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Color Grading Suites

Posted On May 27, 2013 at 8:34 pm by / No Comments

Color Grading Suites

Color correction serves two main purposes, the first is to fix problems that happened while shooting, and second to enhance and polish a look captured on set to an even higher level of production values. Fixing issues can be really important and even salvage some completely unavoidable problems on set. However, building a real color suite should be really looked at as a way to dramatically increase production values and help your clients tell better stories, give a higher level of style, and increase their perceived value for money.

This paper focuses on three possible options for PC based color suites, the budgets includes everything you would need except for actually facility items like desks, paint etc. Some prices may be a little high and some a little low it really depends on how things get sourced, I have seen some amazing discounts and some random price jumps as well. Also none of these set-ups include many hard and fast have to haves, it is more of a general roadmap that things can be mix and matched from each depending on what is really desired.

These budgets also make one major assumption about the type of work being done. It assumes that all work will be done for HDTV broadcast distribution or web distribution and not digital cinema. Digital cinema uses a different color space and different formats for distribution, which would roughly add $25,000 to $45,000 and requires a fairly large bay for the required projector or a Dolby PRM monitor.

To start with is what software package to build the suite around:

Adobe Speedgrade Vs. DaVinci Resolve

At first glance it looks like Speedgrade is the perfect way to grade footage from Adobe Premiere, but there are a few things that make resolve a much better and cheaper solution.

Resolve is the industry standard. Resolve in its current form is used on almost any level of project from web based to Hollywood level color work. Because it has a long and proven track record there are a fair number of people that know how to use it and can jump on any Resolve suite pretty quickly. Speedgrade on the other hand, while having its history as a very high end product, has not really ever had a wide acceptance and there are not very many people that really know it and use it on a daily basis. Especially with all of the changes it is going through with Adobe’s acquisition, finding truly skilled operators is going to be more difficult.

Resolve is fantastic right now. Resolve in its current state is an amazing tool that is extremely powerful and has a wide range of workflows for Premeire, Final Cut Pro (7 and X), and Media Composer. (supports XML, AAF and EDLs.) Speedgrade in its current form and in the feature list for CS7 is still missing a significant number of common tools (curves, etc.), and has a more time consuming workflow (everything has to be rendered to DPX, or an EDL) even with Premiere.

Resolve is cheaper. The current price of Resolve is $995 for a full copy with no restrictions for Mac or PC. This includes lifetime upgrades as well. (Black Magic has never charged for an update.) Speedgrade, while included with creative cloud, and is essentially a free addition, requires much more expensive hardware. The current system requirements for Speedgrade to get SDI output requires a NVIDIA Quadro 6000 with a SDI daughter board which costs $8,499 which is more than an entire Resolve system in some cases. Future updates to Speedgrade are said to include support for AJA Kona cards, which is a dramatic improvement, but still are $1995, which is a $1000 more than a comparable Blackmagic card. In addition the recommended system for Speedgrade suggests using NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards, which are dramatically more expensive than the GPU cards used with Resolve.

1080p Workhorse:
This set-up is designed to be able to get work done quickly with the focus being on mainly just the operator. It has an extremely fast workstation built to handle any 1080p media and will deal with RED footage at ½ debayer fairly well. The main item being sacrificed with this set-up is a set of dedicated videoscopes that can help the colorist work faster and more accurately for a broadcast distribution.

Pros
+Very Capable Machine
+Larger Broadcast Monitor
+Most Cost Effective
Cons
-Harder to work with client in room (Client and Colorist need to sit close together)
-No dedicated Scopes makes broadcast work more difficult
-Smaller panel limits absolute speed
-Limited real-time RED performance

Workstation:
Windows based workstation: $7780
Intel® Core™ i7 3970X Processor Extreme Edition (6x 3.50GHz/15MB L3)
32GB RAM
256GB SSD for OS and Programs
NVIDIA GTX660TI 2GB GUI card
NVIDIA GTX Titan 6GB GPU
4x 3TB Western Digital HDDs
Blackmagic Design Decklink Studio 4k Extreme
HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor
HP ZR2440w 24-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor
Misc Cables etc.

Really powerful machine that will handle nearly any correction or media in real time at 1080p, it also includes a very fast 12TB RAID O array to store media while it is being worked on and a place for renders to go. Two GUI monitors, one for the main interface and another for scopes and other uses. Blackmagic I/O card.

Broadcast Monitor:
Flanders Scientific CM-320 $5,499.00
32” 10-bit LED-lit display, pre-calibrated and easy re-calibration process (free when sent to manufacturer) Built in waveform monitors, etc.
Honestly one of the best displays for the price, and has a lot of great features.

