Tag Archives: color science

HPA Tech Retreat — Color flow in the desert

By Jesse Korosi

I recently had the opportunity to attend the HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Desert, California, not far from Palm Springs. If you work in post but aren’t familiar with this event, I would highly recommend attending. Once a year, many of the top technologists working in television and feature films get together to share ideas, creativity and innovations in technology. It is a place where the most highly credited talent come to learn alongside those that are just beginning their career.

This year, a full day was dedicated to “workflow.” As the director of workflow at Sim, an end-to-end service provider for content creators working in film and TV, this was right up my alley. This year, I was honored to be a presenter on the topic of color flow.

Color flow is a term I like to use when describing how color values created on set translate into each department that needs access to them throughout post. In the past, this process had been very standardized, but over the last few years it has become much more complex.

I kicked off the presentation by showing everyone an example of an offline edit playing back through a projector. Each shot had a slight variance in luminance, had color shifts, extended to legal changes, etc. During offline editing, the editor should not be distracted by color shifts like these. It’s also not uncommon to have executives come into the room to see the cut. The last thing you want is the questioning of VFX shots because they are seeing these color anomalies. The shots coming back from the visual effects team will have the original dailies color baked into them and need to blend into the edit.

So why does this offline edit often look this way? The first thing to really hone in on is the number of options now available for color transforms. If you show people who aren’t involved in this process day to day a Log C image, compared to a graded image, they will tell you, “You applied a LUT, no big deal.” But it’s a misconception to think that if you give all of the departments that require access to this color the same LUT, they are going to see the same thing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case!

Traditionally, LUTs consisted of a few different formats, but now camera manufacturers and software developers have started creating their own color formats, each having their own bit depths, ranges and other attributes to further complicate matters. You can no longer simply use the blanket term LUT, because that is often not a clear definition of what is now being used.

What makes this tricky is that each of these formats is only compatible within certain software or hardware. For example, Panasonic has created its own color transform called VLTs. This color file cannot be put into a Red camera or an Arri. Only certain software can read it. Continue down the line through the plethora of other color transform options available and each can only be used by certain software/departments across the post process.

Aside from all of these competing formats, we also have an ease-of-use issue. A great example to highlight on this issue would be a DP coming to me and saying (something I hear often), “I would like to create a set of six LUTs. I will write on the camera report the names of the ones I monitored with on set, and then you can apply it within the dailies process.”

For about 50 percent of the jobs we do, we deliver DPX or EXR frames to the VFX facility, along with the appropriate color files they need. However, we give the other 50 percent the master media, and along with doing their own conversion to DPX, this vendor is now on the hook to find out which of those LUTs the DP used on set, go with which shots. This is a manual process for the majority of jobs using this workflow. For my presentation, I broke down why this is not a realistic request to put on vendors, which often leads to them simply not using the LUTs.

Workarounds
For my presentation, I broke down how to get around this LUT issue by staying within CDL compatibility. I also spoke about how to manage these files in post, while the onset crew uses equivalent LUTs. This led to the discussion of how you should be prepping your color flow at the top of each job, as well as a few case studies on real-world jobs. One of those jobs was a BLG workflow providing secondaries on set that could track through into VFX and to the final colorist, while also giving the final colorist the ability to re-time shots when we needed to do a reprint without the need to re-render new MXFs to be relinked in the Avid.

After a deep dive into competing formats, compatibility, ease of use, and a few case studies, the big take away I wanted to leave the audience with was this:
– Ensure a workflow call happens, ideally covering color flow with your on set DIT or DP, dailies vendor, VFX and DI representative
– Ensure a color flow pipeline test runs before day one of the shoot
– Allow enough time to react to issues
– When you aren’t sure how a certain department will get their color, ask!


Jesse Korosi is director of workflow at Sim.

Behind the Title: ArsenalFX Color’s Rory Gordon

NAME: Rory Gordon. Legally, it’s Aurora Gordon, but everybody calls me Rory. My business cards say Aurora though. How could I be a colorist named Aurora and not take advantage of that name?

COMPANY: Santa Monica’s ArsenalFX Color

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
ArsenalFX Color is a high-end boutique post facility, offering full-service finishing services — from dailies to online to color to opticals. We have a very artist-centered approach to the work. Everyone in the company puts the needs of each individual show above all else, and we are all treated as autonomous and important parts of the puzzle. This serves both the show and us as a group by empowering all of us to own our contributions, which in turn allows us to provide the best work we can offer.

Because Arsenal is a relatively small team, we really are able to talk to each other and make certain we understand what unique needs might arise on a case by case basis. Our fearless leaders Larry Field, O.T. Hight and Josh Baca began the company with that collaborative and considerate atmosphere, and I am very proud to be a small part of it. I think our clients can feel how that emphasis on craft allows us to push our work to the very best it can be.

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
It may be most surprising that I like to get involved and start communication with producers, DPs and directors before a show has even begun shooting. I also think continuing education is tremendously important — not only with post production workflow and tech but also with production tools. I spend as much time as I can learning not only the data capture, color science capabilities and limitations of different cameras, but also the ergonomics and set practicalities as well. Set lighting is another area I like to keep researching and learning about — I am especially interested in LED and energy efficient lighting. I like to have an idea why a crew might need to use a specific camera or tool so I can understand the intent behind on-set decisions.

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
I work on Autodesk Lustre at Arsenal. The entire facility runs on Autodesk software, so it is nice to have that interoperability. Previously, I have used DaVinci Resolve and FilmLight Baselight for final color.

