“I’m not happy with just knowing that colors work together in artistic ways. I want to know why. Here are some thoughts. I’m a strict amateur in the world of color (I’m not a color scientist or an art expert) but I have some thoughts on the matter that I’d like to share, just in case they’re thoughts you haven’t had yet….”
“… As photographers, color grading is a crucial part of what we do. It’s everywhere in the process of creating images. It includes pivotal creative decisions such as the wardrobe selection, the scene background, and whether or not to incorporate lighting gels for more punch….
… In most cases, it’s hard to replace the color within the photographs, but we can definitely change the tints, tones or shades to create the mood or increase the story factor within the photograph. One thing to note is that the mixing of two colors will produce a slightly darker, less saturated new color. Because of that, you may also want to increase the exposure to compensate…. “
A number of Panasonic Lumix GH5 owners using Final Cut Pro X with LUT loading plug-ins have reported varying LUT interpretation results with 8-bit and 10-bit footage. The problem involves clamping or lowering the footage superwhites after LUTs have been applied.
High whites are well-preserved in GH5 V-Log 10-bit 4:2:2 footage with Leeming LUT One applied in Premiere Pro, before and after
So far the specific causes of this problem, and its permanent solution, have not been 100% identified, but it may be useful to share a list of the free and paid-for LUT plug-ins and related software that are currently available. If the cause resides in one or more specific LUT plug-ins, then it may be wise to try out others on the list below.
Meanwhile Premiere Pro itself has some problems with correctly supporting 8-bit and 10-bit GH5 footage and Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve colour grading software-cum-NLE also seems to incorrectly clamp super whites after LUTs have been applied.
LUT and colour grading plug-ins, and applications
Chromatic – currently undergoing development, CoreMelt’s Chromatic color grading plug-in is their “all in one color grading plugin that combines curves, color wheels, tracked masks, inside-outside mask grades, selective color correction, LUT loading and management and degrain, regrain all in one tool.”
ScopeBox – professional scopes application for macOS computers, that allows feeding video from a range of DIT tools and Adobe video software as well as Final Cut Pro X into ScopeBox via ScopeLink. ScopeBox maker divergent media says that “the scopes found in most desktop editing applications leave a lot to be desired – they’re not accurate, they’re slow, and they’re not configurable”.
The crux of the problem and a workaround
Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One describes the problem as follows. The LUTs from his unified, corrective LUT system are “designed to maximize dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec. 709 starting point for further creative colour grading”.
The Leeming LUT One system provides “the best possible settings to maximise dynamic range and image quality for that camera, while minimising noise and other unwanted artefacts”. Thus the system’s LUTs are “designed to work with the full float levels of the video clips as they come out of camera”.
“Some cameras stop at 100 IRE, but others such as Panasonic and Sony retain superwhite up to 109 IRE (usually), so my LUTs are designed around that limit, not the 100 IRE limit,” Mr Leeming says.
He offers one potential workaround, until LUT plug-ins are updated to support float space. “The easiest temporary solution is to adjust IRE for clips to fall within 0-100 IRE, then apply the LUT, as in theory the distribution of values in float space should be the same. That should avoid clipping”.
Mr Leeming notes that he designs Leeming LUT One in Premiere Pro which “handles superwhites with the LUT directly” and “no need to pull down exposure” and was “not aware that there were programs which didn’t pull down superwhites or lift superblacks”.
A more permanent solution
Roger Bolton of CoreMelt, developer of Chromatic and LUTx, has further insights into the problem and its solution:
A LUT is defined in the color ranges 0-1 in float with 1 being defined as the highest legal level (100 IRE). You can stretch the LUT out to handle the additional levels but that’s changing the look of the LUT if it was designed on legal levels. There’s not really a “correct” solution that I’m aware of, so how a LUT loader should handle this is something that needs flexibility.
As Chromatic is currently under development, Mr Bolton says that “we plan to allow a few different ways of dealing with the issue” and has asked users to send him their requests. He states that LUTx will be updated to handle superwhites and Chromatic will also handle them when released.
CoreMelt has released Chromatic and its is available as a 14-day free trial or as a special launch offer for one week only, closing at Pacific Standard Time (PST) 7th August 2017. The special offer contains Chromatic and over 150 LUTs.
The words “gamechanging” and “revolutionary” are well overused in the realm of digital media production and writers are always warned to avoid them. But what other words best describe Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 14 in its free and paid-for Studio versions?
