DaVinci Resolve 12 – Little Gems #1

(plus, why this Gem is slightly cracked)

What’s one of the fun things when working in a brand new, completely updated version of the software you use professionally? Why, discovering all the little features that didn’t make it into the marketing material! That’s what this little series is about. As I discover nifty stuff about Resolve 12, I’ll point them out right here in this Little Gems series.

About Resolve 12’s new Curves editor

Before we dig into Gem #1, DaVinci Resolve 12 has given us a new ‘unified’ Curves interface which can use a little explanation.

Starting with Resolve 12, no longer do we need to jump into a larger ‘gigantor’ interface to make niggly tweaks to our custom curves. In addition, more closely mimicking the Avid Symphony curves editor, the end-points of our curves are now free floating. This has been a feature request of mine for quite a few years!

The Resolve 12 New Curves Editor

The curve editor in Resolve 12 has been completely redesigned.


Why? First, it make Resolve more approachable to Symphony colorists who can draw curves the way they’re used to (although to get to parity with Symphony’s curves, this new curves interface needs little Text boxes so we can numerically tweak our points more precisely than a mouse allows). But there’s another reason I wanted free-floating end points…

Free-floating end points allow more precise LAB corrections

I’ve got an example from a job I graded earlier this year, BloodyCuts.co.uk’s ‘Outer Darkness‘. For one scene, I used LAB to handle the Saturation expansion. The scenes had low light levels and I found LAB saturation expansion worked very cleanly and really popped the skin tones where I wanted them to pop. Here’ a screenshot with the LAB node active, graded in Resolve 11’s old Curves editor:

Resolve 11's Gigantor Curves Interface

Resolve 11’s Gigantor Curves Interface with the green and blue channels set for contrast expansion of AB in the LAB colorspace (click to open full size).

My problem here? Look at the roll-off at the 100IRE and 0IRE marks. See how the curves sharply roll-off? And then there are the additional points I need to add to the middle of the graph to straighten out the contrast expansion as much as I can. I need to write 3 points simply because Resolve 11 (and earlier) wouldn’t let us move the end points and create a perfectly linear contrast expansion.

(Also notice how the very center of the grid is being used to keep this contrast expansion as neutral as I can… we’ll be coming back to that)

I consider this a Faux-LAB grade. It works. I use it. But other apps  do this more cleanly and I prefer a perfectly linear contrast expansion since I’m a bit compulsive about these things.

In Resolve 12 I imported this project and pulled up the same shot

The import worked perfectly. It precisely replicated the grade I created in Resolve 11. Next is a screenshot from Resolve 12 with the Green channel rebuilt, pulling inward the two endpoints to give me a perfectly linear contrast expansion in the A channel. The type of curve I’ve wanted to write (but couldn’t) in the last few versions of DaVinci Resolve:

A linear green curve overlaying the 'old' blue curve

A linear Green channel (with the endpoints moved) overlaying the ‘old’ Blue Channel (with the endpoints pinned)


Take a close look on the overlay between the A and B channels (click to open the screenshot full size). The blue B channel meanders giving us more and less saturation as blue pixels move up and down the tonal range, compared to the A channel’s perfectly linear slope. THAT’s the advantage of being able to move our endpoints in the Curves graph, much greater precision in our curve writing.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post…

Gem #1: The New Curves ‘Copy To’ Command

While playing around with LAB, I pulled down the ‘ellipses’ option menu and found the ‘Copy to’ command.

The new 'Copy to' options in DaVinci Resolve 12

Click on the ‘ellipses’ pull-down menu to expose the new ‘Copy to’ commands.


When working in LAB, you’ll usually want to start with the A and B channels perfectly aligned to each other. Doing this by hand would be imprecise but thanks to the ‘Copy to’ Command, having made my change to the green A channel, I can perfectly copy that curve to the blue B channel.

Thank you, my Blackmagic overlords.


The Cracked Gem: No grid for referencing endpoint placement

If you scroll up to the Resolve 11 screenshot, you’ll notice a nice neat grid in the background of the Curves editor. I use this to more precisely ensure my LAB contrast expansions are perfectly symmetrical, with 50% always passing through the 50% mark. Take a look at this correction again, with the green A channel copied to the blue B channel, perfectly overlaid and answer these next questions:

Are the bottom endpoints pulled into the box precisely as far as the top endpoints are pulled in?

