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Apple color for Final grade?


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#1 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 07:48 AM

Just wondering what the consensus is on Apple Color as a pro grading tool? On one of the projects I'll be working on shortly the Producer is keen to use a smaller post house that use Apple as their color correction software. I've never used it before and I'm curious how it performs? Does it have power windows? Mastering to a HDcam video master. Im inclined to give it a try provided we have a good colorist on board but id like to hear opinions from anyone who's actually used it.
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#2 Filip Orlandic

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 11:02 AM

Just wondering what the consensus is on Apple Color as a pro grading tool? On one of the projects I'll be working on shortly the Producer is keen to use a smaller post house that use Apple as their color correction software. I've never used it before and I'm curious how it performs? Does it have power windows? Mastering to a HDcam video master. Im inclined to give it a try provided we have a good colorist on board but id like to hear opinions from anyone who's actually used it.


I've been working on the Apple Color and Autodesk Lustre. Apple Color is simple and has less options then Lustre. Luste is one of the best software for the Color Grading.The LOTR, King Kong, Spidermans was grading in Lustre.

Lustre is very, very expencive then Color. If you have a lot of money for the grading you better spend it.

Lustre can run 2k materials with 6 secondary corrections in the real time and has much more effects then Color. Also the plugins are better in the Lustre.

What type of the project is it?

Lustre cost $400.000+ and Final Cut Studio 2 cost $1500.

My final word is that Color is not bad but it is not enough for a serious tv shows and films.
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#3 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 11:18 AM

Filip,
Does Apple color have power windows?

S
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 11:33 AM

I'm going to be grading a feature with Color at the end of March. I'll let you know how it works out.
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#5 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 11:55 AM

I'm going to be grading a feature with Color at the end of March. I'll let you know how it works out.


Thanks Stuart - are you going to grade it yourself or will you be working with a colorist?
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#6 Jayson Crothers

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:09 PM

Stephen~

I timed a film a few months ago on color - it does have power windows and most everything else you'd expect/ask for. Like most things it really depends on your colorist (I fortunately had a great one).

The one thing that bothered me was the rendering time - we weren't working in real-time, so the film would play back at something like 15fps - if we had a window that we had to track with a movement, we'd have to lay it down, render out the clip, watch it, then adjust as needed. Took a bit longer than usual, but beyond that I had no complaints.

To be fair, though, I wasn't doing very much in the session other than some minor tweaks for matching - your results may vary if you're doing a lot of the look in post.
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#7 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:38 PM

Thanks Jayson thats exactly the info i was looking for. Does anybody know if the render time is hardware dependent or is it a character of the software?
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#8 tylerhawes

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 12:45 PM

Hi Stephen,

We're in LA, not London, but I've graded over 30 features with Silicon Color's Final Touch / Apple Color (Apple bought it, that's why it doesn't look like an Apple app). Almost all of our work is on theatrical features, and the rest is national spots and network episodics. IOW, it's all "serious work", contrary to what another post said regarding Color's capabilities. I can do almost anything in Color that I could in other applications including Lustre. One of our Colorists knows Lustre inside and out and overall loves Color's toolset, and frequently laments that he can't do X or Y in Lustre yet he can in Color. In fact, there is a very powerful tool called the Color FX room that allows me to do all sorts of things I could never do in Lustre or DaVinci or anything else, and I end up using it on every film I work on now.

Regarding questions about secondaries, there are eight secondaries built-in as discreet rooms, but in fact you have essentially infinite secondaries through the ColorFX room. Plus I can do things like blend modes, chroma sampling correction, grain tools, bleach bypass, (you need plug-ins to get the best nodes) in the ColorFX room and have it in realtime or close to it, and create some extremely custom looks that are impossible or very difficult in most other apps.

Performance is pretty good, but only on a maxed out system (i.e. we use 8-core Macs with 4Gb Fibre SAN and the highest-end GPU cards available, and there's a big difference between that and the next rung down). I regularly work with full-aperture 2K and can load a primary and a couple secondaries and 3D LUT and not feel it slow down. If I load up several secondaries and starting getting more sophisticated in my grades, then yeah it'll slow down to maybe 16-18fps, but still plenty fast enough for me to judge the footage for all but the most motion-sensitive effects. This is the same as you'd find with Lustre or Nucoda (I spend time on all of them because we're not Apple fanboys, we're always looking at the competition), unless you spend huge money on a Lustre Incinerator system, which not everyone has. Baselight and Quantel are the only systems I've worked on that offer a big increase in realtime.

