It does not imply that even when the software is free, mounting a color room is economical, since the costs of the equipment necessary for its use add up to considerable value.
By Diego Yhama *
Historically, color correction has been a field little explored in the post-production of the audiovisual industry in Colombia; his exclusivity as an inheriting theme of the cinematographic has moved him away from being an accessible knowledge to the world of video; the places where this process has been carried out have been few, its users counted and the education to learn about this topic has been so scarce that they have placed this specialization of postproduction on a difficult to reach pedestal; but every day this gap has been closing.
A few years ago, specialized video color correction systems were not so necessary; many of the programs on television were recorded in controlled environments in studios, a balance of cameras and color between shots, was sufficient for television formats; the cameras did not provide the range or capacity for specialized color work; the standard television "SD", did not provide enough detail of the image and the high structural and technological prices of a color room made having these facilities a privilege of few.
However, some factors in recent years have changed this situation. The distance between cinema and television has been closed by the appearance of digital cinema cameras, these have made new filmmakers experiment with large-screen aesthetics, not only on television but also on digital platforms for video ; the high resolution and its subsequent evolution (UHD), have allowed to notice and see the difference in the image when working color; Software manufacturers have seen the evolution of the business in the popularization of their tools; the democratization and the technological advance of the computers, have allowed that it is common to work an editing program in a home computer and the education without being specialized, has been made accessible to all public by means of internet. To this we must add that the reduction in technological acquisition costs has been substantial.
Currently, specific software vendors have been the protagonists of this change: first of all the popular nonlinear editing software in the general public, such as Premiere, Final cut, Media composer (Symphony option), have improved their tools to perform color correction , although not specialized, but they generate a first approximation to this discipline. Second, those color correction systems, also known as "digital intermediate, DI" exclusively from the world of cinema a few years ago, have evolved into the world of video, from its interface, performance, education and prices; Every day programs like Luster, Baselight, Scratch, Davinci Resolve, Mistika, Nucoda Film master and Pablo Rio, are more publicized and their solutions have become popular in the world market.
Next, we will analyze some of these solutions from the perspective of technological innovations, cost-accessibility and education.
Scratch: He was one of the pioneers in breaking the tradition that a software of correction of color had to be in a hardware armed by the manufacturer, to work in a standard computer; He also reduced the costs of his perpetual license for a color correction program in the price range of 10 years ago and his solution of data management, color and basic vfx was well accepted by post-production houses and television channels. Its system of educational diffusion has been mainly by video tutorials and for the Latin American public by the user certification obtained in the School of San Antonio de Los Baños (Cuba). A few years ago, software has ceased to be present in the color correction market, its number of users and stations has been reduced considerably and the company has currently directed its technological developments to the field of VIRTUAL REALITY "VR" and to the monthly license income model at $ 75 *, annual at $ 650 from Scratch 8.1 and Scratch VR at $ 995.
Baselight: Filmlight, its proprietary company, has been concerned to present constant innovations regarding color workflows, through the exchange of "Grades" between its platforms with the file ".BLG" and with the improvement of "Truelight" as a space of color to cover and facilitate the work with the different spaces of color that present the cameras at the moment; He has also included VFX tools in his platform. Baselight is a system with hardware included whose most economical solution does not come down to $ 70.000, but they have made a strategy to popularize their software in the market through plug-ins of the program for Media Composer, Nuke, Final Cut at a cost of $ 975, attracting new users and making their workflow widely accepted by TV channels with AVID-based offline postproduction. Filmlight, has diversified its color technology in work software in SET as Daylight in the creation of dailies, Prelight, for color work in the set and in the development of FLUX, a storage of shared storage for postproduction. However, its use has been mainly in post-production companies that can agree to pay this value and its popularity is not so high, so starting in April, they have launched a free version for MAC-OS, "Baselight Student", which allows work maximum at an HD resolution and with export only to H264. With this product they seek to popularize and educate new users in the use of their tool.
