Learn DaVinci Resolve Colour Grading

On-site in Melbourne, Australia

Learning what buttons to push is easy and there's books and videos for that, but having a
veteran film colourist at your side as you learn how to "see colour" makes this course unique.

Q&A

Where?

Point Cook, Melbourne, Australia

When?

See the calendar.

What's the duration?

Two day, 14 hour course.

What's the cost?

A$995

How do I book and pay?

Please see the Bookings tab.

What's the structure?

It's one-on-one training. You operate the Resolve Micro Panel and I provide guidance and feedback. The trackballs help you to "feel" colour and get you up to speed fast. There's a couple of books on grading, but the Color Correction Handbook is the best one. We'll work through the tutorials together. Of course, we can also experiment with your own footage.

What are the timings?

9am - 4:30pm with half-hour for lunch.

Who's the instructor?

Tim Farrell has worked as a film colourist in Sydney and Mumbai and has been a DaVinci user since 1995. Tim has graded millions of feet of 35mm film and knows the ingredients to make immersive cinematic imagery. He's been running Resolve courses since 2010.

I started working as a colourist in 1995 at Frame, Set & Match (now Vandal) in Sydney. One of the most memorable projects was all the 35mm and VistaVision transfers for The Matrix sequels. He also worked on countless shows including Farscape, My Brother Jack, Who Dares Wins, The Mole, The Shark Net, music videos for Alex Lloyd and many documentaries and commercials.

In 2003 I began working in India at EFX and Famous Studios. During this time he graded TVCs for major brands such as Pepsi, Sony, Colgate, LG, Orange, Revlon, Chevrolet, Revlon and Tata Indicom as seen in the showreel below.

I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my image.

What will I learn?

I believe the five basic tenets of successful colour grading are:

  • Greyscale
  • Scopes
  • Stills
  • Depth
  • Contrast (Tonal and Colour)

Learn how to break an image down into lift, gamma and gain. You can't grade if you don't use scopes. You'll learn the importance of the parade, vectorscope and waveform. I'll demonstrate why using the image gallery is vital to a successful grade. And you'll also learn about the impact of colour on image depth. Additionally, I will teach you how to create strong and distinctive looks without flattening off the picture plane. Finally, we'll discuss tonal and colour contrast and how to maximise it to create images that pop off the screen! It's very easy to create a distinctive look, but can you create one that maximises depth and draws the viewer into the scene?


What else is covered?

Everything from basic primary and secondary grading and how to use scopes, through to shot matching and creating stylized looks. We can also cover things like equipment choices and display calibration.

A good option is to spend the first day learning some fundamentals and the second day grading one of your projects. As it's one-on-one training we can focus on your specific objectives and work at a pace you're comfortable with. Topics can include:

  • Primary contrast and colour grading
  • Secondary colour grading
  • Power Windows and tracking
  • Dynamics and keyframing
  • Shot matching
  • Creative techniques
  • Raw and Log footage
  • OFX plugins
  • Beauty work and face-refinement
  • Using Film LUTs
  • Short-form and Long-form grading workflows
  • Round-tripping projects from other applications
  • Node types and lesser known interface tools
  • Colour management methods


Who should do it?

Cinematographers and camera assistants, film and video editors, directors and producers, film and media students, multi-media content makers, digital imaging technicians, VFX artists, image retouchers, post-production coordinators and supervisors, web and graphic designers, or anyone who just wants to make better looking images.

I'm not a tech-head, won't this be too daunting?

I won't lie and say there's not a lot to know. However, I'm also struck by the amount of convoluted nonsense that you see on blogs and forums. I'll teach you what's important and what you don't have to worry about.

Less nodes is almost always better. Simpler is almost always better. There's a lot of different tools in Resolve, but that doesn't mean you have to use them all. I'll teach you what I think are the best and easiest to use.

What makes this course different?

Learning the software is the easy bit and there's books, videos and other courses for that. But the secret of colour grading is really learning how to see. How do you find the sweet spot of an image? It's not always easy. But having a veteran film colourist by your side and pointing you in the right direction is a good start.

I was lucky enough to be taught by two talented colourists and also watched them at work. If I'd had to learn colour grading through books and videos alone, I'd still be clueless. So, if you think you can learn everything from Youtube, you're kidding yourself. I've watched them all and there's literally only a couple of people I could actually recommend. Most Youtubers have never graded a big professional job and a large proportion have no absolutely no idea what they're talking about. Of course, they're also experts on "cinematic" grading. The fact that 99% of them have never laced up a telecine or a scanner, or put film through a motion picture camera seems to be completely incidental!

I've been using DaVinci since 1995, which is 14 years before it was acquired by Blackmagic and ported to Mac OSX. You will see certified courses that are run by people with little, to no, high-end colour grading experience. This might be a an option if you simply want to learn what buttons to push. However, if you want to learn to see and think like a professional colourist, you're going to be disappointed. And the courses that are run by experienced colourists, are group sessions, so you never get that one-on-one attention.

