Tag Archives: Filmlight

Behind the Title: Colorist David Rivero Martin

NAME: David Rivero Martin

COMPANY: Freelance colorist based in China

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
I color grade and supervise the finishing of feature films and commercials — normally all versions and often the trailers associated with them.

AS A COLORIST, WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The amount of retouching (other than overall luma/chroma changes) that we usually do to the image.

Lord 2

WHAT SYSTEM DO YOU WORK ON?
Mostly in DaVinci Resolve and SGO Mistika, but I’m trying to get more time on Filmlight’s Baselight.

ARE YOU ASKED TO DO MORE THAN JUST COLOR ON PROJECTS?
Definitively. Sometimes I’m asked, sometimes I offer it, and sometimes I just do it. It can vary wildly… from texturing (grain, noise, denoise, adding textures) to beauty passes — going through everything else the system can do (warping, flares, sky replacements, compositing).

I’m always happy to do more for the image and the project. And having these tools within the systems I use means that even if those tasks might eventually go to another department, at least we get to see them right there and then, and see how the tools affect the image. Sometimes, there are things that are just done better at the grading stage, or there are things no one realized or thought of, and we deal with them. Lately, I’ve been using warping as a beauty tool, and also as a creative tool.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
On the job site, it’s the people: directors, photographers, producers, editors, mixers, the whole team. The collaboration between creative, hard-working people is what really drives most of the projects.

On the craft side, it’s when we get to create the style of the project. Those are the color jam sessions.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Chasing payments. Ha!

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Maybe I could have made it as an illustrator (I liked the narrative side of drawing panels and pages as a comic book artist, but I was too slow for the job). Other options would be engineer or historian.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
My first experiences in a studio were actually with my dad at a sound studio. He is a musician, so back when I was a kid he would bring me to the studio to help record and mix, which was pretty interesting and mysterious at the time.

I was always interested in storytelling; and the environment I grew up surely helped, given the family background and the long Spanish tradition of pictorial and graphic arts. By the time I was finishing my technical degree on film and TV, I had already done a few editing jobs and a bunch of other home projects using mostly computers (CG, matte painting, edit, motion graphics, color, VFX), so I definitively knew my place was in post. It’s similar to how I enjoyed being in the studio helping my dad rather than playing in front of an audience. Then, at my first internship, where I went as editor and motion graphics artist, I witnessed an actual grading session take place and I knew that was it. I got introduced to the craft and started right there as assistant.

Pepsi

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I’m currently finishing grading two great films: Detective Dee 3: The Four Heavenly King (狄仁杰之四大天王) by Tsui Hark, and Lord 2 (爵迹2) by Guo Jingming. The most recent commercials I graded were for Apple, Pepsi and Cartier.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I try to craft my grading in a way that I can always be proud of, so it is hard for me choose a single one. There are several films during the last three years that I’m very proud of, including the two I’m currently working on. Sometimes it’s just some specific scenes, or sometimes it’s how we dealt with the shadows throughout the whole film. Or maybe it’s how the yellow evolves during the film, or how we shaped the volume and light of the characters in the climax of the film, etc.

I would like to mention Bangzi Melody (村戏), an independent film I graded last year that won the Golden Rooster Award (national Chinese award) for Best Cinematography. It recognized the bold creativity and effort it took during photography and grading. It was shot in color, but we graded it for black and white. And at times in the movie, the color flows into black, white with pools of red and green in the picture. Plus, there were some other effects we added into the grading. I was happy an independent film like this got recognized at that level, as well as our work with it.

Bangzi Melody

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION? ART? PHOTOGRAPHY?
There is plenty of good material in the entertainment industry that I truly enjoy experiencing and analyzing: films, comic books, videogames, TV series.

When I have the chance, I go to painting galleries or museums, especially in Europe and my hometown of Madrid. Oh, and music. Music curiously serves as a guide and reference in many aspects of grading.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My phone, my computer and my HiFi headphones.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Instagram. It’s a diverse source of pictures, from people of all kinds and all places.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter, going hiking through the wild or the countryside and my too many hobbies (laughs).

FilmLight adds colorist Andy Minuth as workflow specialist

FilmLight has hired colorist Andy Minuth as color workflow specialist. Minuth, originally from Germany, was most recently lead colorist at 1000Volt Post Production in Istanbul. There he was responsible for the grade of commercials as well as feature films, and worked on FilmLight Baselight. He brings a deep technical knowledge of image processing and color management to the job, which will have him speaking to fellow colorists worldwide.