ARE YOU SOMETIMES ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS? IF SO, CAN YOU DESCRIBE?
I have been asked to participate in camera tests, which I quite enjoy. First, it’s nice to get out of my dark office. Second, I love being involved in making decisions that are going to affect how everyone’s work is captured. I like to communicate with production early and often.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I love working with great creatives — being the woman behind the curtain and working with cinematographers and producers. My job is help make the show into the best version it can be, and that doesn’t happen without great creative direction. I also love finding solutions for tricky shots that turn out to be invisible. To me, the greatest compliment in the world is a shot I worked really hard on, and no one notices because it’s so seamless.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
The commute, especially if I can’t find the right playlist.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I would be an optical engineer. I love optics and physics; I have studied vision and perception at RIT and I study it now whenever the opportunity presents itself.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I have been hooked on imaging from a very early age. I built a dark room in my basement at the age of 10, and wasted a lot of photographic paper and developer. I failed early and often and that instilled a pretty unbreakable work ethic in me. I love the idea that every set of eyes has a different proportion and distribution of red, green and blue cones… which means we all see a little differently and have slightly different spectral responses.

I love the challenge of finding a representation of each scene that allows the overall feeling to translate to not only the different eyeballs that will watch the show, but also all the different viewing conditions under which people will view. Short answer: I knew early because I’m a vision nerd who likes both science and art.

The Tick

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Underground for WGN, The Tick for Amazon, Counterpart for Starz.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I love all my children equally.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
At the suggestion of master colorist Randy Starnes, I try to pursue artistic interests that are outside of TV and color. I find that when I take the time to do this it really does expand my thinking and help me stay fresh and creative.

Currently, I’m taking an analytic figure drawing class with my husband and a bunch of professional illustrators, so that’s been extremely humbling. I also love abstract painting and I have a series called “ColorTime,” where I paint color scripts to study the color in movies and TV shows, and then I re-paint the color scripts in a radial pattern on clock surfaces. I love any excuse to make a hobby out of a pun. You can see some photos at www.auroragordon.com/colortime.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Corrective lenses
Antiseptics
Ergonomic office chairs

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
I love Humans of New York, and for delightful brain numbing cuteness I enjoy We Rate Dogs. I follow several painters and cartoonists too on Instagram — I love seeing works in progress. I also like the LinkedIn group Innovations in Light, where I lurk quietly and soak up other people’s knowledge about lighting. (Follow Rory on Instagram: @auroragordon)

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Slowly scream into a paper bag. Just kidding — I love to cook, and I do handstands in my bay when no one is looking. My husband and I love to go to museums, and we also enjoy a good aimless walk.

Colorist Society adds color expert Lou Levinson as Fellow

Veteran colorist, telecine operator and color workflow specialist Lou Levinson has been named a Fellow of the Colorist Society International (CSI). Levinson’s career is impressive. He has worked with many top directors and cinematographers in Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg and Janusz Kamiński.

As a telecine colorist Levinson has worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Always, The Conformist, Tucker, The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha, Batman, Batman Returns and Akira Kurusawa’s Dreams, as well as the laserdisc releases of the Star Wars trilogy and Apocalypse Now.

Levinson has held senior positions at Technicolor, MCA’s High Definition Telecine Research Facility and, currently, Apple. Levinson, an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers, received his bachelor’s degree in design at the University of Illinois and his master’s in video at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“The colorist is a person whose primary responsibility is to help creative authors of visual storytelling in all its forms further that storytelling with the ‘look,’” says Levinson. “This means dealing with color, density, texture, composition and motion issues as prime involvement. Helping the industry recognize the value of the colorist is why I support CSI’s mission statement.”

A CSI Fellow is an honorary position within the Colorist Society International. It is given out in honor of distinguished service to the art and craft of color in motion pictures and television. Motion picture and television colorists Jim Wicks and Kevin Shaw founded colorist Society International. CSI is dedicated to advancing the craft, education, and public awareness of the art and science of color grading and color correction.

Colorfront names image-science expert Bill Feightner CTO

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY — Colorfront (www.colorfront.com), a developer of high-performance, on-set dailies and transcoding systems for motion picture, high-end episodic HDTV and commercials production, has named image-science expert Bill Feightner chief technology officer.

Feightner’s appointment at Colorfront coincides with him being awarded the 2013 Technicolor/Herbert T. Kalmus Medal, by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), for his extensive contribution to the art and science of digital motion picture film image science.

Based in Los Angeles,  Feightner will lead Colorfront’s services and consulting business. He will also drive the development of Colorfront’s tools into new areas color and image-science, calibration, as well as remote, collaborative production and post production operations.

He brings over 35 years of experience to Colorfront, beginning his career as technical director of Compact Video before moving on to similar roles at Laser Edit and Composite Image Systems (CIS). He was co-founder and, most recently, CTO /executive VP of technology at Efilm Digital Labs (part of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group).

At Laser Edit, Feightner created a live, realtime, multilayer VFX compositing system, and continued this pioneering approach at CIS, where he helped to develop the 2K pin-registered telecine system that revolutionized the process of interactive image compositing for feature films.

At Efilm his innovations included new software for digital laboratory calibration; image processing and image management software; end-to-end, multi-site, collaborative workflow procedures and software; the fully-digitally timed DI pipeline on We Were Soldiers (2002); and the 4K DI finish on Spiderman 2 (2004). He was also responsible for the workflow on Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), the first US feature to shoot and post using the ArriRaw format. During his time at Efilm, Feightner worked closely with Colorfront on many projects.

Colorfront will reveal details about the 2014 versions of its Express Dailies, On-Set Dailies, Transkoder, plus future products and services, during a Colorfront User Group meeting on Saturday, October 19, at Sony’s Digital Motion Picture Centre, Culver City, prior to exhibiting at the SMPTE 2013 Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 21-24 October, in Hollywood.