Dan Desmet brought our new LM-2460W to the office today, but as I found out, it's actually the first of the new LM-2461W models! Lots of new stuff and upgrades to share. This is one cool monitor! Please bear with the iPhone video and audio quality, it's all we had in the shop today, but I really wanted Dan to tell you some of the super cool features of this monitor.
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This past week Tangent Devices released the Tangent Wave Lite for use with the iPad. This mimics the Shadows, Gamma and Highlight control wheels that you would find on a control surface like the Tangent Wave.
You can see how the controls really mimic the look of a standard color control panel. They even have the reset buttons in the right place and you can control the Ring and Trackball sensitivity. My iPad is sitting up on a Rocketfish stand that holds the iPad up off the desk so I can still operate my tablet alongside of it.
How does it work? Surprisingly well! I started working the colors with two hands very similarly to how I actually operate the Wave Panel itself. The trackballs really operate very true to life where you can "spin" them and they keep spinning based on how hard you spun them.
The rings work exactly as you would expect from a real control surface. The neat thing is if you've never worked with a control surface, you can finally experience how nice it is to be able to work with both hands at the same time. You can operate two different controls simultaneously which makes your work that much faster.
The only downside to this app has nothing to do with the app at all. It's just that the iPad does not provide any tactile information on what you're operating. With a real control panel, once you get used to it, you almost never look at the control surface because you can feel for the controls with your hands. With the iPad you have to keep looking at the screen to grab the right controls first and then you can start working.
I kept hitting the ring when I wanted the trackball and vice versa. Again, no fault of Tangent, but just the way the iPad works.
Scott Simmons over at EditBlog heard an idea to use the app in conjunction with a mouse / tablet basically using it as "big sliders" to operate the wheels faster and easier than with a mouse or a pen. Neat idea.
I think this app is really good for anyone who is considering a control surface and what does it bring to the table? You can download this app for free and get a sense of how it is to operate with a control surface. I really didn't understand how much a control surface would help me until I started using one. They really do make your color work much more efficient.
If you have an iPad and use Apple Color, definitely download the app and give it a spin. VERY well done app and I hope Tangent has more plans to upgrade this app with even more control.
I thought I would put together a VERY simple example of the same shot getting essentially the same treatment in these two applications so you can see how they differ on what we would generally call "secondary color enhancement." Basically after the shot is balanced, you now go ahead and give it the "look."
In Apple Color we have 8 Secondary Rooms that essentially give you 16 levels of Secondary Color Enhancement. 16 from 8? Well, yes because you can work inside and outside a vignette in any room independently so in effect, you can have up to 16 levels of color enhancement using the Secondary Rooms.
Davinci Resolve uses a Node based workflow that gives you.... well essentially limitless possibilities depending on how complicated you want to get.
NOTE: As with other examples, these images are from the UI of each application
because it's just quicker and easier. Images generally appear a little lighter with a bit more color on the actual output.
Now to get the shots into each application I created a very simple two shot timeline in Final Cut Pro. I used the standard "Send to Color" function to get the shots into Color. I created a CMX3600 EDL to get the shots into Resolve. The first shot of the timeline you saw used in the Auto Balance comparison. This is the second shot. Original is 720 / 60 ProRes codec.
First up, Apple Color.
Here's the original shot balanced and ready for some enhancement.
Now let's go into Secondary Room 1 to bring warm up the shot. You can see I'm pushing the Highlights in the Yellow / Orange Hue....
resulting in the image now warming up.
Next let's add a Vignette to the top of the image in Secondary Room 2 to add some crazy yellow / orange to the top and also bring down the blacks to make it look....
something like this. Altering reality a bit here.
Now moving into Secondary Room 3 I'll do the same, but a darker and more saturated version on the bottom to give the image...
this rather cool, golden look. Almost done, just want to add one more thing.
Drop into the ColorFX room to add a Vignette so I can blur the area around the driver....
and end up with something like this. Again, just a very simple thing, spent all of about 1 minute on this, to make it easy to illustrate how it's achieved here and how we can do something similar in Resolve.
Ok, now here's how I do a similar look using Davinci Resolve.
Our balanced shot again ready to move into secondary enhancement. Now Resolve just has one "Color Panel" where you do pretty much all the work from Primary to Secondary in one window. You just keep adding Nodes with no need to switch off between rooms.
Create a new Node and again, put a mask on the top of the image to alter reality a bit at the top....
Looking something like this.
Create another Node so I can once again create the bottom orange / darker mask...
And create a fourth Node so I can add another mask and the blur around the driver....
Resulting in something similar to what you saw in previously in Apple Color. It's a bit too orange at the bottom, the mask needs to be feathered more and I can further tweak it from here, but you get the general idea.
So the two apps take two different approaches to what we call secondary color enhancement. Which one works better? That just depends on how you like to work. They're both tools an they both do a fantastic job of color enhancement. Some folks are going to be more comfortable with the Color wheels and room workflow of Color. Some folks are going to find the Node architecture of Resolve more to their liking. I've been on Apple Color something like 5 years now and I'm picking up the Resolve workflow very quickly. In some ways I'm faster in Color and in others I'm already faster in Resolve.
One thing I will say. You absolutely MUST get a control surface for Resolve. It would be incredibly slow if you just tried to operate it with just a mouse, tablet or trackball. I run the Tangent Wave Panel with both Color and Resolve. With Color it's a bit easier to work with just a mouse or a tablet because of the color wheel architecture. The UI design of Resolve really lends itself to a control surface and I can't recommend the Wave enough. If you really have the money to spend, well then get yourself the full Resolve control surface from Blackmagic.
