NEW! The Color Correction Home Study : Is it for you?

Mother Died Home Study

The Mother Died Color Correction Home Study features DaVinci Resolve 10

Wouldn’t you love to stop struggling color correcting video?

I struggled with it for many years. I was a straight-to-broadcast online editor who was taught at the very start of his career what good images look like. And concepts like broadcast legality? They were burned into my soul.

But when I transitioned to non-linear editing, bona-fide color correction tools were placed at my fingertips (Avid Symphony, Autodesk Smoke, Final Cut Pro’s 3-Way Color Corrector). At that point, my ability to make nuanced changes to discreet areas of the image went up exponentially!

Unfortunately, none of my video editor mentors were any more well versed in this ‘color correction voodoo’ than I was. Back then, film colorists were a much rarer breed – and extremely secretive. The result is that I had to struggle to learn it on my own.

For many years I struggled in the craft of Color Correction . . .

I usually managed to produce good-looking images (far better than most of my peers, due my focused attention on developing that skill set). And clients noticed. I’d often win jobs as an editor, in part, because of my ability to ‘bring the job home’ at the end of the process—not just telling the story editorially but visually, too. And for my clients, the additional Production Value that my efforts created? I made my clients look good to their clients.

Over time, through focused practice, I got better at balancing images, matching shots and creating distinct Looks, mood and emotion.

Eventually I became confident enough to start teaching others what I had discovered.

Live version of the Home Study

Atlanta, Georgia – Graduates from the small group Live Training… color grading the short film, “Death Scenes”.

How teaching color correction made me a better colorist

In 2006 I started teaching color grading in front of local Final Cut Pro User Groups. And I started a whole new learning curve! I was asked questions I had never considered. And finding those answers often involved research and paying much more attention to myself, as I was color grading.

In fact, the biggest benefit I had teaching others how to color correct—it forced me to focus on… my eyes and hands!

  • Where are my eyes looking, specifically?
  • What are my hands doing?
  • Why am I making the decisions I’m making?
  • And do my answers to the above questions change – based on how early or late in the color grading process I’m working?

As I started answering these questions for others, at these User Group meetings – I found I became more proficient as a colorist. My learning curve became much less steep – as I explored the fundamentals of the craft, to better explain it to others.

Why my early struggles are your ‘windfall’

All of this is to say . . . I’ve been in your position, struggling!

I remember not understanding why color work that looked great in the morning didn’t look the same after lunch.

I remember struggling with reading an RGB Parade scope… knowing what it was telling me but not knowing how to turn it into actionable information.

I remember asking myself: Is my work any good?

These were questions I never had to ask myself as an editor. After all, I was trained at a busy New York City post-production facility where 90% of my work went straight to air. All those questions were answered by the Editors in front of me. THEY trained me. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the value of their guidance were the years it took off my learning curve, struggling to not make mistakes they all had already made.

Working under experienced, senior editors accelerated my career by YEARS.

But in this new world of software-based color correction? The opportunity for that kind of growth, learning color correction, is still extremely hard to find.

The Color Correction Home Study: Shortening Your Learning Curve

The Colorist Heads-Up Display

In the Home Study I slice and dice all the various interface elements so you know what I’m looking at – and what I’m ignoring.

The Home Study is based on my insights in my own struggles migrating from professional editor to professional colorist. Those struggles have helped inform me how I want to create my own training, here at the

The Color Correction Home Study : Mother Died Edition is the latest iteration in almost 4 years on online mentoring in the craft of color grading.

The Home Study is designed to do three things:

  1. Get you functional on your color correction software, quickly—so you can move on to doing real work, confidently.
  2. Drill the interface training into your muscles by giving you a real-life, meaty project that replicates a real-world color grading job as closely as I can.
  3. Answer the question: Am I doing this correctly?

Is this Home Study for you?

If you’re serious about learning color grading – would you turn down an opportunity to sit next to a professional colorist for a few days? Especially if he was offering you to take home the same film he was working on for you to explore on your own?

That’s what this Home Study offers you.

The Home Study is distillation of almost 15 years of color grading – from someone who had to struggle to get proficient in it.

If you head over to the product page you’ll get a full run-down of all the details of the ‘Mother Died Home Study’.

