FilmLight got the attention of color-graders when it announced Base Grade, a new control set that moves Baselight's focus away from the traditional lift/gamma/gain methods of color-correction. There wasn't a lot of detail on Base Grade available in the pre-NAB announcement, but FilmLight CEO and co-founder Wolfgang Lempp took a few questions from StudioDaily about the new feature set. Read our coverage of the original news, then take in our interview, below.
Q: With references to "exposure stops" and "printer lights," it sounds like Base Grade uses concepts from photochemical color timing rather than the common terms and tools (specifically lift, gamma and gain) that evolved from video color-correction. Is that an accurate description?
A: Looking at the separate traditions of photography and video engineering, Base Grade is very much building on the foundations of traditional photography, which is also much closer to the DoP’s perspective. The telecine traditions of color grading have had their time, as they have grown out of what was technically possible in the early days of video. We can now do much more sophisticated processing, and we can combine that with our knowledge of the human visual system to put the levers of control in places where they are simply more effective.
Q: Will it create a new learning curve for colorists?
A: If the new grading tools are difficult to use, then we have obviously failed. We are not offering this just to be different, but because we believe it is a more natural and more intuitive way of improving the appearance of an image. Yes, of course there is something new to learn, but I doubt that any colorist will have difficulty adapting. Quite the opposite, I think we will be amazed at how the new grading tool will be used in practice in ways that we have never anticipated.
Q: Many projects will require both HDR and SDR finishing. How will Baselight 5.0 minimize the work required to grade those multiple deliverables?
A: That is very much the intention. Both the Base Grade and the new color management tools are designed to facilitate this. We will have to see how this parallel or sequential finishing process is going to evolve in practice. There are still a lot of uncertainties about delivery pipelines, about alternative standards, about backward compatibility, about upcoming technology. We have tried to provide as much flexibility as possible, without the colourist getting lost in this emerging process.
Above all, we want to give our customers the confidence that what they are looking at is relevant outside the grading suite. There is no point in minimizing the work if the deliverable is wrong.
Q: If colorists want to just continue for now using the same controls they are used to, can they simply ignore the new Base Grade? And is Base Grade required or simply recommended for finishing in HDR?
A: Base Grade is an additional grading tool in Baselight. The already familiar Video Grade and Film Grade are still there for any colorist who feels more productive using the tools he or she knows.
Base Grade is not required for SDR or HDR grading. After all, a lot of material has already been graded in Baselight in HDR without it. But the people who have seen it immediately recognise how it is going to get them where they need to be more quickly, and how they can achieve the same complex grade using the existing tools in a more straightforward way in a single layer. "Baselight — work the way you want to” has been the tagline for many years. We have far too much respect for the work of our customers to tell them how they should do their job.
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