Since you've read this far into my blog, here is one neat little trick that does separate Resolve and Color
. In Color, the 8 Secondary Rooms work from left to right. That is Room 1 comes first in the look, then Room 2 is added to that, Room 3 to that and so on. If you're in Room 4 and you realize you really wanted to have something different between Rooms 2 and 3 you can't just insert another tab or change the order of the tabs. Generally you would save off the various Secondary Rooms, erase All Secondaries, and start again.
Since Resolve works with Nodes, this isn't an issue. I've decided I really wanted to desaturate the entire scene before I started adding those masks to create the yellow / orange casts at the top and bottom. I simply insert a new Node in between Nodes 1 and 2. Technically it's Node 5 but it's now Number 2 in the tree so it's effect happens before the first orange mask....
And our image now looks like this. A much more desaturated scene making the orange cast at the top much more prominent, but enough color still in the scene to see a hint of green in the grass and the red of his jacket. And this literally took me a matter of seconds to make the change. Insert the Node, desaturate the scene at that Node.
Ok, so you're asking me "Walt, so which one do you like more? Which application is better?" Ah, that sounds like a good topic for the next blog entry. Until next time....
Here's another workflow comparison between Apple Color and Davinci Resolve. Auto Balance. As in "my colors are really out of whack so can you please balance the colors for me to make the whites and blacks appear normal?"
Most Colorists cringe at the thought of an "Auto Balance" button / knob / feature because balancing a shot is just a basic job function of the Colorist. But for folks coming from a Non-Linear Editing background who are used to having a 3 Way Color Corrector with nice little Shadows and Highlights picker, it's a nice way to start out in the application. If the application can get the colors balanced, you can take it from there.
NOTE: The following images are screen grabs from the UI of the applications, not from their outputs.
Why? Well it's just easier to do screen grabs when you're pulling a lot of images for this and upcoming blog entries. They are very representative of the changes that each application performed. The images on the output were definitely a bit brighter than what you see here.
First up, Apple Color.
Here's the untouched image. Yes it's pretty dark, shot inside with available light also giving the entire shot has a green cast.
Now here's the image after using Auto Balance in the Primary In Room.
Not bad. You can see the white bottle is pretty white, still a little yellow, but not bad. In all honesty this is the BEST I've ever seen the Auto Balance feature work in Apple Color. Maybe because the white bottle and pills are so dominant in the image. Generally when you use this feature in Color the entire image turns blue, so most of us never use it.
Now on to Davinci Resolve.
Again, here's the original image. It's in a slightly different position, but it's the same video before the pills were poured.
And now using Auto Balance in the Color Panel.
Doing a real close comparison, what I see is that the arms are little less red in this one and overall, there seems to be less green in this image than the Apple Color image and it's a little brighter. For this particular image, the results are very very similar and quite honestly that was a big surprise to me.
But... oh yes there's a but..
Testing the Auto Balance feature across all manner of shots shows that it works consistently in Resolve. It doesn't work perfectly every single time, but I would say more than 75% of the time, Resolve brings the scene into balance so you have good color to start with. With Apple Color.... well I've been using the application for over 5 years now and I think the Auto Balance feature was added 2 years ago. This is the first time I can remember where I've seen it actually do what it's supposed to do. As I said earlier, usually you end up with a blue image that's generally worse than your starting point. In all honesty, the 3 Way Color Corrector in FCP does a better job of auto balancing a scene than Apple Color.
Obviously Auto Balance is by no means a "make or break" feature for any color enhancement tool
. If you're going to be a colorist or make color enhancement a service you offer, you darn well better know how to balance a scene manually. That's color enhancement 101. But it does offer a nice simple comparison point between the two apps.
It’s Labor Day weekend here in the US so I’m taking advantage of the 3 day weekend to set up and start testing the beta version of DaVinci Resolve 7.0 for Mac. Contrary to some of the information that’s out there, you do NOT require two nVidia graphics cards to run Resolve on a Mac Pro.
It is recommended, but not required. Here’s the configuration I’m testing on:
Mac Pro Quad Core 2.93 Intel Xeon (2009 model)
BlackMagic HD Extreme 3D video card
nVidia Quadro FX 4800 graphics card
ATTO R380 SAS/SATA controller
Small Tree PEG1 Ethernet Controller
Dell 24″ primary computer monitor
Viewsonic 22″ secondary computer monitor
Flanders Scientific 2450W reference monitor
Tangent Wave Control Surface
So as you can see, I’m running with only one graphics card, the Quadro 4800. I don’t have room for the second card because of the Small Tree PEG1 card in there. That’s to support our ethernet SAN. The on-board ethernet controllers do not properly support Jumbo Frames forcing us to use the PEG1.
Speaking to BlackMagic about this situation, I was informed that I would be giving up some realtime functionality by going with the one card, but all of the functionality of Resolve will be available. I have no problem at all accepting that I’m giving up a little realtime functionality to take advantage of everything else that Resolve offers for color enhancement.
So everything is installed and operating. More tomorrow on playing with Resolve!
After seeing the FSI monitors and all their features at the first demo, I suggested to Dan Desmet they should create a video version of their user manual to make it easier to understand everything. Well that conversation led to the new How To video manual that was launched on the website last week.
It's also a great way to essentially get a demo of their products without actually seeing them in person.
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.