My Workstation

Computer

Customised computer assembled by Inet according to my specifications

computerBrand: Inet.

Origin: Sweden.

Type: PC, ATX Tower.

Features: The ASUS X99-A / USB 3.1 motherboard connected through a 2011-3 socket to the Intel Core i7 5820K CPU, optimised for the X99 and DDR4 memory modules, featuring six cores, a base speed frequencey of 3.3 GHz (with a maximum Turbo frequencey of 3,6GHz), and a SmartCache of 15 MB. This powerful processor needs much cooling, which is provided by the Noctua NH-U12S fan, protruding (120 mm) to the limits of the left side of the chassis; made of aluminium and copper it handles 93.4 m³/h of air with a maximum 1,500 rpm and 22.4 dB. The X99-A sports eight DIMM sockets for DDR4 memory modules, for a maximum internal RAM memory of 64GB, of which two sockets each have been reserved for a Corsair 8GB DDR4 CL13 Vengeance LPX memory module with a speed frequency of 2133MHz, amounting to a total of 16GB. Onto one of the motherboard PCIe 3.0 / 2.0 x16 slots is attached the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 3GB Dual OC GPU which bosts a frequency of 1594 MHz (1809 MHz Boost Clock), being configurated to a 3GB GDDR5 memory module with a speed frequency of 8008 MHz, sealed in a white cover with two fans. Auxiliary memory is handled by two units, one SSD for the operating system (Windows) and all of the installed programs, and one HDD for file storage of projects, both being situated at the hard disk bay at the front of the ATX chassis. The SSD is a Samsung 750-Series EVO, with a 500GB storage capacity and a maximum sequential read speed of 540 MB/sec, and maximum sequential write speed of 520 MB/sec. The HDD is a Seagate Desktop, with a 2TB storage capacity and a cache of 64MB, and a rotational speed of 7200rpm. All components of the computer are powered by the EVGA SuperNOVA G2 power supply unit, with an output power of 750W and 63A. Everything is enclosed inside the Antec GX500 chassis (with the size of 205 × 476 × 458 mm). The upper part of the front bezel has two controls (High / off / Low) which seem to regulate the fanning system, which sports a total of three cooling fans (not counting the additional fans for the CPU and GPU) with additonal three fan mounts. There is a large button to turn the computer on, down to the right side of the top bezel and another fake button opposite it. The front or main bezel hosts several 2.5″, 3.5″ and 5.25″ bays, of which one 5.25″ bay is reserved for a Blu-ray / DVD / CD burner and one 3.5″ hosts a memory card reader.

front-and-back-of-the-antecReader/writer: Attached to the Antec GX500 5.25″ bay is a ASUS internal BW-16D1HT BD / DVD / CD reader & writer with the capacity of writing (BD-R/-R(DL) / -R(TL/QL) / -R(LTH) / -RE / -RE(DL) / -RE(TL), DVD±R / ±R(DL) / ±RW / -RAM and CD-R / -RW) with a maximum speed of 16x, sporting a reading speed of 48x; it also supports the M-disc (for long and safe storage) and BDXL (for large storage) formats. One of the Antec chassis 3.5″ bays host a Icy Box IB-865 Multi Card Reader USB 3.0 sporting six slots that are able to read over 60 different types of memory cards, such as M2, Extreme Digital, CFI / CFII / MD, SD / SDHC / SDXC / MMC / RS MMC, MicroSD, MS / MSPro / MS Duo / MS Pro Duo, and USB 3.0.

Connections: On the back of the Antec GX500 chassis we find the following connections to the motherboard: Four black USB 2.0, four blue USB 3.0, two turquoise USB 3.1 ports, one old-school puple and green PS/2 keyboard / mouse combo port, one LAN (RJ45) port, one optical S/PDIF (Toslink) for audio out, and five Audio 3.5 mm mini-jacks, as well as a USB BIOS Flashback Button which connects to one of the USB 3.0 ports (outlined in green). The five audio mini-jacks consist of the following: Rear speakers (black), center speaker and subwoofer (orange), mic in (pink), line out and front speakers (lime), and line in and side speakers (blue) for up to a 7.1 channel configuration, wired to a mainstream Crystal Sound 2.0 chip delivering up to 8 channels of high definition digital audio with a Realtek ALC 1150 codec that supports DTS Ultra PC II and DTS Connect, as well as audio shielding and audio amplification for headphones and PC speaker systems. The graphics card and GPU delivers high definition video through the following connections: 2 x DisplayPort 1.4, 2 x HDMI 2.0b, and 1 x DVI-D, with the possibility of controlling up to four monitors. On the chassis front bezel there is a row of two USB 3.0 connections flanking a pair of audio 3.5 mm mini-jack connections; microphone in and headset out.

