Avid eases the editor into the process of color correction. The basic interface, designed for the editor who thinks holistically, features three preview screens. The selected clip is in the center, the lead-in and following clips to either side. Beginner tools include up to three, simultaneous automatic color-correction options; a Color Match feature, which pulls color samples from other clips; and a tool to manage safe color warnings. Brilliantly, Avid anticipated the wide range of distribution venues mentioned by Cine-tal's Rob Carroll, and allows the Avid editor to load the system with the specific parameters often found in the "deliverables clauses" of broadcast and Hollywood production contracts, my favorite being, "Black level must not go below 7.5 IRE at any time."
From the contract deliverables settings, Avid color correction explodes with so many possibilities that a free, 118-page online user's guide is provided (cdn.pinnaclesys.com/SupportFiles/attach/AvidCCGuide_v3_5.pdf). Tools that may be nested on-screen include a slider panel (HSL, contrast, high/low clip, invert chroma/luma, etc.); a 3-wheel chroma panel with a unique crosshairs pointer; a curves panel with four color-overlaid graphs and Bezier support; keyframe control to animate all corrections within a clip; and waveform and vector monitors with simultaneous display of YC Waveform, Vectorscope, RGB Histogram and RGB Parade. Each panel includes the color matcher, offset tabs and keyboard-nudge of numeric values. Corrections can be made within regions, masks, chromakeys, across a clip or any sequence of clips.
When editors argue about which NLE is best, Avid editors may rest assured that Avid color correction offered by Avid Media Composer is the benchmark against which all other NLEs attempt to qualify. (Editor's Note: Avid announced Media Composer v5.0 at NAB 2010; that version will be available on June 10, 2010.)
ivsEdits ($1,500, www.ivsedits.com) employs many of the same color-correction tools as originally included in the DPS/Leitch product from which it was born. While the live, multilayering capabilities of ivsEdits allow the user to stack various keyframed masks over a clip, the tools are very basic, and unless specifically masked, affect the entire frame area. The ProcAmp employs four keyframable sliders (Chroma, Y, U, V), while Brightness and Contrast offers nine (white and black clipping, gain, contrast, brightness, luma gain and RGB). A Blur tool offers five and can be used to feather the edges of a matte, while the Glow tool blurs just the whites of a scene.
The Chroma/Luma Key in ivsEdits, an improvement over its predecessor's version and an essential tool for serious color correction, offers adequate tools for building animated mattes with spill suppression and Gaussian blur on the alpha channel.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 (new acquisition, about $799, www.adobe.com) running through the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 with the Mercury Playback Engine is capable of playing several layers of color correction on even high-density footage such as the RED ONE's 4K files. If a criterion for a professional color-correction terminal is real-time, nonstaggering playback when sophisticated, multilayered effects are required, then Premiere Pro CS5 is certainly professional. The quickest tools, Color Corrector and Video Limiter, provide obvious fixes in a hurry. Users may set preview controls to display only luminance values and set up side-by-side displays for use in matching an existing scene to the corrected scene.
The Color-Time indicator in the timeline allows a specific frame to be monitored. A primary three-way color-corrector uses hue, balance and angle color wheels and a saturation control. Users can define the shadow, midtone and highlight areas of a clip with color corrections to a specific tonal range. Secondary color-correction controls employ the Eyedropper tool and other controls to indicate the specific colors to correct.