And since you’ve read this far, here’s $30 Discount Code for you – just for reading this blog post:


The code expires May 31, 2014. And the price of the MasterClass will keep raising over the next week or two during this Launch window. So don’t tarry. If you’re interested, check it out today! And you can read more on this blog about this latest iteration of our Home Study here and here.

Resolve 10 Mother Died Training Banner

Click to read about and purchase the Home Study

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Prerendering and DaVinci Resolve

Resolve 10 Mother Died Training Banner

The new banner for the Members side of our ‘Mother Died: The Grade-Along’ color correction training (featuring DaVinci Resolve 10)

Here at Tao HQ we’ve been busy little Elves getting our new Color Correction training ready.

Earlier this week I shared the opening remarks I make from the first few minutes of Lesson 1: Getting Started and Preparing for Color Correction. Today I want to share 10 minutes of the video Exercise 1: Conforming and Pre-Rendering.

What is Pre-Rendering?

Pre-Rendering is a term I use to solve a problem that happens rarely—but when it does happen it can completely kill your delivery schedule, causing you to blow deadlines (and potentially lose clients).

Like all my other color correction ‘rituals’, the Pre-Render ritual was born out of the ashes of a disaster. And the pre-render was my solution to make sure this disaster never strikes again. Of course, software being software, there’s nothing we can do to be 100% sure that an app won’t crash at the most inopportune moment… but the Pre-Render workflow is designed to find a specific workflow bug and squash it.

Below is a 10 minute excerpt from Tao of Color’s upcoming Grade-Along (featuring DaVinci Resolve). Not only do I explain why I pre-render… I walk you through the process. I think it’s a pretty good example of what you’ll get out of Mother Died: The Grade-Along, when it’s finally released.

In This Video

  • What is ‘pre-rendering’?
  • An quick overview of DaVinci Resolve’s ‘Deliver’ tab
  • Setting our .r3d debayer settings
  • Where Resolve places auto-generated XMLs and AAFs
  • How to generate your own XML and AAF


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Announcing: Colorist Flight School LIVE! 2013

Introducing Our New 3-Day Workshops

Colorist-Flight-School-Wings-800pxI am very pleased to announce that Tao of Color is now offering live training workshops in seven cities around the United States in the Summer / Fall of 2013.

About the Workshop
This idea of offering live workshops—which are an extension of my online training–has been on my agenda for a long time but i was missing one vital component… a short film to base the training around. Why a short film?

Workshopping a Color Grading Session
I needed a short film so I could workshop / mimic a color grading job. From launching the software through final delivery it allows me to teach the software interface on a single cohesive project–rather than a random collection of clips. And all during the process we can talk craft and client relations. It also allows us to do one of the most difficult things there is… grading to someone else’s vision. It allows for a marriage of theory + craft + software. and Colorist Flight School LIVE!
Anyone who has followed the Tao of Color knows that we’ve developed a very close relationship with the horror film anthology site, I grade their extremely popular short films and they license back to me those films in any training that I develop here on the Tao… plus they get a percentage of each transaction, which helps fund their next short film… Win, win and win.

And upon grading the 8th short film in their series, Death Scenes, this past winter – I knew I had finally found the film I needed for my Live workshops. What makes Death Scenes so good for this 3-day workshop?

Patrick teaching at his very first workshop in  Georgia

Patrick teaching at his very first workshop in Georgia

Elements of a great ‘training’ film
Death Scenes is most easily categorized as a supernatural thriller that has all the components I needed to base a workshop around:

  • It’s just long enough: At under 5 minutes, it’s meaty enough to sustain three days of instruction and hands-on training (it took me about 12 hours to grade that film the first time around, including revisions) without being ovewhelming.
  • It’s fun: The antagonist in the film has a GREAT look and the twist surprise at the end was extremely well executed with top-notch monster prosthetics.
  • It cleans up nicely: The film was shot ‘flat-style’ on a Sony F-3. You can really see the results of your work while having many shot-matching challenges associated with an aggressive shooting schedule. Plus, since it was shot directly to ProRes422HQ, the footage is high-quality but not pristine—reflecting the reality that most of us have to deal with on a daily basis.
  • It can be made PG: The blood in this film is largely incidental to the story. I was able to edit out all the objectionable material without losing the story (scroll down to watch the cut-down of the film we’ll be grading in the workshop… and yes, I provide the uncut version of the film if you want to practice with that version at home).
  • Creating Looks is part of the director’s vision: The director needs us to come up with three different Looks for this film – one for the main storyline and two other distinct looks for two different flashbacks from two unique perspectives.
  • Students can take the film home: As with my online training, students are licensed to take this film home with them, continue working on it and integrate their grades into demo reels or use in private client demos. This requirement is really REALLY important to me. Whenever I take live training I’m always annoyed that I can’t take the footage home with me to work with and continue practicing… especially since it’s so hard to find good challenging coherent material to practice upon. All the training at the Tao features this unique benefit and this workshop is no exception.

A 3-Day Workshop That Spans Weeks!

Having a great film isn’t enough… I wanted to create a workshop with ‘legs’. One that starts several weeks before the workshop – and continues long after the workshop ends. I don’t just want to present a ‘3 Days and Out’ event.

To achieve that, here’s what you’ll experience at the Colorist Flight School LIVE! workshop:

  • Two weeks before the Workshop: You’ll gain access to a special sub-site here on the Tao of Color and 14 days before the workshop begins you get access to my one-hour Webinar, “Why Color Grading Is So Hard (and what you can do about it)”. This presentation ensure that the day we start the workshop, everyone in the room has the same fundamental foundation about color grading, room setup, the color grading process and how to read scopes. Even very experienced pros find this presentation filled with interesting facts and I consider it a foundational video for EVERYTHING I do here at the Tao. If you buy ANY of my training here at the Tao you get a similar video… and the Live Workshop is no different.
  • Students brought their own gear to the Atlanta BYOL workshop

    Students brought their own gear to the Atlanta BYOL workshop

    One week before the Workshop: I release my audio recording of my first conversation with the Director and Editor of Death Scenes as we discuss their technical and creative goals and challenges. This 45 minute ‘podcast’ sets the foundation for all the creative work we do at the Workshop.

  • During the 3-Day workshop: The moment the workshop begins, everyone has watched and listened to all the introductory material – so we can start working almost immediately. When you walk in the room, you’re given a USB Tao of Color branded hard drive that’s yours to keep. It contains everything you need during the workshop: XMLs, EDLs, camera-original footage and more. It total there’s just under 90 gigs of material. When the workshop ends you keep everything on that hard drive and export your Resolve database from the previous 3 days worth of work you did so you can continue working on it at home.
  • After the Workshop: Just after the workshop ends, you’ll be given access to the current online version of Colorist Flight School, where you can grade a second, entirely different short film, Dead Man’s Lake. All the video lessons and camera original footage is already on the USB hard drive you received at the workshop – so you can get started grading this second project immediately. You’re given all 6 hours of my DaVinci Resolve fundamentals video training series, so you can revisit core concepts from the workshop. And if that isn’t enough, you get 2 months free access to – the brand new color grading website launch at NAB 2013 with its continuously growing library of quick color grading insights.

What you’ll be learning . . .

While designing the curriculum for the workshop, here’s what I set out as my goals for each student to take-away from this 3-day workshop:

  • Learn to use DaVinci Resolve in context of an actual real-world job
  • Work from importing through final render
  • Learn how to evaluate a shot, use that evaluation to create a plan of attack and execute the plan of attack… all while keeping in mind the creative intent of the Director
  • Solve real-world problems while learning to grade for shot continuity, context and emotion
  • Systematically explore DaVinci Resolve, digging deeper into it’s toolset while learning each step of The Tao Colorist 3-Step Technique
  • Learn advanced keyframing and tracking techniques
  • Work with RAW and LOG camera formats and adapt The Tao Colorist 3-Step Technique for these specific workflows
  • Extensive Q & A opportunities, working through color grading questions you have – at the exact moment you have them.
  • Receive special bonuses that will continue your education for several more months (see the section above)

At the end of this blog post is the full syllabus – which WILL get revised on a class-by-class basis to meet each class’ unique needs and interests.

Who is this Workshop for?