Cables: One LAN cable connected to a router. One USB connected to the keyboard and one other to the mouse. One HDMI cable connected to the Panasonic TX-L32C5E television monitor. One DVI-D cable from Deltaco connected to the Philips 190B monitor.

computer-accessoriesAccessories: A standard set of keyboard and mouse from Hewlett-Packard, being recycled from previous computer constellations. A 230 x 190 mm no-name recycled mousepad with a surface and nature rubber bottom made of 40% recycled materials. Inet gathered all of the spare parts from the different components, such as various cables, screws, rails, etc., into the bag that originally covered the EVGA power supply. A plastic cover also contained all of the manuals that belong to the different brands contained within the chassis, the ASUS mother board and graphics card, the EVGA power supply, the Samsung SSD, the Icy Box IB-865, the Noctua cooler, and Intel processor. There are also three DVD-ROM discs appended to the manuals, of which two produced by ASUS contains software for the X99 (Intel Chipset Support Rev. 671.10) and GPU Tweak II & Driver (GeForce Experience, ASUS GPU Tweak II, ASUS APRP 1.0.0.31, XSplit Gamecaster 2.5.1507.3018, Google Chrome and Goole Toolbar), both adapted to Windows 10. The GeForce Experience, which when installed into the computer, automatically detects updated versions of the GeForce Game Ready Driver (i.e. the driver for the graphics card) and then proceeds with installing it. The last DVD-ROM is labelled ICPC by Microsoft and contains the Windows 10 Recovery Media for Windows 10 Products, a handy tool which basically reinstalls Windows 10 if something goes wrong with the operating system.

Operative System: Windows 10 Pro. The OS automatically detects the latest version and installs it, keeping my workstation constantly updated.

Drives: GeForce Game Ready Driver (for the GTX 1060). The installed GeForce Experience program automatically detects the latest version of the Game Ready Driver and prompts a installation, which keeps my workstation constantly updated and optimized with the latest version of the OS.

computer-interiorsPros: The computer is a versile, powerful and fast enough editing, grading and redering workstation adapted to the minimum requirenments for the 2K workflow of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, with some added power to have a good margin. Instead of the minimum 2GB GPU memory capacity our workstation has 3GB, instead of 8GB RAM (as a bare minimum) it has 16GB knowing well that it easily may be upgrade if needed, and instead of 500W power supply capacity we got 750W so that all parts of the computer would receive enough power to work optimally. Although our Intel i7 processor isn’t of the latest Skylake 6th generation, it is still a very good one belonging to the Haswell 4th generation family of Intel processors; it’s definitely more than adequate for a 2K workflow. The X99-A is a cost effective solution with good enough capacity for our workflow. The motherboard has room for six additional DDR4 modules and 48GB of extended internal memory, but 16GB is good enough at least for now. Our GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card is one of the stronger points of our workstation; being a mid-end solution of the high-end 10-series, the brand new 1060 3GB is a wise compromise between cost and performance; it is a high-end graphics card which does its work spendedly in a 2K RAW workflow. The ASUS BW-16D1HT BD / DVD / CD burner has the capacity of writing a wide selection of Blu-ray, DVD and CD formats, as well as M-disc and BDXL, and is quite fast. I will use it for secure and long term storage, as well as distribution. The Icy Box IB-865 Multi Card Reader likewise supports an enormous amount of memory card types, which I probably will never use in my lifetime. I had it installed primarily for reading the SDHC and SDXC flash memory cards compatible with my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, when importing contents on the SDXC cards into the HDD and SDD. These two units are perfect and more than enough for my needs, and both were a requirement for my specifications when ordering the computer. I have put a priority on the SSD flash drive in my computer system as its high speed capacity makes it the single most important disc drive in any production workstation. Windows 10 Pro follows Blackmagic Design specifications.

