A project graduates to color correct / by KirstenStudio

This week I'm prepping a standard definition Final Cut Pro project for color correction and eventual upgrade to high definition where it will end up living on BlueRay.  This is yet another first for me in post production work flow. I've handed off projects that were on the way to color correct, but this is my introduction to communicating directly with the color corrector regarding what exports are needed and then what I will receive in return before final output.  An interesting education.

First off, I was asked to submit some samples from the project so the colorist could work some magic to show the producer/director what the improvements will look like.  After those mini-exports were worked on, I took the before and after samples to the director for review.  Luckily he liked what he saw, with some minor notes on areas he thought might have been tweaked with more contrast than what he personally prefers.

The work on the samples are absolutely beautiful, as you can see by the before (left) and after (right) split screen here. In this particular project there are a ton of old still photographs that need more than a polish. Other footage includes different interviews with some interior and exterior b-roll, all of which need a cohesive look and then there's archival material.

My next step is to screen one last time - or two- to ensure there are no mishaps in the final cut (I can't help but screen several times just to look for unintended frames of black or a weird keyframe or whatever). Once I feel confident that I'm fix free, I'll export the timeline as is. In this case the colorist has requested one Apple ProRes 422 HQ for reference and one to work with.  The one the color grader will work with (in Scratch) will be textless and without any sort of color filters I've applied.  So, I'll  duplicate the final sequence and use the copy to remove all titles and filters.  Transitions can be a little sticky too. I'll need to remove any wipes.  Dissolves are fine, but wipes require a little more prepping.  Any clips where I've applied wipes, I'll not only remove the wipe, but I'll duplicate those clips and throw them at the end of the time line where I'll put 30 frame handles on them.  I'll also provide a CMX 3600 EDL. Since this is a 90 minute films, it's been requested that I divide the EDL export into 3 or 4 pieces, where there's black. That way the EDL won't be so overwhelming to follow. For the audio engineer I'll export an OMF. Although some of the tasks might be a little time consuming, luckily nothing sounds like rocket science so far.

Once the color grading/correction, the blow up to 1080 HD and the audio mix is complete,  I will take those gorgeous new files and bring them into a gorgeous new high def, Final Cut project. I'll add back all the titles and any filters that were in the original cut that still need to be applied, for example there are a few clips that are desaturated in the final version and then it's time for export again.

I kind of made it sound like 1, 2, 3 and there you have a SD to HD transition. No doubt I will encounter what a mentor of mine would refer to as "problem solving opportunities" before this is said and done, but it's interesting to learn about these grey areas so they're not so grey anymore.

In fact to clear the fog even more, I've registered for a couple classes at NYU's SCPS again and one is Documentary Post Workflow, much of which I imagine I'm aware of based on my experience level, but there should be some new information too.  It seems, especially today with so many different digital formats and post options, that an editor or post production supervisor never really knows everything in terms of the post process from beginning to end, to deliverables.  It can be quite different from project to project to a certain extent including the players involved and their roles.

The class is divided into two 8 hour session done over a coupe of Saturdays and I'm sure I'll be reporting on my findings. Documentary Post Workflow's spring 2011 class will be taught by Mridu Chandra.