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Meet the Southeast Creative Summit Presenters: Robbie Carman

A continuing series to get to know your Southeast Creative Summit Presenters, coming to Atlanta October 25-27.
In this episode: Colorist Robbie Carman!

How did you get started as a colorist?

My path to becoming a colorist started in music. I’ve played guitar since I was 6 or 7 years old and early on thought I wanted to be a rockstar!. After I realized that probably wasn’t going to happen, I got really interested in audio engineering and recording. During that time I was recording a lot bands and they were shooting music videos and needed some help – so I discovered video editing and dedicated my self to learning everything I could about video post. Flash forward – after college I found myself heavily involved in online editorial - that is uprezing shows, placing graphics and broadcast packaging at a post facility. In many of those session, clients were asking could I could do simple color corrections on shots. The more and more I was doing that, I discovered that I really liked color correction and grading. I dove in head first, learning all I could, shadowing a few fantastic colorists in my market and soon enough I was doing nothing but color. In 2005, my business partner and I left the facility we were working at and started our company Amigo Media which focuses entirely on grading for broadcast and film as well as postproduction education.

What’s one aspect of color you see people getting wrong all the time?

Trying to do too much! In my opinion, some of the best grades are often the simplest. Sure, you can add 40 secondaries to a shot to tweak every single aspect of the image but you should ask your self – am I really making it better or am I going to far? We have amazingly powerful tools for color correction and grading these days, but often the best looking grades are just simple adjustments to contrast and color. Its amazing what you can do with a deft touch on a primary grade.

Do I have to learn a program like Resolve to be able to grade my work?

Absolutely not! While dedicated tools like DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Speedgrade offer an amazing powerful tool set, your editorial application offers some great tools too. Nearly, every edit application will have tools like video scopes to analyze the signal, and a 3-Way color corrector to perform primary or overall corrections. Many also have secondary color correction tools to target corrections. There are also some really great color correction plug-ins for editorial applications.

What’s your personal philosophy as a regular trainer and author?

My personal philosophy is to try to make the the most complex subjects accessible, relating instruction to things that a student already knows about. I think when you’re able to make connections to existing knowledge it really clicks and you start to master a subject. I also try not to make things too serious, I always like to have fun and keep things light no matter if its a paragraph in a book, a session at a conference or an online training video.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given during your career?

A colorist I met right when I started out gave me some advice I try to live everyday – be nice and treat everyone with respect. There are plenty of folks in production and post who think the world revolves around them. They scream at people, make demands etc. These folks may have short term success, but in the long run, if you are fair, honest, and pleasant you’ll succeed. This same person also told me to try to help your friends as often as you can – if there is a work opportunity that they might be good for - recommend them.

What can people expect from you at the Southeast Creative Summit?

Most of my sessions will revolve around color grading, including taking a look at secondary color grading techniques, and some common recipes for achieving great looks. I will also share some hard won knowledge that I think will be useful to small companies and freelancers about scheduling and budgeting projects with clients. Other than that, I hope to attend some sessions from the fantastic line up instructors, chat with attendees and just have fun at what promises to be a fantastic conference.

Register for the Southeast Creative Summit before September 25th for just $495 using the discount code: creativecow2013

Posted by: walter biscardi on Aug 5, 2013 at 5:30:58 pm Color Grading, colorist

Davinci Resolve and Apple Color: Which is Better?

I've been getting quite a few emails from folks asking a lot of questions about Davinci Resolve and Apple Color. Specifically, "which one is better?" That's a loaded question for a number of reasons, but not the least of which is, they're both just tools. Neither will make you a better colorist just because you have it. That takes the skill of the operator and taking the time to learn the craft.

Davinci has long been the standard in color enhancement for film and television upon which all other tools are measured. Name a feature film and it most likely was finished on a Davinci workstation. But for the longest time, it was really the only tool in town for film so naturally it became the defacto standard. Kind of like Avid when it first came on the scene as a Non Linear Editor. To this day, all NLE's are still compared to Avid because they are still considered the standard editing tool to judge against all other tools.

Color started out as Final Touch by a company called Silicon Color that was a lower cost competitor to Davinci. They really got noticed by the Final Cut Pro and NLE editors by offering support for grading with Quicktime files, something Davinci didn't support at the time. Suddenly people like me could spend $5,000 for Final Touch HD and have essentially the "power of Davinci color enhancement" on my Mac Desktop.

The big difference between the two products of course was realtime vs. rendering. Davinci did all color enhancement in realtime, no rendering, straight back out to tape. Final Touch required the user to render all files and then send back to the NLE for final output. Of course the other difference was the price. $5,000 for Final Touch HD vs. six figures for Davinci.

Then Apple purchased Silicon Color and Blackmagic Design purchased Davinci. Today we're sitting here with two absolutely incredible color enhancement tools available for use on our Mac Desktop and, yes, even the MacBook Pro. So now what do we do? Which tool is better. Short answer? Neither.

Which one is better depends on your particular application and how you like to work. If you work with Avid or Adobe Premiere, well then right now Resolve is your best choice because it has an easier workflow to / from the application because it's a third party app, not a proprietary Apple app. If you work with Final Cut Pro, well then you can go either way.

