Tag Archives: Training

Review: Warren Eagles’ Blackmagic Resolve training

By Brady Betzel

With Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 15 released at this year’s NAB, a lot of editors, colorists and now audio mixers want to dive in and see what all of the fuss is about.

Resolve 15 is now a Pro Tools competitor thanks to Fairlight and an After Effects competitor thanks to Fusion. There are dozens of new features and changes that will make many colorists want to upgrade.

Even though Resolve 15 is out in the wild, it is in Beta form — meaning there are most likely bugs and other issues still being ironed out. For those wanting to dive in and edit or color a project you still have non-Beta versions of Resolve such as 14.3, which I will be referring to in this review of Warren Eagle’s Resolve 14 training series on www.fxphd.com.

While some of the tools are new and improved in Resolve 15, about 95% of Warren’s training, especially in the Looks and Matching Masterclass, are universal and can be applied not only to any version of Resolve, but any color correction application.

If you are new to Resolve, an experienced colorist or even just a curious post enthusiast, then you will want to brush up quickly. Warren Eagles is an international colorist with almost 30 years of experience. He calls Brisbane, Australia, home.

If you troll around the www.liftgammagain.com forums you will recognize him as being the preeminent voice for color correction both online and in the classroom. Along with colorist Kevin Shaw, Eagles started the colorist education community www.icolorist.com (@icolorist), which travels the world leading classes in color correction, color science, Resolve, looks and matching, and many more subjects.

All that being said, classes with www.icolorist.com are expensive (anywhere from $900 to $1,500 per class) and are also in person, so while you will learn a lot in person you can’t necessarily learn at your convenience and pace. This is where Eagle’s classes over at www.fxphd.com come into play.

Online Training
Some background on fxphd.com. This is an online learning website much like Lynda.com, but it has a much deeper learning library that covers niche subjects and is geared heavily toward VXF artists, editors, colorists, online editors and many other jobs in the post world.

Typically, you would pay $79/month for standard membership, which includes streaming of all the classes. But $99/month gets you the premium membership, which allows for downloading of classes, any media used in the class to play with, as well as access to their VPN software.

Eagle’s Resolve 14 class is an all-upfront pricing offering and is not included in the memberships. Resolve 14 Fundamentals will cost $149, Resolve 14 Advanced will cost $149 and Looks and Matching Masterclass with Resolve will cost $199. The best deal in my opinion is $299 for all three classes, dubbed the Resolve Mega Pack.

I’m going to go through all three courses in this review one at a time, so you know exactly what you should buy if you don’t want to purchase all three. In my head I am pretty comfortable in post apps such as Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects and Resolve, but am always wondering what I might miss if I don’t go through the fundamental classes and skip to the advanced. So, if you are like me or are wondering if you should just grab the Looks and Matching Class or purchase all three courses, keep reading.

One thing I will tell you is that after running through all three of Eagle’s classes, I feel way more at ease with not only Resolve but where I stand in comparison to other colorists, including Warren. In fact, I really want to sign up for one of his in-person classes on www.icolorist.com when he comes to Los Angeles.

Resolve 14 Fundamentals
Up first is the Resolve 14 Fundamentals class, which is a foundational course meant to provide you with a broad overview of Resolve 14, but also sprinkles in a few advanced subjects.

I really like the way Eagles teaches. He asks himself a lot of rhetorical questions, which I often do in my own head when editing or coloring. He lays out the thought pattern of a colorist in a practical and not obnoxious way. Overall, he has a great teaching style, and I don’t say that easily. I watch a lot of tutorials, and there are plenty of people who are not made to teach on camera, but you can sit and watch all of Eagles’ over 24 hours worth of tutorials without feeling yelled at or preached to.

Alright, let’s dive into the classes. The first three could probably have been consolidated into one class since they essentially cover the interface, some settings and best practices, as well as how the media management works inside of Resolve.

These videos will introduce you to (or remind you) how useful Resolve is as a DIT/transcoding solution. Class 4 covers how you might receive an offline edit in Resolve for conform and finishing once it is “locked” (or final locked, locked version 2, un-locked, etc.). In this class you focus on getting a clip-based sequence from Premiere via an XML, or exporting a “flat” QuickTime with an EDL for Resolve, to chop up into edits and see where any pitfalls or technicalities lie.

