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View Full Version : Best way to color correct RED footage



Elyse
01-23-2009, 12:09 PM
Greetings!

Okay, so I know everyone has their own workflows on how to do things. What workflow would you peeps recommend when color correcting?

We've just been trying various methods but they all seem a bit lengthy to me and I'm sure someone out there has figured out a great workflow.

I work on FCP. Available color correcting programs: Color, also CC in AE, since graphics are involved.

Thanks in advance!

Noah Kadner
01-23-2009, 12:17 PM
Well *best* way is in a Scratch Suite but that's not really cost-effective. Best way with FCP is working with the .R3D files in Color or with DPX files output from RedCine- depending on your workflow outside of Color.

Noah

Birns and Sawyer
01-23-2009, 12:22 PM
Best way is to make at least basic CC decisions off of the RAW file, then do any fine-tuning necessary in your last product. Sometimes that's only one step (FCP-Color native) or it can be more (REDcine-DPX-Whatever).

Elyse
01-23-2009, 03:02 PM
let me restate my actual question.

WHAT ARE YOUR WORKFLOWS FOR COLOR CORRECTING?

thanks.

Gregory Leno
01-23-2009, 03:09 PM
Charming.

Uli Plank
01-23-2009, 03:53 PM
Read the FCP whitepaper!
It describes three workflows. All three are valid depending on your project. There is no single best workflow for everyone.

Dan Hudgins
01-23-2009, 04:13 PM
Why do you use FPC?

"Best" source and result for CC is 48bpp TIF, like my system uses for I/O.

Mark Crabtree
01-23-2009, 05:34 PM
Color correcting for my studio is done with CineForm and Synthetic Aperture's Color Finesse. We convert the R3D to CineForm 4K Raw. Then we can play the CineForm 4K file in real time on our desktop and apply 3D Luts we make from Synthetic Aperture color corrections. The 3d luts color correct and play in real time. We render out to CineForm HD444 for our final master. More details can be found at cineform.com.

Todd M.
01-24-2009, 01:57 AM
Why do you use FPC?

"Best" source and result for CC is 48bpp TIF, like my system uses for I/O.

I've never actually used this acronym before, but this seems deserving...

OMG! :ohmy: :ohmy: :ohmy:

Have you developed a DOS based CC suite? Seriously, OMG! I'm simultaneously hideously scared and bizarrely excited. Your site is too much.

Obin Olson
01-24-2009, 08:06 AM
Scratch all the way for the serious 'high end' look

Alex Carr
01-24-2009, 08:09 AM
FCP > Clipfinder > FCPtoAE = 4k Grading and Compositing.

I have been Onlining and Grading in After Effects. I dont like premiere and I think its limited in other depts. However AE is very nice when it comes to Power windows, VFX, and Color. Since you are dealing with R3d file instead of 2k tif or Dpx you can save money on a smaller Raid and still get decent Playback. However AE does not apply the LUTs used in all the other programs associated with Red R3d. You basically are looking at a 12 bit Linear Image with no LUT. Similar to CameraRGB / Redlog.

But I will say, AE is the cheapest solution to 4k R3d Compositing.

BigLu
01-24-2009, 11:07 AM
Offline Edit in FCP using proxys , or preferibly in any codec you desire.
It is important that the file name has not been changed. But this is offline only so the quality does not matter or color 1 bit.
Once finsihed,

Export an XLM / use Crimson / add 2 second handles for transitions ect.
Send that to REDCINE do your first light color pass to a grade you are very happy with do not clip your highlights or crush your blacks to far.
Export out QT 10Bit uncompressed if your system can handle if not you may be forced to work with a ProRes 422 codec.

Round trip VIA Crimson to FCP,
Send that to Color, Grade the MV retaining the 2 second handles in color, render, send to FCP do your final transitions finish
Export out DONE.

Good luck

Dan Hudgins
01-24-2009, 01:32 PM
Have you developed a DOS based CC suite?

Because when you work with uncompressed 4K TIF frames with normal harddrives it takes about one minute per frame to do the processing. To speed that up you would want several computers, for pro work maybe 40 computers running in parallel. To cut the costs you can use FreeDOS FAT32 (tm) (or Windows ME rescue boot floopy) as the OS, FreeDOS is free, as is my system being freeish more or less right now. Most of the CC time is harddrive/OS time, not the CC which is about 20% maybe.

What that gets you is a high quality DI without high cost hardware and fees, each computer box in your renderfarm could cost maybe $250 since high res video and monitor/keyboard/mouse are not needed to process frames you can use a switch box to start each batch of frames to process. The computer just needs on mother VGA, and a harddisk rack to hold the 750GB+ harddrive with the frames to process that was formatted FreeDOS, or boot with the FreeDOS CD if the computer also has a CD drive.

