The Best Thunderbolt Expansion Peripherals for Editors

Expand your editing set up with Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt Connections and devices

So I’m thinking of upgrading my trusty MacBook Pro later next year, but it only comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 Thunderbolt ports and an HDMI port. So I’ve already begun looking into how to expand it’s usefulness through all these nifty Thunderbolt peripherals you can get these days. Here is an epic run down on some of the best available Thunderbolt devices.

Expand your laptop edit suite with thunderbolt peripherals

What’s the difference between Thunderbolt 1 and 2?

Thunderbolt 2 speeds

Thunderbolt 2 delivers twice the throughput of Thunderbolt 1, providing up to 20Gb/s of bandwidth to each external device and allowing you to daisy-chain up to six peripherals on each port, so, if you wanted to, you could plug in up to 12 external devices via Thunderbolt alone. (If those devices also allow for daisy chaining, with additional Thunderbolt ports on them.) The new Mac Pro will feature Thunderbolt 2.

Inside Thunderbolt 2 cable speeds

If you are after them, The Register has some good technical details on Thunderbolt 2, where they also note that the upcoming USB 3.1 should expand its capability from 5Gbps to 10Gbps. Everything is getting faster. Free Shipping!

Jigsaw24.comI often buy things from Amazon as it tends to be the cheapest, but my next go-to site for editing gear is usually Jigsaw24 as I have a long standing relationship with Tim Bridger, one of the excellent sales chaps there, when I need a speedy delivery, some detailed questions answered or just greater levels of service.

I was emailing Tim about some of these devices and he was kind enough to offer a special deal to readers of this blog! If you’re looking to purchase any of these Thunderbolt peripherals in the UK get in touch with Tim Bridger ( 916 5536) mention my name and you could get free next day shipping!

Thunderbolt Expansion Hubs

Thunderbolt 2 expansion peripherals

If you want to be able to plug in more USB 3 or 2 devices, HDMI connected screens, Gigabit ethernet and daisy chain in a few more Thunderbolt peripherals then a Thunderbolt Station like this one from Caldigit might be the right thing for you.

For $199/£179 you get 2 Thunderbolt ports (allowing you to connect and daisy chain) three more USB 3 ports, an HDMI port, Gigabit ethernet port and two 3.5 mm audio I/O. This is probably the device that I’ll get as it seems to represent the best value for money. Caldigit have a decent FAQ on the device here if you want to find out about charging devices or running an Apple Superdrive via the Station. For a very thorough review check out this post over on FortySomethingGeek which includes various transfer speed tests and connecting four different displays!

Buy on | Buy on
Click through for a huge article covering Thunderbolt expansion chassis, RAIDS, video I/O, adaptors and more!

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Color Grading Craft Stories

Insights on the Craft of Color Grading

Colorist David Cole Grading Tron

In this round up I wanted to share some of the great resources to be found online about the art and craft of color grading. While many of the grading posts focus on the technical details of colour spaces, working in Resolve or achieving specific looks, I thought it was worth rounding up some insights on inspirational work too.

Interviews with Colorists

It used to be that it was quite hard to get quality interviews with colorists but these days there are plenty to go around. To kick us off check out the Mixing Light colorists profiles from Juan Salvo and Alexis Van Hurkman.

In this short interview with colorist David Cole you can pick up a few tid-bits on grading a 3D film vs a 2D film, from his work on TRON:Legacy.

There are a lot of tricks you can do in a 2D world that get exposed when they are put into 3D. We had to test and see what we could and couldn’t do and develop new techniques to use in our arsenal.

Adam Glasman grading World War Z

Colorist Adam Glasman is interviewed briefly over on on his work on World War Z, which was shot on Alexa and used a print emulation LUT to kick off the grading process.

Before we went through the whole film, we created some examples of distinct looks designed to represent different locations in the story. This was to ensure that everyone was onboard with the approach before we did the entire thing.

DNEG has an interesting Q&A with VFX colorist Garry Maddison who has worked on Rush and The Dark Knight Rises, who answers emailed in questions. It’s a great opportunity to hear from a different side of the color grading work world. There is also a superb collection of other VFX artist profiles on the same site.

