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Which grading software

Phil Rhodes

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Problem: I have something that demands a bit more grading work than I usually need. Often I'm able to make any basic corrections directly in the edit software, but on this occasion, more is required. On a Premiere timeline I can do the usual curves, three-way, and other grading operations, all nice and easily in realtime, but there's no easy way to refer back to a reference still without just shunting up and down the timeline, there's no tracker, and even doing a soft-edged shape is an exercise in multi-layer futility (because, for some reason, alpha blurring is still bugged to hell after something like seven years). And the scopes don't work properly. So that isn't really an option.


The obvious solution is Resolve Lite, but frankly I find it pretty awful. The software itself is clunky - you have to log in, fer chrissake, and there's no merely importing a chunk of video, you have to create a library, then move the file to it, inflating storage requirements and costing a lot of time for no reason whatsoever. There isn't really a working round-trip route between Premiere and Resolve in any case - the only really reliable way of getting a Premiere timeline into Resolve is to render out a flat file and do auto scene detection, which is just inexcusably feeble. It doesn't even seem to support importing a basic, nothing-special CMX EDL to define the cuts. In use, there is no way to use a second monitor as a full-res preview display without plugging it into a Blackmagic Intensity or something, and while, yes, I do have one of those, it's an absurdist mime show of a workflow to keep manually plugging back and forth between that and the desktop display. And it's slower via the Intensity. You can't even tab out very easily - it tries to turn your entire machine into a grading station, permanently and forever. This might have been OK when people were paying for a suite at $750/hour, but it's very much not OK in the modern world of people who have realised that grading HD is something you can now do on a Playstation. And most damningly of all, it doesn't actually work very well - depending on the time of day, either there's black frames dropped randomly into playback, so it appears to flicker, or the sound is stuttery. I've never seen it work correctly once, and this is on ungraded material, just playing back a damn file. Not even full screen! Hopeless.


So, screw Resolve - yes, it may have been used a lot on big shows in the past, but that isn't an excuse for its not actually working properly. I just realised how long that paragraph of moaning really was. Good grief.


Speedgrade is now part of Adobe's monthly-fee package, and I've vowed never to have anything to do with rental software.


Colorista looks nice, but as a plugin it doesn't seem to solve any of the problems I have with the inbuilt grading tools - the tools are fine, but the lack of scopes, reference stills and tracking aren't solved by something that's just another plugin.


Please, someone tell me I don't have to tweak this up in - shudder - After Effects.




PS - Oh, right, "Reference Monitor" in Premiere. Didn't know about that.

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I think you're being too hard on Resolve, Phil.


I agree that the absence of a Premiere round trip sucks, but all the other workflow annoyances you note hardly seem worth mentioning in my opinion. Logging-in is one click, Auto Scene Detection works great for me (but could be a pain on larger projects), and tabbing out to another app is not a problem. I don't know why you need to manually plug in your dedicated playback monitor. Mine remains attached and I use it in Premiere too.


The Resolve experience is much improved on a machine with hardware suited to the grading task like a lot of RAM, multiple GPU's, a BMD HD output device and a control surface. I'm using two GTX570's, the UltraStudio SDI and the Avid balls and it's all pretty smooth. I'm still using Resolve v9 but I know some people who like the v10 improvements.


But to answer your question, there's SGO Mistika http://www.sgo.es/mistika/

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  • 2 months later...

I haven't yet used Resolve on a multimonitor environment. It works straight away with a grade monitor provided there's a blackmagic interface present. Could be any of them, from the tiny tbolt to hd-sdi, to the largest and fattest decklink.


As to the media page, it's not copying. It's a database with links to the footage. You are telling resolve which files you want to conform to.


AAF, XML and CMX-EDL all work perfectly fine. It might be an issue with reel names?. However, provided you have the right filename and TC, Resolve gets it done. Even if a file won't conform automatically, you can just select the file in the media page, then right click on the placeholder within the timeline, and force conform to that file. It should work straight away.

I prefer it to Baselight and Pablo, and these are NOT CHEAP.

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All any app should need to find a shot is a filename and an inpoint. Resolve just seems to want so much more than that, and I just can't see why.


The performance is poor - Premiere, if you can stand the comparison, does ten times more on the same hardware - and I don't appreciate software that assumes it's the only reason for the system existing. User logins? Good grief, it's a grading program, not a nuclear launch control system. Get the drivel out of the way and let me work.



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Am I ridiculous in wanting to suggest Apple Color? If you can get a copy of the old one obviously. I've been using it for a while and I'd sooner roundtrip stuff there instead of doing any timeline work.


Can take in XML/EDLs and export the same, so... maybe that'll work for you?

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have you tried resolve 10 (with the newest update)?


it seems to work fine with Premiere Pro CS6 -> Export Final Cut XML



i get that you don't really like resolve but i've used it on a couple of occasions now (mostly with alexa footage) and it's working great.



for example: you don't need the autodetect feature if you export an XML from resolve (and the graded footage as seperate clips) after you've finished.


i'm happy to help as far as i'm able

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I have graded 5-reel DPX 2K features and hour long episodic television shows from CMX EDLs and XMLs and with Scene Cut in Resolve 8.x 9.x and 10.x I just finished a PBS show in Resolve 10.1 without any hiccups. I have not found it to be buggy or to run badly or to have problems with import-export. I have not looked at the Adobe version of Speed Grade but when I last saw it there was no comparison to the deep toolset on Resolve. Very big shows are still being graded on Resolve Linux today.


Maybe Baselight Editions is what you should look at Phil.

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