I think you could fast forward to Class 12 here and watch that as well, Eagles talks about traps that you might run into, and really focuses on what an online editor would do to prep a sequence before sending it over to a colorist. While the classes are short (around 25 minutes each), they present only a few of the issues you may run into when prepping your sequence from online and color correction.

Classes 5 through 11 are really where the “creative” learning happens. These classes lay out a basic understanding of color correction and how it works inside of Resolve, including how to read basic scopes, differences between LOG color and Rec709 and much more. Class 8 covers secondary color corrections, including how and what a qualifier does, the new face refinement tool and keying objects such as a sky.

Class 9 is a great class that covers power windows and sizing, one of the key subjects to concentrate on in my opinion. Class 10 covers keyframing, which could have a course on its own. Class 11 covers node operation, which is imperative when learning how to work in a node-based color corrector, such as Resolve. Learning why certain nodes don’t work in linear order and when to use nodes like a parallel node versus a layer node is important.

Finally, Class 12 covers how to round trip your sequence to and from Premiere Pro. Class 12 is a tough one because while it is meant to give you a broad overview, there are so many problems inherent with clip-based round trips in Premiere that you would probably need a day-long class to even get close to starting to understand the pitfalls.

The Advanced Resolve 14
The Advanced Resolve 14 class is where things start to get interesting for someone like me — experienced in Resolve and other NLEs, but who likes to find little gems of knowledge or shortcuts. Like in the Fundamentals course, Eagles usually shows an example of the topic he is covering and then offers a few reasons why you would do something like crush the black levels or blow out the highlights as opposed to just doing it because he said so. At the end of each lesson you can use the downloadable footage to practice techniques and even experiment with ideas Eagles talks about.

Class 1 is another overview of Resolve 14, and it feels like this was made just in case you didn’t buy the Fundamentals class. Class 2 begins with LOG vs. Lift Gamma Gain grading. He uses a B&W gradient to easily show how the different tools work within Resolve, such as pivot, offset, color boost, etc. This is a great class to start with. Class 3 covers primary grading, including how to apply a LUT. This is great because you are working with actual footage from a GMC commercial that is high quality. The footage is ProRes, so it isn’t RAW Red R3D files, but it still works great to understand key elements.

Classes 4 through 6 cover workflows from NLEs, such as Premiere Pro, using XMLs to conform, how to interpret speed changes, how to use the scene detector to cut single file QuickTimes into their individual scenes without an EDL and also the basic differences between a baked-in (flat) QuickTime workflow versus clip-based. Keep in mind the clip-based workflow in Premiere is not straightforward and does not always work well (in any scenario) — this class could be a three-day seminar on its own.

Class 7 dives deeper into secondary color by way of the 3D keyer and other amazing tools inside of Resolve. Class 8 covers advanced tracking and how to fix broken tracks. With Boris FX’s Mocha Pro tracking plugin now compatible with Resolve as an OFX plugin, this may be a nice update to the Advanced Resolve course in the future. Class 9 covers some higher-end coloring workflows such as ACES and RAW grading.

Class 10 covers all of the nodes in Resolve and is my favorite class. Resolve’s true power is in its nodal structure and how you can work in a linear way and also in a nonlinear way by using parallel or layer nodes when coloring. If you are coming from a layer-based color corrector, this class is where you will learn the power of Resolve’s node-based hierarchy.

Class 11 goes over some issues and how to resolve (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) them such as 8-bit banding and how to try and band-aid using a plugin appropriately called Deband, how temporal vs. spatial noise reduction works and many other issues. In Class 12, Eagles covers different hardware control surfaces from companies like Tangent, as well as Blackmagic. It is interesting if you’ve never seen control panels, but feels a little like a commercial.

The Looks and Matching Masterclass
To be honest, when I said I would review this course, the Looks class was what I was really interested in. While Eagles does a great job at going through the tools of Resolve, the hardest thing when learning color correction technique is finding someone who will just let you observe them while grading to see how they approach their work.

It can understandably be a secretive industry. Since there are few colorists in comparison to other positions, they often keep their “secret sauce” color correction secrets to themselves. I tend to think that sharing the secrets of your success helps other people and can eventually help you get hired in the future.

Fortunately for me, I was lucky enough to watch a few editors work and I learned a lot. You might get answers to questions that you are afraid to ask out loud, such as, “Should you use a primary grade all on one node?” Or, “Should you color before or after a LUT?” Eagles’ classes let you behind the curtain into the world of the elusive colorist. Especially the Looks and Matching Masterclass.