We start the grading process at the beginning of each show to neutrally balance all of the plates using in house designed grading software. We grade and review the sequences with the supervisors of the projects to make sure we have the right look, and create contact sheets for easy and quick referencing on groups of shots.

Becoming a colorist

In a really interesting article Junior colorist Aurora Shannon, who has assisted colorists like Stephen Nakamura on Quantum of Solace, shares how she got her start in the business as a runner at Company 3 in Soho, London. I think the big take away to those looking to work as colorists, is to do what you can to get yourself in the room so that when opportunities arise you can seize them!
Click through for even more colorist interviews

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Adobe Speedgrade CC Tips & Tutorials

Tips and Tutorials for Adobe Speedgrade CC

The latest release of Speedgrade allows you to ‘direct link’ between Premiere Pro which means that you now no longer need to render out new media after grading. There are limitations with this workflow and these are also discussed in this tutorial from Josh Weiss at Check out Adobe’s official Direct link help page here, for more information.

For two free downloads grab the official Adobe Speedgrade keyboard shortcut pdf as well as colorist Mathieu Morano’s free keyboard shortcut guide. If you want to know what else is new in Speedgrade CC check out this Adobe TV introduction.

Speedgrade Tutorials

As mentioned in my Best Training on For Film Editors post, Pat Inhofer from Mixing Light has a great introductory series for anyone looking to grade with Speedgrade CC. Here are all the freebies from (These embeds always appear as black boxes for some reason so just click play to find out what each freebie covers!)

Click Through for 9 more Speedgrade Tutorials

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Making of John Lewis Animated Advert: The Bear & The Hare

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2013 – Bear & Hare

This advert for John Lewis (a UK department store) is pretty special. I always love seeing the intricate, passionate, endless work that goes into make amazing animation, which you can see in the making of video below. Directed by Elliot Dear & Yves Geleyn it’s very lovely work. Creative Review has a good article featuring co-director Elliot Dear on the creative process.

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The Best Training on for Film Editors

The Best Training on for Film Editors is a hugely valuable resource for digital creatives the world over who want to pick up new skills, learn new software packages or hone their craft. I’ve used in the past (Larry Jordan’s training on Soundtrack Pro was especially helpful back in the day) and thoroughly enjoyed having instant access to so much quality training with over 2200 courses and counting.

One of the main benefits of is that you can simply pay for a month at a time and cancel whenever you’re not using it. The best way to get a real feel for what’s available is get a 10 day free trial with complete access to the whole site to give it a test drive for yourself. Personally I find it easier to learn whilst following along, so if you do sign up, I’d recommend getting a subscription with a exercise files included.

All that said, I thought it would be useful to round up some of the best training for film editors that’s available on, which will help you get to grips with the skills, software and knowledge you need to flourish in the business.

NOTE: On some browsers all of the freebie tasters embedded in this post seem to show up as black boxes, but if you click play you’ll get a free lesson from each course.

Learning Editing Craft on

In this series from editor Ashley Kennedy has put together a two hour series of tutorials on Narrative Scene editing inside of Avid Media Composer. Although many of the techniques Ashley demonstrates are unique to Media Composer such as Avid’s ScriptSync but most of the editing knowledge is applicable in any NLE.

Trainer Christine Steele takes the same content as the course above but puts it to work with Narrative Scene Editing Inside Premiere Pro. If you’re new to Premiere Pro CC this is an excellent course for mastering all the fundamentals, as well as honing your editing craft.

Another great series to check out is Norman Hollyn’s Foundations for Video Editing. Norman is a Professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (and he also wrote the very handy Film Editing Room Handbook) and in this 4 hour NLE agnostic series, he teaches you the essential principles of the craft of film editing from script analysis to recutting your work.