Cons: The total cost of 17.860 SEK ($2.070) is quite expensive, buth worth every penny. Blackmagic Design specifies the ASUS X99 Deluxe for DaVinci Resolve (for a 4K configuration) and our workstation is based on the cheaper the X99-A. However, the biggest difference are the expansion slots (which the Deluxe edition provides in abundance) but otherwise these two versions of the same motherboard share an equal capacity which is well enough for handling the Cinema DNG RAW 1080p files from the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. I am perfectly satisfied with our computer workstation which doesn’t seem to strain the least even from working in RAW; it seems to be a perfect match for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. So actually, there are not cons!

Monitors

Panasonic TX-L32C5E

davinci-resolveBrand: Panasonic.

Origin: Japan.

Type: 32″ 16:9 HDTV LCD.

Features: Screen size (diagonal) is 32″. Aspect ratio is 16:9.  Native resolution is 1366 × 768  at 60 Hz. Several different standard connections; the one utilized in our workstaton is the HDMI-connection.

Pros: We have chosen our old Panasonic TX-L32C5E LCD TV set as the primary display. Quite good apparent colour handling and overall picture quality. Large image which makes editing and colour grading easiser. Cheap.

Cons: Not full HD, only 1366 × 768 resolution. Probably not well calibrated to Rec. 709 either.

Philips 190B

philips-190bBrand: Philips.

Origin: Netherlands.

Type: 19″ 5:4 Computer LCD.

Features: Screen size (diagonal) is 19″. Aspect ratio is 5:4.  Native resolution is 1280 × 1024. VGA and DVI-D Dual Link connections; the one utilized for our workstation is the DVI-D.

Pros: We have chosen our old Philips 190B LCD computer monitor as the secondary display. It presents a warm and rich colour space and high contrast. We received it as a gift for free.

Cons: Brightness is set to 100% and the image is still to dark. Colours are a bit to vivid. It’s obviously hard to calibrate the screen correctly. It feels a bit unnatural as compared to our primary display, the Panasonic, and after a basic Windows calibration still exhibits a slightly reddish tint.

Speakers

Creative Inspire T10

creative-inspire-t10Brand: Creative.

Origin: Singapore.

Type: Active 2.0 two way loadspeakers system with a bass reflex port.

Features: A 2.0 or stereo speaker system with an integral 2-Driver design. Each speaker is specified for 5W RMS per channel, with a frequency response of 80-20,000 Hz. Each speaker has two active elements, a larger 3″ for bass and mid-range, and a 1″ tweeter for the high-range or treble. A bass reflex port is situated on top of each speaker. The right speaker houses the electronics, having two knobs, one for power and volume, and one for tone control. A green LED lights when the power is on. On its side, the right speaker also has one auxillary in and one headphones out 3.5 mini-jack socket. On its back there are three sockets, a line-out for left speaker and one green line-in 3.5 mini-jack from the PC sound board, and one jack for AC power. Each speaker measures 90 × 137 × 194 mm and has a 75 mm bass/mid-range driver housed at the bottom of the speaker box, which is magnetically shielded.

Pros: The T10s have been generally well received and popular as a affordable alternative for a PC stereo system. Being a 2.0 system, the speakers themselves provide for the bass levels, as a two way speaker system with a bass reflex port for the lowest frequencies, not being dependent on a subwoofer to get a decent bass level output. Although I have placed each speaker at the ends of the large Panasonic monitor, the left one being concealed behind the smaller Philips screen (obviously not an ideal placement but ac-adapternecessary considering the cramped environment of our workplace), they sound allright together, regardless, at least in the mid-range. Listening to rock’n’roll music feels quite involving. Bass is quite good, for such a set of small speakers, but not impressive. But compared to the speakers of the Panasonic televison set, the T10s has improved the sound of our workstation manifold. It is possible to connect a set of headphones to the right speaker, which is free from any distortions (in contrast to the headphone connections on the front of our computer); we no longer have to connect the headphones to the back of the PC tower (where the speakers system now is jacked in). The plastic power AC adapter is fitted with small cooling fins, which is great considering that such a device often can become quite hot. The speakers themselves are all made of plastic but the build quality seems allright. The finish is quite pleasant and black, with the exception of the elements which are in silver grey. Both speakers are in mint condition with no visible scratches at all; it seems that they are of late manufacture. All in all, a quite substantial upgrade of our workstation, audiowise, especially when one considers the low second-hand price, which basically is a steal.