Quite simply: Current or aspiring video professionals. Whether you’ve never touched DaVinci Resolve before or you’re an experienced Resolve colorist – you’ll be challenged, never left behind, never bored. The workshop is appropriate for anyone looking to expand their skill set and make color correction either a primary or secondary offering to their clients.

The only pre-requisite: You need a basic knowledge of timelines and other post-production terminology. It would also be helpful if you’ve tried to apply a 3-way color corrector at some point in your career and have (some) experience working is a non-linear editing package (you needn’t be proficient). Other than that, you should be good to go.

On each of the city-specific Eventbrite sign-up pages I have several of quotes from the attendees of my very first workshop in Atlanta. Here are just two that really summed up my greatest hopes for this Workshop:

“I had never used DaVinci Resolve before and I was little hesitant about [the workshop] because I didn’t feel that my color grading skill were quite up to par as they should be. Patrick did an AWESOME job explaining the use of the software and didn’t make me feel any less about being a beginner with the use of the program. It was a lot to digest in 3 days but I feel more confident moving forward and I’m looking forward to my growth of skill level in using the program and color grading. I would highly recommend to anyone to to take this course if they are able. TAO OF COLOR ROCKS!” – Greg Dinkins / Macon, Ga.

Instructor feedback is a big component of this workshop

Instructor feedback is a big component of this workshop

Quick note: Greg emailed me a few days after taking the workshop… he had trouble getting Resolve to read the camera original P2 footage on a client project (it turns out: Resolve doesn’t read the native P2 folder structure). By the time I had gotten back to him he had already moved on to the ‘flat file’ workflow and cut up a self-contained export and was grading in Resolve.

I can’t tell you how elated I felt, knowing that seven days prior he hadn’t even opened DaVinci Resolve but now could adapt his workflow as needed!

“Well, I have been using Resolve for about a year and a half. I thought [the Workshop] was going to be too basic for me. And that it won’t be worth the money, because it was going to go through stuff I already knew . . . I was completely wrong. It has gone though so many of the finer points and so many things I was doing one way there are better way to do things.  And answered a lot of my basic questions. And have gone into finer details of things I thought I was doing right, but found out there I wasn’t doing it the most appropriate way.” – Rob Leaderman / Atlanta, Ga.

How cool is that? Feedback from two professionals at different points of the learning curve with color correction and DaVinci Resolve. Yet neither felt they were lost, left behind or bored.

7 Cities in 4 Months

When deciding where to host these Workshops, the easy choice would have been to host them in New York City and L.A. But I decided to try an experiment and hold them in smaller markets around the country. I want to see if cities like Austin, Atlanta, Orlando, Boston and others could support a premium 3-day workshop… where student travel expenses could be minimized – instead of just keeping to the big bi-coastal markets.

We’ll see what happens – but thanks to the sponsors of this 7-city tour, it doesn’t matter if only 1 person signs up for a city… if you sign up, I’ll be teaching. It’s that simple.

My minimum enrollment is: One

Here are the 8 cities of this Tour (in order of dates). And other than the Austin event, they’re all being hosted by Future Media Concepts:

What cities and dates is this workshop being offered?

Click on a city to be taken directly to the sign-up page, or use the calendar on the right

  • Atlanta, GA: May 30 – June 1 (completed)

The Sponsors That Make This Workshop Happen

If it weren’t for these following sponsors, I couldn’t roll out this training the way I am. Thanks to their financial support, I can guarantee every single workshop will be held, even if only one person signs up! Who knows, if you sign up and end up with one-on-one training… you could easily be the most well-trained colorist in your market! And if 10 of you show up… you’ll have the basis for a local color grading User Group!


Gold Sponsor

FSI is a direct-to-end user manufacturer of high-quality, feature-rich, price-competitive LCD critical viewing reference panels for professional video applications.

They will be shipping one of their 10bit reference LCDs to each workshop so all attendees can optionially spend some time grading to a 10-bit reference monitor.

FSI is also providing a 10% discount to all workshop attendees that can be applied to ANY of their gear (a potential $550 savings).


