Monday, April 7, 2008

Maybe Black and White is the Way to Go

Over the weekend, I used Final Cut’s Media Manager to transcode a test sequence from HDV into ProRes HQ. Seemed to work fine, so I’m starting in on my first project file. I’ve got a few simple visual effects to do (in the first few reels at least) and after I finish those, I should be working in Color fairly soon. As opposed to working on the effects for the entire movie and then doing color correction, I thought I’d work on the effects and coloring for each reel. I don’t know why, it just seems like the thing to do.

After transcoding to ProRes, I’ll also be working on prepping my sequences to send them into Color. As you can imagine, having never even opened Color before, I’ve been going through the manual a bit lately. I’ve discovered that, to say the very least, Color is a little finicky about how you prepare a project for importing. For instance:

Color hates long projects. No problem, I’ve already split up the movie into ten minute chunks.

Color hates it if you have more than one video track in your project. Again, no problem, as I’ve pretty much already done that.

Color hates it if you have transitions. It says it doesn’t, but some users say it does, so I’m getting rid of them. I’ll put them back in after color correction.

Color hates subtitles. Okay, so no subtitles. Again, after sending the project back to Final Cut, I’ll stick them back in.

Color hates speed-changed clips, or still images. We have both, so I’ll be exporting those (along with any composited clips, to avoid the dreaded multiple video track problem above) to self-contained Quicktime movies, which will replace the original clips and theoretically make Color happy. God knows, I want to make Color happy.

Color apparently hates it if you’ve basically done anything at all to alter your clips. Now, this is a bit of problem, since I’ve done quite a bit of altering on the clips. Like flipping all of them 180 degrees, since the original footage is upside down due to the Redrock Micro35 that we used to shoot the movie.

I’m still checking on this point to make sure, but there seems to be a bug in the latest release of Color (which, joy, I have) that doesn’t like to have any motion effects and starts doing bad things to the footage in order to punish it.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, “Gee, Guy, maybe going to Color really isn’t all that hot of an idea.” You may be right. Hopefully, there are enough benefits to the ProRes conversion alone, that the upgrade will be worthwhile. That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.

Should Color turn out to be too difficult to use (shock!) or if it just decides to self-destruct one day, I do have a Plan B--a program called Magic Bullet Colorista, written by Stu Maschwitz who runs the most excellent ProLost site.

But, I just feel like I should give Color a try first, you know? I mean, it’s just sitting there, free in Final Cut Studio. Why not use it, right?

Sometimes, free software isn’t so free, is it?

Method aside, here’s one example of some of the color correction work I’d like to do on the movie from another extremely informative post on the ProLost site. It talks about a certain look for skin tones that has, for good or ill, evolved in American feature films over the last few years.


Scott Ganyo said...

Black and white... with spot color?

Guy said...

Pleasantville 2: Revenge of Zorg!

Scott, I checked out your blog and it looks like you're insanely busy, but in a good way. Front page of IMDB is very cool! Congratulations!