This past April while at NAB I got an interesting phone call from Chris Rose of Tangent Devices. “Where are you?” “I’m in the South Hall why?” “Come meet us outside, we want to show you something.” And just like that, I’m walking out the door to find them.
I found Chris along with Andy Knox and Andy proceeds to pull out the prototype of a brand new control surface. It’s obvious they have listened to all of the feedback from folks on what we wanted in a new control surface for color enhancement.
Personally I’ve said all along a combination of the Tangent Wave and the MC Color would make a great, reasonably priced control surface.
By that I meant the extra controls of the Wave (knobs and buttons) with the smooth trackball / rings of the MC Color. Tangent has delivered and much much more.
You don’t like the plastic of the Wave? It’s gone, replaced with a very nice metal finish.
You like the feel and touch of the MC Color rings and trackball? It’s there.
You want gobs of knobs and buttons. The Element is modular, so you can literally design a control surface that is completely customized to your workflow, your desk, your applications.
You want a lightweight control surface that can travel with you to various jobs? Did I mention Andy had the prototype in a backpack?
Most of all, we want a solid, very professionally built control surface that responds well to the touch. Tangent has designed this entire new surface from the ground up. This is not simply the Wave knobs and buttons just ported over to the Element. Tangent went to colorists and editors who do a lot of color correction and asked, “What do you think?”
I loved the trackball / ring configuration but most of all, I liked that everything felt solid, not plastic. The surface feels good and quiet, not quite as loud as the Wave when you push the buttons and knobs. There will be OLED displays across the top, though the prototype I saw was not powered.
Tangent tells me the the pricing is not firmly set, but they are looking in the $3,000 – $3,500 range for a base four panel set that will get you a good solid control surface including:
One bank of 12 knobs
One bank of 12 buttons
One set of three trackballs, with ring contrast controls
One combination panel with a fourth trackball, transport controls, and another bank of 12 buttons
Now I have not had a chance to play with the final production model but Tangent has sent me images of the final product and I’m ready to play with it further once it’s shipping. The Element will be revealed at the IBC in Amsterdam. You will find them at stand 7.B16
If you’re headed to the show, be sure to stop by and check out the new surface. I’ll post a full review once I get a chance to play with the production model.
Today was Labor Day Holiday in the U.S. and instead of grilling outside, we took advantage of a nice quiet shop to really get into some Davinci Resolve testing. My buddy Ron Anderson volunteered to come over and show me the ropes. When a 30 year colorist offers to "show you the ropes" on a color enhancement software, you don't turn him down! He brought along a surprise too. David Catt was at the door and not only did he come over to do the training session, he's one of the guys who was with Davinci when Resolve was created. Ok, now I'm really excited. I've got a colorist AND a Resolve expert in my shop. This is going to great day! Too much to cover in one blog posting so I'll add more over the next few days.
First off, Resolve is broken up into multiple Panels and you switch between them with buttons along the bottom of the interface. So when you see me refer to a Resolve Panel in these blogs, that's what I'm referring to. In Apple Color, it's like the various Rooms in that application. Since Apple Color is the color enhancement tool I'm most familiar with, and there was so much interest in the Apple Color Forum here on the Cow about Resolve, I'll be comparing how that app works vs. how Resolve works. It's going to be quite the learning experience for sure.
The big thing I wanted to start with is the workflow between Final Cut Pro and Resolve since we're an FCP shop. I was having some trouble with it last night and figured it was operator error. At the moment, the folks at Blackmagic recommend a single track EDL as the way to get from FCP into Resolve. When I tried it last night I could not get the media to connect correctly in Resolve. As David showed me this morning, I was simply pointing Resolve to the wrong media folder. Simple fix and the timeline popped right open.
Now I gotta say I'm not a huge fan of EDLs. Not sure why, just have never been. And the whole "Send to Color" from Final Cut Pro is pretty darn simple. But the EDL works really well between FCP and Resolve and unlike Color, Resolve is user friendly for those times when edits are made to the project AFTER color correction. Just send the re-edited EDL into Resolve and all your original grades are applied with the new shots ready to be graded. How does this work?
Essentially Resolve has a Master timeline that holds all of the clips in your project. These clips are just sitting in Timecode order at the bottom of the Color Panel. Above this Master timeline you load your timelines from your EDL. These display the timeline as it would appear in your NLE. In the image below you can see the "Master Timeline" down at the bottom and my edited story from the EDL at the top. Both of these timelines are generated from the same EDL.
So you grade your show, send it back to the NLE, you're ready to master and of course the client calls to make a bunch of changes. With Resolve, no problem. Make the changes to your timeline, create a new EDL. Open your original project in Resolve. Import the new EDL. Resolve automatically applies your original color grades to all matching clips from your original timeline and leaves you with just your new shots to grade. When David showed me this, I started to become a fan of EDLs. And I know it sounds a little confusing, but once you start to learn Resolve, it all makes sense.