The object is to produce 0K-1920-2K-4K-8k? output at a quality equal or better than profesional DI made on high end equipment. The color correction is ment to the type of color correction that was triditional in optical printing, more filters may be added later for color alteration. You can always use any third party program to alter TIF frames used at any stage of the DI workflow to get effects.

Harry Clark
01-28-2009, 06:10 PM
A well-equipped Scratch suite with a talented colorist (a rare commodity at the moment) is the best way to really do a nice color correction, in real time, with control over secondaries, cages, windows, and diffusion masks.
Anything else is less gratifying for me.
But the strength of Red post is that there are many paths.
For me, as a camera guy who is used to telecine, the Scratch room scenario works best.
Cheers,
Harry
ps- this is for TV work. Obviously, filmout work may be different.

Dane Brehm
01-28-2009, 08:26 PM
Know a Colorist:)

Calibrated Monitors are also a nice way to Grade accurately.

Frank Weeks
01-28-2009, 11:18 PM
I have FCP. I have CS4.

IMHO, FCP and color are still the best path for final results. I am considering Scratch but... well thats a chunk of change. Since learning color (credit to Lynda.com) I love the results. I've works with Premier and AFX for much longer but have not yet found a CC program that works as well. If one exists( and this old dog can learn new tricks) I would love it.
Until then, I use Redrushes, FCP and Color.

Just my Two cents.

Matthew Greene
01-29-2009, 12:03 AM
I like the edit in Premiere natively, import the project into After Effects to color correct and output. Pretty straightforward.

Nathan Garofalos
01-29-2009, 12:29 AM
I did a different way of editing into color, heres the link to my write up.

http://reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?t=25554

KevinStanley
01-29-2009, 12:39 AM
Dan's workflow is crazy!! More power to you buddy.

I agree with reading the RED whitepapers available in the FCP plugin download from the support page, it will answer your question more thoroughly than we will. I use proxy>send to color>send to FCP>export for shortform, just know that the proxies will be dark and need to be relatively short for this workflow, and don't do any time remapping, transitions.. or anything really. For longer projects I will be transcoding everything using L&T or RedRushes into prores for offline, when offline is complete I will media manage back to proxies and export an EDL for import to Color. CC in color and send to FCP in ProResHQ. done and done, having R3Ds in color packs a punch, I love it.

oh and for the "Best" CC, can't believe nobody mentioned Quantel Pablo, it smokes everything else I have ever seen. multiple layers of 4K CC in Real Time. Plaster City has 2 I believe and one is hooked up to their 2K Christie, it's sweet!

Kevin Stanley

Kyle Mallory
01-29-2009, 11:51 AM
Piranha Cinema... R3D->Piranha->DPX/EXR/CIN out

Conform, Edit, Composite, Color, and export all-in-one.

Michael Cioni
01-30-2009, 06:06 PM
This is an interesting thread and full of good information. In my opinion, there are 2 ways to break this discussion down. Because this issue is so vast, I'm purposefully targeting bullet points from a more macro perspective. Hopefully some of this information will be helpful.

The first issue is "What is the ideal workflow for color correction?"
The second issue is "What is the ideal way in which to color correct?"

IDEAL WORKFLOW
Speaking technically about workflow might be a good start, because it's not as subjective.
Whichever path you explore, the ideal way to prepare Red footage for grading is commiting to a workflow that
A) requires the least amount of processing steps (ie: avoiding multiple passes of transcoding, even when uncompressed)
B) can perform the highest debayer quality
C) maintain the highest bit rate possible (R3Ds @ 12bbc native)

Each of the systems mentioned on this thread are affected in some way by these three basic criteria. Some systems support R3D natively whereas other require transcoding or base-band transferring. Some systems debayer in 2K full whereas others can do 4K full. And some systems can work in 10bbc whereas others float at 32.

The motive behind aligning your workflow to the highest common denominator is to maximize image potential in the actual grading process. The process of color correction is really a process of color separation. Precise qualifications can only be achieved with clean source material and the result of one's grade is partially dependent on the quality of one's source. With R3Ds, there is essentially a hierarchy of debayering potential which contributes to varying results when taking the same source media through different pipelines. For example, it is common to compare the differences between 444 and 422 processed footage. Though the naked eye cannot observe a difference, a computer surely can. Likewise, RGB footage characteristics will certainly behave better for a colorist, enabling the colorist to perform his/her job with less resistance from the media.

IDEAL GRADING
With respect to the opinions of filmmakers, enthusiasts and colorists alike, I estimate the colorist's talent makes up 2/3rds of an "ideal" grading situation. Regardless whether or not images are processed perfectly, the skillful eyes of a colorist will make all the difference in skin tones, balancing, mood and style. The balance hangs in the workflow leading up to the grade and the quality of the color correction equipment, monitor calibration and debayer quality.