Click through for more valuable training from for film editors

Posted in Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, AVID, Colour Grading, Compositing, Craft, DaVinci Resolve, Documentaries, Editor's Tools, FCP-X, Free download, Motion Graphics, Sound Design, Speedgrade, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DaVinci Resolve 10 Grading Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve 10 Color Grading Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve 10 is now out of beta and available to download. The latest release from Blackmagic Design is a huge leap forward – adding in features such as live grading, greater editorial functionality and a whole lot more. And of course there is an updated manual. If you didn’t see this previous post on the Resolve 10 beta, it will give you more info on what’s in the update. Also check out the post NAB Resolve 10 post.

What are the differences between DaVinci Resolve Lite/Full?

DaVinci Resolve Lite is now no longer restricted to 2K outputs (now UHD), nor does it come with any GPU limitations. The main differences then between the free Lite version and the $999/£780 full software version is basically the inability to do anything to do with Stereoscopic 3D, apply noise reduction or motion blur, fully support a DaVinci Resolve control surface nor customise it, or do remote grading. But pretty much everything else is free! Amazing.

Free DaVinci Resolve Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve 10 has the ability to support OpenFX plugins, one of which is Film Convert. In this tutorial Splicenpost demonstrates how to use it inside of Resolve. For more on Film Convert check out these two previous posts: Matching Film Stocks. More Tutorials for Colorists.

Track Opacity Composite more level in ResolveColorist Nikolai Waldman suggests that the best way to add film grain in real time inside of Resolve is not to use a plugin at all but rather simply to add it in as an overlay layer and adjust the opacity for the whole track, a new feature in Resolve 10.

In this tweet, and the whole conversation, Juan Salvo points out the easier to see tracking indicator in Resolve 10.

Matt Fez shares how to transfer looks from programs such as After Effects, Photoshop or Apple Color into Resolve.

Working with LUTS in Resolve

In this free Mixing Light taster Patrick Inhoffer talks through the basics of using a LUT in your grading workflow and how you really can’t apply it as a one-size fits all solution. There is a 7 minute embedded video tutorial that is definitely worth a watch, as Patrick explains why he creates a 3 node structure when working with LUTS. Check out more from Mixing Light here.
Click through for loads more free tutorials and Resolve grading tips

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Editing Craft Round Up

Learn about the craft of film editing

As an editor, learning more about the craft of film editing is one of my favourite things to do. Thanks to the great people who make up the online global post-production community there is plenty of talented professionals to learn from.

Captain Philips Post Production

Captain Philips was the last film I’ve seen at the cinema and it was a 2 hour heart pounding piece of cinema. Masterfully directed by Paul Greengrass and edited by Christopher Rouse, the pair now have a long standing collaboration with Rouse having cut both the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum, as well as Green Zone and United 93.

There is a great Reddit As Me Anything with Paul Greengrass here.

Q: What was the most interesting thing that occurred on set when you were filming Captain Phillips?

PG: Well the focus puller throwing up on Tom Hanks’ leg on the first day we shot inside the lifeboat. It was very realistic!!! Needless to say, Tom didn’t bat an eyelid but was ready to shoot on. That’s commitment for you.

Editing: The Hollywood Reporter has a short interview with Rouse here, mostly on working with Greengrass and crafting the two captains performances.

“Paul brings me aboard months before shooting; I’m able to root myself in the piece long before I ever make a cut,” Rouse said. “Once I start editing, my process is similar to Paul’s: I make choices carefully — trying to be attentive to story, character and theme — but I also work very openly and intuitively, trying to get the most out of the material no matter where that takes me.”

Editing Captain Philips

Grading: Blackmagic Design posted a short press statement about the fact that Captain Philips was graded on Resolve by London based, Company 3 colorist Rob Pizzey. You can read a couple of interviews with Rob (about other films) online here and here.

“The camera is always moving because you’re at sea, so the tracking tool was perfect because I could hand draw shapes and then grade within that area. Resolve’s auto tracking would then map to the movement of the camera so we could get on with matching all of the footage. It was also really useful for lining up faces and pulling out eyes. With the auto tracking, you get the shape on there and it maps it all the way through. It really did save me a lot of time.”

Composing The Score: Fast Co Create have a fantastic interview, peppered with clips from the film and snippets from the soundtrack, with composer Henry Jackman. The interview goes on to cover a wide range of Jackman’s work.