The Looks and Matching Masterclass, like the Fundamentals and Advanced classes, comes with downloadable footage to follow along and practice with. In Class 1 and 2, Eagles covers one of the most critical components of color correction: shot matching.

These days there are so many cameras — from the iPhone in your pocket to Blackmagic’s own Pocket Cinema Camera (or even the forthcoming 4K version of the Pocket Cinema Camera) to the high-end Arri Alexas or Red Monstros —it can be hard to keep track of each of their looks and or techniques to color grade them.

Sometimes, as a colorist, you may even be asked to match a GoPro Hero 6 to an Arri Alexa, or maybe even a film camera! That is obviously (or maybe) an insane question. However, as a colorist you will need to understand what the client is really asking (or wanting) and how you can offer suggestions to getting your shots at least close — and if you can’t, why can’t you?

In Class 1, Eagles goes over the inspirational side to color correcting and grading by finding images and videos that might inspire you. Class 2 gets more technical by covering things like correcting using only the Lift, Gamma and Gain functions to get a simple base grade all the way up to using the Match Move effect to replace a sky in a scene with a dull sky.

Classes 3, 4 and 5 cover different color scenarios such as a car commercial, a music video or a product commercial — each presenting interesting challenges that Eagles goes over. One of my favorites is in Class 4, which covers music video color correction. Eagles walks us through his approach to fixing things like hues or lighting tints that might be caused by improper white balance or even just the camera sensor itself. He starts by pulling a key of the shadows and dialing in a proper black shadow using hue v. saturation controls, or even adding blue into the shadows to give the video an overall cooler (temperature) look.

In the Looks Masterclass, there is some duplicate content from the Advanced, but Eagles goes way further down the rabbit hole, giving inside tips you would only get being in the color bay with a professional colorist.

Also, if you are deciding between these classes and some tutorials you have found on YouTube, there is a distinct knowledge set that Eagles has that you most likely won’t find for free. While you are paying FXPHD for his information, you are also getting his years of experience, which can guide you through complex issues without having to go through the failure yourself. This is an invaluable experience that you most likely won’t find in many YouTube tutorials. Not to say YouTube tutorials are bad or not-informative, but take them for what they are.

Classes 6 and 7 cover the ever-popular beauty and fashion techniques. In particular, skin touch-up techniques by using Mist, keying hot spots and even the new to Resolve 14 Face Refinement tool, which is a remarkably easy tool that automatically creates a matte for eyes, nose, mouth and face to adjust individual parts of the face. Combined with a power window and you can isolate the face from the rest of the image.

Class 8 covers action footage and the inherent issues that come when filming scenes outdoors as well as the color casts that can happen underwater. Class 9 covers LUTs, Power Grades, Tools and how they relate or differ from each other. Eagles touches on if you should use a LUT or a Power Grade and the differences, as well as how to achieve the infamous orange/teal look that everyone uses.

Whether you think it is a good or a bad technique, clients will always request a version of an orange and teal look. Eagles works in his way of doing it while trying to not just simply add orange the mid-tones and highlights and teal to the shadows. What I really like about this lesson, in particular, is that Eagles doesn’t just simply do step 1 through 5 He will work on step 1, jump around to step 3, experiment with a new step and end up with a crazy look that might not be the best, but he helps you see where that look could go. At the end you can pick up where he left off and come up with something unexpected that even Eagles might not come up with.

Class 10 is a very important because it covers subjects not often taught: color grading for the web. If you’re coloring for platforms like as YouTube or Instagram, you aren’t held to the same standards that television or film are. In fact, the color space is different.

Typically, you will want to color in an sRGB output color space. However, inside of Resolve it isn’t necessarily straightforward on how you set up your input, output and timeline color spaces. Eagles runs through options for setting up Resolve to color in an sRGB color space, including how to set up your GUI monitor if you aren’t using external reference monitors that are calibrated.

He also runs through how to set up your Resolve project for special aspect ratios, like Instagram’s 4×3 ratio, for the best possible result and viewing while coloring. While it is being taught in Resolve 14, this knowledge can also translate to other versions, and even other software apps.

Eagles even gives awesome tips, like why you should be careful when crushing the black levels for the web, or even when and why artifacting can happen. In the end of Class 10, the lesson is to always test your output, so you can compensate for things such as YouTube slightly flattening your color, before you deliver your final product.