Cons: No availability to connect a subwoofer to the system (that would properly be designated as 2.1). As to the sound quality, treble or high tones sounds o.k. but lacks some in detail. I have the tone control somewhat set beyond the middle position (which clicks in), towards a higher treble (approximately halfway between the middle postion and full right), to open up the high tones more. Also, when turning the volume knob, one hears a distinct distortion, as it had a loose connection, and sometimes the left channel dies away while turning the knob on low volumes, sometimes not.

Software

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Lite

davinci-resolve-logoBrand: Blackmagic Design.

Origin: Australia, USA.

Type: Non-linear video editing and grading software for Windows 10.

Current version: 12.5.4.019.

General Features: This is the free version of Blackmagic Design’s hightly acclaimed DaVinci Resolve 12.5 software. The freeware version is called “Lite” and the purchase version ($995) “studio”; the difference mainly lies in the ability to hook up workstations across continents, a 4K UHD limit, no stereoscopic film, no noise reduction, and a limit of using only one GPU. Other than this, both version may be set on either single or dual monitor mode. Both versions of DaVinci Resolve 12.5 allows full unlimited editing and grading of SD, HD and Ultra HD format, DPX, CIN, EXR, QuickTime, ProRes, DNxHD and MXF video files all in real time, as well as import TIFF, JPEG, MOV, TGA , BMP and more. It can render and deliver a wide range of formats including H.264 for web streaming, self contained or single track MXF files and even DCI compliant JPEG 2000 files for theatrical distribution. DaVinci Resolve in Windows edits and grades directly from the wide dynamic range camera originals and is compatible with all Blackmagic Design cameras, supports CinemaDNG RAW and CinemaDNG RAW compressed as well as ARRIRAW Alexa and Amira, RED Camera R3D files including +5K, monochrome and HDRx, Cineform, SR-HQ, Phantom Raw, Nikon, Canon C300, C500, 1D, 5D, 7D and the RAW cameras from Panasonic, Sony F65/F55/F5 RAW and many more. All image processing within DaVinci Resolve is GPU based at the deepest 32 bit floating point quality and with YRGB color space. It has its own color management system as well as the ACES 1.0 linear color space standard. It can grade and finish projects that were started in Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer, Premiere Pro CC, etc., and supports ASC color decision lists including full slope, offset, power and saturation metadata. It also supports 3rd party OpenFX plug-ins on both the editing timeline and within color nodes. Both versions or DaVinci Resolve 12.5 share the same interface with separate Media, Edit, Color and Deliver pages, using more or less the same features, which are the following (information has been extracted from the Blackmagic web page). 

resolve-mediaMedia Features: Media management with the ability to add clips to a Media Pool, view and playback files, sync sound and trim longer shots into shorter manageable clips. A clone tool is offered that copies media drives, memory cards and camera packs to multiple simultaneous destinations while on set, with all copies being checksum verified. A wide support for metadata, such as importing and exporting metadata from CSV, storing metadata from cameras and digital slates, adding metadata templates, creating custom views, and loging data in real time. All metadata can be exported to an ALE file that is compatible with Media Composer and other systems in a project workflow. Media can be organized into bins that can organize footage (such as source footage and VFX shots) and has advanced search, sort and sift tools. VFX shots can be updated daily on the timeline using bins to automatically relink and update to the latest version of the shots. DaVinci Resolve also has a Power Bin feature in the Media Pool allowing sharing of content between multiple projects that has commonly used items such as graphics, stock footage and sound effect or music libraries. Manual or automatic sync of footage with separate sync sound before screening and editing, even on set, is offered by placing the audio files in the same bin with the footage, selecting it all and using the sync command. There are also tools to update timecode, change pixel aspect ratio, etc.

resolve-editEdit Features:  Completely scalable, resolution independent context sensitive editing tools using the cursor, with the ability to ripple, roll, slip, slide, extend or shorten edits without changing tools and with multiple shots on the same track simultaneously either in the same direction or asymmetrically. Includes customizable keyboard shortcuts and full multi track support. Toolbar buttons to mark edit points, insert tracks, delete clips, etc., as well as the ability to drop clips directly into the timeline or drag clips to the edit pop up in the program viewer to quickly perform insert, overwrite, replace, fit to fill, superimpose, new ripple overwrite and append at end edits. The ability to swap and shuffle edits, extend heads or tails, or use combined edit and trim commands. Multi-camera editing, and multi track timeline with the ability to layer titles, motion graphics and blue screen or green screen shots over background video tracks, as well as adding notes in the timeline using color coded flags and markers. Clip colors can be customized, timelines can be nested, edited together and expanded or collapsed in place. Mixed format timeline matches different formats and resolution media all at the same time with real time sizing and playback. Real time transitions including cross and additive dissolves, wipes, dip to color, and more. Transitions can be aligned on the center of the edit, or at the start or end of the edit. The transition duration may be adjusted dynamically setting ease in and out according to needs. Transitions from FCP X and other editing software via imported XML and AAF’s and OpenFX plug-ins may be used as well.