“It would be false to think that, because a score like Captain Phillips isn’t in that category of sweeping symphonic and thematic scores, that somehow that makes it more restricting, or that the director’s aesthetic has caused any restriction–I look at it as defining creative parameters, and once you know where those lines are, it’s just a different kind of creativity.”

Anatomy of a Scene – Editing Breakdowns

This is a brilliant short video essay from Max Tohline, in which he deconstructs this climatic scene from Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. An insightful and fascinating watch.

Evan Richard’s has put together this great analysis of 5 editing techniques, theorised by Russian filmmaker Vsevolod Pudovkin. The five techniques Evan highlights are: Contrast, Parallelism, Symbolism, Simultaneity and Leit Motif. Well worth a watch.

Interviews with Film Editors

Vashi Nedomansky Film Editor InterviewFilm editor Vashi Nedomansky is interviewed in this edition of the Go Creative Show, created by Ben Consoli, on all this editorial covering a whole host of post production topics. Vashi’s interview beings 16.30 minutes into the show.

“You have to try, and make mistakes and that’s how you find out what kind of filmmaker you are.”

In this brilliant short clip, documentary editor Sam Pollard shares some of the inherent challenges of editing documentaries with students at the School For Visual Arts in New York, and how to draw the very best out of your material.

click through for even more interviews with film editors

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More Tutorials for Colorists

Colour Grading Tutorial Round Up

In this round up of tutorials for colorists of every calibre you can learn how to use scopes on your iPad, just how many ways you can colour grade in FCPX,  and get a deeper grasp of ACES.

DaVinci Resolve 10 is out! It’s now out of beta, so head over to Blackmagic Design to download it for free, including an updated manual.

As another DaVinci Resolve freebie, Adrien Le Falher is giving away some free LUTS, based on Juan Melara’s film stock emulation LUTS, and ‘manipulated quite a bit’…

My references however weren’t cinematic film stocks exactly, but rather photographic ones. I shoot a lot of a pictures, and my favorite film, especially for skin, is the Kodak Portra 400 UC (now discontinued), so my LUTs are a mix between a more usual “cinematic” look and the results I get from my 120 films.

Creating Film Looks inside Your NLE

In this detailed blog post over on Phillip you can learn how to use Film Convert LUTS inside Adobe Premiere Pro to give your footage a striking film look. You can also currently get a $30 discount by going through Phillip’s affiliate link when you buy Film Convert.

For Creative Cloud users these LUT’s can be found at: Adobe Photoshop CC/Presets/3DLUTs. They are loaded through Lumetri Looks in Premiere CC. Lumetri presets are again just LUT’s that can be loaded in.

LUTS inside Adobe Premiere

In this lengthy post Oliver Peter’s demonstrates just how many colour grading options there are available for FCPX right now, with many free and paid for plugins. If you like what you see it’s probably worth giving Oliver’s detailed post on grading inside FCPX with Hawaiki Color, a thorough read. In another post over on Revuptransmedia you can download a whole bunch of FCPX color-board presets created by Oliver.

Colour Grading In FCPX

In this short tutorial Kevin P McAuliffe walks through creating a ‘Michael Bay’ look inside Avid Symphony or Media Composer with Symphony options enabled.

Not to leave out FCP 7, check out this round up of 14 tutorials for grading in FCP7 over on

Colour Grading on a Laptop

Colorist James Tonkin, who demoed DaVinci Resolve 10 Beta at the Amsterdam Supermeet, recently tweeted this image of his laptop grading set up. A couple of interesting things to note: James is using an iPad with AirDisplay to hold his DaVinci Resolve software scopes on a separate display. The grading monitor James is using is a Sony PVM-2541 OLED monitor.

In a later tweet Robbie Carman mentioned that Airdisplay is probably 8-bit and compressed and Juan Salvo suggested using wireless HDMI as another, higher quality, alternative.

Understanding ACES

In this hour long talk from the Digital Cinema Society, the Academy Color Encoding Specification (ACES) is explained, and it’s development history and progress outlined by many of the top color scientists and manufacturers involved including Jim Houston the ACES Project Committee Chair.

