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January 13, 2011

Table of Contents

In the Studio: Magic Bullet Colorista II
EventDV-TV Presents Kevin Shahinian's The Language of Film, Episode IV: Sound Design
Primera Announces World’s Fastest Disc Printers and Publishers
More States Approve Low-Cost E&O Insurance Package for WEVA Members
Litepanels SolaENG LED Fresnel Lights Now Shipping
Boinx Software Announces iStopMotion for the Mac App Store
Artbeats Adds New Dimension with 3D Footage Offerings

In the Studio: Magic Bullet Colorista II

Most editors know how to correct the color and brightness in their videos to have them match the reality of the shoot, or what they wish was the reality of the shoot. The next level is using color and brightness adjustments to create a certain look or feel, or to enhance the footage in different ways. If your focus is solely matching reality, and you're working with decently shot footage or better, you're likely in good hands with the various color and brightness adjustments available in your NLE. If you're looking to create a distinctive look or feel, or are working with problem footage, you should consider a tool like Red Giant's Magic Bullet Colorista II ($299), which provides a highly configurable toolset that goes beyond any effects native to your NLE.

What you don't get with Colorista II is a library of looks, so if you're searching for a quick and easy way to make your video look like a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach movie from the '50s, buy another tool, perhaps Magic Bullet Looks. Also, don't buy into marketing hype such as "Colorista's easy-to-use interface is equally good for quick adjustments on a deadline"-this is a complex, heavy-duty tool that will take at least a couple of hours of study to understand basic operation, and many more to achieve full competence. Fortunately, there are several very helpful tutorials by Stu Maschwitz, creative director of the Magic Bullet line, that will help you get started.

Getting Started
In my work with Colorista II, installation and operation went as expected. I installed the Windows plug-in on my HP Z800 workstation and could then access it from the effects folders in Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. Red Giant also sells a Mac version that will run on the latest versions of the Adobe suite, and a version for Final Cut Pro. Check the Red Giant website for version compatibility.

In Premiere Pro's effects pane (Figure 1, below), you can see that Colorista II has four major sections, Primary, Secondary, Master, and Options, which will serve as kind of a rough outline for this review. Briefly, Primary controls let you adjust the entire image with shadow, midtone, and highlight color correction, plus color-specific hue/saturation/lightness controls, while secondary controls let you concentrate on an area or color group via masks and/or color keying. Master controls let you fine-tune the overall image with Master Curves and other tools, while the Options section contains controls for flipping the image, showing the skin overlay (more on that later) and controlling whether you render in software or using the GPU. Note that GPU hardware rendering is via OpenGL, not CS5's 64-bit Mercury Engine. You can also layer multiple applications of Colorista II on the same clip, increasing your creative options dramatically.

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 1. Colorista II's four major sections: Primary, Secondary, Master, and Options

Let's jump in with a look at the Primary controls.

Primary Controls
Colorista II's Primary controls are shown in Figure 2 (below), with familiar color wheels for Shadow, Midtone, and Highlight values, an Auto Balance color chip, and eyedropper and other controls. The three-way color wheels, which operate in the hue, saturation, and lightness (HSL) space, are generally familiar, with the dot in the middle of each wheel (Hue point) representing both hue and saturation, with the color chip in the inner ring (Hue Shift) controlling just hue, and separate saturation controls in a curved band on the left and luminance (essentially brightness) in a curved band on the top, right, and bottom. I've pasted in a figure from the online manual on the upper right that details these functions. The little calculator-like icon beneath the Primary 3-Way text on the upper left opens RGB numerical controls that you can use to fine-tune your adjustments.

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 2. Colorista II's Primary controls

Beneath the three-way color wheel is a primary saturation control for all colors in the frame, and individual color wheels for adjusting the saturation (left wheel) and brightness (right wheel) of the individual hues. To adjust the saturation of blue colors in the frame, you would grab the blue dot in the left wheel and move it inwards to reduce saturation, or outwards to increase. You'd do the same on the right to impact the luminance of the blue color values.

Adjustments are all presented in real time, which may cause some delays on slower computers-even on my 12-core HP Z800, there was often a 2- or 3-second delay in response time, and often these controls felt stuck for a few moments.