bin-audio-metadata-dissolvesDaVinci Resolve has the ability to reframe and resize shots directly in the edit page using optical quality sub pixel image processing in real time, as well as an Optical Flow image processing engine that uses advanced algorithms to create in between frames in real time when frames have been accidentally dropped. Title tools for creating lower thirds, scrolling text and title cards with drop shadows, backgrounds, borders, etc., typing the text right on screen, set text position, tracking and line spacing, or adjusting the stroke color and opacity, as well as creating composite modes, title transforms, cropping tools and the ability to import titles from other NLE’s or installing 3rd party plug-in transitions. A keyframe editor is integrated into the timeline showing positions directly under each clip with the ability to select, copy, paste and move multiple keyframes at a time, along with a pop up menu for selecting parameter curves. The ability to use motion path controls in the Timeline Viewer to animate the position, rotation or scale of titles, graphics and video layers, dragging on any keyframe to reposition it on screen. An audio engine giving the ability to mix Mono, Stereo, 5.1 or more, with full level control and fade handles for each clip directly in the timeline in smooth forward and reverse playback with tape-style slow motion scrubbing, a built in mixer that can record level adjustments to automate the mix and support for 3rd party VST or Audio Unit Plugins. The ability to see the audio waveform and video clip at the same time. Retiming and speed ramping with separate curves for both speed keyframe position and playback speed, allowing any frame to be moved to any point in time, while also allowing variable speed changes between any range of frames. The ability to round trip between DaVinci Resolve and popular editing software like Final Cut Pro X, Media Composer, Premiere Pro CC, etc.

resolve-colorColor Features: DaVinci Resolve uses node based processing where each node can have color correction, power windows and effects, joined sequentially or in parallel. The node editor quickly navigates between nodes, swap nodes, select multiple nodes with a lasso, copy node contents, extract nodes, use embedded alpha channels in mattes, etc., dragging the grade in as a single compound node, or as a fully expanded node tree. The camera RAW palette provides high quality de-bayer with highlight recovery, white balance, color space and gamma controls, along with adjustments for fine tuning exposure, color temperature, tint, sharpness and more, to virtually take unlimited creative control over the dynamic range of RAW images. The primary color corrector sets lift, gamma and gain with DaVinci’s unique YRGB color space and ACES 1.0 digital cinema standard. Primary controls include temperature, tint, shadows, mid tones and highlight log controls with offset. DaVinci Resolve offers precision secondary color correctors with precise HSL, RGB color and LUM qualification targeting specific areas of the image. With the 3D keyer one instantly pulls a clean key and isolate areas in a shot by a simply drag over an area. For the most complex grades, the enhanced Matte Finesse controls ensure everything blends seamlessly. Color Match automatically provides a primary balanced base grade by analyzing shots containing standard color charts, setting the source gamma, target gamma and target color space for the chart used in the shot by a simple use a chip grid to identify the color chip chart, even if shot on different cameras, under different lighting conditions and with different color temperatures. Automatic shot matching analyzes the image and color data from a select similar clip, like a shot from a different angle of the same scene, to give balanced images that match across each of the shots.

camera-rawPower Windows isolates specific areas in the image and can be created in an unlimited number using circular, linear, gradient and PowerCurve shapes and then combine them using matte and mask controls. Power Windows can automatically follow objects in the image using Resolve’s built in multi point and single point tracker. DaVinci Resolve’s 3D tracker automatically locks Power Windows to on screen objects with highly accurate perspective matching. The tracker is also used with image stabilization and clean up of shots. DaVinci Resolve includes optical quality sub pixel processing for reframing, zooming or even rotating of a shot, with retained quality. DaVinci Resolve supports RGB mixer grading to control individual red, green and blue gain for each color channel, blend and mix channels, or swapping inputs for extreme effects or make sections of the image monochrome. Custom Curves defines a specific curve using Bezier handles for corrections, supporting YSFX luminance and saturation effects, and the high and low soft clip processing with high and low creates a magical soft look, both ganged for all channels or set per channel. Curve grading adjust hue, saturation or luminance on a curve graph, picking colors from the image and even use bezier handles for precise curve control. ResolveFX plug-ins feature gaussian blurs, sharpen and mist features, as well as native GPU and CPU accelerated effects that include things such as color and gamma space transformations, along with effects such as, light rays, emboss, dent, vortex, mirrors, gaussian and other blurs, glows, ripples, etc.