The one thing that strikes you right away when you start working with the Color Panel is the lack of the traditional color wheels. You usually see three wheels representing shadows, gamma and highlights, left to right. You move around in the wheels to affect the hue and then you have luma and saturation controls for each as well. Resolve does away with this completely. When I saw this out at NAB I wasn't sold on the idea, but as soon as I watched David work the controls, I realized you don't miss them. And once I got onto the controls, it confirmed that for me. The Curves at the bottom of the Color panel is what everybody notices in the literature, but actually, the Primary controls are where it's at for me. These essentially replace the color wheels with the information displayed more accurately. I really don't even have to describe what everything does because it's laid out in plain English as you can see in the image below.
This is a very efficient window that differs greatly from the 2 Primary Rooms and 8 Secondaries Room concept in Apple Color. Instead of creating 8 rooms of identical controls, Resolve just uses this one set of controls that automatically become active for each shot, each node, each operation. The controls were very responsive with the Tangent Wave Panel.
Tomorrow I'll talk a little bit about the Nodes and how their use compares to Apple Color's Secondary workflow, but here's a look at a simple shot that I graded tonight using some power masks. These are just screen grabs from the Resolve preview screen and not stills from the output.
Had a great day today poking around in the beta version of Davinci Resolve for the Mac
. Spent the first few hours just gleaning through the User Manual and that was actually quite interesting.
See the User Manual for the new 7.0 Resolve is not out yet so I'm looking through the previous version. (Update: the 7.0 User Manual is now available for download)
What I find so interesting is all the tweaks Blackmagic has made to the interface, particularly the Config Panel. They've made a lot of very nice changes to combine some things into a single window, moved some other things out to their own tabs and such. They've really streamlined the interface and cleaned it up from what I'm seeing in the older User Manual.
Now most of you know I'm a heavy Apple Color
user and until Resolve was introduced for the Mac it was hands down the best color correction tool on the Mac. Now I'm not going to do a full comparison of the tools yet because I've been using Color for 5 years or so now and I've been using Resolve for about 6 hours, and 3 of that was looking through the manual. I'll go much more in depth about that later once I really have the opportunity to get into the product. It's actually quite easy to pick up the functions on the software and the Nodes workflow is quite interesting vs. the Secondaries workflow in Color.
But one thing I wanted to address early on. The big complaint about Apple Color I have heard time and time again, via email, on the blogs, in the Creative Cow Color forum
is that it doesn't support all of the Quicktime codecs supported by Final Cut Pro. The second complaint I hear is that it's too time consuming, too difficult to prepare your timeline to go into Color. Of course both of these complaints come from Final Cut Pro editors who have never taken the time to properly learn the Apple Color workflow and thus create many issues themselves.
Well Resolve is going to require you to learn another new workflow. Like Apple Color, it's a serious color correction tool designed for colorists, not editors. It won't support every codec under the sun, it will require the editor to plan accordingly if you want to bring your Final Cut Pro, Avid, whatever timeline into Resolve. I was actually laughing in the edit suite today while playing around with Resolve thinking of all those folks who make some of those complaints I mentioned earlier. What are they going to do now? Resolve is not a standard Apple interface. It's not a "single click send to Resolve and apply my Color Grade" type of app. You're gonna have to work to make this application work for you.
For those of you who have taken the time to create a good workflow for Apple Color, you'll be able to make a pretty easy adjustment into Resolve. For those of you waiting for Apple Color to essentially turn into a Final Cut Pro plug-in, well..... starting planning your workflows now if you want to take advantage of this new option. Apple Color is still an excellent enhancement tool, but it's a no-brainer to add Resolve to your Mac toolbox for only $999.
Tomorrow will be full day training on Resolve so I'll be updating again tomorrow night.....
Last week there was a thread in the Creativecow.net Apple Color forum asking about the Color Preview Window. You know that little video window that appears on the same screen as the scopes?
Anyway, this person was asking if we all noticed that the Preview window can show a different image than the Final Cut Pro Canvas Window. In his case, the Color Preview window was more red than the Canvas.
My response to this and all other queries about the Apple Color Preview window is as follows:
There is absolutely no reason for anyone to even look at the Preview window in Color. In fact, Apple really should just remove it from the interface because it's not necessary.
We have four primary workstations set up in our facility. We have a myriad of computer monitors from Apple, Dell, Samsung and ViewSonic. If you go into all four of those rooms and put the exact same image up on Apple Color it will look different on all four of the computer monitors. Why? Because they're not set up exactly the same, they're not the same manufacturer, they're not the same model, the editor has adjusted the monitor to better suit their viewing needs, etc....
Now in that same thread on the Creative Cow we got a comment along the lines of "well why can't Apple create two products that display the image the same?"
