Shooting in CinemaDNG can offer some challenges when trying to color grade. Even if you’re shooting with a Blackmagic Cinema Camera and using DaVinci Resolve color grading utility, the workflow was not for the faint of heart, until now. That’s because Blackmagic has updated Resolve to ver. 11.2.1, which has an improved debayering algorithm, which one filmmaker says makes grading of CinemaDNG much easier.
If you’re a DaVinci Resolve user who’s about to grade a project shot with any of the Blackmagic Design cameras and recorded using CinemaDNG raw, you should seriously consider upgrading to Resolve 11.2.1 if you haven’t already started your project (if you’ve already started, then don’t upgrade yet, as a matter of principle). – Alexis Van Hurkman, Thinking Aloud
Alexis Van Hurkman works as a colorist and filmmaker in St. Paul, Minnesota, where most of this gradng wotk is divided between broadcast programming like documentaries, and shorts for cable channels, likes The History Channel, The Learning Channel, and the BBC. So, Van Hurkman is quite familiar with color grading with CinemaDNG and on a tight deadline. He writes in his blog that the new 11.2.1 update for DaVinci Resolve offers some significant improvements to the color grading workflow, including an improved debayering technique using Rec 709.
This is a welcome improvement that, frankly, makes the raw output of all Blackmagic cameras look even better right from the get go, no matter when the material was shot.
The improvements also include new Camera Raw controls “Apply PreTone Curve,” and “Apply Soft Clip,” which work to preserve the backwards compatibility of previous debayering methods within Resolve. It has the added benefit of improving the overall look of the image once it’s been imported in. Apply SoftClip bypasses PreTone Curve, but brings some new high dynamic range to the image, boosting highlights and providing details when bright light has washed them out.
“I’ve found the new debayering settings immediately provides an image with denser shadows, more neutral color balance, and richer color,” writes Alexis of footage he shot with the new Blackmagic URSA, “(it’s) an image that’s easier to grade right off the bat when debayering straight to Rec. 709.”
Other features of the new DaVinci Update include:
- CinemaDNG tone curve improvements
- CinemaDNG soft clip option
- DNxHR encode and decode support
- Media Composer 8.3 round-trip support
- AAF import now sets the timeline resolution
- Invalidate clip cache option in Edit and Color page
- Option to select RGB pixel order for DPX version 2.0
- Flags and markers now supported in ColorTrace
- Support for Red SDK 5.3
- General performance and stability improvements
Best part is, that Resolve 11.2.1 is available from the Blackmagic Design website now as a free update for all DaVinci Resolve customers. Have you done any grading with the new update? What do you think of the new debayering features? Do they improve your image just as much? Leave a comment below.
Meanwhile, you can read more from Van Hurkman’s experience grading with DaVinci here.