resolve-deliverDelivery Features: DaVinci Resolve 12.5 offers selectable output presets that configure video, audio and file output settings for exporting files to services such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc., as well as creating presets with settings organized under logical video, audio, and file tabs. In a similar manner there are presets for Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer or Premiere Pro CC, debayering camera RAW images, and export ProRes or DNxHD files to editorial. Once a sequence is created, the editor can send an XML or AAF file back to DaVinci Resolve, every time the cut changes, which tracks the relationship between the editorial files and the camera original RAW masters and instantly conforms the cut back to the highest resolution files available. Likewise, EXR or DPX image sequences can be exported for visual effects work, and as the work in progress sequences come back, a folder can be created for each days VFX that can be automatically linked to the DaVinci Resolve timeline. Finished projects can be delivered as master output files as they appear on the DaVinci Resolve timeline, or individual high quality graded source clips can be outputted sequentially by reel name and source timecode, using the original RAW footage. Native first generation quality camera RAW files can be rendered into Digital Cinema Package, following the entering into DaVinci Resolve of the required licenses of EasyDCP, which opens an extended set of DCP authoring features to generate a formal DCP for theatrical distribution. Or, if creating files for the web is preferred over the silver screen, a huge range of compressed Quicktime formats can be exported including H.264, DNxHD, DNxHR, and ProRes, directly from the delivery page, where multiple files may be created simultaneously in queues for outputting jobs from the same timeline in dozens of different sizes and resolutions for custom delivery formats, recompressed by internet streaming software for web delivery.

davinci-resolve-12-5-manualAccessories: The Installation and Operation Manual: Blackmagic Design Compact Cameras (July 2016 edition) devotes an entire chapter entitled Using DaVinci Resove, providing a quick start guide in importing, editing and trimming clips, mapping keyboard shortcuts, adding transitions, titles and audio tracks, as well as color correcting clips, using scopes and secondary color correcting (qualifying colors, adding power windows and tracking them), how to use 3rd party plug-ins, and finally how to master your project in a rendition. The DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Reference Manual (October 2016 edition) covers all of these topics, and many more, in great detail on 1333 pages. Both of these manuals are downloaded from the Blackmagic Design webpage.

Installed OpenFX plug-ins: Neat Video v4 Demo Noise Reduction.

trimmingPros: Excellent for grading and good enough for editing.  After some initial software nuisances with having the latest Windows Pro 10 version installed and working properly, and the GeForce Game Ready Driver installed to the current version, everything has run smoothly and as expected ever since I downloaded DaVinci Resolve 12.5.2 and installed it into my 500GB Samsung 750-Series EVO SSD. DaVinci Resolve works spendedly with our ASUS X99-A based workstation, wired to the Intel Core i7 5820K CPU and the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. The program loads really fast and the project as well, even though it takes more time to start the project after all of the editing, mixing and grading has been done. Athough I have almost exlusively used a CinemaDNG RAW workflow, DaVinci Resolve has worked flawlessly together with our computer workstation. Everything runs fast and smooth. DaVinci Resolve is quite stable as well; however, it crashes now and then when pushing the program, such as using the tracking window (which has taught me to save the project regularly). There is normally no lagging, even if I work in full RAW resolution in the Edit page, although applying the optical flow retime feature for simulation of slow motion effects, may induce lagging. I noticed though that resolution is much lowered while working in the Color page although the colour space bit depth seems to be retained. What I really enjoy is the integration between edit and grading features; that the workflow is maintained within the same program from importing of clips to the exporting of the rendered file; it’s so easy to change between the Media, Edit, Color and Deliver pages by simply clicking on their corresponding tabs. I also much enjoy the metadata feature in DaVinci Resolve which contains much and vital information concerning each clip of the project, which is easily adjusted by changing data with the mouse and keyboard. A good thing is that the DaVinci Resolve workspace may be set on a dual monitor mode using two separate and integrated screens (wich is the default in our workstation). Although the full DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Reference Manual contains 1300+ pages of dense information, the program itself is quite user friendly. Also, the Blackmagic Design Compact Cameras manual gives a good basic introduction to editing and color grading in DaVinci Resolve. The Edit page and its trimming features are intuitive, after some initial and valuable pointers in the Blackmagic Design Compact Cameras manual; Using the quick start instructions of this latter manual (and some few pointers in the full DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Reference Manual) and watching a few tutorials, I have managed to finish an entire project from creating a timeline, editing, grading, image manipulation and rendering. I am extremely satisfied with the current workflow, despite some minor quirks in the program (see below).