Is the center point of the AB channels perfectly crossing the center point of this graph, keeping the correction completely neutral?

The green and blue channels perfectly overlayed in Resolve 12

Using the ‘Copy to’ command, the blue channel perfectly matches the green channel (click to enlarge)


I have no idea. In Resolve 11 I’d just have to make sure the curve passes through the mid-point of the lined graph and I’d know my correction is ‘passing through neutral’.

In Resolve 12 I have to take a ruler and measure my screen. There’s a reason Photoshops Curves editor has a selectable grid size. Grids are USEFUL!

This is especially true when grading LAB. LAB benefits from the precise adjustments of the endpoints. The best we can do with this new interface is approximate. Which is all we could do in Resolve 11 but a completely different approximation.

So – while I appreciate the new Curves interface; while the new ‘Copy to’ command is indeed a Little Gem—we’ve gained one form of precision while losing another.

How do you make a HappySad emoticon?

– pat

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How NAB 2015 Showed Me The Future (I could see today)

Imagine you’re at your favorite restaurant

You sit at a now-familiar table. Your waitress greets you by name and, without asking, brings you your favorite drink. She has the menu in her hand but doesn’t hand it to you, “The usual?”

You almost agree—but reconsider.

You decide to look at the menu and you notice it’s changed. The entrees are all familiar but they’re cooked differently. Clearly the menu has been updated.

You order a few new items and suddenly… Familiar food tastes completely different.

Welcome to my NAB 2015 experience—where the familiar NAB suddenly tasted different

In today’s Newsletter I’ll be covering three topics:

  • My initial, unformed thoughts about the more widely used bits of post-production software
  • Congrats to a favorite sponsor of this website winning NAB’s Best of Show
  • And an in-depth discussion of the absolute highlight of any NAB I’ve attended, ever!

I’ll be covering both software and hardware features and releases that (mostly) aren’t here today but will be soon. I’m especially jazzed about the hardware I saw this week… technology that has been promised to us but has been either impossible to actually see or underwhelming in previous years.

I feel like this was the first NAB in my career where I saw the future of our technology before it’s actually arrived—and I walked away excited (but, with one technology, a tad concerned).

But let’s prologue with some fun statistics

  • Total steps walked from Friday morning through Thursday night: 89,855 (my weekly average is: 30k – 40k steps)
  • Parties attended: 5
  • Parties missed (that I know of): 4
  • Best meal: At the Team Mixing Light dinner, the Tao Treasurer and I ate the Peking Duck Tasting Menu at the first Michelin rated Chinese restaurant in the United States: ‘Wing Lei’.The meal was fantastic until the final entree, which was average and a bit dry.For the first time I also tasted Mochi Ice Cream, which I shared with our guest speaker for the next day’s training, Andrea Chlebak—the colorist of ‘Chappie’ and ‘Elysium’ out of Vancouver’s SkyLab. It has a strange texture, indeed.

Getting to business, what are my initial impressions of this week’s software updates? Let’s start with DaVinci Resolve 12

My very first reaction… Wow, lot’s of eye candy interface changes—I hope Resolve 12 is more than just pretty icons and fonts. 

Then I thought: Holy crud, I need to completely re-record our 14-hour Davinci Resolve Deep Insights training. A mere ‘What’s New’ update is fine for existing users. But all those new editor-types they’re attracting? A ‘What’s New’ title won’t cut it.

Five minutes later, after messing around on the interface, what did I think?

I like the eye candy. I like the interface changes. They are improvements and they’re not all extraneous.


When evaluating new versions of DaVinci Resolve I always ask myself:

  • Did they remove mouse clicks (streamlining the interface)
  • Did they give me new tools enabling new creative possibilities?

My first impression: Yes on both counts (with one big concern).

