Two years ago, nobody knew what a colourist was. Ok, people who needed to know knew, and if you are one of those then I’m not talking to you in this post. I’m talking about the average young filmmaker cutting his or her masterpiece in the bedroom who was happy just to have a cracked copy of Premiere.
To be honest most “prosumer” footage two years ago probably wasn’t worth grading, but as the cameras and formats have improved, and more image information exists (albeit compressed into 8-bit H.264 oblivion) grading is in the spotlight.
On the upper end of the scale, two years ago 10-bits per channel was a luxury. Now it’s normal and we’re seeing 16-bits per channel on the upper end of the spectrum.
Two years ago, a high end dual-link HD SDI capture card cost a fortune. I know, I have a dead worthless brick of a Bluefish 444 SD Greed card still in my system… it’s just archaic… even if it is 10-bit uncompressed. Now you can have your choice from Blackmagic Design or AJA for under $1000.
When it comes to the tools themselves, colour grading spent the last five years moving from ultra high end hardware down to high end workstation but remaining prohibitively expensive. It’s finally fallen completely from it’s high perch… fallen right to the floor. Yesterday Blackmagic Design launched DaVinci Resolve Lite for free. The day before we saw Filmlight announce a Baselight plugin for Final Cut Pro for under $1000, and Assimilate have announced Scratch for Mac at $17,000… which may not seem cheap, but it’s a major drop in price for a full Scratch license.
Unless Apple have some major announcements today that cause a big upset, Apple Color is nowhere to be seen… yet.
So, with Resolve Lite for free… and putting aside issues of calibrated monitoring for now, I expect to see everyone no matter how inexperienced to at least start attempting a grade and polish. There are no longer any excuses to not know what a colourist is or does.