color-wheelsThe composit function becomes accessible when highlighting any clip and gives you the ability to place multiple clips as superimpositions over other clips on the timeline with some simple clicks in the Inspector, including sizing and orientation. Audio functions and working with sound tracks are another strong point in DaVinci Resolve. The ability to individually adjust the volume setting of each clip by highligting its audio track on the timeline, is indeed a very good feature. Now, the colour correction and grading freatures of DaVinci Resolve 12.5 is the true price of this Blackmagic software. Based on what I have understood from the Blackmagic manuals and various tutorials on the Net, as well as certain pointers on various fora, my current working formula is something like this: I do a basic colour correction in Camera Raw, raising Saturation (up to 100) and Color Boost (approx. 20) to get more vibrant colors, as well as doing a basic adjustment of Gain and Gamma, streching out the RAW Log profile. Following this, I tweek everyting using colour wheels and applying serial nodes, usually one for the original RAW Log format, a second one for the graded result, and a third one for the reference LUT (such as the BMCC Film to Rec. 709 v2) making comparisons with the final result on the Grade node. I have found the Blackmagic Cinema Camera Film to Rec. 709 v2 LUT creating to much unnaturally pushed colours (with a greenish tint) and exaggerated contrast for my taste (often with blown-out highlights); it is after all adapted for broadcast television and not cinema. I might raise Saturation until I reach my desired colour look, leaving Hue at 50. Then I make a basic colour correction using the Offset colour wheel (dragging around with the mouse). Using the RGB Parade scopes I correct the colours further by lowering the blacks (to create more contrast), raising midtones and highlights, using the dials attached to the colour wheels, and make final adjustments using the Lift (blacks), Gamma (midtones) and Gain (highlights) wheels. Clicking on the middle button onto a finished clip, while highlighting a clip that you want to colour correct, copies the grading, which simplifies grading between shots of the same scene. However, I found out the hard way that any other manipulation to the image, such as stabilisation, dissapears as well (or rather, all of the settings for the original clip that is copied is transferred to the new clip). Thus, it is wise to use the Stabilization freature after finishing colour correction. Before rendering a project, all nodes are disabled with the exception of the desired grading. The actual rendition is quite fast in a 1080p or 2K workflow, approximately 75% of the running time of the edited project, whereas it takes approximately 110% in a 4K workflow. (All the horror stories that renditions takes hours to complete doesn’t apply to our workstation, at least not until we render an entire full lenght feature.)

stabilizationCons: It isn’t possible to copy and paste any metadata information between different clips (although I’m fairly shure that I actually have done that on one occasion; a feature that has been lost in the process, it seems). Certain information concering window tracking and stabilization of footage isn’t automatically updated when clicking on a clip, showing its unique settings. Instead the last inserted settings are retained regardless of the initial inserts of each clip; clicking on stabilize again would enter the latest inserted settings which would ruin the original intention. This forces me to write such information as metadata, which is somewhat ankward considering that it isn’t possible to copy and paste it. Also, the stabilization feature is rather weak in DaVinci Resolve when stabilising shaky handheld footage; it smoothes it out but don’t remove it entirely. Initially, I found it difficult to understand which settings to use in Strong and Smooth in image stabilisation. Although I have studied the parts in the DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Reference Manual which deals with Strong and Smooth, and have understood that Strong controls camera movements and Smooth smoothness to the camera movement, such as wiggling or some sort of thing, it was difficult to grasp the actual difference between Strong and Smooth, what the difference is between camera movement and camera wiggling. Shaky image varies tremendously so the manual doesn’t help much unfortunately. On the Blackmagic Forum, the frequent advice was to experiment and find out for myself; not much of a help either. Adjusting Strong and Smooth zooms in the picture (if you checkmark Zoom, which is required) and the zooming is quite heavy sometimes, and cropping a image makes shaky image appear enhanced in it shakiness, obviously. So, according to my experience, setting the levels to high can sometimes have the reversed effect. I sometimes have lessen the settings to reduce the apparent shakiness to the image, until I have found a optimal level between where stabilization works fine and the picture hasn’t been to cropped to prevent apparent shakiness. Luckily enough, I eventually did find a working formula of the setting of Strong and Smooth to effectively eradicade micro-shakes to the camera: Initially I set Strong to 90 and Smooth to 10. When the resulting image gives a exaggerated “rubbery” or “wavy” characteristic, I lower Strong to 80 or 70 until the image stabilises and looks more natural, but don’t change Smooth, with a few exceptions. However, this doesn’t work if the micro-shakes are to strong or if the movements of the image otherwise are to heavy. If so, I start off with a Strong and Smooth of 10 each, and raising them with increments of 10, sometimes (and oftentimes) mostly Strong and sometimes mostly Smooth.