Here are a few of my DaVinci Resolve 12 first impressions

  • As usual, Blackmagic Marketing emphasized everything BUT color correction (if you look at the banner outside the South Hall, color correction falls under ‘And More’). I’ve learned to stop stressing about it—it’s what they do. Besides, colorist and DaVinci Resolve Product Specialist Alexis Van Hurkman confirms that fully half the new Resolve 12 features fall within the Color tab. And the software seems it.
  • A 2-year feature request of mine was finally implemented! We now have endpoints on curves! And thanks to all of our Mixing Light members who tweeted me about this long-time complaint of mine finally being addressed :-)This means Avid Symphony colorists can now manipulate curves the way they expect… and those of us exploring the LAB colorspace can make ‘cleaner’ AB contrast adjustments. Thanks Team DaVinci Resolve!
  • Favorite new command: Node tree cleanup. FINALLY! Plus, we can now nest multiple nodes… and then color correct on top of the nest. For example, if you take a few nodes for the initial base grade, you can now nest those down to one node, then grade on top of that for your Shot Matching Pass. Very cool. But if you’re not careful you may find yourself clicking way more often than you used to.
  • 2nd favorite new command: “Append Node to Selected Clips”. This will save MANY mouse clicks.

Some other little nifty items that jumped out:

  • In Multicam sequences, you can ‘step in’ to the single track multicam and grade each camera separately in the Color Tab. For those kinds of jobs, it’s a thoughtful feature.
  • Alpha channel outputs can be fed directly into Video. Very useful if you want to clean up your key signal using your normal grading tools or pull up a clip assigned as a Matte and use it as a video source.
  • ‘Convert window to bezier shape’: Select a normal pre-defined Circle Power Window and morph it into a bezier to re-shape it asymmetrically. Nice.
  • The new 3D keyer and 3D tracker look like terrific enhancements. Especially the 3D tracker.
  • The functional but non-grading Specialty Nodes (like the Keyer, Splitter, Combiner) now look different than grading nodes—which should help newbies not mistake them for color correction nodes (a problem I frequently help them correct).

Of course, I’ve got a few Resolve 12 features I’m concerned about

  • The redesigned Frame Mode in the tracker: Is it simplified or has it been dumbed down? I couldn’t tell on the show floor. I love the power user functionality of the current Frame mode. I’m nervous they made the tracker less useful on shots where tracking fails and needs human interaction.
  • The redesigned Curves interface: I get that the old Curves interface almost always required jumping into Gigantor Mode (yes, that’s the actual name of the current super-big curves display). But the Photoshop style overlapping RGB curves now requires button pushing to move between R,G,B channels. It’s impossible to directly select a curve when adding that first control point.For that reason, I don’t like that interface on Photoshop. Since I’m always looking for updates to remove mouse clicks… this interface revision has definitely added a whole bunch of new mouse clicks—and I’m not happy about that.

Moving on…

I don’t like the Big Picture color correction changes in the new release of Final Cut Pro X

Let me explain…

For years, I’ve said that Apple brought color grading as a stand-alone craft to the forefront of our industry when they bundled Apple Color with Final Cut Pro legacy. Suddenly, color correction wasn’t a teeny plug-in buried in your NLE.

Color correction gained wide-spread recognition as it’s own craft with dedicated software. It started to become something even micro-productions could do.

I then gave Apple HUGE kudos for continuing that tradition in Final Cut Pro X. No, I still don’t care for the Color Board (though I’ve finally learned how to make precise, accurate moves on it and am much more ‘at peace’ with the interface). But at least the word ‘Color’ was right there in every editor’s face and impossible to miss.

Apple released Final Cut Pro X 10.2 and they reversed almost 10 years of color emphasis

The Color layer is now gone. You have to hunt for it as an effect or in a somewhat obscure pull-down menu.

I. Am. Sad.

Color correction is such a great story-telling tool, it’s unfortunate Apple decided to de-emphasize it. And I encourage them to think about how to bring it more user-facing since I do understand why they changed the interface.

UPDATE: I’ve gotten some pushback on these comments. I’ve written a follow-up article that digs deeper into this criticsm.

