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color correction colour correction grading post-production

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#1 Nick Hope

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:13 AM

I'm interested in views on colour correction / grading software. I've been doing my colour correction in Sony Vegas Pro, mostly using Color Curves, but I'm getting sick of dragging those fiddly little tangents around, and I hate the fact that there's no undo functionality. I'm upgrading to a new computer in the new year and it's time for a better tool.

I'm a PC person, so it has to work in Windows. I'm a Vegas Pro user, but I'm probably going to invest in the full Adobe CS suite in the new year as well. Still likely to use Vegas as my main NLE though. I need it to work with my old HDV footage and newer AVCHD / DSLR footage.

Here's what's in my mind:

DaVinci Resolve Lite - free
Adobe Speedgrade - $969 standalone but included in the CS6 Master Collection or Production Premium suite
Magic Bullet Colorista II - $299 (might need other Magic Bullet products too?)
Technicolor Cinestyle Color Assist - $99 - New kid on the block

Any experiences? Views? How do they compare in terms of ease of use, features and performance?

Also, since none of them appear to plug into Vegas, do they allow rough cutting of footage along with color-correction, with a view to exporting and EDL etc. to Vegas after colour correction?

#2 peterbkk

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 02:18 AM

I'm a PC person, so it has to work in Windows.


Become a Mac person and then I can help you...

#3 Drew

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 01:39 PM

I've used all 4. I'll just give you an overview of what I think are the most important aspects. I'm sure I'll leave out many points. I do suggest you download and try the software.

I would rank it like this:

Resolve:
Pros:The most powerful of the 4 (in the market really!) for color grading/correction. The tracking/keying is probably the best in the business, working fast and accurately once you outline the target. The secondaries are unlimited (I think the free Lite version is limited but not sure) and because it's a nodal UI, you can run them parallel or serially, which allows multiple looks within the same edit. Great noise reduction with GPU realtime. I/O with all popular known formats native. Works with multiple GPU and CUDA acceleration (again I think the Lite version doesn't do that) for real time.
Cons: Hardest to learn and complicated if you are not experienced with node based software. Can be slow without GPU acceleration. System has to top of the line! Standalone app so there's the whole workflow thing to consider (at the end vs import/export to NLE)
I totally love this software! Amazing control and flexibility and allows you to progressive upgrade as needed. Comes with BMCC! On par with Scratch or Smoke as a software... but those software work much better in networks etc.

Speedgrade:
Pros: I really like the layer based interface, which is very much like AEFX or Photoshop. Supports the big camera formats like .r3d etc. Good selection of presets to get you started. Easy to add Secondaries to isolate problem areas and masks are easy to apply. Like Resolve, easy to save a preset and apply to other clips.
Cons: Dial/wheel controls were a little hard scrub without a control board, stupid conversion to DPX from Premiere Pro if you use send to Speed Grade (vs exporting EDL then import files). Tracker isn't very sophisticated and pretty slow to analyze the scene. Still version 1 so it doesn't fully integrate into CS6 yet. Does not support CUDA acceleration. Keyer isn't that great.
I wouldn't buy SG on its own but if I'm switching to Adobe, I'd buy the production suite and use it as a primary grader.

Colorista II:
Pros: Works within PP. Allows 3 way primary and secondary layer grading and the masking tools are pretty good. For underwater purposes, the Master HSL wheel tool is good, allowing a relative easy lowering of cyan coloration. Very simple to use as you can use the wheel or numerical values. Nice skin overlay for showing skin color. Open GL acceleration. Mask tracker is good. Nice keyer tool. SInce it's a plug-in, it's great as it stays within the NLE to finish up edit.
Cons: Only allows 1 layer or primary and secondary. Curve adjustment only on the primary (master) layer.
It's a nice program that does great job of color grading. However, with SG coming with CS6 Production, it's not as sexy now as an additional cost, unless you do a lot of keying. You may wish to buy the Magic Bullet Suite, which includes Colorista and Looks. MB Looks has an awesome tool to remove lens distortion. It's slow but to remove barrel and pincushion distortion, it's very nice. Don't think you can use it without PP.

Color Assist: Admittedly I only used it maybe 5 times.
Pros: Works nicely with DSLR files shot with Cinestyle profile. UI is easy to use and has all the scopes you need to properly grade/correct. 25 preset looks and customizable presets for looks.
Cons: Only primary grading/correction, otherwise have to use the key tool. Standalone app, so it's difficult to implement as a workflow like Resolve. Best used with flat profile like Cinestyle.
I don't think this is a great color grader/corrector as a product. I think it's more for a DP to preset looks for the colorist to follow.

Hope this helps.

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#4 Steve Douglas

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:43 PM

Excellent synopsis of the 4. Would have clicked on 'Like This' but there doesn't seem to be one of those under Drew's posts.

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#5 wagsy

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:29 PM

Hey cool Drew, downloading Resolve to see how it goes...
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#6 Nick Hope

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:59 PM

Thanks very much for the info Drew.

I didn't know that noise reduction could be done in any of those programs. That's news to me. Really interested to know how well that works in Resolve Lite (which won't run on my PC until I get a new one).

Also, I really don't like the sound of converting to DPX to do grading in Speedgrade. Are those used as proxies or are the DPX files themselves used subsequently? Are they lossless?

Also I'm wondering if any of these programs are capable of the cutting functions of an NLE.

I guess another potential route that I forgot to mention is the GoPro Cineform Studio Premium software, which allows non-destructive primary color correction (the colour corrections etc. are stored in "active metadata" in the file). I don't think the capabilities are as advanced as the others, but it could be part of a workflow.

