Post Magazine

January 2012

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education Academy of Art adds color to curriculum S AN FRANCISCO — Most people leave college with their fair share of colorful memories. For some it's the late nights spent in the library — for many it's the late nights not spent at the library. While these clichés may in fact be true for most, the students at San Francisco's Acade- my of Art University are creating colorful memories of an entirely different kind. Academy of Art University offers two advanced color grading courses as well as a hands-on telecine class. In addition, an advanced color correction course is currently being writ- ten for students at the Masters level. A few years ago, the university's color Taylor's students are learning Resolve (pictured) and other tools, including Photoshop and Apple Color. courses were part of lessons within existing editing courses. Students briefly learned about conforming, grading and rendering as a small piece of a much larger puzzle. But as time went on, and color correction became essen- tial to being literate as a cinematographer and editor, AAU recognized the need for a change. AAU is now running two full versions of DaVinci's Resolve software — one in their fin- ishing suite, and another in the classroom. At home and in the school's Avid lab, students use Resolve Lite, the free, reduced-feature version of the color grading software. According to Design's Intensity Pro to see what their work looks like on a monitor. Others may prefer to work off of an ungraded movie trailer shot and cut entirely by someone else. "One of the reasons I chose to pursue a degree at the Academy of Art University was the holistic approach the university takes toward earning a film degree. Within one semester I was able to learn about color grad- ing from a number of sources — from DaVinci Resolve to Apple Color to Adobe Photoshop. This opportunity allows me to be flexible professionally," says Jason Morrow, a film student at AAU. In class, instructors highlight tools in Avid Media Composer, Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X, Apple Color, Tangent Wave control panels, or even a legacy DaVinci 8:8:8 system, applying what they've learned about telecine color correction using control surfaces. Taylor notes, "Panels are great, I get tre- mendous productivity out of the Avid Artist Color panel, but there are times and places that you just can't have a panel with you. Resolve's three-way color corrector makes it easy to work using only a mouse." Taylor says one aspect of Resolve has made itself useful with students — working in parallel nodes within the software, "for when you change something you wish you hadn't," Taylor says, "rather than going back and forth, resaturating and desaturating, you always have the option to work off of the original data, right there." Instructor Dave Taylor, "Resolve Lite's two nodes are more than capable of demonstrating the power of DaVin- ci Resolve, or any professional color correction tool for that matter." Even though it's a professional solution, the software has proved to be approachable for desktop video editors in training. Resolve offers flexibility in terms of how students get their work done. This is essential to the pur- pose of AAU's color grading courses, which were developed to teach the art of color grading, not a specific workflow or textbook method. In fact, Taylor uses Alexis Van Hurk- man's platform-agnostic "Color Correction Handbook" for the two courses he teaches. PICKING THE RIGHT TOOL Students are encouraged to use the equip- ment of their choice to complete assignments. Some choose to grade short films they've shot themselves on an owned, rented or bor- rowed camera, which can run the gamut from a consumer-level H.264 tool to something from Red or Arri. They have the freedom to import their footage from a range of NLEs into Resolve without hassle, and rely on Nvidia Quadro 4000 cards and Blackmagic 42 Post • January 2012 Instructor Dave Taylor shows students the art of color. Adobe Photoshop and Magic Bullet's Col- orista, but use Resolve as the overarching platform. Taylor explains, "Our courses are meant to teach color grading, not how to become DaVinci Resolve colorists in specific, but Resolve is the only program out there that features the tools needed to master every learning point on the curriculum." Though AAU is not in the business of teaching students any one "right" way to get the job done, instructors try never to leave the guesswork up to them. They walk stu- dents through each step of mastering a tool, from getting the language down to producing desired results. When they're not furiously taking notes, students are banging away on FLEXIBILITY Because many students have already built a skill set and comfort level in other programs, they are free to do their assignments however they want. In these color grading courses, students are assessed by their ability to pro- duce desired results, and it is up to them to enjoy the journey of how they get there. For Taylor, it is this level of required flexibil- ity that makes teaching enjoyable. "At the end of the day, we're using a feature-complete software to teach the tools of the trade, and leaving the rest up to the students. I can't begin to express how refreshing it is to work with people that are not married to one platform and stuck in their ways."

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