This gets me to what I liked (and didn’t like) about this week’s FCPX update

  • Apple stopped showing powerful respect for the craft of color grading by hiding the toolset and burying the Color Board with dozens of other ‘Effects’. I’d like to see either a default, bypassed Color Board in the Effects stack or a more obvious button for adding the Color Board… simply because it’s a rare shot that doesn’t require some sort of tweak I’m a colorist and I think it’s too important to bury within the User Interface.
  • On the other hand… the Color Board has become 1000% times more useful because it can now be re-ordered within the Effect stack. This is a huge functional improvement that I’ve been dying to see! (now they need to let us rename those layers) I’ll be talking a lot more about this in Mixing Light for those of you FCPx devotees looking to develop a repeatable color correction workflow in FCPx.
  • Color Finale (by Color Grading Central’s Denver Riddle) is a powerful add-on for anyone looking for a set of traditional 3-Way color wheels or Curves. But FCPx’s newly designed color workflow makes Finale’s re-orderable layer stack not quite as compelling as it was before. Still, it looks like a nice plug-in and we’ll be taking a closer look at it in Mixing Light (as well as Red Giant’s Colorista 3).
  • A quick shout-out to FCPWorks for their FCPX mini-conference in the Renaissance Hotel, directly next to the South Hall. Apple’s blanket ‘no trade shows’ mantra has hurt FCPx.In the past six months FCPx has become a viable collaborative post-production tool with all the features it needed two years ago to be a true FCP 7 replacement. Kudos for FCPWorks for filling this obvious trade show gap at NAB.

Where Apple fell, Adobe picked up in Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro has long been ‘color challenged’. Over at Mixing Light, my partner Robbie Carman even did an Insight on how to adjust the default settings of Premiere’s 3-Way Color Corrector filter so it doesn’t… suck.

This week’s Preview of Premiere Pro CC 2015 shows a dramatic reversal of that app’s disappointing tradition.

While FCP X 10.2 buried its color toolset, Premiere Pro CC 2015 put color front and center! A new ‘Color’ workflow button at the top of the interface echoes the DaVinci Resolve tabs. Pressing on that button reveals a Color-oriented inspector that contains:

  • A new 3-Way color wheel interface
  • Easy to add LUTs
  • A nice Hue vs Saturation tool that’s as pretty as it is functional
  • Color manipulations are automatically added as a filter in the filter stack as a Lumetri Effect… meaning under the hood they’re using the SpeedGrade color science and render engine. And when you open your work in SpeedGrade those corrections are ready for additional manipulation by the colorist.

I also need to shout loudly about Adobe Candy—but not for the reason you think

Mostly, I’m very proud of my Mixing Light partner Robbie Carman. He was on Adobe’s main stage demoing Candy. It’s not a small thing, to be entrusted by a company like Adobe to make a tool like Candy relevant to post-production professionals.

Robbie helped explain how Adobe intends for Candy to be a collaborative tool. For more, be sure to check out this public Insight he recorded this week about Candy on MixingLight.com.

And what about Adobe SpeedGrade, you ask?

As I posted in last week’s newsletter—the big SpeedGrade news was all about Premiere Pro. If SpeedGrade was dead, I suppose Adobe would have announced it. But at this point it’s feeling a lot like Apple Color did in its final year. And yet, the two 3-hour SpeedGrade sessions at Post | Production World were close to capacity.

As interest in Premiere Pro grows, so does interest in SpeedGrade. Let’s hope that Adobe decides it’s an app worth investing in… this colorist definitely thinks so—but my reasons for not using it professionally will have to be saved for another day. This email is already long enough.

Moving away from software, let’s look at hardware

Who better to start with than Tao Colorist sponsor, Flanders Scientific? If they had shipped a 4K reference monitor, I would have been floored. They didn’t.

Instead, Flanders Scientific simply won the 2015 NAB ‘Best of Show’ award!

Congratulations to Bram, Johan and the rest of the FSI Team! They won for their new DM250 OLED, which is a field monitoring dream. If you visit this model comparison page and select the AM250, CM250 and DM250… you can clearly see they’re offering a range of OLED models to keep you from paying for features you don’t need. And offering truly unique options for on-set monitoring.

And with the AM250 you can now get an OLED this year for nearly the same price as the comparable LCD a year ago. Impressive!