Viewers

Kupava-16

kupava-16Brand: Kupava, Lytcarino Optical Glass Factory.

Origin: Russia (SSSR).

Type: 16mm film strip table top viewer.

Features: Amateur back projection optical system 16 mm film editor with 9 x 12 cm  screen, 12.5x magnification. Focusing is done with a knob. Used to view developed film for editing. Accepts 120 m spools as maximum limit. Manually operated with cranks. Spool arms foldable towards the centre of the viewer. Gearbox ratio 2:1. The film strip has to jerk into a sprocket with its perforations. No sound. Runs from 220V 50 Hz mains, feeding a 8V 20W lamp. The light is turned on when lowering a plate over the filmstrip. All metal, sized 205 x 170 x 240 mm, weighting 3.25 kg. 

kupava-16Pros: The image of the Kupava is bright and large. Solid built quality. Very heavy and rugged body, which creates steady and easy operation, with no risk of accidently moving the viewer. Still working well and easy to use. Also, easy to fix yourself if it brakes, because of its simple design; I just recently had to open the interiors of the Kupava-16 to glue back its large mirror which thankfully hadn’t cracked.

Cons: The Kupava creates lots of flickering in the image.  Very heavy, which may be a issue in transportation (hardly an issue).

Sanmer Model PE-444 DX

sanmerBrand: Sanmer, Sansei Koki Company (GOKO).

Origin: Japan.

Type: Super 8 film strip table top viewer.

Features: Amateur back projection optical system 8 mm film editor with 7 x 10 cm  screen. Focusing is done with a knob. Used to view developed Super 8 film for editing. Manually operated with cranks. Spool arms foldable towards the back of the viewer.  The film strip has to jerk into a sprocket with its perforations. No sound. Runs from 220V 50/60 Hz mains, feeding a 6V 10W lamp. The light is powered using a switch. Metal frame and front, with plastic back and cranks, sized 220 x 150 x 235 mm (folded), weighting ~2 kg.

Accessories: A 150 ft / 45 m plastic spool for take-up.

Pros: The Sanmer projects a smooth image with minimal flickering. Easy to use. Simple design. Still working well!

Cons: Somewhat dark image. Also, while the Sanmer has a metal frame much of its body is made from plastic and hasn’t a solid built quality feeling.

Splicer

LPL 702 Three Way Splicer

splicerBrand: Luxe Photo Laboratory (L.P.L).

Origin: Japan.

Type: Regular 8, Super 8 and 16 mm cement splicer.

Features: A film splicer marketed in 1965, all in metal, that cuts and splices filmstrips of regular 8 mm, 16 mm and Super 8 formats. It is divided in two parts, one to the left and one to the right, that can be swinged on hinges independently, and has a top and bottom pair of plates; the bottom pair of plates fits the perforations of the film strip, for alignment, while the top pair cuts and holds the ends of the strip firmly in place while splicing. It also includes a hinged scraper, integrated with the splicer, to file the strip ends clean from emulsion prior to applying cement.

Accessories: Instructions card attached to the splicer’s bottom for easy referencing.

Pros: Easy to handle. In recently reviewing my exposed and developed Super 8 and 16 mm filmstock with the viewers, the 16 mm roll loosened in its spliced joints so I had to recut and splice them, using my 10 year old Kodak Proffessional Film Cement with success. Sturdy and heavy construction. Good and robust build quality.

Cons: None. It does it job, and it does it well.

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