Still, the level of control over individual colors was clearly worth waiting for. As you can see in Figure 3 (below), I was able to change the color of the pottery maker's shirt and jeans without affecting skin tone. I can see this kind of functionality quickly becoming invaluable when color matching the input from different cameras, where color hues always seem to be a bit different.

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 3. The Primary HSL controls (saturation on the left, brightness on the right), let me adjust individual hues in the frame with minimal effect on others.

In Figure 4 (below), I'm using the HSL controls in conjunction with the Show Skin Overlay option, which is the checkbox on the lower left in the Effect Controls Pane. The grid pattern on my face shows that those colors match the desired skin tones, which is confirmed by the flesh tones line at 11:00 in Premiere Pro's vectorscope. My face looks a bit yellowish to me, but you can't argue with math.

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 4. The Primary HSL values let me match my colors to my desired skin tones.

While the functionality was exceptional, I found myself wishing for a splitscreen before/after viewing option like that available on Premiere Pro's Three-Way Color Corrector filter, and a Tonal Range view that would let me see which components of the image fall into the Shadow, Midtone, and Highlight categories. I kind of know what's what, but sometimes it's nice to be able to differentiate the highlights from the midtones.

Secondary Controls
Secondary color correction involves choosing regions or colors in the frame and customizing their appearance. For example, in Figure 3, you can see the red cooler behind the potter. That's the most distinctive color in the frame, but not the subject of the frame, so I'd like to desaturate the color so it won't steal attention from the potter. You accomplish this in the Colorista Keyer, shown in Figure 5 (below).

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 5. Using the Colorista Keyer to select the colors in the cooler on the lower left

All controls are on the right. You start by clicking the cursor-box control on top, and drawing a box around the colors that you want to select, zooming in with the scroll wheel on your mouse as necessary. Then you click the plus (+) sign and drag it over other areas on the object until it's completely selected. Of course, in most instances, the selected colors will also appear in other regions of the frame, which means that any adjustment that you make to the cooler will also impact those regions.

The black Matte box on the lower right shows the regions that match the selected colors, which includes the cooler and other regions, mostly concentrated in the middle of the frame. To reduce or eliminate these, you click the minus (-) sign and draw over any regions in the Matte image on the lower right.

You can also adjust hue, saturation, and lightness controls directly in the color cube on the upper right, as well as luminance and softness in or around the vectorscope on the bottom. It's an iterative, balancing process, but after a few moments you should reach the optimum values, plus, if you can't get it perfect, you have another tool at your disposal. Specifically, you can apply the Key and Power Mask together by selecting that control as shown on the bottom left of Figure 6. and then drag either a rectangle or an ellipse to exclude the areas that share the same colors as the cooler.

That's what you see in Figure 6 (below), where the ellipse covers most of the non-cooler white areas that you can see in the Matte box on the bottom right in Figure 5. For the record, though you can adjust and apply the mask in Premiere Pro, you can't see the cute yellow outline that makes it all so clear in Figure 6, which is why I switched to After Effects for this effect.

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 6. Using the Key and Power Mask together to fine-tune the secondary key

From there, you adjust the secondary controls to reduce the color as desired, whether the three-way color wheel, HSL corrector, saturation, or exposure. That's how I converted the cooler into a nondescript, darkish red color.

You can also use the secondary controls to adjust Pop values, essentially a secret sauce that includes both sharpening and contrast adjustments. Boost the pop slider to the right, and the selected area gets sharper and clearer; drag it to the left, and wrinkles and other fine detail disappear. I didn't spend a lot of time with it, but anyone shooting a lot of interviews should give it a try.

Master Controls
Master controls include the 3-Way and HSL controls found in the Primary controls, and also RGB Curves controls. While you can't click and manipulate the curves directly as you can with Premiere Pro's Curves function, there are separate controls for contrast, shadows, midtones, and highlights for RGB values overall, as well as Red, Green, and Blue values, which I found more intuitive. You can see those on the left in Figure 7 (below). Ozer Colorista ITS Fig7.jpg; caption:

Magic Bullet Colorista II
Figure 7. Using Master Curves to produce an overall look and the Power Mask to darken the edges around the potter

The Master controls also include another power mask that you can use to adjust either the area inside the mask or outside the mask (by clicking the Invert Mask checkbox)-that's the new blue ellipse in Figure 7. There, by selecting Invert Master Mask, I desaturated and darkened everything outside of her and her pottery wheel, focusing all attention on the potter and her work. It's a bit of a funky look for someone working outside on a sunny day, but you can see how this function would help make a flat-lit indoor scene much more mysterious and interesting.

