all bets were off. The colour changed dramatically from shot to shot and in a 50+ shot sequence I had to individually grade every shot.
This however paled into insignificance compared to the exterior garage fight sequence where the light varied from hard sunshine to heavily overcast, and I mean that black doom laden heavy overcast that the North of England specialises in, in the space of four hours. It wasn’t a case of a change from one to the other but a constant to and fro.
Some shots from high up with no sky, some from low down with 30% sky. From wide end of the zooms to the long end, from wide open to stopped down, from no filters to 3 stops of IRND.
Exposures varying all over the place because one operator was setting the stop I called out and was getting a consistent skin tone whilst the other knew better and used the histogram display to ETTR ( expose to the right ) to get me the most data. Of course this also gave me thoroughly inconsistent results.
This was the same operator who knew better than the director or me what framing we needed and kept ignoring instructions only to have to be corrected a few minutes later. My corrections got louder and more abrasive as the day went on.
It created not just a nightmare to edit but a nightmare to cut. We were shooting very fast and a lot of the time was spent watching the action and not monitors, a big mistake in this case. I usually recommend that directors watch the actors rather than the monitors but in this case, well, I usually work with crew I can trust.