Mistika Ultima: The popularity of this system (hardware + software), arose when films such as The Hobbit or Tintin generated technological challenges in the workflow at a high number of frames per second "HFR" and stereoscopic processes "S3D". Its prestige has continued over the years, but the high price of its solution has prevented its accessibility. SGO, the Spanish company that owns Mistika, has been developing its technology to create the concept of ALL IN ONE that allows shaping, coloring, VFX, mastering everything in the same software and has now increased its developments to the VR theme, with Mistika VR to a € 69 value per month. Like Filmlight, SGO has created "Mistika Insight", a free software with educational interest to attract new users to know their tool. "Mistika Insight" allows maximum work at HD resolution and with export only to H264.
Flame Premium: Autodesk, the Flame Premium manufacturer with software such as Flame, Smoke, Luster among others, was the first to propose the concept of ALL IN ONE in the market. The popularity of its products mainly due to the VFX theme has been quite accepted in Colombia, and Luster, its "color" correction system has many users in the world for the effectiveness-precision of its tools. Many of his current efforts have been devoted to the subject of VFX and the integration of Flame with Luster in their LINUX systems. The company has also released its software from manufacturer-specific hardware, launching Smoke on Mac and Flame on Mac a few years ago with monthly, quarterly or annual licenses. In the educational issue, they have launched 3 free years licenses for students and have strengthened the topic of online education with a specialized YouTube channel.
Davinci Resolve: Without a doubt, one of the biggest protagonists of these changes in the major color correction systems is the company Blackmagic Design. Since BMD bought Davinci Resolve Systems in the 2009, it has reduced the prices of its thousands of Davinci stations at that time, to a free version and one with all the options at a cost of $ 300 at the moment, maintaining the same characteristics of high-priced software that can be used in a standard hardware configuration on either Linux, MAC-OS or Windows. Its strategy has positioned it as the most popular color correction software with the most users in the world, in large post-production houses, boutique studios, freelancers and universities. Its developments in the NAB, surprised by the number of improvements that launch in each edition; currently they have focused on the creation of new color panels and closing the gap between data in SET, OFFLINE and ONLINE postproduction, offering in its "14" version more than 300 improvements for multiple talents, to perform on its interface: work of data management, editing, mixing audio (fairlight), conformation, basic vfx, color correction, finalization and mastering, all tasks at the highest level and collaborative work environments. Having a large number of users, Davinci has achieved a democratization in education, since many of these users have created exclusive channels to learn the software and there are countless tutorials from the most basic level to the most advanced in the tool. In terms of formal education, starting with the NAB, Blackmagic has launched certification plans for users and official training books.
The previous review of the main software shows a clear vision of their action plans in specific niches; some offering a complete solution, other virtual reality and some improvements in their VFX tools. There is a general phenomenon about the price reduction of their licenses and many of them have left their free tools to attract more users to manage their interfaces.
This evolution has led to an increase in educational resources in the discipline as there are more and more color correction rooms in large companies and the number of boutique studios or freelancers in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Bogotá is multiplied. in small installations they carry out different types of projects satisfactorily. This does not imply that even when the software is free, mounting a color room is economical, since the costs of the equipment necessary for its use add up to considerable value. Thus, the cost gap has been reduced considerably in thousands of dollars in a few years as well as its accessibility and the possibility of exercising this discipline
Given this panorama it is important to point out that all the mentioned software present suitable solutions for any type of "work", however the client finally determines the result and the talent of the colorist, regardless of the software is the only one capable of achieving this task .
* Diego Yhamá is a social communicator at the Javeriana University. He is a certified trainer by Blackmagic Design at Davinci Resolve and by Autodesk on Flame Premium products. He is currently a Partner - a member of the Estudio Roco company, a professor at the SAE Institute and the Universidad Javeriana, and has been an advisor in postproduction processes at the district film library and a consultant on workflows at the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University.