Friday, 30 April, 2010

The new Blackmagic Resolve

At NAB this year, the main entrance had a large Blackmagic hoarding (called billboard in some countries). In earlier years this was the space used for Apple's hoardings. And as one walked into the South Hall, one couldn't help notice that Blackmagic had what appeared to be the largest booth in the hall.

And they had announcements to match.
Resolve on a Mac for US$ 995
Revival for $ 1495
Resolve on Linux for $ 20,000
The DaVinci control surface for $ 30,000

And other new products, some for USB3. None of those work on a Mac as yet.

But the most interesting new item was undoubtedly Resolve for Mac for $ 995. Make no mistake, this is going to make a difference to colour grading as we know it. In the days that followed, forums were abuzz with discussions. At the Creative Cow, the Apple Color forum saw one of the longest threads discussing this new Resolve.

To put things into perspective, this new Resolve will not be available till June 2010. It will work on a 8-core MacPro preferably the faster 2.66 or 2.93 GHz version. it will need as much RAM you can afford to put in, but I suspect at least 12 Gb will be needed.
The stock nVidia GT 120 card that ships with the MacPro will deal with the primary display. And you need a nVidia GTX 285 card for the actual colour grading processing. This additional display card runs $ 449 at the Apple Store. And you cannot connect a display to it. It is used only for processing. So it effectively replaces the 'Transformer' cards in the old Resolve Linux.

So even if the software costs $ 995, you'll need a $ 15,000 Mac and monitors to go with it before you can own a sensible grading solution. And a Tangent Wave panel that runs $ 1700.

My colorist colleague Jayadev put the Resolve on Mac through its paces. And reported, happily, that at first glance this Resolve performs just like the older Linux Resolves. Many primaries and secondaries still played real time even with 2k DPX frames. Other conform functions worked as usual too. And there was built in dust-busting to de-spot film while grading.

The BM Resolve on Mac needs a Blackmagic HD Extreme card for video output. So if you already have a Kona, you're out of luck unless BM supports it with drivers. For a grading panel, this Resolve works happily with a Tangent Wave. If you need more control, you can look at Blackmagic Impressario panel for $ 30,000. Of course, if you buy that panel you'll get the Resolve software free with it.

The new Linux version is also available for $ 20,000. Coupled with the panel you can get a new Linux Resolve for about $ 60,000 (with system and monitors).

And there's more. With the HDLink Pro, there's support for an external Display at 10-bit 4:4:4. And 3D stereoscopic as well. But how well these features work will be evident only after the software becomes available in June 2010.
Conclusion. Colour grading for small and indie films has become even more affordable. Some argue that this new Resolve won't threaten the big-ticket 'pro' systems like Quantel iQ or Baselight. Yes it probably won't. But it I don't think BM is after that. I think this new Resolve will sell in large numbers. Big productions may or may not use it in a big way, but the small to medium post houses will.

With the cost of systems going down, a lot of trashy colour grading will happen. But in the long run, this will make people realize the need for a professional colorist. And eventually hire one.

The value of a good colorist will not reduce as systems get cheaper just as the value of a good editor has not diminished even with editing systems getting cheaper over the past decade.

1 comment:

  1. good to hear that, well i've a DI facility in Chennai, have you worked with resolve earlier? a year back i got a quote for Resolve r-100 starting at $250k and i feel it must be a decent grading software. how is it when compared to Baselight and Lustre?



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