Colour grading. It's one of the most essential aspects of video post-production, and can have an enormous impact on the visual style of a finished product. In fact, it's only during colour grading that a film's palette and tone really come together, with the process really breathing life into footage.
Of course, colour grading is also a complex process, one that requires a lot of skill alongside the right post-production software and hardware. Grading is even more challenging when you're restricted to a mouse and keyboard as control mechanisms, which is why so many top colourists prefer to use specialised control panels.
The more tactile nature of control panels allows for fine adjustments that would be infuriating with a mouse.
Using a colour grading control panel
There are a lot of benefits to these panel surfaces, but the two most important ones are undoubtedly speed and control.
A panel may take some getting used to at first, but once you've learn how to operate it, you'll be grading in record time. This is because panels incorporate a range of buttons and trackballs, allowing colourists to adjust multiple parameters at once and on the fly. Just think of the difference between typing in a numeric value and turning a knob, or between moving a mouse and adjusting a trackball. These saved seconds add up, and over time can help you to get work done much faster.
The more tactile nature of control panels also has a big impact on precision, allowing for fine adjustments that would be infuriating with a mouse. Not only do panels allow for grading to be more accurate, but they can also open up more creative colour work and vastly improve the visual style of your projects.
Some of the best colour grading work is completed with Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve 12 software, and with this in mind, the company has just launched two brand new control surfaces – the DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini Panels.
The DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini Panels
Previously, the only Blackmagic Design control surface was the enormous DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel. A true beast, this top of the line model is designed for high-end professional post-production facilities, and while it can do everything you'd possibly want in a control surface, it's neither portable nor cheap. With this in mind, Blackmagic's new panels cater to a completely different market of colourists. They're easy to move, affordable, and perfect for use on set. Let's take a closer look at what the Mini and Micro options have to offer.
Both panels boast control buttons on the side of the unit, giving colourists quick access to frequently used functions.
The Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is an entry-level surface designed to be as small and portable as possible. It can comfortably sit on a desk, and because it's powered by USB, you can take it wherever you go. There are three trackballs and 12 knobs available, providing extensive access to the powerful tools in Resolve.
At a slightly higher level of functionality sits the Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel. It boasts all the same features as the Micro surface, but with the addition of two LCD screens for monitoring of controls, parameters and navigation menus. There are also broadcast-standard XLR connections, making this panel a powerhouse for even the most demanding of grading jobs.
Both panels also boast control buttons on the side of the unit, giving colourists quick access to their most frequently used functions. This makes it easy to tailor the panels to a specific way of working, giving you all the power you need to create a workflow that suits your specific needs.
Alternative control surfaces from Tangent
It's important to remember though, that Blackmagic Design isn't the only player in the control panel game. There are plenty of other options out there if you're looking for something slightly different, with Tangent's products being some of the very best. What makes Tangent's control surfaces unique is how innovative the design is. Affordability is a big part of this, along with compact size and ease of use.
A great example is the Tangent Ripple Panel, which is engineered to be as compact and intuitive as possible. Like the Blackmagic surfaces, it has three trackballs, providing a powerful yet affordable way to grade on the go. But hardware isn't the only way Tangent is changing the game. The company has recently launched Element-Vs, a mobile app that offers a full set of control panels that can be virtually controlled either individually, or in tandem with a physical unit. It's a big step forward, but it's still hard to beat a physical surface that gives complete control over a grading project.
For more information on the very best control panels, contact DVT today.
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