Classes 11 and 12 of the Looks and Matching Masterclass cover a drama workflow. Watching entire workflows from start to finish have been very beneficial in my work. Sometimes you will catch a shortcut or a technique that you have never seen before.

In this particular set of classes, Eagles goes through a few shots from a bunch of different cameras, including the Arri Alexa, Blackmagic Ursa, GoPro and others. Matching cameras is the focus here. There are even some very tricky shots that might have an incorrect white balance or something else to try and salvage. What I love about these last few classes is that you aren’t being given a list of ways to color correct. Instead, Eagles gives you ways he might or might not approach a session and tells you why he may or may not do it that way. And because every session is unique, practicing is the most important takeaway from the lessons.

Summing Up
Warren Eagles trains many colorists all over the world — just check out the class schedule over at www.icolorist.com. They teach everywhere from Chicago to New York to Germany and Singapore.

Eagles’ www.FXPHD.com course is a great foundation to supplement your Resolve learning.

A key concept that you may discover through Eagles’ lessons is that you may not always find success in a color grade, but you will always be able to take something away from it.

You can check out Warren Eagle’s FXPHD Resolve 14 classes here. And since Resolve 15 is set to deliver some time in 2018, we assume a new class is on the horizon.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Tips: What I know now but didn’t then

By Brady Betzel

I’ve passed my 10-year anniversary working in TV — specifically post production — and it’s really pretty crazy. When I started, I was an eager beaver willing to listen and do (almost) anything the “important” people told me I should do. Now, while I still like to think I am eager, I like to feel like I am a very informed beaver, albeit a pretty skeptical one.

The following are some myths about building a career based on my personal experience.

The Need to Say Yes to Everything
This one is a little polarizing because it touches on the working for free topic, which I don’t actively support. To me you aren’t working for free if you are able to develop a skill or use the project for your own benefit. Short term it might be “free” but the long-term benefits will pay off if you are able to learn and grow technically and/or creatively.

That being said, you don’t need to say yes to everything. Take this with a heavy dose of common sense, but if someone tells you to do something and your gut is saying the opposite, lean toward your inner voice. People tend to respect that more than if you always say yes, no matter the job. I learned this first hand when I was offline editing — sometimes editors are tasked with showing the client what they say they want, but they may think one thing and then end up with a completely different end product.

I edited a sizzle reel — a cheap way of making a pseudo-pilot where the content is not fully flushed out but may have a spark of an idea that editors sometimes cover in fancy light leaks and sparkles. The client said it would be easy (it wasn’t and never is), and they had a story producer that would give me editing points for a five-minute sizzle reel. Long story short, the story producer had a completely different (and frankly boring) story in mind for a sizzle reel.

As I watched all 12 hours of “awesome” material, I found about 30 seconds of real story… I thought. So while I edited their version, I also edited mine. Eventually they thought the whole thing needed to be re-done. I then sent them my version and they took it. They had a couple of notes but their five-minute already done sizzle reel turned into a completely different story in three and a half minutes. The moral of this story is don’t always be a 
“yes” person.

Moving Up the Ladder Quickly
Here is another that has bugged me for a long time, and I still struggle with it. I was an assistant editor for four years, and I feel my rise to editor should have come faster. I always saw assistants moving up quickly around me, the commonality (usually) was that they weren’t that good at their job. It seemed counterintuitive, but then I realized that just because you move up quickly in rank, doesn’t always mean you are qualified for the job — your boss may just want you out of their hair.

In the assistant editor world, that could mean that you are messing up tons of stuff that other people are fixing without you knowing (not that I experienced that or anything like that). So if you aren’t moving up the ladder quickly don’t stress about it. Be assertive, but don’t be rude.

You Must Know Editing, Color, Mixing…
There is nothing like real-world experience. There is nothing like sitting in a color grading session with the colorist powering DaVinci Resolve color panels, or being in a audio mix stage for the first time and hearing how powerful different mixes are.

However, you don’t always get the luxury of being mentored while sitting next to the colorist. You don’t always get to play with the lift, gamma or gain without worrying about messing up. Don’t be afraid to watch tutorials on YouTube, Lynda.com, RippleTraining.com or other paid or free training sites. When I do get a free moment, I often watch tutorials on YouTube and learn techniques I would never have thought of before. It doesn’t matter if you watch a 10-year-old teaching After Effects expressions or Mocha tracking Big Bird into a scene, if you become a master wireframe remover thanks to YouTube videos, you may very well earn the same paycheck and work on just the same films as someone who learned at USC.

