Last week, my co-workers and I attended a meeting of the Orlando Post Pros. This particular meeting was focused on color correction, an increasingly important component of any editor’s skill set. Speaking at this meeting was Patrick Inhofer, a career colorist who presides over a popular color tutorial website called Tao of Color. Patrick was there to speak primarily about the differences between two major color correction tools and how post production professionals can pick which tool will work best for their workflow.
In the business of post production for over 20 years, Patrick Inhofer has decided to focus primarily on color grading and finishing. Personally, I was aware of him from his website Tao of Color that I visit frequently. Tao of Color is a terrific website that takes the internet tutorial concept one step further by feeling more like an apprenticeship simulator. Much of what is on Tao of Color is free but there is also some paid premium stuff. Patrick and his associates have started a sister sight as well known as Mixing Light. Mixing Light is a paid service but looks to be well worth a look for anyone serious about becoming proficient in color grading.
Color correction, grading and creating looks have become an essential part of the post production pipeline. In the good old days, much more emphasis was placed on getting everything you wanted in the look of your image in-camera. In the (also good) new days, that emphasis is being shifted to the post production process. Shooters are getting as much detail as they can in the image when they shoot as well as trying to capture their desired depth of field while leaving the final look of the shot to post production. Many times this comes to a colorist as a perceived “flat” image but really the idea is that, if shot properly the detail is there and the colorist just has latitude to manipulate the image. Patrick stressed that he still wants to see cinematographers capture shadows and highlights and overall make an interesting image to play with as opposed to shooting something with the intent of being “flat” and fixing in post. The vast majority of time in color isn’t spent stylizing the image but rather adjusting shots to make sure they match. Jarring shifts in light and color can interrupt the flow of the story, after all.
The majority of time spent in this meeting was to detail the difference between two of the major tools in the world of color: DaVinci Resolve and SpeedGrade. DaVinci Resolve is an industry trusted name that goes back to the early days of major digital color grading. SpeedGrade is a tool that is integrated into the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. Here at IDEAS, we have several systems with DaVinci Resolve and that is the platform we are more familiar with. The main takeaway from this meeting was that both tools are great and very powerful but they have differences in the way you approach them. Resolve has a more open architecture and the ability to round trip from multiple editing systems while SpeedGrade is entrenched in the Adobe Suite. If you are focused on using the Adobe Suite, then SpeedGrade looks to be a fantastic tool that is focused more on making complex color concepts easier to manipulate than in DaVinci Resolve. However, if you accept the steeper learning curve or need a color grading system that works outside of the Adobe parameters, then Resolve may be a better option. Resolve also features a world-class tracker that sets it apart from much of its competition as well as a node-based workflow that allows for very precise manipulation of color.
We were very pleased to hear Patrick speak at this event and personally I was excited to learn from him as a frequent reader of his Tao of Color website. We learned a lot about the differences between SpeedGrade and DaVinci Resolve and came away with a better understanding of what would work best for our facility. You should always take the opportunity to hear from an experienced teacher like Patrick in order to enrich your own skills. For more information on Patrick and the color grading instruction and services he offers, visit taoofcolor.com as well as mixinglight.com.