“I am looking forward to talking to other creatives around the world, sharing my experience,” he says. “I’m also excited to hear their stories about the productivity of the Baselight Linked Grade (BLG) workflow now that it’s reaching more artists — DITs, editors and compositors — throughout the production process.”

While Minuth will be based in FilmLight’s new office in Munich, he will have a global presence for the company, helping users develop unified color pipelines and enhance skills regardless of location.

“We need to have those conversations in their language, in the language of creative post production,” explains Mark Burton, head of EMEA sales for FilmLight. “That is why it is so valuable for us to add another highly experienced, highly regarded colorist to our team.”

FilmLight shows new versions of color tools at NAB

FilmLight was at NAB demo-ing Version 5.0 of its color tools. The upgraded toolkit maintains a consistent user experience across the Baselight color grading and finishing system, Baselight Editions, Daylight and FilmLight’s new on-set application, Prelight.

“We are delivering 5.0 everywhere, bringing a new level of color control and creative possibilities from the very start of a production right to the final deliverables,” says Wolfgang Lempp, CEO of FilmLight. “And, importantly, color and artistic intent are accompanying all deliverables precisely and with minimum effort, be it for HDR and SDR or even 360 VR grading.”

Version 5.0 introduces Base Grade, which mimics the way the eye sees color to yield a more natural feel. Version 5.0 also includes some new VFX features, such as paint, perspective tracking, warping, depth keying and relighting.

FilmLight’s new Prelight On-Set, a Mac OS app for preview and grading, brings color control and the FilmLight BLG (Baselight Linked Grade) metadata system to shoots.

With Version 5.0, Baselight Editions, the plug-ins for Avid and Nuke 5.0, now include Base Grade functionality as well as color tools, such as midtone contrast and filters for denoise and deflicker. In addition, Baselight for Nuke includes boosted functionality in the Version 5.0 BLG that enables the tool to act as a multi-input node in Nuke. In this manner, BLG files can refer to multiple input images and OpenEXR channels.

Looking at the ACES color workflow on Café Society

By Sarah Priestnall

Last year’s Café Society marked a milestone in Woody Allen’s cinematic career — the first of his movies to be acquired digitally, mostly with the Sony F65 camera, and with additional use of the Sony F55. To accompany him in this endeavor, he turned to legendary Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, ASC. Storaro has, of course, shot some of the most iconic movies of all time, including Apocalypse Now, Little Buddha and The Sheltering Sky. A period piece, set in the 1930s, Café Society tells the story of Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), who leaves the Bronx for Hollywood where he meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman (Kristen Stewart) who is involved with a mysterious married man.

Storaro uses color and tone throughout Café Society to great effect creating distinctive looks for the different locations. For this, he worked closely with Anthony Raffaele, senior colorist at Technicolor PostWorks, New York. Influenced by photographers and artists, such as Georgia O’Keefe, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Hopper, Storaro uses look and color as a tool to help tell the story and place the characters in a particular location —in this case the Bronx, Hollywood and New York. As Bobby Dorfman moves from the Bronx, with its muted tones, to Hollywood, the colors become more vibrant and luminous. His life changes drastically and so when he moves back to New York the color palette becomes a blend of the two, reflecting that Bobby’s life has been changed by his time on the West Coast.

Unlike many of his projects, Anthony Raffaele had the opportunity to grade the dailies as well as the final digital intermediate. Conversations between him and Storaro began in pre-production. “We started a workflow and color conversation very early on,” explains Raffaele. “From our initial meeting with Vittorio and his DIT Simone D’Arcangelo, the color pipeline was paramount so that we could maintain the color decisions from on-set through to the finish.” Storaro insisted on a 4K 16-bit pipeline from the camera through to the digital intermediate. He had used Filmlight’s Baselight before on Muhammed: The Messenger of God, and based on that experience he knew that he wanted to use it again.

Although ACES was not used for the dailies, Raffaele was looking for a way to get a really strong image with deep blacks and vibrant colors — something that Storaro thought was perhaps missing in the dailies, at least compared to a film print. He had successfully used ACES previously on a movie with Dean Cundey, ASC — on the movie Freedom in 2014. After some experimentation with Baselight, he realized that he could achieve the richness that Storaro desired with Baselight’s revamped color pipeline which includes ACES throughout. “Filmlight does a great job with ACES color. I’ve found that using their IDTs (Input Display Transforms) gives me a great starting place, says Raffaele. “You can get a really great image very quickly. Also once you’re in ACES color space, creating any deliverable is very easy. The color mapping is amazingly accurate.”