Partying Vs. Networking
I firmly believe that you don’t need to live in Hollywood and go to the Chateau Marmont weekly to become an editor, or whatever post position you want to achieve. I live an hour and 20 minutes outside of Hollywood in an avocado orchard, and work on shows that millions of people watch each week. I rarely go to parties or events, and I still get jobs. My work speaks for itself.

However, I also feel that if I was more of a social person I may have different opportunities. So while partying isn’t always necessary, maybe take a middle road: do some networking (in-person and via social media) but also take some time away from the hustle and bustle of Highland.

Interning
I started my career as an intern on the show On Air with Ryan Seacrest, so this may be a little weird, but bear with me. I see a lot of people who work in TV turn their noses up when they hear people that haven’t interned before get jobs. I have to admit I was one of those people until I realized you don’t need a college degree, internship or any formal training for that matter.

If you know how to make an opening title graphic in Cinema 4D better than someone with a Master’s Degree in communication, the fact is that you just do. Don’t be ashamed and don’t feel like you don’t deserve a job over someone else. Just go for it.

Keep in mind that doesn’t give you an excuse to be complacent and uninformed about your job description and duties.

Obviously, all of these tips are to be taken with humility and common sense, but in the end if you have the talent, drive and fortitude to stand up for your ideas, then you can make it in post production, even if it means taking a few extra years to become a quality audio mixer, sound designer, visual effects artists, motion graphics maniac or whatever.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously, he was editing The Real World at Bunim Murray Productions. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.

Larry Jordan offers discounted and tailored training to schools, students

By Randi Altman

Agoura Hills, California-based Larry Jordan & Associates, headed by industry vet and long-time trainer Larry Jordan, is now offering educational institutions as well as students discounted pricing and specially tailored training.

These discounts apply to tools professional editors are using out there in the world, including Apple Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro. Jordan and company will also make additional educational support materials available as well as the training.

On the heels of this announcement, we reached out to Jordan for some details.

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Creating a deeper talent pool: training for Mistika, Mamba FX

Now that SGO Mistika systems are being installed here in the US, postPerspective thought it would make sense to find out what the company is doing about training artists so studios that have invested in the product have a deeper pool of talent to pick from when the need arises.

With that in mind, we reached out to David Cox, who has been helping SGO with their training efforts. Here is his take on the subject.

By David Cox

An interesting challenge for any manufacturer that aspires to bring a new product to market — or a different way of thinking to an existing market — is how to cultivate an extensive user-base by training enough individuals to allow their technology to take hold.

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Peter Amies joins SGO as training, education mentor

Soho, London – To help manage the training strategy for its Mistika and Mamba FX software solutions, SGO has hired training and education mentor Peter Amies.

Aimes comes with a strong technical background that includes customer services, workflow coordination, and technology management for high-end post. Before joining SGO, he worked at New Zealand’s Park Road Post Production for six years, starting out in their film laboratory and moving to in-house post production coordinator, and working on managing workflow and delivery for a range of short-form and feature length projects through the laboratory, DI and sound departments. He began his career at Norway’s Cinevation as product manager for the Cinevator film-recorder product line where he worked for over four years.

Geoff Mills, SGO’s director of global sales and operations said, “Peter Amies has joined SGO at an important time, and we are delighted to welcome him as a key member of our team. As SGO expands further, it is imperative that our educational strategy is in place as demand increases. Armed with an impressive portfolio, Peter will be an excellent asset with his relevant expertise and knowledge and will predominantly focus on the technical development needs and post production skill sets, which are of enormous value in the industry.”

Case Study: Teaching tech with tablets and tutorials

 

Digital-Tutors, an online training center that offers training and tutorial library for CG, 3D, animation and VFX, offers over 1,100 full-length courses on over 50 software packages to beginners and experienced artists looking to grow their toolbox.

“We know artists can be skeptical of learning resources, especially when a financial or time commitment is required,” said Justin Marshall, lead modeling tutor at Digital-Tutors (www.digitaltutors.com). “Over the last 12 years, we’ve dedicated ourselves to not only proving why our content deserves both; but also to the idea that if we do our job, then a whole community of great artists can either begin to or continue to do their job at the highest levels of film, game, and ad industries.” Continue reading