Saturday, October 1, 2011

Crashing Through Walls and Spinning Death Defying "Donuts" with BMW

Here's a fun spot that I colored a few months ago with Culver City based production/post-house Bandito Brothers for BMW Canada. The spot features the brand new BMW 1M sedan flying through concrete walls out in the desert. All I can say is... I want one... and in the snappy "Valencia Orange" option for that matter... that is one good lookin' car with some really good lookin' moves.

Here's another spot featuring the 1M circling on top of LA's highest man-made structure, with a beautiful "dusky-gold" look to it. I really enjoyed how pushing some gold tones into the mids and highlights to bring out the sunset really ended up played nicely with a bit of blue punching through in the shadows... and of course all playing second fiddle to that iconic orange and red of the 1M!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anatomy of a Grade - Episode 08 - Digital Re-lighting Part 2

Well its been a few months but I've finally gotten around to posting the 8th installment of the anatomy of a grade web series. My apologies to everyone who's been asking for this sooner, but work has kept me ridiculously busy (and for all you fellow freelancers out there, you know how grateful we are when that ACTUALLY happens).

This Episode focuses on a tough "pickup shot" from the Bollywood feature film "Chittagong", that was shot well after principle photography (by a completely different crew). The closeup shot had completely mismatched lighting from the wide and required some serious "digital re-lighting" to accomplish the task. Once again, a combination of basic primary color correction and some animated "power windows" did the trick and allowed the shot to fit in nicely with the sequence. Take a look: (please note, the shot in question is rather dark and contrasty so be sure your monitor isn't "crunching your blacks" and heightening contrast too much, in order to properly view the layers of the grade)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yokohama Tires Duck Duck Goose Commercial

So this is a 30 second spot I graded at Bandito Brothers a few months ago for Yokohama Tires. The spot features off-road racing star Cameron Steele along with his wife and fellow off-road racer Heidi Steele in a spirited game of duck, duck, goose using some sleek transportation (all sporting yokohama tires of course).

This was a really exciting piece to work on from a color correction standpoint as the client was willing to go for a really aggressive look featuring bold saturated colors on the car with a high contrast black and white background around them. It makes for a really "punchy" look with the bright colors of the cars screaming around a stark monochramtic background. VFX rotoscoped the horizon and the skies and also gave me some really useful alpha mattes of the cars in each shot. From there I used a combination of power windowing, and selective chroma/luma keying to achieve the look (and of course do some enhancement work on product logos, tires, etc, its a commercial after all). This was by far one of my favorite color grades this year; its always a pleasure when clients want to push the envelope and really commit to and embrace a sylized look like this.

And if you'd like a little behind the scenes on the "on-set" production of the spot check out this great video:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Just for Fun - Hot Wheels!

So the past few months have been a whirlwind of commercial work. I really enjoy working on short form content as the visuals need to be Hight Impact and memorable if you've only got the viewers attention for 30 seconds. For a colorist that's like getting handed the keys to the kingdom to "go to town" and give everything a little bit of extra "pop". Here's a little teaser I did as part of a larger Hot Wheels campaign, the final piece culminated in a 22min special after the Indy 500, but this is a taste. This particular project involved a lot of mixed footage: 5D's, Super 16mm, little Go-Pro cameras, amongst other HD sources, and was shot at completely different times of day. Needless to say, visual continuity was not the main thrust here, instead, high impact compositions and heightened colors was the idea for a "child-like" visualization of a very real stunt!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Anatomy of a Grade - Episode 07 - Sunset Grad Filter

Well its been a while since my last post; between a flurry of work and travel I haven't had the time to sit down and do one of these since February. None-the-less I finally took some time to examine one of the classic color grading techniques that I get asked to do quite a bit, the "Sunset Grad Effect." This technique is pretty simple and straightforward but can be used in an infinite number of ways to get varying effects. Essentially we're replacing the need to place a graduated filter on the camera (for color effects, exposure is a different story), as we can achieve the same result in color correction. Take a look!

Although this technique can be used and abused depending upon the project, its one that really can save an otherwise uninteresting shot and give it a bit of life! The trick is to use it sparingly, and hopefully, tastefully... although this is of course always in the eye of the beholder!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anatomy of a Grade - Episode 06 - Day For Night

Ahh, the infamous "Day For Night" effect. It has many forms, many variations, and is often the brunt of many a cynically charged diatribe by cinematographers and colorists alike. But ultimately, the "Day For Night" look is a powerful tool that can be utilized in post production in the right circumstances and in the right hands.

The following episode demonstrates a dramatic example of a shot that wasn't supposed to be a night scene... and ultimately became one!