The ease of the ACES integration in Baselight, together with the time saved by using ACES, allowed Raffaele to maximize the time he spent on creative color grading. The fidelity of the original 4K 16-bit images carried through to the digital intermediate with ACES wide color gamut. As Raffaele explains, the combination of Baselight and ACES also made the creation of an HDR deliverable simple as well as future-proofing the content, “there is the archival benefit to using ACES. The large color space will, in theory, futureproof the color decisions made in the room.”

Like many other colorists, Raffaele is convinced of the value of ACES, using it on every project he can. In fact, he is again collaborating with Storaro and DIT Simone D’Arcangelo on Woody Allen’s latest project and using ACES from beginning to end.


Sarah Priestnall has worked in the entertainment technology for many years, always at the forefront of the digital transition, with companies like Kodak, Hollywood Intermediate and Codex.

FilmLight at NAB with Baselight 5.0

FilmLight, which makes management and grading technologies, is at NAB 2016 with Baselight 5.0, a new version of the company’s flagship color finishing system. Baselight 5.0 includes a new set of tools to optimize both high dynamic range (HDR) grading and extended color gamut, and offers more than 50 new features designed to help colorists and other creative artists.

The new Base Grade tool improves color grading techniques by giving colorists access to subtle grading. Moving away from the traditional lift/gamma/gain approach, it offers controls that accurately mimic the way the eye appreciates color — via exposure, temperature and balance — to yield a more natural feel and smooth, consistent changes. Because Base Grade works in a perceptually linear space, it is ideal for grading RAW formats, OpenEXRs, and other scene-referred data for both HDR and standard range displays

Baselight 5.0 also features added HDR capabilities through color space “families” that simplify the deliverables process for distinct viewing environments such as television, 4K projection and handheld devices. Gamut optimization provides natural gamut mapping deliverables and prevents clipping when captured colors can’t be displayed on a cinema or television screen.

A new gamut optimization feature in Baselight 5.0 provides simple-to-implement gamut mapping for wide dynamic range images, which form part of the new generation of HDR displays. As new high-end cameras capture colors that could never be displayed on current television screens, this feature offers an easy fix, providing natural gamut mapping for deliverables. Where an HDR image results in colors outside a standard color gamut, the new gamut compression feature sensitively brings it back in, compressing the outer volume of the gamut without affecting the inner volume. Bright, saturated colors won’t clip or destroy the image.

Additional Baselight 5.0 tools tailored to improve colorists’ creative control and efficiency include a perspective operator that makes screen replacement and re-projection easy; perspective tracking of images, shapes, paint strokes and grid warps using either four 1-point trackers or new perspective-capable area tracker; a grid warper; a dedicated keyer for production-quality blue and green screen keying; a paint tool for retouching, such as logo removal; a relight tool to add virtual lights to a scene; and a matchbox shader including support for Flame Matchbox shaders.

Building on the concept of metadata-driven grading, in which the raw footage remains untouched and realtime viewing uses color metadata to render the grade, Baselight 5.0 allows facilities and freelancers in remote sites to browse any scene independently or lock into the master suite and follow a grading session live. The remote colorist can take over and suggest changes, instantly reflected on the other systems.

Baselight 5.0 will be available for all BLG-enabled products from FilmLight, including the Daylight dailies and media management platform, as well as Baselight for Avid and Baselight for Nuke in the Baselight Editions range.

Quick Chat: FilmLight CEO Wolfgang Lempp on HDR

FilmLight, creator of the popular BaseLight color grading system, has been making products targeting color since 2002. Over the years they have added other products that surround the color workflow, such as image processing applications and on-set tools for film and television.

With high dynamic range (HDR) a hot topic among those making tools for production and post and those who believe in HDR’s future, we reached out to FilmLight CEO and co-founder Wolfgang Lempp to pick his brain about the benefits of HDR and extended color gamut, and what we need to do to make it a reality.

Are you a fan of HDR?
Definitely. It opens up more creative possibilities, and it adds depth to the picture. Not everything benefits from looking more real, but the real world is certainly HDR. There is a certain aesthetic to dim highlights, as there is to black-and-white photography, but that is no justification to stick with black-and-white television, or with dim displays.

