It was in back in April, at NAB, that FilmLight was showing their Baselight for Avid plug-in, part of the ever-growing Baselight Editions family of products. Baselight for Avid is a color-grading tool for Avid Symphony and Avid Media Composer that, like the previously available Baselight for Final Cut Pro, put the Baselight interface right inside of Avid. It’s now ready and available for download from FilmLight’s site. If you're heading to IBC next week, you can also get a look at it in action at FilmLight's booth, 7.F31.

The interface and the way it works is overall quite similar to Baselight for Final Cut Pro. That’s part of the whole Baselight Editions strategy: a consistent interface across all platforms that also includes a version for Nuke. But the availability of this particular color-grading tool for Avid systems is very good news, as Media Composer doesn’t really have that many robust color grading plug-in options. While Media Composer has very capable color correction built in (and Symphony, of course, adds even more color tools), Baselight for Avid goes beyond what Avid offers. The Baselight layer-based grading approach includes mattes, secondaries and keying. It’s a very powerful tool and like most powerful tools, it takes some effort to learn exactly how to use it. But once you’ve got it figured out the color correction possibilities are, almost, endless. There are some things that can be done on a full Baselight that aren't possible in the NLE plug-in version, so don’t think that just because you learn to push the Baselight buttons you’ll become a full-fledged colorist. But if you are wanting or needing color tools beyond what’s already a part of Media Composer or Symphony—and you want a more traditional color grading tool than Magic Bullet Looks—then Baselight for Avid is ideal.

FilmLight has been working on the Avid plug-in for quite a while. One signature feature of the whole Baselight Editions philosophy is that grading data can/is/will be transferrable between an NLE running Baselight Editions and a full Baselight system. With that workflow in place, a facility will be able to send grading data from the NLE to a full Baselight system … not that your colorist is going to want the editor’s color grades! But that also means grading data can come back to the NLE and final color correction can be rendered in the NLE. That could come in very handy if you know there are changes coming. At this time, that capability is missing from the Avid version of Baselight, but that is a top priority for the FilmLight folks, so expect that capability added soon.

Here are the specs and bullet points from the Baselight for Avid page:

  • Implemented as a standard AVX plugin.
  • Unlimited primary and secondary grades within a single effects layer.
  • Full Baselight grading tools including Film Grade, Video Grade, Curve Grade, Hue Shift and Six Vector
  • Effects filters including Gaussian Blur, Median, Soften.
  • Built-in per-layer matte generation using HSL, RGB, Luminance and 3D keyers combined with unlimited, animatable soft-edged bezier shapes.
  • Comprehensive matte refinement tools.
  • Full keyframe animation of all Baselight parameters.
  • All grading and other data, including keyframes can be fully exchanged with other Avid and Baselight systems via AAF export/import.
  • Full support for the FilmLight BLG file format.
  • Built-in Truelight Colour Management system.
  • UI includes colour-managed viewer with layer and matte selection providing fully interactive feedback.
  • Built-in precision histogram for accurate control of levels.
  • Supports the Avid Artist Color grading control surface.
  • Part of a fully integrated end-to-end FilmLight workflow.

If you want to take a look at exactly what all Baselight for Avid can do, then check out the video at top or the tutorial page on FilmLight's site (head to the FilmLight Tutorials YouTube channel for the full series). If you want to give Baselight for Avid a test drive, grab the free 14-day trial. It’s currently for Mac only but a Windows version is in the works. The real thing is available for $995.