That's a quick run through of the basics, fueled by a few days of working with the product and watching the Stu Maschwitz tutorials multiple times. In addition to learning how to use the product, I learned a bunch about customizing color for effect. I still wish the product came with a library of "looks," but after watching the tutorials and experimenting with the controls to create various grades, I feel much more capable of creating my own custom looks going forward. Overall, if you're interested in advancing from color correction to color grading, Colorista II is a great place to start.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com) is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and websites on digital video-related topics. He is chief instructor at StreamingLearningCenter.com.

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EventDV-TV Presents Kevin Shahinian's The Language of Film, Episode IV: Sound Design

Concept filmmaker extraordinaire Kevin Shahinian (City of Lakes, Snow, Dil Jaanta Hai, Tum Hi Ho) explores the classic underpinnings of film-based storytelling and the language of effective filmmaking in this four-part series on EventDV, co-sponsored by Adobe Systems and Pacific Pictures

To see more of Kevin's work (as featured in The Language of Film), play the clips below:

"CITY OF LAKES" The Feature from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

"SNOW" - Megan + Narbeh's Sweden Thriller Concept from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

"DIL JAANTA HAI (THE HEART KNOWS)" - Anuja + Nirav's Bollywood Concept from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

"TUM HI HO (YOU ARE THE ONE)" - Neil + Jigna's Bollywood Concept from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

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Primera Announces World’s Fastest Disc Printers and Publishers

Primera Technology, Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of CD/DVD and Blu-ray Disc™ Publishers, today announced its Bravo 4100-Series Disc Publishers (DP-4100-Series in Europe, Scandinavia and Middle East).

Bravo 4100-Series Disc Printers and Publishers are the fastest in their class. Full-color, 100% coverage discs with near-perfect print quality are printed in just 6 seconds each. This compares to 20 to 120 seconds on competitive machines to print discs with comparable print quality.

With built-in high-speed recorders, direct-to-disc printing and fast robotics, Primera’s disc printers and publishers automate the process of burning and printing quantities of CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. The devices are used by a wide variety of organizations including corporate marketing, training and engineering departments, non-profits, churches, schools and universities, recording and video production studios, television stations and much more.

“When we decided to build the world’s fastest disc publishers, we had no idea how amazing it would be to watch a full-color, 100% coverage disc print in just six seconds,” said Mark D. Strobel, Primera’s vice president of sales and marketing. “You really have to see it to believe it. Being able to print high-quality discs at such fast speeds is unprecedented in our industry.”

Features of the new Bravo 4100-Series include:

• 6 seconds per disc print speed (default high-quality print mode)
• Individual CMYK ink cartridges – delivers lower ink cost per disc
• 4800 dpi print quality
• 300% faster robotics than previous models
• Interior blue LED lighting with job status feedback
• Seventh-generation disc picking mechanism
• Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7 and Mac OS X 10.6 (or higher)
• Optional Blu-ray Disc recordable drives with eSATA interface for true 12x BD-R recording speeds

Three models are available:

Bravo 4100 AutoPrinter: 100-disc capacity for print-only applications; $1995 (MSRP).
Bravo 4101 Disc Publisher: 100-disc capacity and one high-speed CD/DVD drive; $2995 (MSRP).
Bravo 4102 Disc Publisher: 100-disc capacity and two high-speed CD/DVD drives; $3295 (MSRP).

Bravo 4100-Series Disc Publishers are available from Primera’s resellers and distributors worldwide.


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More States Approve Low-Cost E&O Insurance Package for WEVA Members

WEVA members have been getting good news from state agencies to kick off the New Year! This past week CA, MA, DE, WA, RI and Maine gave the stamp of approval many members have been waiting for.

