Blake Jones, instructor of the International Colorist Academy with 30 years of experience, share with us your tips and tricks on how to set up a professional remote color grading “office”. Read these simple steps below.
Suite for color graduation. Image: Blake Jones
Blake Jones he began as a colorist in Hollywood and has rated films such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Poltergeist” to name just a few of the many titles he has worked on. In addition, Blake is an instructor at the International Colorist Academy and has over 30 years of experience. He teaches basic color classification, resolution operation, recovery operation, and even film scanner operation. He is one of the few people who has worked with Resolve since the product was introduced. Here are their tips and tricks on how to assemble your skill set at home.
Colorist Blake Jones
Whether by choice or forced by circumstances, many post-production and film professionals have pivoted to working from home a few or all times. Basically, that meant a fight to get you ready to work remotely. Here are my tips on the best tools for setting up remote classification. The first thing to consider is where you will work (now and in the future) and how much equipment you can adapt or transport. For example, if you need to travel by plane, a large graduation monitor is not the best option. And even the smallest RAID storage can be quite heavy. Another thing to consider is whether your computer is powerful enough to meet your requirements when you work at the location.
Panels. image: Blake Jones
Perhaps most importantly: the screen. When it comes to classifying monitors, I recommend the ASUS PQ22UC OLED monitor. When you unlock it for the first time, it looks like an overgrown tablet, but it’s actually an excellent rating monitor. It includes its own stand and a sleek carrying case that most closely resembles an artist’s wallet. It is small enough to be easily transported by plane, train or car. But if you have ways to carry equipment and want a bigger monitor, there’s the ASUS PA32UCX-PK. This is an excellent high quality HDR rating monitor that comes with its own calibration probe.
The ASUS-PA32UCX. Image: Blake Jones
Then storage. In the storage department, I would go with a RAID SSD. The use of SSDs allows high performance, in addition to its weight is much lower than rotating drives. The storage that stands out for portability, performance and reliability is the Accusys Gamma Carry. It is an 8-bay storage unit that is connected via Thunderbolt 3.
Accusys storage. Image: Blake Jones
Of course, to be truly remote, you can use cloud-based storage. For this, the two leaders are Frame.io and ioGates. I use ioGates because it has an impressive range of features that allows all members of the production to log in simultaneously and even download versions of the rush at low resolution. Frame.io is another industry favorite, also with a wide range of features that will help you work remotely. If all you need is just a lot of storage, you can go with Wasabi or even Google Drive. Both Wasabi and Google Drive offer cloud storage that will appear simply as another drive on your desktop. When I tried Google Drive, I was amazed at the good performance it had, even though it’s not really meant for media storage. The app allows you to see it as another unit which makes it very useful to use. Wasabi is a low-cost cloud storage platform that also works well for media storage. You will need to download the application, which also allows you to view it as another drive on your computer.
Accusys storage with the MacBook Pro: image: Blake Jones
Fourth, the control surface. If you use Resolve, the best solution is Resolve Micro Panel. It is very well built, needs no extra power and connects via USB. Alternatively, you can consider the Tangent Ripple or Wave 2 panel. The Ripple panel of Tangent devices is simply a three-track control unit to control your main color gradation, along with a few programmable buttons. Its Wave 2 panel has a slightly wider functionality, but also a bit more. Personally, I use Avid Artist’s color board (see image), which is also a very solid rating board.
Avid Artist color panel. Image: Blake Jones
Finally, the computer itself. I’m always in favor of the MacBook Pro. They are proven industry standards and easy to transport. I am currently using a MacBook Pro 2017 which works very well. I also have a MacBook Air 2020, which although a fantastic computer is not ideal for working with systems like Resolve. If you have an Air, what I have found works well is to add a Sonnet eGPU Radeon RX 5700 Breakaway Puck. It’s a small device that easily fits in your bag and transforms your MacBook Air into a powerful little computer that will do a great job running Resolve. I tested this drive even by loading a timeline full of RED RAW files and it did an exceptional job. It is important to note that eGPUs will not currently run on new Macs with M1 processor.
The basic rating suite. Image: Blake Jones
If you prefer to use the low-powered Mac or even a Windows laptop and have an Internet connection with a reasonable power supply, there’s the option of cloud computing. So what exactly is cloud computing? Cloud computing is essentially a virtual computer located in the cloud. When you sign in on a cloud computer, you will receive a standard desktop and you will be able to install and run all your favorite software. Cloud computing is available to many companies, but one of the leaders is EclipseTech. EclipseTech is well known in the multimedia entertainment industry and allows the user to set up their own virtual machine along with storage. EclipseTech also works in conjunction with remote desktop provider Teradici, which provides you with the added convenience of USB connectivity so your control surface can be used as well. With EclipseTech you only pay for what you use, so if you turn off the virtual machine you won’t pay; after all, remote work should be a matter of flexibility. The virtual machine can be configured with different CPU configurations and amounts of RAM and with access to a powerful Nvidia Tesla graphics card. There are other companies, such as ShadowTech based in France, that offer cloud computing, but usually specialize in games. However, their virtual machines are very powerful, provide USB connectivity and are very stable. They also offer an app that can be uploaded to your smartphone or tablet that lets you work with your virtual machine on any platform.
Connection for storage-monitor classification panel. Image: Blake Jones
Remote work is here to stay and offers great benefits, especially with the powerful new technology that enables all the benefits of your physical suite with portability, flexibility and accessibility. Today’s technologies allow you to assemble a solid solution located in your living room and, therefore, distance is no longer a limit factor.
Have you considered creating a remote rating suite? What do you think of the above tips? We’ll find out in the comments section below.
List of products
- Screen: Asus ProArt PA32UCX-PK 32 ”. Price: $ 4,500 To buy
- Software: DaVinci Resolve Studio. Price: $ 295 To buy
- Storage: Accusys Gamma 8 8-Bay Tower Thunderbolt 3 RAID. Price: $ 2,100 To buy
- Panel: Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel. Price: $ 1,025 To buy
- Panel: Tangent ripple board. Price: $ 332 To buy
- Laptop: Apple MacBook Pro 13.3 ″ M1. Price: $ 1,500 To buy