#7 Drew

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:27 PM

DPX conversion is only when you use the send to function. DPX is 10bit lossless (great codec btw). There's no dynamic linking between SG and other CS6 apps. So it's a fully import/export thing. If you are like me, where during color grading, you realize a scene doesn't go as well so you want to retime or reedit, it gets pretty ugly on time.

I use Studio Pro, which is just Neo3D "GoProized." :) It's a good way to stay a look but it is rather limited as you say. I use it for 3D mostly. I actually like the GoProized UI. Easier than First Light. It does allow in/out points during conversion so it's can be sort of a rough editor. But definitely not a NLE.

Resolve, for now, is the BMCC's first line of workflow. But it can't act as a full NLE at all. Resolve does 3D color grading as well.

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#8 Steve Douglas

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:23 PM

For noise reduction, I highly recommend Neat Video's Noise Reducer which blew the competition out of the water on a test I did a couple of years ago comparing a bunch of different noise reduction filters. However, Resolve was not in the comparison so I can't say anything on that score.
The Magic Bullet Suite has so many great plug ins, it all depends upon what you need and are looking for. My only complaint with them is that they don't use your registration info to let you know when new upgrades are out.

Edited by Steve Douglas, 01 December 2012 - 12:25 PM.

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#9 kun1

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 01:50 PM

I am also interested in the answers/opinions to nicks question, so i have also been checking out resolve lite. It looks awesome even if a lot of it is overkill for what i want to achieve. I am a little confused how this programme works though. I use Vegas 12 for cutting up footage etc. I was planning on taking my AVCHD (.mts) files placing them into resolve and then exporting them to Vegas. Is this possible? When i open up my computer inside resolve to play around with my footage it doesn't appear, just a empty folder?

#10 wagsy

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 02:43 PM

Right click in the Library to import stuff and nothing happens.
Only way to get a folder import is to set my media storage in preference then close and re open again.
It cannot see Raw HDV mts files either.
It can see Gopro protune and Canon DSLR mov files.

EDIT...okay here is what you have to do.:-)
Click on DaVinci Resolve (top left)
Preferences then Media Storage then on the + and navigate to a drive or folder you want Resolve to have access to.
Save then close and reopen the program then you can see your file :-)
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#11 kun1

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 03:53 PM

So can you see the mts files now or just GoPro and Canon?

I did as you described above, i selected the folder containing the files (i still couldn't see the individual files) it said my preferences had been saved so i closed the programme and then opened it again. In the library i right clicked and selected open file location i brought the folder up (i can see the individual mts files here). I drag and drop into the library but nothing still?

Is this how you are importing to the library?

When i start working with a new programme i usually watch a couple of YouTube videos to help navigate the menus, however they all seem to be for earlier version (pre 9.0) with a different layout..

#12 kun1

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 04:06 PM

Hmmm it's definitely something to do with the GH2 footage. i just tried loading some GoPro Hero3 samples someone posted on the net from the black edition and this is fine i can do what i please with that. It just doesn't see the GH2 video.

#13 Nick Hope

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 09:11 PM

...There's no dynamic linking between SG and other CS6 apps. So it's a fully import/export thing. If you are like me, where during color grading, you realize a scene doesn't go as well so you want to retime or reedit, it gets pretty ugly on time...


Yes, which really makes me think that I'll want to use a proper NLE plugin. I'm pretty entrenched in the workflow of editing then colour correcting the clips right there on the NLE timeline. I'm not too enthused by NewBlueFX Colorfast, which appears to be the only significant CC plugin for Vegas Pro. So that leave Colorista in Premiere Pro looking promising. At least there is Vegas Pro<>Premiere Pro import/export built into Vegas Pro 12 now.

How easy are the standard curves in Premiere Pro to work with (they are crap in Vegas Pro)? Does Colorista have curves or is it all just sliders/eyedroppers? (obviously I'll trial this stuff when I've upgraded my PC)

p.s. Those looking for basic help with Resolve Lite should check out Den Lennie's tutorials.

Edited by Nick Hope, 01 December 2012 - 09:14 PM.


#14 Drew

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:33 AM

The compatible formats for Resolve are on the website. It does not include AVCHD/mts files. From what I understand, some people have rewrapped the files into MOV and it should play. I can't test that now.

Nick, Resolve can do editing, and with the right hardware, all of it in realtime with serious color grading and correction, noise reduction etc. Speedgrade is V1.0 so all that will be coming.

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#15 kun1

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 11:59 AM

AVCHD re-wrapped in a Cineform codec works fine.

#16 wagsy

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 04:23 AM

The Resolve is a virus, stuffed my computer up on install and its pretty hard to uninstall it too.
Might have something to do with all that virus Apple quicktime and support rubbish it installs.
Its nasty....
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#17 Nick Hope

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 04:52 AM

That's worth knowing Wags. How are the curves in Edius. Do you ever use them?

#18 wagsy

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 05:08 AM

Okay... finally got Resolve off the computer.... now this Apple rubbish.
Goodby virus Apple Application Support 60 megs and Apple Software update lol
Why does it take for ever to uninstall Apple software.

EDIUS has four different ways to colour correct, yes it has cures but I use what works best as each one is different.
The new Version allows you to EDIT in 10 bit even on 8 bit material.
I have yet to upgrade to it.
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#19 Drew

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 12:58 PM

Wags,
Are you saying Black Magic is spreading a virus with their downloads? I'll notify them of the issue.

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#20 dougdaulton

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 12:09 PM

GoPro just announced Cineform Studio at NAB,  It is free and adds an light NLE to the color correction tools previously available.

 

http://gopro.com/sof...cineform-studio