Archive for November 15th, 2007

Achieving the “300” look

Pheww… that was NOT easy! Achieving the “300” look is a major pain in the bum, but I think I can manage it “ok”. To be able to try and color grade that way (bleach into bronze color the whole scene except the reds), I needed a clear “as shot” picture during their movie shooting, but I couldn’t find any that had a good resolution. So I found this one instead, and I played with it. Here’s what I came up with:

Here’s the actual grading that took place. It required 3 “Magic Bullet Suite” plugins one after the other (modified versions of the “Bleach bypass”, “Bronze” and “Coolish” templates were used), the “NewBlue Colorize MSP” (it comes with the retail version of Vegas Movie Studio, check your Vegas box), the freeware “Aav6cc” and the “Color Corrector”. The plugins must be used in the order I showcase above. However, each scene is different, because of different composition and lighting, so on every scene the values of the suggested plugins must be changed accordingly, otherwise you will end up with ugly results. There might be an easier way to do this, but I haven’t found any.

Update 1: Here’s a much easier to follow guide, using only Vegas’ own tools and the freeware Aav6cc plugin. While easier and cheaper, the result is not as good, but it might be the only way for some video enthusiasts.

Update 2: Another, easier, grading version using the free color tools, this time by using Curves. It’s better-looking than the above one, but still not as good as the first one.

Update 3: A last one, I promise. This one is the easiest to follow, but with Magic Bullet’s “Tropico Wash” template in use. Most of the job is done by Aav6cc. Guide here, resulted image here.

Final Cut Express 4

Ah… Apple released today Final Cut Express 4 ($199), with AVCHD support. What they don’t tell you on their spec list and left many people wondering in the forums is the actual maximum resolution and frame rates they support. So, I gave Apple’s tech support a call today. Apparently, FCE4 still does not support 24p timelines, and it doesn’t do 1080p (it only goes up to 1440x1080i).

This is pretty sad. Today there are *consumer* AVCHD camcorders in the market that shoot in full 1080/30p, while other consumer HDV cameras, like all the Canon HD and few Sony ones, support 24p (after removing pulldown). And the market is going that direction anyway, and FCE does not get updated all too often, which means that in a year from now FCE will be obsolete (if it’s not already for prosumer users).

So, let me get this straight: I buy a $750 HD camera (e.g. HV20), and then I need to buy software for $1200 (e.g. FCP) in order to fully use my camera in 1080/24p?!? This is ridiculous. And it wouldn’t have been ridiculous if there were other video editing solutions on the Mac platform that support 1080/24p, but they are not. Avid and After Effects cost even more than FCP’s $1200. There are no other video editors for the Mac.

My friends, this is a case where buying Sony Vegas 8 Platinum ($130, supports 24p), and a brand new DELL PC with 2 GB of RAM ($800), makes more sense than being forced to buy FCP for your Mac for only these two added features over FCE. Hell, if you already have a PC, use that as your video station and get Vegas 8 Pro ($550). Keep your Mac for other stuff (yes, I have two Macs myself, I use them for “other” stuff too).