And consumers will appreciate the benefit of HDR too. When they walk into an electronics store and see a couple of HDR televisions among the standard screens, they will leap out as being clearly better. That is very different from stereo 3D technology, and it will drive the adoption of HDR in a big way.

So, what will it take to get HDR to consumers?
High-end cameras have been HDR for quite a while. It is just that we have compressed the output to make it look okay on standard displays. We now have the displays, and we are starting to get the projectors, too. The biggest obstacle is the infrastructure in between, and the implications regarding the proposed standards.

So there will be a time of confusion, as well as a time for bad HDR, before the dust will settle. And sadly, like with 4K and UHD, we probably end up with two different standards for film and TV. The big question at the moment is whether the least disruptive method, which uses the same signal for both standard dynamic range and HDR displays, will be all we can realistically hope for in TV at this point, and whether that is actually good enough.

Samsung’s HDR-ready KS9500 SUHD TV with Quantum dot display.

Is the SMPTE PQ standard the answer?
SMPTE 2084 — which formalizes the Dolby Perceptual Quantization (PQ) concept — is already in use and has its merits, certainly for movies where you can send the right version to each cinema. But it is a bit too forward-looking for the broadcast industry, which prefers to send a common signal to both standard dynamic range and HDR displays at home.

The existing broadcast infrastructure can be made to work with the current generation of HDR displays, and that might well be good enough for many years to come. SMPTE PQ is looking further into the future, but ironically the projection technology for cinema is trailing behind in terms of absolute brightness, so for the foreseeable future there is even less of a need to provide for that extra dynamic range.

The critical issue in the short term is banding of contours, not in the very dark parts of the image which we are all familiar with, but in the mid-range. PQ is the safer bet in that respect, but it needs a higher bit depth than the broadcast distribution channels are offering.

BBC in the UK and NHK, the Japanese national broadcaster, have put forward a proposal for a hybrid logarithmic and gamma encoding that could be a reasonable compromise for broadcasting, but it remains to be seen if it is a compromise too far when a wide variety of HDR content becomes available. It would be a shame if we end up with a long list of do’s and don’ts to make the images look acceptable.

At FilmLight, we support both standards, and if the industry can agree on something better, we will of course support that too. Our interest is in taking the technical limitations away from post and allowing people to concentrate on creativity.

HDR broadcast at CES 2016.

HDR broadcast at CES 2016.

What happens when an HDR signal reaches televisions in the home?
The real concern is set up — because to see the benefits you have to set things up correctly. And a relatively subtle shift, like extended color gamut or a not-so-subtle shift like HDR, has the capability of being badly configured.

When we moved from 4×3 to 16×9 displays, many people didn’t bother to adjust the screens correctly, so 4×3 content was stretched, making everyone looked squashed and fat. Even today, that problem hasn’t gone away completely. Whatever system is in place for delivering HDR to the home, it has to be simple to set up accurately for whatever receiving device the consumer chooses to use.

Some colorists are expressing concern about working with HDR and eye strain. Is this a serious issue?
The real world is HDR. Go outside into the sunshine and see what extended color and dynamics really means. The new generation of displays deliver only a pale imitation of this reality. Our eyes and brain have the ability to adjust over an amazingly wide range.

The serious point is that HDR should help to create more realistic, as well as more engaging and enticing pictures. If all we do with HDR is make the highlights brighter then it has failed as an addition to the creative toolset.

Dolby's HDR offering at CES.

Dolby’s HDR offering at CES.

Colorists today are used to working in a very dim environment. It will be different in the future, and it will take some time to get used to, but I think we all have faced more serious challenges.

What do you think the timeframe is for HDR?
It is already happening. Movies are out there and television is ready to go. NAB 2015 saw the gee-whiz demonstrations and NAB 2016 will see workable, affordable, practical solutions. January’s CES featured many HDR-ready displays on show, so there is real pressure on the broadcasters to provide the content.

If it is used carefully and creatively, I am very excited by the prospect, and I believe viewers will absolutely love it.

 

IBC 2015 Blog: Beautiful clouds in the sky, content in the cloud

By Robert Keske

The weather this year during IBC might be the best I ever experienced in Amsterdam. Inside the RAI, IBC seemed quieter this year — the halls were less crowded and easy to navigate. I have to assume that everyone was enjoying the weather instead of being inside the RAI.