COMPARISON
Because the world of R3Ds continues to evolve, so must the workflow in getting the images to perform better for the colorist. At PlasterCITY, we constantly test new workflows and compare the results in order to understand what each potential workflow offers.
Because many of the films we work on are mastered on 35mm, resolution, sharpness, color accuracy along with speed and list management play a key role in an efficient DI process. Below are two charts that assess debayering pattern results between different R3D supported tools. We always encourage people to do their own tests, but this is what we have found with the tools that we use in house.

This test was done with the best settings possible with each toolset. Since "best" settings obviously vary from system to system or plugin to plugin, it's not a true apples-to-apples test, but it does demonstrate results of unfiltered sharpening characteristics from a 4K source with familiar tools.

Below is a reference still from the film S. Darko (Donnie Darko 2).

My advice to everyone working towards improving workflow and color grading results is to test your available tools from start to finish against each other and time the results. There will inevitably be a cost vs. time trade off as well as a quality vs. investment trade off. Figure out where a project fits into this equation and you will develop finely tuned workflows that can aid in calculating your margin on investment.

Peter Lyons Collister, ASC
01-31-2009, 08:48 AM
Michael,

As always you take the time to post a comprehensive and informative response.

I sometimes forget how important the debayer process is and how different the results are from different engines and systems.

Thank you

Andrae Palmer
01-31-2009, 09:19 AM
Michael,

Wow! Thanks for the reference stills... what amazing differences. The Pablo stands out more to me (around the eyebrows)... is this because of the 4k full debayer?

Michael Cioni
01-31-2009, 10:01 AM
Peter-
You are very welcome. It's my job to figure this stuff out. Sharing the information with others will hopefully improve this process for everyone. When it comes to post, we love a challenge.

Andrae-
In this comparison, 4K debayers were possible on the following tools:
Pablo Scratch RedCine Adobe RedAlert & RedRushes
2K debayers are the limit for
Color Log&Transfer Proxy & Native

So the vast majority support full 4K debayers but each manufacture does it slightly differently, thus the varied results.
One of the most interesting things we found in this test is that NATIVE looks very clean and sharp initially, but there is actually a significant amount of sharpening being performed and if you look closely (and on a scope) Native is actually the worst HD form of a full R3D transcode we could come up with.

One way this test may be very helpful is that we come across a lot of clients who do not need a full debayer in the mastering process. They want to transcode and just color correct the offline files to save time and money and the complexity of a reconform (which I think many people oversimplify). What this test shows you is what and how you should transcode for optimum results in mastering from a dailies source.

The biggest example of this is the output from Color. I know a lot of people are excited by this, including myself, but our results have shown that going back to R3Ds with Color and rendering 2K DPX frames yields poorer results than transcoding in RedRushes at half/high and grading the ProRes. You lose the Color room, but if you transcode dailies at half/high using RedLog, you will have a significant amount of dynamic range even in the ProRes to grade with. You give up the meta data and drop to 10bits, MPEG4.

M Most
01-31-2009, 01:42 PM
One way this test may be very helpful is that we come across a lot of clients who do not need a full debayer in the mastering process. They want to transcode and just color correct the offline files to save time and money and the complexity of a reconform (which I think many people oversimplify). What this test shows you is what and how you should transcode for optimum results in mastering from a dailies source.

The biggest example of this is the output from Color. I know a lot of people are excited by this, including myself, but our results have shown that going back to R3Ds with Color and rendering 2K DPX frames yields poorer results than transcoding in RedRushes at half/high and grading the ProRes. You lose the Color room, but if you transcode dailies at half/high using RedLog, you will have a significant amount of dynamic range even in the ProRes to grade with. You give up the meta data and drop to 10bits, MPEG4.

While I don't seriously disagree with this, there are a number of caveats that should be included when making the statement. First, you are talking only about debayering here, and while it does contribute a great deal to the overall quality of the final image, the fact remains that for color correction to be as flexible as it can be, and for the colorist to have the best opportunity to manipulate the image for a creative but clean result, it is very, very helpful to have all of the information from the sensor available without concatenated compression schemes and without nearly a good deal of the available value levels of the image format remaining essentially insignificant. So while the debayer result from, say, Color may have issues, the fact is that if the material is overexposed, a colorist will have more opportunity to recover information using that method than he/she will have using a "transcode to Prores" approach. So all of these things are tradeoffs, something that is understood by those with experience, but overlooked by those who don't have a lot of post experience. For those who will look at your statement as the "magic button" answer - the "just do this and everything is perfect" solution - there's more to it than that. Second, this is really only related to a do it yourself approach, because most facilities are already using full debayering (or, at the very least, Half/High) as part of their process, be it as part of the render path prior to color correction (as you have until this point for projects finished on Pablo) or as part of the finishing path (if one is using, say, Scratch as the color correction tool).

