Just before I get to the main point of this article, the Tangent Element Colour grading panel and why I think Colour grading is the new lighting. I've returned from NAB somewhat confused and overwhelmed. The truth is - there is now a camera for every budget and shooting style.
I think we may have reached a saturation point where you can pick up any camera and make it look great.
Where does that leave us shooters.
I love to light - it's at the very core of my work as a cinematographer but I am continually baffled why so few aspiring shooters understand how vital lighting is to great looking films and that just having a high ISO capable camera does not negate the need for subtle beautiful sculpted lighting.
More importantly where does it leave your business? Do clients understand the new technology and do they care? Are you continually squeezed on budget and time and let things go because you can fix it in post?
The savvy ones may be even talking to you about 3D or 4K. My bet however is that it's probably unlikely.
9 years ago Sony introduced HDV and even then clients who did understand HD would still ask for a DVD in SD…hmmm
Vimeo and You Tube offer HD channels and You Tube even offers 3D and 4K (although you'd have to find a 4K screen to play it on).
So just what are you supposed to do? Buy a new 4K ready camcorder and wait? Certainly the camera manufacturers are accelerating in their battle to be the greatest... but to what avail?
For what it's worth, I think 4K is way more significant than 3D and I'll be exploring why I believe that to be the case over the coming week.
In the meantime, I'm going to look at how you can diversify your skill set and remain sane (creatively at least) at the same time.
Back to lighting - HD cinematography is created 50% in camera and 50% in post
So even if you can only do the very minimum of lighting how can you still retain creative control of your images in post?
I spent a fair bit of time with Bruce Logan ASC while I was in the US and he's migrated into Colour Grading as a second string to his bow. Bruce is a cinematographer who amongst other things Blew up the Death Star in Star Wars and was DP on Tron… He's also worked on numerous films as a Director and Cinematographer with directors such as Clint Eastwood. Suffice to say he knows what he's talking about.
But it is Colour Grading that we got deep into on one of our many late night social sessions.
So I made an effort to investigate some of the technology on offer at the show this year.
My good pal James Tonkin has been raving about Black Magic Design's Da Vinci Resolve for some time and that's what we used to grade our Music Video Masterclass.
I'll be honest though, I've always found grading to be a little intimidating. It looks so complicated.
That was until I happened upon a control panel from Tangent Devices.
A new modular colour grading panel called the Tangent Element.
This was my biggest Ah-Ha moment of NAB because when I put my hands on the track balls I instantly understood how to 'paint in post'. It was incredibly intuitive.
In its simplest form you control the luminance of the image using the outer rings and the balls control colour. Each section relates to Shadows, Mid tones and Highlights….
So as a fan of modularity this system rocks and it's not just tied to DaVinci Resolve either.
Many of our software partners have released versions of their application which support the Element panels. These include:
Assimilate SCRATCH ( v6.1 or later) Requires Tangent Hub* Autodesk Lustre & Flame Premium ( 2013) DaVinci Resolve ( v8.2 or later) Requires Tangent Hub* (if Kb is purchased then Bt is also required) Colorfront On-Set Dailies SGO Mistika ( v6.5 or later) Requires Tangent Hub* YoYotta YoYo ( v3.1 or later) Requires Tangent Hub* *Download the Tangent Hub from our support page
Work is also underway for several other applications to incorporate support. These include:
Apple Color Cintel FLOW & COLORFLOW DFT FLEXXITY Marquise OCEAN, RAIN & MIST Pixel Farm PF Clean
If you intend to purchase only certain panels from the set, or if you intend you purchase more than one of any panel, then you should check that your software supports this option.
So as someone new to colour grading but totally committed to embracing it where do you start?
Black Magic Design have a free version of DaVinci Resolve called Lite and it's almost fully functional. You can try it here http://www.blackmagic-design.com/support
You'll need a panel of course:
The essential component is the Element-TK. This is all you need to get started. Trust me when I tell you that once you put your hands on this the power at your finger tips is transformational.
The next two panels are required together for use with Da Vinci Resolve as the software is mapped across both bolt-ons. They are the Element-Kb
and the Element-Bt.
Then if you want to go the whole hog and add transport controls then you can add the Element-Mf
As soon as these are available I intend to grab them and embark on a steep learning curve to master DaVinci Resolve.
I will be sharing my journey with you so you too can take the plunge and embrace colour grading. I really do believe it is the missing part of the jigsaw as a cinematographer and I'm excited to get started.
Each panel is driven via USB 2.0
You can learn more bout Tangent Devices here: http://www.tangentdevices.co.uk/products_element.asp