And you might expect very experienced DOPs to have an innate colour sense and pick up grading very quickly. However, that hasn't been my experience. It takes a lot of time for most people to train their eyes to see subtle colour casts. I teach different techniques to get you seeing like a colourist.

I'll also teach you how to analyze colour from your favourite movies, so you can replicate distinctive looks in your own work. Take this example from Amélie (2001).

It's a red, yellow and green colour palette. So, everything is stacked to the left side of the vectorscope. There's a green tint through the blacks and a yellow wash over the rest of the image. When I worked in Mumbai I graded a TVC with a version of this look, which you can watch in my showreel.

Elsewhere in the film there's a warmer, more orange wash over the entire image and a splash of blue for some complementary colour contrast.

Isn't colour grading just about making a picture that I like?

One of the great misconceptions about colour grading is it's just pushing a picture around until you find something you like. There's not really any good and bad, it's all just personal taste. This is just flat out wrong.

I think of colour grading as about 60% technical and 40% creative. Before you can get creative, you need the knowledge, training and skills to get you to that 60% level. This is where you're properly assessing tonal contrast, overall colour balance, skin tones, saturation and image depth.

Once you've mastered these technical aspects you can start to get creative with things like colour washes and tints, secondaries for hue and saturation changes, and power windows to sculpt the frame. But, without a perfect primary grade as a starting point, you're just wasting your time.

What's your colour philosophy?

Take your time and really try a lot of different options at the start of a session. Learn to use your scopes! Eyes get tricked easily and also get tired very quickly, so if you can't use scopes, you're flying blind.

When you're just starting out, aim to spend most of your time in the Primary tab. It takes a lot of practice to get the perfect balance, so the more time you spend using lift, gamma and gain, the better! Think of your primary grade as your meat and potatoes, which is 90% of your meal. Everything else is just gravy.


Always look for depth in the frame and try to create imagery that immerses an audience. Also take lots of still and constantly A-B them. Ever get the feeling that you're inside a movie. The perfect primary grade creates the image depth that helps draws an audience in. While it's tempting to keep just adding node after node, a lot of the time, less is actually more. A single node with a good primary balance is sometimes all you need.


Unfortunately, these days you see a lot of flat, desaturated images with elevated midtones. The look isn't based on any sort of reality and it's also incredibly aesthetically unappealing. It's people not knowing how to grade modern log cameras that capture an enormous dynamic range. Just as a creative DOP uses lens choice, composition and lighting to create depth, the colourist has to utilise tonal contrast and colour contrast to create the illusion of three-dimensional space.

"There is no blue without yellow and orange."

Is it worth doing the course if I use different grading software?

Yes. There's lots of great colour grading software out there. Products such as Baselight, Scratch, Lustre and Nucoda are popular with many professional colourists and widely used within the professional industry. Baselight especially seems to the favoured system of the world's top colourists.

The course is about the concepts and principles of grading. The skills and techniques you learn can be easily applied to other software programs.

How do I know if I have good colour vision?

Everyone perceives colour differently and if you work in the game for a while you're bound to encounter people who are unaware of their colour vision deficiency. So, for your own peace of mind, it's important to understand how accurately you actually perceive colour. I can conduct the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test, which has been a global standard for more than 60 years for evaluating an individual's ability to discern colour. It consists of four trays containing a total of 85 removable colour reference caps spanning the visible spectrum. Colour vision aptitude is determined by your ability to place the colour caps in order of hue.

Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test

How do I know I'm looking at the right colours?

If you're doing colour grading it's critical to use a properly calibrated display. If not, you're just wasting your time. You can bring your laptop or desktop display and I'll take you through the steps of creating a 3D LUT and loading it into Resolve.

Calman Studio from Portrait Displays

What do I need to bring?

Nothing, but feel free to bring some of your own footage. Lunch is provided, so let us know if you have dietary requirements. If you're a DOP, bring your camera and charts in and we can shoot tests with various profiles and see how LUTs & Colour Transforms affect the image.

You might also like to bring in some stills from your favourite films and we can use the scopes to analyse their tonal and colour composition.

Do I need any experience or to read anything before coming?

No need to worry if you've never used the software or graded anything before. We'll take it slow and start with the fundamentals.

What about other resources?

You should definitely purchase the Color Correction Handbook. Also see Blain Brown's Cinematography: Theory and Practice, for brilliant explanations of raw, log and setting exposure. For a discussion on the use of colour in film, see Patti Bellantoni's If It's Purple, Someone's Gonna Die. Finally, here's a selection of some movies and TV shows you might have missed.

Bookings

How do I book and pay?

Check availability on the calendar and email me your dates. You may book consecutive, or non-consecutive days. I'll send you an invoice, which is due the day after you book.