In this free pdf, visual effects trainer Steve Wright, offers some thoughts on ACES, specifically in relation to workflow colour management.

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How To Make A DCP For Free

Creating Digital Cinema Packages for free

Create a DCP for Free

Digital Cinema Packages are the gateway to digital cinema projection and distribution and is a specifically designed set of video, audio and metadata files which have been agreed upon by the Digital Cinema Initiatives as a global standard. You can download a pdf of the standard here.

It used to be that creating a DCP was a very expensive process reserved for only those with large budgets and big audiences. Now, through open source generosity, anyone can make an DCP file and get their film on the big screen with ease and for free.

I’ve previously posted about DCP creation here and you can check out a great 40 minute podcast from the Coloristo’s on the topic. If you want a super quick overview, also including the use of KDM’s (encryption keys) to protect your DCP check out ARRI’s guide.

DCP filesFor a very quick summary: DCP is video (JPEG 2000 with XYZ colour space inside an MXF wrapper), audio (Wav files in MXF at 24bit 48khz) and XML files that hold it all together. For a deeper explanation check out colorist Nikolai Walman’s DCP explanation here.

How To Make A Digital Cinema Package For Free

Creating DCP files

So you’ve finished your film and you can’t wait to see it projected in all it’s glory on the silver screen, now how do you actually make a DCP?

The filmbakery has posted an excellent explanation and step by step guide to creating DCP files for free using open source OpenDCP. It’s a brilliant, simple and informative read so if you want click by click instructions jump over and get started.

Before you do here are a few things you should know before you get creating:

1. Creating the image sequence, from your digital masters, into TIFF, BMP or DPX will take up a lot of space.

2. Converting the image sequence to JPEG 2000 images will take a lot of processing power.

3. One of the great benefits of image sequences is that if you need to change a portion of your film, a shot or scene needs fixing, you only need to re-render that shot or scene and replace those images in your sequence without having to re-export the whole film.

4. The best format for your delivery drive (or USB stick) is Linux EXT.

5. One of the main benefits of DCP is the XYZ colour space, which has a much greater gamut:

Click through for more DCP tutorials and insights

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How To Be A DIT Part 7

How To Be A DIT Part 7 – Tips & Tech

What does a DIT do?

This series of How To Be A DIT posts is marching into it’s 7th instalment. Although you don’t have to be a DIT to benefit from the resources and technology shared here, as if you are an editor or colorist you should hopefully learn a useful thing or two, too.

Understanding bit rates, colour bit depth, frame rates and more

Understanding Aspect Ratios

In a quick fire round up of useful information for understanding everything that’s happening inside each frame of your digital footage.

Film editor Vashi Nedomansky has collected together a great catologue of the history of cinematic aspect ratios, starting with Thomas Edison and 1.33 and running all the way to 2.39 with theatrical and blu-ray formats. There is a great free download of 70 aspect ratio crops (psd files) as well as an After Effects template to morph your 16 x 9 footage into anamorphic.

Which GPU should you get for video?: This very useful article from ProMax runs you through all the reasons why you need more GPU’s in your system and what the specs really mean. Get to grips with CUDA cores, VRAM, clock speeds and floating point performance.

In the world of video production and 3D design, much of our data boils down to the color information in a single frame of video. We tweak it, play with the curves, bring detail out of the shadows, etc…but at the (simplified) base level what we’re really doing is taking numbers that represent color information in that frame and multiplying or adding to them to reach a new number. When you can process thousands of those calculations simultaneously instead of 8, things happen much, much faster, and for us that means adding a lot of effects to your timelines and keeping things real time.

Understanding Bit Rates: Larry Jordan recently shared a useful analogy for wrapping your noodle around understanding bit rates and compression. It’s a quick but useful read.

I always recommend exporting projects at the highest quality your project will support, then compressing from that large master file. It’s an extra step, but it always yields better results. And, now you know why.

Demystifying colour bit depth, dynamic range and linear/logarithmic scales: Rich Lackey, a Dubai based filmmaker, explains what happens when film is converted to digital with regards to those three factors.
Click through for tons more resources, plus the best three articles on being a DIT out there

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