Signs were Blackmagic was up to something radical when it bought pioneering computer musical and video instruments maker Fairlight and the fruits of that move are now here in Resolve 14’s Fairlight audio page.
The first beta of DaVinci Resolve 14 and DaVinci Resolve Studio 14 is now available to download in your choice of three computer platforms, macOS, Windows and two flavours of Linux, Red Hat and CentOS.
The latter option is particularly exciting, as Blackmagic Design’s press release says, “Customers running Red Hat or CentOS Linux can even build their own workstations using low cost motherboards, extremely fast processors, massive amounts of RAM and up to 8 GPUs for incredible real time performance.”
Looks like I will have a good use for the Mac Pro tower sitting next to my workstation when it finally gives up the ghost. Strip it, build a Linux workstation into the case and run DaVinci Resolve 14 in it along with other open source production software.
Blackmagic Design Press DaVinci Resolve 14 Images
From the Blackmagic Design press release for DaVinci Resolve 14 public beta:
The free version of DaVinci Resolve is also available with the same powerful new editing and audio post production features. The $299 DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio version adds the new collaborative multi user tools, over 20 new Resolve FX including the advanced face enhancement tools, 4K and 120fps project support, stereoscopic 3D, optical quality blur and mist effects, film grain, de-noise tools and much more. Best of all, DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio does not require a connection to the internet or a cloud subscription to work.
Free or Studio version?
That is your decision but it is made easier by looking at the features for each of the current five different versions of DaVinci Resolve 14 in the Compare page. If you have a dongle for a previous version of DaVinci Resolve Studio than you can download the version 14 beta. If you don’t then choose the appropriate free version of DaVinci Resolve.
For the most part each version has feature parity with the exception of the more sophisticated creative and production tools and effects. If you are a proud new owner of a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 camera and will be working in 10-bit 4:2:2 high bitrate modes, or DCI 4K rather than UHD 4K, shoot video in 6K Photo mode using H.265 HEVC (though Divergent Media’s EditReady transcoder can help there), will be recording to HDR or value Camera LUTs in colour grading nodes, then you will need to consider purchasing a Studio license.
Given that DaVinci Resolve Studio 14’s price has dropped to less than a third of version 12.5’s, comparing it to the combined price of another brand non-linear editing software plus third party colour grading plug-ins plus an audio editing suite, whether paid-for on a monthly subscription or once-off basis, DaVinci Resolve Studio 14’s once-only USD299.00 is starting to look like a bargain.
Don’t forget that we are only seeing the first beta version. Blackmagic Design may make radical changes to each version’s feature set by the time the release versions appear some months hence.
The one thing that DaVinci Resolve 14 in all its versions is currently missing is motion graphics and VFX capabilities, but your needs may be taken care of with Blackmagic Design’s Fusion 8 or Fusion 8 Studio software.
I have not had the time to try DaVinci Resolve 14 out yet so the best thing I can do is link below to an overview of some of its most exciting new features and improvements, written by colourist Joey D’Anna for colour grading website and online training providers Mixing Light.
Consider Time in Pixels’s False Color Plug-in for use in DaVinci Resolve
Cinematographer/photographer Tomasz Huczek makes what is, to my knowledge, the only false colour plug-in for any editing or colour grading platform. False Color Plugin by Time in Pixels is available in two versions, the free evaluation version without time limit, and the full professional version.
Both come in macOS or Windows versions, and both work in Adobe’s After Effects CC and Premiere Pro as well as OpenFX plug-in hosts such as DaVinci Resolve, Nuke, Sony Vegas Pro and more.
If you are familiar with false colour in monitors/recorders such as those made by Atomos, then using False Color Plugin within DaVinci Resolve, After Effects or Premiere Pro should be a doddle, as it were. A Final Cut Pro X version of False Colour Plugin is on its way, according to Tomasz Huczek who informed me that “I am planning to start working on the FCPX version once v3.0 of the plugin is out”.
Specialist looks LUT specialist Rocket Rooster creates some impressive collections of analog film-inspired 3D LUTs for quickly and easily achieving cinematic colour grades in your preferred non-liner editing software (NLE) or colour grading suite.
Right now, the company is offering its largest film stock emulation LUT bundle, combining all previous Analog Cinema packs with the Cinema Colour II (Extended Edition) pack, comprising hundreds of top quality cinematic 3D LUTs.
Rocket Rooster’s 30%-off special offer extends until the end of this weekend, until the end of February 19, and then the Rocket Rooster Film Bundle reverts to its usual price.