The following article on the basics of how to begin color grading 12-bit RAW Blackmagic Cinema Camera footage with DaVinci Resolve, is a guest post contributed by Denver Riddle of Color Grading Central

Introduction

We are living in extraordinary times! First came the surprise announcement in 2010 that DaVinci Resolve, a color grading system (once costing as much as my house) would be ported to the Mac operating system and reduced to a revolutionary sub $1K price point!

If that wasn’t enough, then came the shocking news at this year’s NAB that Blackmagic Design had entered the digital acquisition market, and would be producing the Blackmagic Digital Cinema Camera capable of capturing RAW 12-bit images with 13 stops of latitude!

With a camera capable of capturing RAW cinemaDNG files and a color grading system capable of processing and editing RAW cinemaDNG files, Blackmagic Design has created the ultimate pairing! This is also compounded by the fact that when you purchase the camera you get the full license of DaVinci Resolve and Ultrascope ALL under a $3,000 pricepoint!!! Revolutionary? Indeed!

Grading RAW cinemaDNG files

So let’s take a closer look at color grading RAW images from this camera with DaVinci Resolve. On Blackmagic’s new forum you can go and download five RAW cinemaDNG files from John Brawley’s latest project “Afterglow” with the BMC.

Once downloaded:

  1. Launch DaVinci Resolve
  2. In the Media page locate and import the cinemaDNG files into the Media Pool
  3. Then go to the Color Page

That’s it! We’re ready to begin grading RAW.

The beauty of RAW is the fact that we can access the native uncorrected data coming off the sensor. To access these RAW settings we’ll click the Camera RAW Editor button (looks like a camera) and from here we have a variety of options on how the data is decoded.

We can decode using the CinemaDNG Default, the Camera Metadata (how it looked when it was shot), by Project (global setting set in project settings) or by Clip.

When selecting “Clip” we can make changes (options greyed out it other modes) and interpret the RAW data in a variety of different ways. So let’s do that!

We can specify the White Balance using a variety of presets from daylight to tungsten or set it manually on custom.

We can specify the Color Space to work in and/or deliver to. If the project will be delivered to HD broadcast or web then we’ll pick Rec.709. If the project will be screened (projected) then we’ll choose P3 for the Digital Cinema Initiative.

And under Gamma we can pick the appropriate gamma curve, Rec709 for HD delivery, 2.6 for digital cinema projection, etc.

Over on the right we have the Clip Decoder Settings where we can make adjustments in Clip mode.

If custom has been selected under white balance we can precisely dial in the Color Temp in Kelvins.

For convenience and as a reference we can readily see the Project, Camera and Default settings in the columns on the right.

The Tint control allows us to fine tune the color temperature by giving us a green and magenta adjustment. Moving it to the left adjusts the color temperature towards green and moving it the right adjusts it towards magenta.

The Exposure control is the genesis to achieving 13 stops of latitude with this camera. Pulling down on the exposure can bring back detail that appears to be blown out or clipped in the highlights. Vice versa if we have an underexposed image we can rescue details in the shadows by pulling up on the exposure.

Once RAW editing is complete now it’s time to let imagination and creativity run wild now that we have film like image to work from.

In this example I’ve added contrast and a subtle a bleach bypass look. I’ve also used Power Windows to add focus to the face and eyes.

Wrap-up

If you’d like to learn more about DaVinci and the Blackmagic Camera you can view my tutorials on my DaVinci Resolve tutorials page. Here is also a demo of the new DaVinci Resolve:

Happy RAW grading,
Denver Riddle
Color Grading Central