Now there's obviously some serious tracking going on in this shot and some color correctors aren't capable of this degree of accuracy with their trackers. So not all grading suites would have this capability (but most do now-a-days). AND, one must always remember that shots like this do take a bit of time, so if budget is an issue and you're "on the clock", then you might not be able to give the same "tender loving care" to every shot like this one. However, the point I'm trying to make here is, its possible! One doesn't need to do everything in a compositing program to achieve looks like this anymore.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anatomy of a Grade - Episode 05 - "Digital Re-Lighting" in Color Correction

Ok, so I know its been a while since the last episode in this series; but what can I say its been a bit busy around here. Regardless, I finally found some time this week to pull together some new material for a couple of demos and here's the first of two!

Episode 05 is taken from a documentary feature that I've been color correcting and on-lining over the past month. The particular shot that the episode focuses on is a standard "talking head" interview setup with a "mixed" lighting scenario. In this case, the filmmakers had very few tools at their disposal for lighting (and very little time with the subject). The result was the subject's face had two very different light sources on either side creating some dramatic color and luminance contrast across it. However, with a little "Digital Re-Lighting" in the color suite, we were able to achieve the filmmakers "single-source/soft-lit look" after the fact! Take a look:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How To Prep a Final Cut Pro Sequence for Color Correction

A number of clients have handed me projects over the past few months that have involved A LOT of prep work to get them into the DaVinci Resolve system here at the Color Suite. So... I've finally made a "how to" video on getting your finished Final Cut Sequence ready for Resolve. Prepping a project for color correction in DaVinci Resolve involves making your project "EDL" compliant. What's an EDL you might ask? Good Question. Check out this video and take a look!

Also, check out the official Basher Films Final Cut Pro Project Prep Specs in the previous post below (or click here).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Official Basher Films Final Cut Pro Sequence Prep Specs for Color Correction

Here they are, the official Final Cut Pro project Prep Specifications for Basher Films. I've included a link below to download the PDF directly as well. Take a look, as these specs will greatly aid in getting your FCP project smoothly in to DaVinci Resolve quickly and easily (saving you TIME and MONEY, and me a HEADACHE).

Official Basher Films Final Cut Pro Spec Sheet PDF: (right click and "save as" or "save target" to download)

Also be sure to check out the "how to" video made by yours truly, found here:


1. BACKUP YOUR PROJECT - Please make a backup copy of your original final project and your final sequence and keep it somewhere safe (as in don’t bring it to basher films!).

2. CONSOLIDATE VIDEO TRACKS TO A SINGLE TRACK USING - Take your new copied project and/or sequence and consolidate all your video tracks down to 1 VIDEO TRACK with any extra media such as stills, VFX shots, text generators, etc, on TRACK 2. Please be sure that all your master media for color correction is consolidated down to these two tracks as it greatly aids in preparing your sequence for color correction. (if you’ve used superimposition effects or have layered video effects you may leave those on Track 2 if consolidation down to 1 track is prohibitive). Please be sure that you’re final sequence is “EDL compatible” and uses CUTS AND DISSOLVES ONLY (try to change any opacity transitions to cross dissolves as those translate better for color correction). Please see a “how to” video for this process made by Chris at:

3. NOTE ALL FILTER EFFECTS , SPEED CHANGES, AND STILLS - Please make a not of any shots that have a Final Cut Pro video filter on them (including simple size changes, etc) as well as shots with any speed changes or still images. Ideally these shots would be re-export as consolidated quicktime files by using the “export – quicktime movie” command and then bringing the new “flattened quicktime back in to the final cut sequence and replacing them in to track 01. Regardless, any shots that are not re-exported in this fashion must be made known to Basher Films.

4. TRANSFER PROJECT TO EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE - Please take this new consolidated sequence and all its referred media and transfer to an external hard drive (NO USB DRIVES PLEASE, either firewire 400/800, or ESATA) for delivery to Basher Films. Please refer to the media manager instructions in step 5 for instructions on how to do this.

5. USE THE “MEDIA MANAGER” FUNCTION - Please use the “MEDIA MANAGER” function in Final Cut Pro to media manage your final sequence (and only your final sequence) to an external hard drive (please do not use USB hard drives as they are notoriously slow, firewire 400, firewire 800, or ESATA will work much better). Select “copy media”, use 2 second handles for your clips, and direct all the new files to the external hard drive.

6. DOUBLE CHECK MEDIA ON DRIVE - Please double check and make sure that the new project and the project files are both located on the external hard drive that you will be bringing to Basher Films and that all the relevant media is linked to them.