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Tuesday, 26 April 2011 18:03

Color Correcting

Written by  Debra Kaufman
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The digital intermediate (DI) is often a high-ticket item in the postproduction budget, but more and more independent filmmakers are still able to finish their films with a flourish. Even better, top-end tools from such well-respected manufacturers as Blackmagic Design and FilmLight are part of the equation.

At Copper Post in Phoenix, Ariz., the filmmakers behind indie feature Queens of Country had their film color corrected by Blackmagic’s well-known Da Vinci Resolve. Colorist Niki Petta, who learned to color correct with the Quantel eQ, says she quickly came up to speed with the Da Vinci Resolve. “It’s a new toy at Copper Post,” says Petta. “The cool thing is that I can be a lot faster, and I can be more creative, because I have more time. Clients love the speed as well.”

Petta reports that Copper Post Owner/Senior Editor Rob Beadle, who edited Queens of Country along with Abe Levy, considered many different color correction systems before choosing the Da Vinci Resolve. “This gives us more bang for the buck,” Petta explains. “This is the best fit for us, and the Da Vinci name also means something to our clients.” Dan Stoloff, the film’s cinematographer, flew out from New York to supervise the color correction. “It’s always good to collaborate,” says Petta. “The Resolve has a control panel I love working with, and it’s so fast that I can get renders out for the visual effects people. All around, it’s much more efficient.”

FilmLight’s Baselight is another high-end tool that’s now being used to color correct indie features. The post boutique Picture Head has been hard at work on the indie film Smash after having finished the DI on Director Gregg Araki’s recently released Kaboom. “These films were both RED camera workflows,” explains VP Matthew Flint. “When you’re working with Apple Color or something lower end, it’s difficult to manage the workflow with native files. With the Baselight, we’re able to conform right on the box. It’s an elegant solution.”

This solution also includes some visual effects. When the lead actress in Smash needed a facial touchup — and the film didn’t have a VFX budget — Picture Head Colorist Phil Azenzer found a way to use some tools in the Baselight. “The Baselight isn’t the only system that handles RED, but it does handle native RED very well,” says Flint. “We love the Baselight because it has such strong conform tools. If you were working on another system, you’d need to move it to another box to conform, so you’d tie up two stations. Here, we’re doing it all in one room.”

Color grading indie films budgeted between $200,000 and $500,000 has taken off in other markets. At Digiflame, one of Istanbul’s premiere postproduction facilities, the Da Vinci Resolve plays a major role. “It’s a high-end tool that has always been desired by the relatively small Turkish market, but it has never made sense to implement until now,” says Colorist Loren White, who relies on Resolve at Digiflame, his own loft setup in Los Angeles, Calif. (where he grades movies of varying budgets) and Bandito Brothers in Santa Monica, Calif.

The list of indie films that have taken advantage of the Da Vinci Resolve include I’m in Love with a Church Girl, Serial Buddies, Road to Nowhere and Little Rock. “With solutions like Da Vinci Resolve, a professional finish is possible for films within that range,” says White. “Having Resolve in these different settings allows me to offer high-end color grading in multiple markets. Post is really in a good place. Everything is scalable enough now that almost any film can get a proper finish.”

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