The theme of the 2015 show was “Content Everywhere.” This is a productization taking place to incorporate mobile and cloud technology into the production and post production process. Creative and collaborative applications are now running on tablets and smart phones in some innovative ways, from content bypassing traditional distribution to direct-to-mobile consumption.

After taking in the overall conference, I paid a visit to a few of our vendors to see what they were presenting at this year’s show.

FilmLight FLIP + FLIP remote

FilmLight FLIP + FLIP remote

FilmLight has continued to impress me with their focus on delivering a full-service product line, offering solutions from on-set all the way through the beginnings of a complete finishing toolset.

Autodesk has made some nice advancements to the latest release of Flame 2016 Premium. The latest workflow and UI improvements appear to have incorporated user feedback and will surely be welcomed by the Flame user community.

SGO Mistika has also listened to feedback from the community, with the beginnings of a new UI, and the media management UI has greatly improved.

Another bright spot is the work Henry Gu is performing in content delivery automation. Henry was at the Data Direct Networks booth, and I highly recommend paying him a visit to see his work.

New York-based Robert Keske is CIO/CTO at Nice Shoes (@niceshoesonline).

Quick Chat: FilmLight co-founder Wolfgang Lempp

In what has become a semi-regular column here at postPerspective, we have taken to doing short Q&As with the people behind the products you use. The questions, submitted by pros, are meant to illicit responses that allow users to understand how a company goes about creating, updating and servicing gear for our industry.

This time we spoke to Wolfgang Lempp, who co-founded UK-based FilmLight with Peter Stothart and Steve Chapman in 2002. He and the other co-founders oversee the management of the company, including business and product development, product management and strategic development.

Lempp’s tech credentials are pretty impressive. He has a degree in theoretical physics from Munich University and has been working in the motion picture industry since 1983. Continue reading

IBC Blog: How I spent my last day at the show

By Chris Ryan

There was so much to cover at the IBC show in Amsterdam, but I’ve tried to share as much as I could about the experience and the technology I’ve seen. Here is one more for you. I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights!

One of the most interesting items I saw at this year’s show was NCAM, which is a camera tracking system that uses a small sensor bar mounted at the front of a camera, which captures positional and rotational data as well as focal length. It feeds that info into its tracking server. This allows all that info to be fed into third-party applications so motion graphics or 3D objects can be placed into the shot so they appear as if they’re part of the landscape. NCAM had a spot in FilmLight’s booth, so I was able to get a demo of their system.

Continue reading

Encore gives ‘House of Cards’ moody feel in 4K Ultra HD

The second season of Netflix’s House of Cards was made available to subscribers in 4K Ultra HD. LA’s Encore handled the show’s post production, with lead colorist Laura Jans-Fazio grading in uncompressed 4K.

The show was shot on Red cameras, some using the HDR functionality for extended contrast and color dynamic range. The floating-point processing in Baselight, Jans-Fazio’s tool of choice, offered her new creative options. Windows that appeared blown out, for example, could be graded to show detail then composited into the rest of the scene. She was able to achieve the color and composite in realtime so the clients could see the final results immediately.

Laura Jans-Fazio, lead colourist, Encore

Laura Jans-Fazio

Co-producer Peter Mavromates and post supervisor Hameed Shaukat worked directly with Jans-Fazio on the grade, with director David Fincher and DP Igor Martinovic providing feedback via using the PIX digital collaboration tool.

“As episodes were completed, they were uploaded to PIX, which allowed the producer, director and DP to view content on calibrated Sony OLED monitors,” explained Morgan Strauss, Encore SVP, operations. “They returned their feedback, which we could extract directly into Baselight, and Jans-Fazio finalized the look and delivered the files to Netflix. It was essential to maximize this asynchronous collaborative process and, along with Baselight’s sophisticated toolset, it meant we could fully realize the creative needs of the producers and DP.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 10.17.17

The overall look of the series has a slightly moody feel, reflecting the tense, internal political intrigues of the story. The grade avoids over-saturated colors, maintaining the palette throughout — which was Fincher’s vision for the show.

“Baselight has so many features, and the fact that it works in floating-point processing gives me image quality for a pristine picture every time,” said Jans-Fazio. “We often used multiple shapes in a single shot, and being able to do that in one layer in Baselight was a real time-saver. We could also composite through VFX mattes, and do monitor replacements, in realtime.”