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Walter knows his stuff, he grades using Color on a regular basis and has produced a top selling Color instructional DVD. He managed to squeeze some demo time at NAB to take a look at Baselight and the FCP plugin.


Wednesday at the NAB Show I had the opportunity for a 1 on 1 demo of the full Baselight color correction system and it’s “little cousin”, the plug-in tool for Final Cut Pro (and other hosts).

First off, Baselight is just the most intuitive color correction tool I’ve seen. I sat through the session with fellow Apple Color Forum host Joseph Owens and as the artist was walking through the various features and functions of the tool, it all made sense. It’s a very efficient and infinitely adjustable tool for working both in video and film. The $80,000 price tag is definitely what puts it out of range of most Final Cut Pro users.

Enter the Baselight plug-in Well actually plug-in is not the right description quite honestly since it’s really a fully featured mini-app that operates independently of FCP. Here’s how FilmLight describes it in their press release:

Baselight for Final Cut Pro is not merely a port that uses the Final Cut Pro interface. Rather, it provides editors with access to Baselight functionality directly within the application. Editors can grade projects and then either render within the host application, or export the grade as an XML list—with all metadata preserved—to a full Baselight system for final adjustments and rendering. Similarly, grades prepared in a Baselight suite can be exported seamlessly to Final Cut Pro for conform and final editing.

After first seeing the full Baselight system run, I can tell you that the plug-in had many of the same features as the big brother. Baselight operates in what are called layers. Each layer is an adjustment. So Layer 1 might be your primary adjustment, Layer 2 a secondary, Layer 3 a mask, Layer 4 another secondary, Layer 5 an effect and so on. So each shot is comprised of a series of layers to make your color correction. This is precisely how it operates in the plug-in. You will have infinite Layers per shot. So you can essentially do a Baselight color grade session inside of Final Cut Pro.

No, the plug-in does not have EVERY feature of the big brother, for $79,000 cheaper it can’t. But it does have a lot. And did you catch that part at the end of the press release? If you do color grading with the plug-in, you can then send that information to a colorist on a full featured Baselight system. OR, a colorist on a full featured Baselight system can send the grades TO YOU on your Final Cut Pro edit system. You will be able to open and render with any grade created on a full Baselight. Regardless of the features the colorist used, it WILL show up in your Baselight plug-in. If it’s a feature not included in the plug-in you will not be able to modify it, but it will show up and you will be able to render with it.

So the plug-in allows you to bring a ridiculously powerful color correction system directly inside of Final Cut Pro. Or you can do an XML round trip between FCP and Baselight just like you do today with Color and Davinci Resolve.

The plug-in will be available in the fall of 2011 and pricing is expected to be below $1,000. But let me tell you, if it was in my budget to pick up the big brother today, I wouldn’t even think twice. It’s just crazy good.

This article first appeared on Walter's blog and is reproduced with his kind permisssion.

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