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May 2018

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Page 39 of 43 38 POST MAY 2018 COLOR SCIENCE odex creates digital production workflow tools for independent films, motion pictures, commercials and TV productions. Within some 30 days after NAB, it will be shipping ColorSynth, a layered color grading plug-in the indie market can afford, and Keys, a control surface that's equally affordable. The first version of ColorSynth will work with Apple Final Cut Pro X, but versions for other NLEs, such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Blackmagic Design Resolve, will be released soon after. ColorSynth was developed in consulta- tion with Yvan Lucas, a renowned film colorist who has graded more than 190 movies, many of which turned out to be blockbusters. The interface was designed with the knowledge he accu- mulated in mind. A recent interview and demo with Philippe Panzini, VP user experience at Codex, was one of the most interesting I've had in years. Before he became VP at Codex, Panzini was a co-founder and CTO at Discreet Logic, where he worked on Flame and Inferno. Before that, he was with Apple for five years. There, Panzini helped develop Final Cut Pro X, Motion and Shake. "A major reason for developing ColorSynth was that most of the existing color grading systems use mathematical models that were fine when we were still dealing with composite video, but which are meaningless with today's cameras and workflows," Panzini states. "Those obsolete models were copied to many of today's systems without a thorough understanding of the underlying math or their genesis." COLORSYNTH "One of the problems with most color grading systems is the inappropriate use of the HSL/HSV color model for mathe- matical transforms," Panzini adds. "The math needed to manipulate RGB data, but using the common methods that involve HSL don't always allow for proper transforms. That is because HSL has been created for selecting colors in a human interface, not for processing them." The example he gave is the use of the HSL model to remap colors using curves. Using these curves easily breaks the image. The further away you go from the original color, the more artifacts you introduce. It took Codex two veteran engineers working for six months to develop the correct mathematical function, despite the company being privy to the math used in high-end cameras and having a lot of color science knowledge from its design of circuits for cameras and re- cording devices. The use of the acronym "HSL" in ColorSynth, therefore, is purely there to make users understand what they're doing. The mathematics behind it is unique. Although it is simple enough for a novice or casual user, beneath the surface, ColorSynth is an elaborate pre-wired network of color processing nodes, totalling more than 400 param- eters spread over 60 items arranged in an eight-layer stack with several sublayers. Regardless of the complexity of the grade, ColorSynth renders the results in floating point precision, at a near-constant rendering speed, in both SDR and HDR. Another thing ColorSynth does differently from other systems is that it allows users to share the entire set of grading decisions. Panzini explains, "Most people share their work using a bit of CDL and lots of LUTs, but the latter aren't procedural functions so there's only as much precision and flex- ibility you can get out of that sharing mechanism. Beyond the usefulness of CDL, it allows the entire grading work- flow to be shared in a parametric fash- ion." ColorSynth will evolve to a system where users will be able to share their grading decisions with password-locked individual nodes where required. UNIQUE FEATURES Due to it processing color differently, ColorSynth has unique features, includ- ing the Color EQ that allows users to achieve effects not possible with other systems, and a Shadows-Midtones- Highlights layer where the transition points are cleanly implemented and user adjustable. A Selections layer includes an advanced chroma keyer with a very simple UI, granular control through the use of sub-selections and clean linear masks that preserve the subtleness of the gradients in the color the user selects. Finally, there are details that will espe- cially appeal to professional graders, such as the Tone Curve's mathematical basis that prevents banding and the ability to define S-curves that are adjustable in such a way that you stay in control of the over- all brightness of the image, even when you're changing contrast. Codex plans to expand ColorSynth's presence to OFX hosts such as Da Vinci Resolve, and also to 3D animation applica- tions like Maya. KEYS In its present pre-release state, ColorSynth already has bindings with keys on a typing keyboard and Panzini claims the experience with a key- board-mouse combination is quite comfortable. For serious finishing, however, the Keys control surface — which looks like a keyboard with a large color LCD panel at the center — will offer a better and faster heads-up experience. Featuring potentiometers and keys for navigation and controls, the keyboard's LCD "follows" the ColorSynth panels you're using at any time. Keys is bus-powered. CODEX INTRODUCES COLORSYNTH C AN ENTIRELY NEW COLOR GRADING SYSTEM BY ERIK VLIETINCK, J.D. CONTRIBUTOR & SUBEDITOR REDSHARK NEWS (UK) EDITOR VISUALS PRODUCER CONTRIBUTOR PHOTOSHOP USER (US) TRURO, UK EDITOR@ THECONTENTGAME.COM The Keys panel ColorSynth

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