First of all, Apple didn't create Final Cut Pro or Color. FCP was the brainchild of Macromedia which Apple has seriously refined and improved and Color came from Silicon Color and was rebranded from its original Final Touch name. Second, FCP and Color DO display the image exactly the same. Through a video capture card to a properly calibrated broadcast or film monitor / projector.
See going back to that scenario with my four edit workstations, look at that same image on all four broadcast displays and the image will look exactly the same. That's because our monitors are all identically calibrated Flanders Scientific broadcast monitors. All our systems are feeding the same image via matched AJA Kona 3 board. So it doesn't matter which room you work in, the image looks the same.
In fact, our documentary, Foul Water, Fiery Serpent was color graded by Ron Anderson in his facility using a Flanders Scientific monitor, Apple Color, AJA Kona 3 and you know what, the film looked identical in our facility to his. Why? Same setup, same properly calibrated monitor. Two facilities, identical image. How many of you can say that when you go from place to place?
This is why so many of us who use Apple Color harp on people when they complain about the computer image. There should be no discussions about what the computer image looks like in comparison to the Final Cut Pro Canvas or Viewer or Quicktime or any other computer based video player. All that matters is what is on the external display, the properly calibrated external display.
So once and for all, repeat after me.
"The Apple Color Preview Window Does Not Matter. I will disregard the Apple Color Preview Window. I will only trust the properly calibrated external display."
Thank you. I think we've made really good progress today. Set up your appointment for next week before you leave.....
Well I spent the weekend playing with the Euphonix MC Color for a Creative Cow review. Nice of those folks to send it along for testing. It is amazing how much easier Apple Color is to operate once you attach a control surface, whether it be the Cooper Eclipse, Tangent Wave or the MC Color.
For the testing I brought in amazing colorist Ron Anderson (30 years experience!) who also helped out with my Tangent Wave Review for the Creative Cow. He uses the JL Cooper Eclipse in his own studio and also operates daVinci and Scratch for CineFilm here in Atlanta.
For those of you wondering what the physical difference is between the MC Color and Tangent Wave, well here you go.
The MC Color is only 9 1/4" from top to bottom while the Wave is about 16" from top to bottom. So the Wave has extra area to rest your wrist which is pretty nice when doing a long session. They're both about the same width and both fit very nicely onto just about any editing console. Here they're sitting side by side on the keyboard shelf of the Anthro Fit Console in my JungleLand suite.
The primary physical differences are:
MC Color: 9 Soft Keys.
MC Color: 6 Soft Knobs
MC Color: 6 OLED Displays
MC Color: Shuttle / Jog controlled by right Trackwheel.
Wave: Dedicated Shuttle / Jog
MC Color: Ring Trackwheels for Luma adjust.
Wave: Spin Trackwheels above for Luma Adjust.
MC Color: Ethernet connection / AC Power Supply
Wave: USB Connectivity and power.
Both are welcome additions to any Apple Color suite and the choice as to which one you want will be completely up to you. You can't go wrong with either and NAB is approaching quickly which is a great place to get some hands on experience with them.
Recently a thread in the Apple Color forum had somebody remark that if you're delivering to the "Big Boys" such as Discovery and PBS you really should have external scopes in your shop. It's also been suggested that external legalizer boxes really should be used as well when delivering to the high end networks.
The true fact of the matter is, the scopes in Color are very accurate, to the point that I don't see any differences on an external scope when we do have one. The Broadcast Safe in Color is good enough for "the big boys." We have delivered about 66 episodes of "Good Eats" in HD to the Food Network, not a single rejection for video quality, and have now delivered two HD programs to PBS. No external scopes, no external legalizer. Just FCP to Color to FCP and out to tape. In fact, about 20 or so episodes of Good Eats was color graded ONLY using FCP's 3-Way CC, Broadcast Safe and Levels filters. All of those were legal.
If you can afford an external scope and want to drop $12,000 to $20,000 for a good Tektronix scope, then by all means have at it. We actually could afford one if I really felt I needed it, but I personally would rather spend that money on something more useful to our day to day operation, say like 3 FSI color reference monitors to replace our aging CRT monitors.
But as far as being perfectly broadcast legal and delivering to the "big boys" of broadcast, the tools within FC Studio are perfectly capable of delivering a legal product in the hands of an operator who knows how to use them.
If you've followed my blog or noticed the bright yellow banners around the Cow, you've heard of Flanders Scientific and their line of broadcast LCD panels. Now they've got a great little "Watch and Learn" video series that's full of good information both about their own products and LCD technology in general.
There's some really good information in here to prepare you to objectively look at specifications of various monitor brands and ideas for the types of questions you should be asking the monitor manufacturers as you prepare to purchase your new LCD panels.
At long last, my traning DVD for Apple's Color is now taking orders! If you've been staring at this incredible color grading software for a while, it's time to start using it! "Stop Staring, Start Grading with Apple Color" is what you need to get going.
Here's the sales page with all the details and an incredibly cool trailer. It's my absolute pleasure to bring this title to you guys!