Final Grade

Thinking Like A Colorist – The “Final Grade”

August 28, 2017

An old school technique that is still regularly used today in commercials. Having a break between grading the same footage has huge advantages.


A Telecine Custom That Still Survives In London Commercials

I have been doing “Final Grade” sessions my whole career and totally forgot they are probably strange to most people that don’t work in commercials and possibly even people that don’t work on commercials in London.

In London, it’s not out of the blue to grade a commercial, send it off to flame or nuke for vfx work and then take the flattened render back in to perform a final pass.

Here it’s actually called a DCP which stems from the Pandora Pogle system.

A little more information from Wikipedia might help describe where it came from:

“DCP or Digital Color Processor was a standard-definition digital video processor controlled by a Pogle. DCP was one of the first commercially available systems which were built entirely with digital circuitry using programmable logic. Until this time most color manipulation [including the circuity within Telecine machines] was predominantly analog. With the DCP, the primary [e.g. Lift/Gamma/Gain] and secondary [Zonal and Hue based] colour processing could be done outside the telecine and so input could be from film or videotape. Standard definition processing was of NTSC and PAL video.[4][5] The DCP was a modular system so over the life of the product various add-on’s and upgrades were made including the “Electric Sunroof” option. This was launched in direct competition to the “Power Windows” feature from DaVinci System in Florida. It enabled multiple secondary colour corrections to be applied each within a separate area of the image. ESR windows featured an advanced keying system that allowed the user to identify the areas of the image using Hue, Saturation and Luminance keys combined with the physical position of pixels on the screen.”

The reasoning for a DCP was that when you did the initial transfer from film you mainly did primary corrections to get the best possible look from the film negative.

The next time you visited the grade you were probably working off tape that had been laid off from a flame.

It was in this second session that you could get into power windows, secondary corrections, etc…

Why do we still do it today?

The DCP/Final Grade session is mainly great for one reason.


There is probably on average two weeks between the initial grade and the final pass.

It is priceless to question everything again with fresh eyes.

I’n my video below I’ll show you a breakdown of a green screen commercial that I did from offline to initial grade to final grade.

It’s amazing how many things were refined in that final session.

If you’ve got any questions, be sure to leave a comment!


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Homepage Forums Thinking Like A Colorist – The “Final Grade”

  • Marc Wielage

    Ah, I haven’t thought about the Pandora Pogle Platinum in years. Note they couldn’t call the feature “power windows”, and the windows they had came up oval (I think) and then you had to bend them to make them round. All to get around the daVinci patents. We never referred to “DCP” as a thing in America, though. But we did use the Pogle with the “VDC,” the Virtual Datacine, which was a way of playing 2K files and color-correcting them in real time. I totally agree that if your work still looks good 2 weeks later, then all is well. Having “distance” from the work is a good thing.

  • Remco Hekker

    Hi Dan,
    Hadn’t heard of this workflow yet. But I think it actually makes a lot of sense. Might be a challenge to convince the client to let me work this way. But I’ll definitely try to convince them.

  • Mark Kipling

    Hey Dan,

    I actually caught this advert on TV only a few weeks ago! I’d watched this insight maybe a couple of weeks before that, and it was a nice surprise to see something that had been broken down on here out in the wild. Good job with the Ad. It looked great.

  • Nick Everett

    Thanks for the insight Dan, when can we expect to see the final grade you mentioned posting in the video?

  • Did they let you change the colors?

  • Dan Moran

    Here is the final commercial for you to check out!

  • Dan Moran

    I’m never allowed change the colours of the clothes but on the background we tweaked it into a nicer hue

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