Which software to learn and use for grading?

Posted by Joe Riggs 
Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 09:31AM
I would like to get away from Apple's Color and choose a new piece of software for conforming/grading and become fluent in it. I'm debating between Resolve, Scratch, Lustre and Baselight, any thoughts on which one to go with and why?
Re: Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 11:05AM
What's your budget, and are you planning to own one of those? Today, you have a choice of many very good color correction tools to choose from, but bear in mind that some of them are still pretty pricey. Apple Color was ok. It was good on the whole and I loved the Color FX room, but it was also buggy and the real time performance left a lot to be desired.

If you ask me, I'll go for the Resolve. It comes at a very good price point, with very good industry recognition and use. And the number of seats will likely increase as time goes on. Tools wise, the tracker is very good, and it interfaces well with quite a few of the major NLEs and formats with good realtime, depending on your graphics card. The BMD team has done a very good job from the time I first reviewed it before the first Mac release to what you have today. Since then, they have incorporated native support (read and write) to Prores and DNxHD, they have also coded for OpenCL support so it can run on current generation MBPs and iMacs using ATI cards, and they have also created the 3 way GUI, and the ability to import multiple layers. Very big improvements in the last 2 years, and they have yet to charge for upgrades unlike every single other software manufacturer out there, and you don't have to worry about waiting for Resolve 9 to come out, because from what I heard, that upgrade will be free for existing Resolve users too. The lite version is also free (as in free beer), and that is a huge deal if you want to learn how the software works.

You can read my 2010 review here:

Of course, there is also SpeedGrade, but if you ask me, there are many things that needs to be fixed if you plan to use it as part of your pipeline, such as dynamic link and broadcast monitoring, so that would probably happen in a year or so. Good to keep your skill set updated. Then if you plan to do full on finishing instead of just color correction, Smoke may be good too, and at $3500, it is relatively affordable.

Whatever CC setup you plan to get, consider getting a control panel like a tangent elements or tangent wave, because a lot of precision and speed of many professional colorists comes in the use of a control panel. Of course, if you can afford it, go for a full Resolve panel, because not only does it look good, you don't have to step into as many sub menus to work.

Re: Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 11:11AM
strypes Wrote:
> The
> lite version is also free, and that is a huge deal
> if you want to learn how the software works.

It's amazing how many features they're giving away for nothing in Davinci Resolve Lite. For some workflows there's little reason to move to the paid version.

My software:
Pro Maintenance Tools - Tools to keep Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro running smoothly and fix problems when they arise
Pro Media Tools - Edit QuickTime chapters and metadata, detect gamma shifts, edit markers, watch renders and more
More tools...
Re: Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 11:20AM
I was talking to Andy Mees last year, and he was thinking of uninstalling his paid version of the Resolve and so he can use the free version, and he doesn't have to bother with carrying a dongle around.

I thought the lite version was good for one-light CC, where you don't need that much precision, or hog up the color correction machine which can be used for better paying jobs like a full grade. But if you ask me, it's the fact that everything has been free- the upgrade from Resolve 7 to 8 was free, and that included OpenCL support, ProRes support, DNxHD support, the 3 way GUI, importing layers, green screen keyer, etc. From what I heard, the upgrade to Resolve 9 is going to be free too. $1000 for the software is basically nothing. With all these upgrades, they are practically giving it away free, but at the same time, they are very aggressive on software development. The workflow between NLEs is also pretty good, and if you want to move from Avid to FCP or Smoke or vice versa for finishing, you could just as well DaVinci Resolve it over after a grade.

Re: Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 05:50PM

Thanks for your response.

If the prices below are correct for purchasing just the software than Resolve is the only affordable one for me.

Resolve 9 - $1000
Baselight - $50k???
Scratch - $6000?
Lustre - Can't locate a price.

Why are baselight and scratch so expensive?

Does Resolve handle popular native files formats like RED R3D and ARRI Raw in realtime?

Eventually I would like to get a control panel but right now that is out of my budget, is there a 3 button mouse with a trackball that would be helpful to use for this sort of work in the meantime?
Re: Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 08:09PM
Baselight is pretty popular, from what I heard, although I've never actually seen one except at demos. Heard the board is pretty cool. Not sure where you got that price for Scratch from, but I thought it was going in the 20-30K range a while ago, complete with a Red Rocket.

The price.... Well, you won't want to know that a color correction suite costs in the quarter of a million dollar range not too long ago. That was until Apple bought Silicon Color and threw it in FCS for free, then BMD bought out DaVinci and gave it out for next to nothing.. See that new fangled camera? Does 2.5K raw and comes with a DaVinci Resolve. $1000 too much for you? Here's a free Lite version. Comes with almost everything except scratch removal, tracker and nodes... Wait. We'll give you nodes in the next Lite version. That's kinda how it works now...

Smoke.... Yea, Lustre is the grading app. Smoke has color correction tools and you can hook it up to a panel. However, I have my doubts to the efficiency of the UI when doing straight up color correction work, as Smoke was built for finishing.

Yea, the Resolve can handle Raw. R3D and Arri. Never tried DNG, but I think it can since the BMD camera shoots to that format. Works well with good GPU, the more the merrier. Throw in a RedRocket if you want real time on RED.

Baselight... I've seen it do realtime everything without a Red Rocket. All GPU. Don't ask me how. Having real time everything is pretty cool, although a bit expensive.

Control panel. The Resolve was virtually unusable without a control panel up to about a year ago, coz unlike Appld Color, it didn't have a GUI for the 3 way colour wheels. Now it has. Not too bad. Better than the 3 way GUI in RedCine-X, but maybe not as good as Color (it's smaller).

Re: Which software to learn and use for grading?
May 16, 2012 09:16PM
Also keep in mind your likely employment market, if you're working on your skillset.

How many companies would want or need someone who can operate Baselight, compared to Resolve, or any other of the set. You can decide to be a high end specialist, but although it improves your hourly rate, it restricts your marketability. This is, of course, if you are intending to ever be employed by other people, not if it's just for your own setup.

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