Let’s move on to the final (and most exciting) section of this special Tao Colorist Newsletter…

Introducing the 1st Annual NAB ‘Monitor Crawl’

I want you to think of the Monitor Crawl like a Bar Crawl. You gather a few of your best friends, hit the road and keep drinking until you can’t drink no more. Except instead of hitting the road we hit the Central Hall. And instead of drinking we looked at reference displays.

Now—I’ve done this before, bouncing around looking at reference monitors. But always on my own. It’s almost always boring as heck and you’re never quite sure what to think about what you’re seeing.

But bring a few very experienced professional colorist friends along?

This Monitor Crawl was not just my highlight of NAB 2015. But any NAB. EVER.

How did we not do this before? I have no idea. But it was spectacular and will be repeated.

I mean, put a group of Colorists in a dark room looking at displays and the comments start flying! You’re forced to really evaluate what you’re looking at, form quick opinions and then have those opinions examined in real-time as you’re all looking at the same display with the same footage.

Our First Annual Monitor Crawl included the following colorists:

  • Alexis Van Hurkman: Author and colorist (Minneapolis)
  • Joe Owens: Prolific forum helper, technical book editor for Alexis and himself a first-class colorist—in all senses of first-class (Edmonton, Canada)
  • Myself: Colorist and Tao Newsletter publisher (Orlando)
  • Michael Sandness: I saved the best for last. Michael is a prolific colorist with a really sharp mind. He works out of Splice in Minneapolis and Michael was the key to this Monitor Crawl.He had done all the scout work early in the week. He knew where every dark room, housing every interesting must-see display was ‘hidden’. Michael led us from booth to booth. We all examined and commented until we were bored and then he had us bee-lining to the next must-see booth.

Remember how I said this was the year I saw our future?

This 2-hour Monitor Crawl is what I’m talking about… (and the following opinions are mine alone, the rest of the crew can speak for themselves)

The Monitor Crawl was filled with ‘Gear I’ve never seen before, but will see again’

It featured two things: High Dynamic Range displays and… wait for it… Rec. 2020, of all things. Let’s start with the HDR displays.

I’ve seen Dolby’s initial forays into HDR displays in prior years. They were interesting but never really impressive to me. I always shrugged and moved on.

This year, the HDR displays were full-on crazy. For us, it started at the Canon booth

Canon showed a 4K LED 30-inch High Dynamic Range prototype. It has a peak brightness of 2,000 nits… perceptually, it seemed 2x-3x brighter than today’s properly calibrated displays. And it (literally) felt like it.

Example: In the looping movie there’s an interior tracking shot of a man walking across a darkened bar. The sunlight shining in the windows glowed so realistically for a few moments it looked, well, real (in fact, several of us commented that the extreme dynamic range did almost as good a job catching the ‘real’ in ‘real life’ images as any 3D system ever has—and goes to show how important contrast is to perceived detail and depth).

But here’s the kicker…

When the scene suddenly cut to a full-on exterior with a midday sun… my eyes hurt at the sudden transition—they had to adjust just as they would in real life if I stepped out of that darkened bar at noon in the desert.

The Canon HDR was both astonishing and concerning

I can’t imagine color grading for days on end a film shot in the desert at high noon (as I did precisely, on an award-winning feature-length Indie just last year).

I have no doubt that HDR will be a serious health concern for professional colorists

Display manufacturers must address this issue. Eyes can’t be replaced—but, not jokingly, colorists can be.

If we want to ensure long, healthy careers these 2000+ nit displays must be designed to keep an accidental bump on a contrast ring from burning us out… literally. Or from the damage of sustained exposure to these super-high brightness levels.

That said… the Canon prototype was the most impactful of the HDR displays I saw during the Monitor Crawl.

The Sony BVM OLED and HDR displays were both impressive

Yes. I think it’s insane to buy a BVM at their $20K+ prices… but damn if you don’t get image for your money. In fact, their BVM OLED is so good, the HDR monitor looked just like it—only packing more punch.

The Dolby booth was super-interesting—but for a different reason

They had a darkened grading suite set-up which featured a Dolby Vision HDR display sitting directly next to a Dolby High Definition Rec 709 display. A colorist from Deluxe was driving an attached Baselight.