Errors & Omissions Insurance (professional liability), underwritten by industry leader CNA, is now state-approved for WEVA members in a low-cost package bundled with General Liability (accidents) and Equipment Insurance (video & photo gear) in a majority of U.S. states. Remaining states going through the approval process include AK, HI, NY, and FL.

Prior to the state approvals, E&O insurance for wedding videographers and social event filmmakers has been the most difficult insurance to obtain at a reasonable cost, and rarely available in a package that is bundled with the two other top coverages that are necessary to fully protect a professional event video business today.

For 2011, most WEVA members will now be able to add E&O coverage to their general liability and equipment insurance for nearly the same annual premium, or just a small increase, relates Brad Buell president of Buell Insurance, which has been serving WEVA members for over 15 years.

Why Event Video Professionals Need E&O Insurance

"Video professionals and digital imagers often ask, what is E&O insurance and why do I need it to protect my business if I already have general liability insurance? General liability covers injuries and accidents. E&O insurance is professional liability coverage, often known as 'peace of mind insurance' since it covers professional matters, not covered under general liability, including a missed event, contract disputes, lost or damaged footage/photos, client dispute over the final product, a lawsuit for negligence, equipment failure, and other professional liability matters," said Buell.

As Buell notes, since most separate E&O insurance policies can cost video/photo professionals upwards of $650 per year, the inclusion of E&O in one, low-cost package bundled with both equipment and general liability insurance represents a huge benefit for WEVA members.

The ability to switch to coverage that bundles "the Big Three" through a leading underwriter (CNA), which required state approvals, means significant savings and much more comprehensive insurance coverage. It is available only to videographers/imagers who are current WEVA members.

Most business insurance can be switched at any time for immediate savings. For more information and a free insurance quote, WEVA members (and non-members) may contact Buell Insurance 800-842-8355, www.buellinsurance.com or email: brad@buellinsurance.com

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Litepanels SolaENG LED Fresnel Lights Now Shipping

Litepanels much anticipated Sola ENG LED Fresnel model, which have already garnered major industry awards, are now shipping. Offering beam control of 10° to 70°, the revolutionary new daylight-balanced Solas provide the controllability and single-shadow properties inherent in a Fresnel light, but utilize just a fraction of the power of conventional fixtures. Employing a proprietary 7.62cm (3”) lens, it draws just 30 watts yet produces light output equivalent to a 250W tungsten.

Like all Litepanels, Sola ENG Fresnels feature instant dimming from 100% to 0 with no noticeable color shift. The SolaENG provides manual focus and dimming control via camera lens style ergonomic controls. Output is fully flicker free, and remains consistent even as the battery voltage goes down.

Employing Litepanels’ ultra-efficient LEDs, Solas draw 90% less power than conventional tungsten lights, with very little heat generation..

Designed for both on-camera and off-camera mounting, the SolaENG is only 102mm x 102mm x 127mm (4” x 4” x 5”) and weighs just .28kg (10 ounces). The SolaENG runs on 10-20VDC sources such as camera batteries, or via an AC power adapter.

Litepanels SolaENG fixtues are available wordwide through the Litepanels dealer network. For more information on Litepanels HD-friendly LED lighting systems, contact Litepanels, Inc., 16152 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, CA 91406, Phone: 818/752-7009, Fax: 818/752-2437 Email: info@litepanels.com, http://www.litepanels.com

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Boinx Software Announces iStopMotion for the Mac App Store

Boinx Software today announces the availability of iStopMotion, the company's popular stop motion animation application, at the Mac App Store. iStopMotion, which allows users to tell their stories in movies using traditional animation techniques, is available in Home, Express and Pro versions for $49.99 US, $99.99 US and $499.99 US respectively, localized in English and German.