Price for the two day, 14 hour course is A$995. If you are visiting Melbourne and require accommodation, Quest Apartments are only 5 mins away.



Reviews

"I travelled over from South Australia for the colour grading course - it was absolutely worth it. Tim has so much experience and insight, and is a great teacher. Because it's individual training he was able to adapt what we were doing to be most useful for my workflows and skill level. I can highly recommend it."

Edwin Kemp Atrill

Creative Director at Replay Creative

"I have been to hundreds of colour grading sessions throughout my career and thought I knew a reasonable amount about correction. That was until I spent two days with Tim Farrell learning to use DaVinci Resolve."

Matt Stewart ACS

DOP at Tumbleweed Films

"I flew down from Sydney to attend Tim's two-day course and it didn't disappoint. By far the best value professional development course I've attended. Would recommend to anyone looking to take their images to the next level. Grading is now the desert I look forward to at the end of an edit!"

Sam Laidlaw

Qantas Video Producer

"Just wanted to say thanks for everything I've learned the last couple of days. Was a hell of a lot of fun, and it's definitely ignited a passion for colour!"

Jason King

Video Editor at Creswick Creative

"Tim was able to cater to my needs exclusively, and work at a level that suited me. That way, I made better use of my time and learnt much more than would otherwise ever be possible."

Peter Beeh

Cinematographer at Aerial Film Australia

Participants

Erika Addis - Cinematographer

Ben Alpers - Content Director

James Anderson - Videographer

Chris Baker - Creative Director

Kim Batterham ACS - Cinematographer

Peter Beeh - Cinematographer

Kenny Bower - Filmmaker

Marcus Buckley - Filmmaker

Peter Butterworth - Video Post Manager

Aaron Carroll - Editor and Director

Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary - Filmmaker

Peter Coleman ACS - Cinematographer

Trent Cliffe - Video Producer

Thomas Dawe - Urban Screen Coordinator

Daniel Decarli - Video Editor

Luke Dove - Video Editor

Joel Egan - Cinematographer

Warwick Field ACS - Cinematographer

Carl Gaerlan - Digital Media Specialist

Marie Gatt - Dailies Colourist

David Gear - Cinematographer

Rueben Gibbes - Director/Editor

Ben Hall - Video Editor

John Hall - Cinematographer

Alex Harkness - Videographer

Josh Harris - Director

Terry Hope - Cinematographer/Editor

Shane Ingram - Senior Multimedia Officer

Ben Jones - Filmmaker

David Josue - Filmmaker

Jason King - Video Editor

Sam Laidlaw - Video Producer

Adam Lockman - Video Editor

Cecilia Low - Filmmaker

Rodney Mansour - Video Editor

Lachlan Millsom - Videographer

Jamie Morris - Videographer

Vivian Nilan - Videographer

Sam O'Reilly - Videographer

Andrew Packer - Senior Editor

Arthur Panagiotaras - Colourist/Video Editor

Carlin Plumb - Post Production Coordinator ABC-TV

Hamish Pattison - Cinematographer

Andy Richards - Cinematographer

Jack Schiller - Video Editor

Patrick Schiller - Video Editor

Pat Sofra - Senior Designer

Marc Spicer ACS - Cinematographer

Matt Stewart ACS - Cinematographer

Chris Tomkins - Director, Editor, Colourist

Cassy Vincent - Video Editor

Kane Waldron - Video Assist Operator

Darcy Yuille - Filmmaker and Lecturer

Elahn Zetlin - Video Editor

Carlin Plumb from ABC-TV Melbourne (2023)

Calibration

If you're doing colour grading it's critical to have an understanding of monitor calibration. If you're not grading on a calibrated display, you're just wasting your time. This doesn't mean that you need a multi-thousand dollar reference display. Even more affordable displays will benefit from calibration. I will provide an introduction to Calman Studio and the C6 Colorimeter from Portrait Displays.

Showreel

In 2003 I began working in India at EFX and Famous Studios in Mumbai. There I graded TVCs for brands like Pepsi, Sony, Colgate, LG, Orange, Revlon, Chevrolet, Revlon and Tata Indicom as seen in the showreel below. This was back in the days when adverts were shot on 35mm and graded to standard definition interlaced video. But, if I can channel Larry David, I think they still look "pretty good".

Colourist Showreel


Graded with Spirit telecine and DaVinci 2K


"Bookends" - Directed by Patrick O'Neill


"Making of the Cup" - Victorian Racing Club


"Making of the Cup" - Victorian Racing Club


"Moss" - Vip Insyxiengmay


"Centrum" - Buchanan Advertising


"Midmorning" - Directed by Patrick O'Neill


"Suite for Fleur" - Ron Brown Productions


"Fovever House" - Directed by Matt Poidevin


Contact

learn.resolve@gmail.com

0468 747 371