It should also be said that what you're advocating does not necessarily work directly in some of the situations you're describing, because most clients want dailies for editorial that at least to some degree represent the final visual intent. So most editorial dailies are transcoded using either Redspace or 709 gamma in order to retain that. Your comments regarding color correcting from Prores yielding superior results to the "R3d in Color" approach are dependent on transcoding using Redlog to retain as much of the original information as possible in a format that can be used for color correction. In most cases this would, at the very least, require a Crimson type of approach (i.e., a second transcode of included material), because most clients would not want to be cutting with Redlog coded images. Unless, of course, I'm misunderstanding what you're saying here....

Tim Whitcomb
01-31-2009, 03:09 PM
Hey guys -I would like to chime in that technical challenges aside... I think the single most important point here is under Michael's IDEAL GRADING section.

I could not agree more, but think the percentage in reality, is more like 95% creative, 5% toolset as far as coloring goes.

Having had the luxury of working on a PABLO 4K, the difference between a Senior and Junior Colorist was FAR greater than the difference between the technology.

To me, the WORST thing about FCP Color, is that people off the street, suddenly assume that because they have a toolset, this makes them a colorist.

Even if it drastically improves what they shot. (Not to mention any real DP, is not a fan of a colorist, UNLESS, he is correcting an exposure mistake.) Most pro DP's I know, would rather capture the look IN CAMERA any day of the week. But I digress.

Historically, a COLORIST was a position that took YEARS AND more like DECADES to master in film. A lot of these dudes were in their 40's 50's and 60's before they perfected their craft with a few exceptions.

There is a lot more to it than correcting skin tones, or changing day for night. Secondary grading, vignetting, masking, etc.. techniques designed to punch a scene, or enhance a moment and on and on, is an ART FORM.

An art form that seldom few can "pick up" in a few sessions with Color or Scratch or even a powerful tool like Pablo.

I for one would be more worried about this aspect, than what the best tools and debayering techniques are... especially with how fast this stuff is changing.

I would LOVE to see senior colorists teach the ART side of it, more than the myriad of information about the technical challenges behind the art.

But then, they would most likely be putting themselves out of jobs :)

Tim Whitcomb
01-31-2009, 03:23 PM
Oh and MMOST - 1000 BONUS points for successfully using Concatenation ...in a sentence!

Andrae Palmer
01-31-2009, 04:20 PM
If its only 5% toolset... perhaps we should all rely on painters to color movies. Perhaps this ratio is best... 5% toolset... 45% mastery of that toolset... 50% aesthetics.

Tim Whitcomb
01-31-2009, 04:45 PM
Hi Andrae...

45% mastering (i.e. acquired skill) and 50% Aesthetic (i.e. trained eye) kind of supports my argument of 95% art form ... don't you think?

id take a really good photoshop artist and give them a moving picture toolset
over a painter. less learning curve from medium to medium.

I am NOT a colorist... so my point is... id bet a seasoned colorist on FCP color, will kick my ass even if Im on a Pablo or Davinci. because in that context, my toolset and workflow advantage is irrelevant.

Steve Freebairn
01-31-2009, 04:50 PM
Michael, Great post, I did want to point out just in case the shot you posted wasn't a pickup, that we shot it with B15 4k 2:1, Not B16. Again, if the shot you posted is a pickup that was done later, then I apologize. I'm looking forward to working with you again on the winter project that starts shooting in a week and a half. Michael and everyone else at Plaster City was great to work with.

Andrae Palmer
01-31-2009, 04:58 PM
Hi Andrae...

45% mastering (i.e. acquired skill) and 50% Aesthetic (i.e. trained eye) kind of supports my argument of 95% art form ... don't you think?

id take a really good photoshop artist and give them a moving picture toolset
over a painter. less learning curve from medium to medium.

I am NOT a colorist... so my point is... id bet a seasoned colorist on FCP color, will kick my ass even if Im on a Pablo or Davinci. because in that context, my toolset and workflow advantage is irrelevant.

45% mastering the toolset is way different than 45% mastering the aesthetic. The way I view it... a colorist is one part technician and one part artist. The ratio leans more heavily towards technician if the colorist does not have any creative freedom.

Michael Cioni
01-31-2009, 08:30 PM
Steve-
You are right. The metadata header read the clip as B15. I had it mixed up with a different clip. Either way, the film is awesome and final DI looks better on the print than the DCP. -More on our findings about R3Ds prints to Vision later...
For now, this thread shows lots of good things to think about. The only thing I wish to reiterate is that these debayering results are one facility's findings. Everyone should do their own tests and evaluate the variables.
The subjectivity of talent is always going to be a point of great debate. Have at it. But this information can help people start their own workflows with their best foot forward. Admittedly, as Mike Most suggests, there are dozens of possibilities to explore with this information. Knowing where each path may take you will inevitably help narrow the path. And each narrowed path may turn out to be a different custom fit for every Red user.