Control Surfaces:
Tangent Wave: $1499
Definitely good enough, and has all the basic controls.
Wacom Intuos 5 Medium: $359
The speed of a pen interface really speeds up a lot of color tasks

Software:
DaVinci Resolve Software: $995

TOTAL: $16,132.00


1080p Client Attended Session Suite:
This set-up is designed to be able to work with clients interactively in real-time. It gives the client a large display to reference and the colorist a solid broadcast monitor to work off of. It includes an upgraded set of control panels so that the colorist can respond much quicker to client demands, and a set of very reasonably priced reference video scopes so that he can get the right information as quick as possible.

Pros:
+Designed for client attended work and higher charged rates
+Dedicated video scopes makes workstation and colorist run faster
+Better control panel and monitor yet again work faster
Cons:
-limited Real-time RED playback
-Requires more space for mult-monitor set-up

Workstation:
Windows based workstation: $8380
Intel® Core™ i7 3970X Processor Extreme Edition (6x 3.50GHz/15MB L3)
64GB RAM
256GB SSD for OS and Programs
NVIDIA GTX660TI 2GB GUI card
NVIDIA GTX 680 GPU x2
4x 3TB Western Digital HDDs
Blackmagic Design Decklink Studio 4k Extreme
HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor
HP ZR2440w 24-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor
Misc Cables etc.

Really powerful machine that will handle nearly any correction or media in real time at 1080p, it also includes a very fast 12TB RAID O array to store media while it is being worked on and a place for renders to go. Two GUI monitors, one for the main interface and another for scopes and other uses. Blackmagic I/O card.

Broadcast Monitor:
Sony PVM-2541 $5,499.00
25” Sony OLED that is a stunning display that has a fantastic contrast ratio and is great to work off of as a colorist. Viewing Angle, despite a dramatic improvement are still a weakness.

Panasonic 65VT60 $3,599.99
65” 1080p plasma for client to reference, great display in its own right, but is not a true reference grade display and needs some additional pieces to make functional in color suite.

Calman 5 Enthusiast with i1Pro 2 $1,099
Software and probe to calibrate the Panasonic to a reasonable level, and required probe for Sony’s internal calibration software for Sony PVM

Control Surfaces:
Tangent Element: $3499
The best non-first party control surface.
Wacom Intuos 5 Medium: $359
The speed of a pen interface really speeds up a lot of color tasks

Videoscopes:
Mac Mini Scopebox System $2,499
Mac Mini (2.6 GHZ Quad Core i7) $899
16GB RAM upgrade (from OWC) $149
Scopebox Software $99
Blackmagic 4k Thunderbolt Ultrastudio I/O device $1295
Thunderbolt Cable $49
Amazingly capable software/hardware based video scopes that are thousands of dollars less than almost any other system. It gives full broadcast legality reports, the scopes are extremely flexible and give the colorist instant access to the information he needs to work quicker and more efficiently.

Software:
DaVinci Resolve Software: $995

TOTAL: $25,929.00


4k Ultra System
This is a system entirely designed to deal with RED footage. It should do real-time premium debayer of 5K Epic footage. It is a chance to really show off your footage to clients and see what you are really shooting. This is also well suited to any other of the lower roles, and includes a calibration system that can be deployed company wide improving the accuracy of all monitoring displays.

Pros:
+Impressive to Clients
+Real-Time RED Playback
+Very fast renders for RED footage
+Calibration system means long-term savings

Cons:
-Bleeding edge display and technology could get bitten on price/performance
-4k calibration LUT precludes external videoscopes until 4k LUT boxes are available
-Really tied to RED workflow with Red Rocket purchase

Workstation:
Windows based workstation: $14880
2x Intel® Xeon™ E5-2687 3.1/3.8GHz Turbo 20MB Cache 8-core
128GB RAM
256GB SSD for OS and Programs
NVIDIA Quadro K5000 4GB GUI card
NVIDIA GTX TITAN GPU x2
4x 3TB Western Digital HDDs
Blackmagic Design Decklink Studio 4k Extreme
HP ZR2740w 27-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor
HP ZR2440w 24-inch LED Backlit IPS Monitor
Misc Cables etc.

Really powerful machine that will handle any anticipated correction, would also be extremely fast for almost any task, it also includes a very fast 12TB RAID O array to store media while it is being worked on and a place for renders to go. Two GUI monitors, one for the main interface and another for scopes and other uses. Blackmagic I/O card.

Broadcast Monitor:
Sony XBR-65X900A 4K Ultra HD TV: $6999
3840×2160 Ultra HD monitor with a wide color gamut and 10bit panel. However, because this is at a heart a consumer display a calibration LUT will most likely be required, which needs additional software and Hardware.
Light Illusions’ Lightspace CMS and X-Rite iPro2 OEM Probe: $5170

Control Surfaces:
Tangent Element: $3499
The best non-first party control surface.
Wacom Intuos 5 Medium: $359
The speed of a pen interface really speeds up a lot of color tasks

RED Playback Acceleration Card
RedRocket-X: $6,750

Software:
DaVinci Resolve Software: $995

TOTAL: $38,652.00

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