Supporting Sponsors

Yes, the co-creators of the original Kona card, the creators of the Decklink series of output boards (plus a bevy of other conversion and monitoring gear) and the company that bought DaVinci and released the amazingly free version of DaVinci Resolve are on-board as Supporting Sponsors of the 2013 Tour of Colorist Flight School LIVE!

BlackMagic is also providing an UltraStudio Mini for this Workshop to demonstrate how we can get from a Thunderbolt-enabled computer out to the FSI 10-bit LCD display.

Thanks to Blackmagic, at the end of every workshop we will be raffling off:

  • The full version of DaVinci Resolve ($999 value)

If the winner already has the full version of Resolve they can optionally choose one of these boxes that allow for monitoring out of any Thunderbolt laptop, iMac or tower:

  • UltraStudio Express
  • UltraStudio Mini

Event Host


Another instrumental partner is this series of 7 workshops is Future Media Concepts. It's as much an experiment for them as this is for me. And they made it much easier for me to coordinate this multi-city tour. Thanks to their agreement to open up their facilities across the USA to this workshop... I can focus on creating a great workshop, knowing I'll have quality learning labs and projectors.

Final Thoughts

In a few days I'll post pictures and thoughts about my very first time presenting Colorist Flight School LIVE! in Georgia. We had a great time and Walter Biscardi and his staff at Biscardi Creative were amazing hosts.

In the meantime, feel free to head over to Eventbrite to reserve your spot in your city of choice! I've set a limit of 10 students per workshop, so if you want to attend don't dawdle... go ahead and sign up.

As promised, here's...

The 3-Day Agenda

Note: The curricula below comprise activities typically covered in a class at this skill level. The instructor may, at his/her discretion, adjust the lesson plan to meet the needs of the class.

Day 1

  • Introductory remarks & review of materials provided to students in the two weeks prior to start of the workshop
  • Overview of the course material provided on the hard drive
  • Introduce each other
  • Prepping DaVinci Resolve for a new project (includes setting up databases and core system / project preferences)
  • Tour of DaVinci Resolve
  • How to find and load footage
  • Scene Cut Detection
  • Importing a timeline via XML / EDL / AAF
  • Checking imported timelines against a reference movie
  • Essentials of: Color Balancing, neutralizing color casts, setting contrast and saturation, using the Waveform / RGB Parade / Vectorscope monitors
  • “The Grayscale Game - Contrast"
  • Doing primary adjustments using: Color wheels, Curves, Log tools
  • Exercise: Execute the Primary Grades for a section of the short film
  • Exercise: Intro to Shot Matching
  • Using the Gallery & Still Store

 Day 2

  • XML Recap
  • “The Grayscale Game - Color"
  • The value of ‘pre-rendering’
  • Instructor review of Primary Grades from end of Day 1
  • Serial Nodes In Depth
  • Qualifications
  • Add Outside Node
  • The Three Step Color Grading Process... applied to nodes.
  • What is shot matching and how do you do it?
  • Exercise: Match shots across the previously graded section of the short film
  • Instructor review
  • Power windows
  • Inside / Outside Nodes
  • Basic Tracking techniques
  • Exercise: Add vignettes and face masks
  • Keyframing
  • Pulling HSL keys
  • The ‘Hue vs.’ curves
  • Exercise: Start creating Looks
  • How understanding the ‘Singularity Effect’ will help you in creating convincing Looks
  • Continuing with Looks
  • Tracking and 'Interactive Mode'

Day 3

  • XML Recap
  • Tracking Recap
  • 'The Grayscale Game - Color & Contrast'
  • Create accounts to access the Colorist Flight School ‘Dead Man’s Lake’ training
  • Continuing with Looks
  • Parallel and Layer Mixer Nodes: What's the difference?
  • Composite Modes
  • Create 2nd Look: Student Choice
  • Exercise: Controlling your image using ‘image segmentation’
  • Creating ‘Approval Renders’ for client review
  • Creating final renders for ‘flat file’ and ‘roundtrip’ workflows
  • Working with RAW camera formats (RED, BlackMagic Cinema Camera)
  • Introduction to ‘Dead Man’s Lake’ and working with ‘flat’, Log-encoded footage... with and without LUTs
  • Export your DaVinci Resolve Colorist Flight School project files - so you can take the work home with you and continue your studies.
  • Class Photo


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