"We are thrilled to have iStopMotion be a featured app at the new Mac App Store," said Oliver Breidenbach, CEO, Boinx Software. "iStopMotion is the perfect app for anyone, from children to adults, looking to expand their imagination and tell a story without the need for actors or a huge set. The ease of use that allows people to be creative literally by pressing a single button resonates well with the purchase and download experience at the new Mac App Store. This new platform makes it easier than ever for consumers to fully take advantage of the creativity that comes from Mac software, and we are honored to be a part of it."

iStopMotion allows you to create your own movie using traditional stop motion animation (also sometimes called claymation). Without the need for a script, talented actors, a crew or a huge stage, making movies with iStopMotion is fun for everyone. All you need are some props, your imagination, a camera, and your Mac to create amazing animations. iStopMotion is so easy to use that even children can enjoy animating, but the animation tools are also so powerful that ad agencies and music video producers use it as well. Tools such as onion skinning and blinking help you to quickly animate with precision and allow you to easily spot when you accidentally moved the camera or forgot to move a piece of scenery. With the immediate access to the frames, such mistakes are easily corrected. Using a green screen set, you can easily transport your characters into fictitious scenes. A tilt shift filter allows you to make a time-lapse movie where real life people look like miniature toys and rounds out the creative arsenal of iStopMotion. With the ability to play back your animation almost instantly, animating with iStopMotion gives immediate gratification.

iStopMotion Home is now available at the Mac App Store for just $49.99 US. iStopMotion Express and iStopMotion Pro can also be purchased at the Mac App Store for $99.99 US and $499.99 US respectively.


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Artbeats Adds New Dimension with 3D Footage Offerings

Answering the growing demand for 3D elements for television and film, Artbeats, a leader in the production of high quality stock footage, announces the immediate availability of their rapidly growing Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) stock footage library.

The initial offerings include a variety of nature shots, plus the first S3D aerial stock footage available to the royalty-free market. New 3D content will be added monthly, including pyrotechnic, city scene, establishment, winter scene and additional aerial collections.

"For over 20 years, Artbeats has specialized in footage that has high production value and is often difficult to shoot," explains Artbeats President and Lead Cinematographer, Phil Bates. "In this case, we couldn't ignore industry demand, so we've set our sights on providing the 3D content that our customers require but may not be able to shoot themselves."

In keeping with the company's reputation for innovation, Artbeats became the first production company to utilize Pictorvision's gyrostabilized eclipse 3D aerial rig, capturing aerials of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach and the shores of Catalina. On this shoot, two RED MX cameras with Optimo 17-80mm lenses were used to obtain nature imagery and dramatic daytime and nighttime shots of Los Angeles skyscrapers. "With a 6.5" interocular, the distance between lenses, we stayed close to our subjects to get the deepest stereo effect," says Bates. "Our all-pro crew included stereographer, Ken Corben, DP, Doug Holgate and pilot, John Tamburro. The combination yielded some incredible footage that is now available on our website. Although we're excited about our initial offering of 3D footage, it is only a small sample and more will be made available in the coming months."

Artbeats' 3D equipment, which includes RED MX cameras on a stereo rig, will expand to include RED Epic cameras and a beamsplitter rig later this year. "We'll be shooting fire effects, urban settings, establishments, and much more," adds Bates. "We have a very busy year planned. In addition, our 3D library is growing to include content from outside producers."

Artbeats' S3D stock footage is offered as Quicktime movie files with formats that include HD stereo pairs (both sides squeezed horizontally into a single HD frame), separate HD Right and Left views and 4K versions (when shot on RED). Available via the company's website, Artbeats provides helpful metadata specific to each S3D clip including the positive parallax percentage, interocular separation measurements, and the maximum display size, which is the largest suggested screen size on which to display a clip. Artbeats also offers a helpful S3D Video Guide, and a free downloadable full HD resolution S3D clip to help editors gain a feel for the high quality and ease of use that Artbeats footage is known for.

For additional information about Artbeats' S3D footage, and to download the free clip, please visit http://www.artbeats.com/S3D.

Pricing and Availability
Royalty-free pricing for S3D HD footage is $449 to $799 USD, per clip. Artbeats FootageHub rights managed S3D HD clips range in price from $499 to $1,999 USD. Pricing includes separate left and right views, as well as a side-by-side stereo pair. Most of the S3D clips are also available in high-res 4K versions.

To purchase Artbeats' S3D footage, or to preview the clips, either as an anaglyph movie or by the cross-eyed viewing method, please visit http://www.artbeats.com/S3D


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