How to Get Faster at Color Correction

How to Get Faster at Color Correction by Increasing Your Daily Shot Count

April 15, 2015

Do you want to color grade more shots in a single working day? Part 3 gives you solid tips for increasing your daily shot count.


Part 3: Solid Workflow Tips for Increasing Your Daily Shot Count

Imagine you have the opportunity to color correct a big job—and the deadline is really really tight. You’ve taken my advice and you know your Personal Shot Count. But the math doesn’t work. You literally can’t get the job done in the time allotted… at least not to the level of detail you put into your work.

Are there strategies for getting faster at color correction and increase your Personal Shot Count?

The answer is: Almost definitely. In this video Insight, I wrap up this presentation from NAB 2012 by showing solid strategies that will help you work more quickly, including:

• Moving off your mouse and onto a control surface

• Developing a color correction workflow

• Turning workflows into habits and muscle memory

• Experiment—but be ruthless with your time

Some of the strategies I talk about cost you nothing to implement… except the willingness to do so. Others will require a financial investment. But if you either want to be a full-time colorist or just have color correction as a serious specialty, the investment easily pays itself off.

I hope this series helped organize your thoughts about your color correction workflow

This presentation is one of my favorites. And for the past few years, it has languished on my hard drive. I’m psyched that it occurred to me to share it with you, here. These concepts helped me elevate my career. With diligence and intention on your part, I think they can do the same for you.

As always, comments and questions are very welcomed!

– pat

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Homepage Forums How to Get Faster at Color Correction by Increasing Your Daily Shot Count

  • rda

    The download link seems to be broken….

  • Guy Brinsdon

    The download link is broken and the embedded video stops playing half way through…

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Hi Guy – The download link is working now. Sorry about that. RE: Video stopping… Team Mixing Light is all traveling today out of NAB at Las Vegas – so we’ll check in the next 24 hours to see what’s going on.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    The link should be working now. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Guy – I’m not having the embedded video stopping problem. And Christophe in France checked it on his end and it seems to be playing through for him as well. It looks like it was a temporary problem.

  • It seems to be working now…..both downloading and stream. Awesome conclusion, perfect timing for me as I mentioned. Might put a note on my panel, “follow your structure!!” like editors used to do on film cutters (or so Im told). Huge thanks, Pat! Great to see you at NAB

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Great! And it was terrific meeting you and chatting with you (many times) at NAB.

  • Marc Wielage

    You figure 1 minute per shot, and you should be able to do 500 shots in 8 hours. But god help you if you need multiple hand-roto’d tracking windows, or mixed lighting from hell, or one shot overexposed 3 stops and the next shot underexposed by 2 stops, or a long continuous shot with many multiple windows and keyframes. With time-sensitive projects, all you can do is do triage: fix the worst stuff and then let everything else go. I know many reality shows that have to go this route, because they have an 800-shot show that has to deliver in 6 hours. And yet there are also 2-hour $200M features done in six months by rotating crews of 3 or 4 people, supervised by multiple execs. I think having preset looks and learning the muscle memory needed for fast, repeatable operations is the key. But when you’re confronted with really bad lighting or bad cameras… good luck.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Marc – We missed you at NAB.

    Given the lack of $200M features floating around for us to color grade, I’m not talking about those kinds of jobs 🙂

    And I can only approach the 500 shots in 8 hours throughput if I’m on the $30k DaVinci Resolve panels where I can minimize time on the mouse and navigating the UI. On the Elements it’s closer to 350 shots. The thing to keep in mind, in my experience not every shot gets windows and tracking. This means you’ll be able to do a quick tweak on a dozen shots and then spend 4 minutes on an important shot. My numbers are averaged out over time.

    Another example: Hero shots. Day 1 always goes slower than the rest of the days since we’re working on learning how our client sees. Once I’ve nailed the direction of the show, that’s when we can really start to fly and make up for lost time very very quickly.

  • Willian Aleman

    Thanks a lot fro this series.
    Reviewing it, it’s my assumption, that by the time this color grading shot time calculation was done, —around 7 years ago— Resolve didn’t have some of the advanced features we have today. For example, Append Node to Selected Clips, different type of Ripple Nodes, and Group, Node Graph, Remote Grade, Power Grade, Memory, Versions, Extract Node, etc. For sure some of them were there, but they probably were not as efficiency as they are today. In addition, having today BMD Mini Control Panel vs the Tangent Element, and tools as Stream Deck, might add another difference in speed.

    Perhaps, today in the same amount of time it’s possible to achieve more per project. Although, we still need to allocate time for confirming. Confirming today has become smoother between applications and Resolve than 7 years ago. We might fly higher and faster!

    This might be related to this subject: It’s a collection of number of average shots of movies per genre.
    How Many Shot Are in an Average Movie? From documentary to action movie.

    How many shots are in the average movie?

  • Pat Inhofer

    Everything you mentioned will improve your daily shot count. The single biggest bang-for-buck is a control surface, any control surface. Then moving up in more capable surfaces also speeds things up. After that, learning how those features you mentioned work and figuring out the ones that add the most value for you – that’s the journey.

    I like that link to Stephen Follows. But he’s looking at averages. A few years ago I graded a music-heavy documentary (about Rick Springfield). That doc had 2500 shots in it! Talk about under-bidding a job – it caught me by surprise! After that, any job that is music-driven sets off red flags that I don’t under-estimate the shot count. Make no assumptions!

  • This is probably the most informative series I have watched on my journey to be coming a proper colorist (hopefully one day).

    Time management is everything in this. I had figured that out. But nailing it like that down to the minute is a real eye opener.

    • Patrick Inhofer

      Thanks, Pétur, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this series.

      Knowing the software is merely a predicate to having a successful career. Client management and time management are the key pillars (and can mask deficiencies in understanding the software). In my experience, once you know your daily shot count and have applied the time management techniques in this series, it becomes intuitive. But you need to keep track of these facts across four or five different jobs before you have a real understanding of your current productivity level.

      Then, as you change things up (formalize your node structure, start using external hardware devices), you’ll be able to objectively quantify how much each of these single changes enhances (or detracts) from your daily shot count.

      It’s an eye-opener, for sure.

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