Color works with traditional color wheels and rooms. Resolve works with curves and nodes. Color can operate very well with just a mouse and a keyboard. Resolve requires a control surface such as a Tangent Wave panel to work efficiently. Color has a ColorFX room that can utilize third party plug-ins. Resolve does not have an FX room. Color has a one point motion tracker. Resolve has a motion tracker I have termed "Ludicrous Tracker" (look up "Spaceballs The Movie") because it's just ridiculously good. Color uses an XML workflow that supports speed changes, graphics and multiple video tracks from FCP. Resolve currently uses EDL and AAF using a single video track only. Resolve has better controls over Luminance and the Node architecture can make it easier to alter a scene after it's been graded. And the comparison list goes on and on....

I can create the same look on both Apple Color and Davinci Resolve. Well for that matter, I can create the same or similar looks using the Apple 3-Way Color Corrector or Magic Bullet Colorista II. Prior to getting Final Touch I graded many broadcast television shows using only the 3-Way CC and we continue to use both Colorista and Colorista II to grade projects as well. So you see, everything is just a tool.

In fact as I've been testing Resolve it has only shown me just how good Color really is. People amuse me by saying things like "Well now that Resolve it out, we don't have to use that wannabe Color." These folks need to feel superior so they put down a product that is a world class color correction tool just because "it's not Davinci." Well, go on and keep feeling superior and we'll just keep turning out happy clients and happy QC network engineers with our little ol' Apple Color.

Now at $999 why would you NOT put Resolve in your toolbox? BMD is giving anyone with a Mac the opportunity to have the same toolset available that has been used on thousands of feature films and broadcast television shows. This is a no brainer for me and we are adding it to our facility. Adding Resolve to our toolset just gives us one more option in post production. If we used it for nothing but the motion tracker alone, it would be worth the $999. But of course, it's much more than just that. Kudos to BMD for opening up the tool to everyone.

So the long and short of it is, a tool is just a tool. How good it is depends on your ability to operate it and, more importantly, to understand the craft that is associated with that tool. But at $999 it's also a no brainer to add Resolve to your toolkit if you have the funds for it and a control surface.....

Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 15, 2010 at 4:14:05 amComments (30) color grading, post production

Low cost color accurate LCD's becoming reality!

I posted this originally in the Apple Color Forum but through I would share here as well....

Just had an all-day demo of four Flanders Scientific (FSI) monitors here in the shop. Overall extremely impressed and yes, you CAN have an accurate monitor for $2,495. I'm not going to go into full details as Nick Griffin will be publishing an article shortly on everything we saw here today but basically....

LM-2450W (24") and LM-1760W (17") look as accurate as my Sony CRT Multi-format monitor. Excellent blacks, excellent whites and good solid color throughout. The 24" has an option for the ND Filter which I'll be getting, but you don't necessarily need it. The 17" is simply the cheapest monitor I've seen out there that I consider accurate enough to recommend. Honestly can't believe there's a monitor this inexpensive and this high of quality.

The LM-2430W (24") and LM-2130W (21") are considered "grade 2" monitors and while extremely accurate, the viewing angle is tighter. Also, when I put up a scene that was completely black on one side, you could see some light spill coming in from the edges. This is a limitation of the panel itself and the prices are lower, accordingly. These would be great editing monitors and could be used for final mixing if you don't have the budget for the 2450W.

Are they as accurate as the $10,000 and up LCD's? Probably not, though I would love to see a side by side comparison, I would not be surprised to see them look really REALLY close. One great thing about them, 30 day money back guarantee so if you don't like it, send it back no questions asked.

I'm ordering 2 of the 2450W's and one of the 1760W's for our shop so if anyone wants to purchase my Sony PVM20L5/1 and/or my PVM14L5/1 just shoot me an email. As soon as the FSI's are here, I'll ship them to you.

If you want to know more about the specs, just click on the yellow banners throughout the Cow or look up Flanders Scientific. They're a locally owned company right here in Atlanta, super nice guys to boot!

Posted by: walter biscardi on Mar 6, 2009 at 5:22:05 amComments (2) monitors, editing, final cut pro, color, color grading

Apple Color - What it can do.

So there's been a lot of talk on the forums lately about Magic Bullet Looks now being available for use in editing systems and I'm even going to try it out shortly myself. But for those of you with Final Cut Studio 2, keep in mind you have probably the most powerful color grading software available for desktop computers in Color just sitting there. Yeah it's not perfect, there are some issues to work around, but I have to admit, even with the issues, the end results are nothing short of stunning.

I thought I would share some before / after shots of a recent project I did that featured all archive (read Old) material. BetaSP, BetaSX, DigiBeta, DV, DVCAM, HDV were all used in this project that was ultimately delivered on DVD for a special event and also the Web. As a piece focusing on the natural beauty of the American West, I felt it was extremely important to bring this project into Color to take advantage of all the color controls I would have. Especially the ability to essentially 'clean up' the image and 'wipe away' the dirt.

Sure I can show you what Color does with our HD projects, but those look pretty darn good before we even get to color grading. Making a bunch of archive material in multiple formats look good, well that takes some work. The project run approx. 6 minutes and was able to grade the entire show in about 3 hours. It would have been faster but I really spent a lot of time tweaking the skies and greens.

If you want to see the whole piece, just go to

and then click on "Apple Color Comparison" under Corporate.

And of course, if you want to learn how to use Color, just pick up my DVD! Fresh from the Creative Cow Master Series - Stop Staring and Start Grading with Color!



Posted by: walter biscardi on Oct 27, 2007 at 7:00:08 amComments (4) editing, color grading, apple, final cut pro

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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