As he was grading the footage playing through the Baselight, both displays updated simultaneously.

Of course, that set us upon a flurry of questions—which were answered very nicely, though they were surprised by the sudden onslaught of 4 gentleman asking some very pointed colorist-type questions. Here is what we discovered:

  • When color correcting to the Dolby HDR display (rated at 4,000 nits but I don’t think any of the images got nearly that bright… not in comparison to what we saw at Canon), they simultaneously color grade to a Rec 709 display set beside the HDR display.
  • The ‘downconverted’ Rec 709 image is managed by a ‘Dolby Vision box’ attached to the Baselight (they said the box also talks to DaVinci Resolve). The image path goes from Baselight, out to the HDR display, in to the Dolby Vision box and then to the Rec 709 display.
  • A ‘Dolby Vision’ grading layer in Baselight (or Resolve) gives the colorist control over the ‘Dolby Vision box’ and how the HDR down-convert is managed. There’s basic Lift / Gamma / Gain controls plus a few others for flattening the HDR image into the narrower tonal range of a non-HDR display.
  • The ‘Dolby Vision’ grading layer then gets encoded as metadata with the final rendered output. When delivering the final master, the master is an HDR movie with metadata for normal range HD down covert. Any licensed Dolby Vision display can read the metadata and perform a real-time downconvert that the colorist specified via that Dolby Vision grading layer.
  • This means if you buy a Dolby Vision encoded movie for your normal range HD display today. In five years when you buy your HDR display… that same movie will now play back in full HDR glory.

Cool stuff, right?

Of course, it took a few of us asking the same questions over and over until we all finally ‘grokked it’ and left the poor Deluxe colorist alone. Unfortunately, the room was too dark for any of us to read name tags, so I can’t give him proper thanks.

But it was this type of tag-teaming, and a quick huddle afterwards to confirm what we all thought we heard, that made this group Monitor Crawl so exciting.

Wrapping up this Newsletter, here’s where I saw something I didn’t think I’d see for several more years

I saw Rec. 2020. For REAL. With my own eyes.

Now, to be clear, the Canon folks say their HDR prototype was showing Rec 2020. But with no before / after images, I don’t think anyone on the Crawl thought that claim didn’t have three asterisks accompanying it.

But at the Christie booth, they demo’ed their RGB Laser projector on a gigantic screen. Their booth was open air but no overheads were turned on. Still, it was in the middle of the show floor, so hardly a proper Black Box, yet the image was very bright (at half its potential brightness).

And the demo? It compared Rec 2020 to Rec 709 and DCI-P3 by freezing an image and cutting between the three color gamuts.

This was the first time in my life I actually saw the Rec. 2020 color gamut

If ever I’m bleeding Geek, right now is it and I’m happy to share!

In my recent podcast with FSI’s Bram Desmet, he mentioned that only laser projectors can hit those super-saturated R, G, B primaries specified in the Rec. 2020 gamut. And you could see the difference. Especially the reds. You don’t realize how orange’y our HD reds are until you see them cut into the Rec 2020 color space. Rich. Vibrant. Real reds. Real greens.

Plus… lasers! Now, I’m just waiting for my hover board.

On a side-note, I asked the Christie rep about the FDA certifications required for laser projector installations. He said they’ve worked out the specification… and as long as no one can look directly into the projector from closer than 13 feet, laser projector installations are considered safe to the public.

There it is. My report on the year I saw The Future at NAB

I could (but won’t) go on. However, I do need to send a Special Thanks…

Thank you to my wife, the Tao Treasurer—you’re amazing! Not only would the hugely successful (and sold out) Colorist Mixer not have happened without her (we had 225 people this year) but she was a total trooper.

As we went to parties and networking events, she was patient as I spent time networking (instead of focusing on her). She even had a good time during the Monitor Crawl, offering her thoughts on what she saw. Thank you, Pam—you’re my Rock.

– pat

Feel free to leave your comments below.

This blog post was originally published in Tao of Color’s weekly Sunday Color Correction Newsletter. To subscribe, please visit the Newsletter homepage.
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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 TaoOfColor.com.

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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