Overall my point is not that Color is the best DI tool out there; it's not. It does do some things, most noticeabley the ColorFX room, that are uniquely powerful among the competition, and it has a very good layout for long-form grading (I can work very fast with it), and the interactivity when I twist a knob is very good (no delay in feedback, even when looping a shot in playback, because it comes off the GPU; most other systems have a little delay which I find annoying, though tolerable). On the other hand there are some areas where I find it sorely lacking, mostly in its conform tools since they are very rudimentary, lack of 4K support or alpha channel import, and I wish it had a better keyer. Honestly, we've been looking at all the big iron systems (Baselight, Nucoda, Quantel, Lustre, etc.), and in that search I have been constantly re-appreciating Color and its tools, because there are a lot of things I will miss if/when I switch horses.

But the bottom line is that Color as an application can definitely be part of a robust and highly-professional DI solution, our company is living proof of that. If you have a look you want to get, you can absolutely get it with color. The real concerns I would have are the same as ever when working with a DI facility: do they have a track record of scan-to-print total workflow for DI features, do they have complete 3D LUT color management and know how to use it correctly (or are they just grading for Rec. 709, which is feasible but leaves a lot to be desired), are you working in a projection environment or just a desktop monitor, basically do they know what they're doing and are they setup right for theatrical work or are they really a video-centric facility.

And that is the biggest rub against Color, is that it has only been out as an Apple product for less than a year. As a result, you have all sorts of companies that are not true blue DI companies (they do VFX, or editing, or whatever) who have decided that, since they've got this free Color tool now, they will call themselves DI houses. So they're grading on broadcast monitors to Rec.709 without calibrated 3D LUTs. I could get into what is wrong with all that, but it's a whole other thread. OTOH, there are a few places like us, where we've been using Color since it was FinalTouch 1.x three years ago, so it is not anything new to us, and where our whole setup is purpose-built for theatrical features and that is all we do. So you just have to be extra careful to know who it is you're hiring, what is their forte.

Anyway, if you go with a DI facility that is using Color, it won't be the application that would keep you from getting the look you want and a successful DI. It would only be the usual issues, of facilities that haven't quite figured it out 100% yet. It's a sore spot with me because in the last 12 months we've redone four feature DIs that were already done and in some cases printed to film by another DI house. In all but one of those films, I wouldn't say that the first DI facility was grossly incompetent, only that they knew about 90% of what they needed to for finishing a complete DI. And the most dangerous thing is when they know 90% but think they know 100%. It's like that with everything, not just DI, but DI is so new it's especially afflicted. But one last interesting fact: only one of those places were using Color, the others used more expensive systems, and they still screwed up. Which just goes to show, it's not the tool, it's the person (or team) using it.

--
Tyler Hawes, DI Colorist
Liquid DI, Santa Monica
www.liquidcompanies.com
tyler -at- liquidcompanies.com
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#9 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 02:26 PM

Hi Tyler,
Great post very informative thank you. Rest assured i will be working with a good colorist - i just want a sense of the tools capabilities before i have to use it.
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#10 John Brawley

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Posted 13 March 2008 - 05:20 PM

I'm curious how it performs? Does it have power windows? Mastering to a HDcam video master. Im inclined to give it a try provided we have a good colorist on board but id like to hear opinions from anyone who's actually used it.



I think more important than the tool is the colourist ? Have yo worked with them before ? Is this just a post house that have *decided* one of their editors can also be colourists ?

I think you'll find if you're used to other grading platforms, you may find the lack or *real time* processing a bit of a bugger as well. There's nothing as annoying as waiting for a frame to update. Even on still frames, a second to a/b between two grades is still too long.

Is the suite properly set up ? Have they got a nice neutral room for you ?

jb
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#11 Evangelos Achillopoulos

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 02:56 AM

Sorry that I jumped late on that thread…

Since 2005 we are using Final Touch and now it’s Color.

We have finish in Color more than 20 projects all for film out.

In Color its easy to work the grade, I can say it’s almost flawless. The tricky part is the color management and the putting in a project and take out a project…

Through the years we have developed workarounds that has minimize these problems.

Since we have in house a Lasergraphics producer and an Arri laser for film out we decided to share our secret sauce of color management for a small consulting fee to start with and in return to film record our clients’ projects done with Color in our facilities in Athens.

We where in beta testing the idea the last six months with two post houses one in New York and another in L.A.

The result in the quest for WYSIWYG was success, with a marginal error of +/- 1 printer lights.

The total cost for them was one off 5K$ to 10K$ for the initial setup (with all the tools that they have to buy including the arrangement on the display devices and the room environment) and then they just pay for the minute they print in our recorders in prices that are extremely competitive.

For me it’s a tough job because am acting as a DI consultant that’s miles away communicating through Skype, but today after finished and screened the second movie few days ago, I can say that I will have my second credit in IMDB, soon, from an American movie graded in NY and film recorded in Athens, thanks to Color.

I can say that, Color will bring a revolution in the color grading business environment very soon. Of coarse it’s not easy, but soon services like ours will be widely available... but this is the globalization…

In the coming couple of weeks there will be announcements and a new web site that will advertise all that stay tuned.
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Visual Products

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