Advanced Colorist Training Reviewed
- MixingLight.com Deep Insights Reviewed
- Learn advanced colour grading techniques
- An ideal training course for up and coming colorists
If you are an experienced editor who grades their own work but looking to deepen your knowledge of DaVinci Resolve, or a younger colorist looking to improve your colour grading skill-set, where can you turn to for advanced training online?
Well, not that many places as far as I know. Other than expensive in-person training classes, there aren’t that many online video training titles that cater to the experienced user looking to take things up a gear.
MixingLight.com has sought to fill that niche, not only through their subscription training site which has new content added to it every month, but also through their massive, paid for, training titles. There are currently two DaVinci Resolve video training titles to buy from Mixing Light, with a third on the way.
Through 200 videos and a combined total of over 21 hours of video training, Mixing Light’s DaVinci Resolve 12 Insights and Deep Insights courses are the longest and most in-depth DaVinci Resolve training I’ve seen online. They’re also exceptionally good value at $149 for a bundle of the two that also comes with a host of free bonuses.
Check out the full course content listings in these two PDFs to see what I mean.
In this post I’m taking a look at the second of those two courses, DaVinci Resolve Deep Insights, which seeks to cater for experienced editors and junior colorists and goes into detail into some of the more advanced features and procedures in Resolve 12. Topics such as database management and troubleshooting, Resolve Studio only features like spatial and temporal noise reduction, increased performance strategies and much more.
This is a 7 hour training course delivered as 90 individual videos that build upon the learning in the Resolve Insights course. This is combined with documentary footage and project files to download and follow along with. Also included in the bundle are three bonuses consisting of downloadable Powergrades, 17 further training videos from the Mixing Light library and additional 45 days of access to the entire Mixing Light site.
But wait, isn’t DaVinci Resolve 12.5.2 already out? Is this training out of date?
No, not really.
Given that the Resolve 12.5 update is built upon the Resolve 12 user interface and workflow, the addition of the hundreds of new features and menu items in 12.5 and higher build upon that foundation. This means you can quite happily take this training title and easily apply it to Resolve 12.5.2 and up.
Also because the course features a ton of workflow, colour grading craft techniques and hard-won expert insights, it’s delivering a lot more than ‘push-this, click that’ training.
That said, as Patrick mentions in this free video taking a first look at some of the 12.5.1 new features, there is a third training title on the way which covers the new features and enhancements in the 12.5 update. This will be a shorter title than the Resolve 12 Insights (14 hours) or Deep Insights (7 hours) at somewhere around 5 hours.
Having had a sneak peak at the course contents (thanks Patrick!) it will wade in pretty deeply into the hundreds of new features that were added in the 12.5 update, along with Patrick’s expert insights on how to make the most of this massive upgrade to Resolve. There will also be generous discounts for existing Insight and Deep Insight owners and Mixing Light members will get their usual discounts too.
Free Mixing Light DaVinci Resolve Training
For a taster of the kind and quality of the training in both courses, check out these 9 free lessons from the DaVinci Resolve 12 Insights training course. Clocking in at just under an hour this is a pretty decent way to check out the course and the topics covered include:
- DaVinci Resolve vs DaVinci Resolve Studio
- Dual Monitor Set Up
- Using the Lift, Gamma, Gain Colour Wheels
- Understanding the Hue Vs Curves
- Using the Splitter Combiner Nodes
- Creating and Using Versions
- Using the Smart Render Cache
Mixing Light.com Deep Insights Review
The first thing you need to understand about the Mixing Light Resolve 12 Deep Insights training course is what’s not in it.
It’s not about how to use the software, that’s covered in the first course in a lot of detail, although you’ll certainly learn new things about working in Resolve, the emphasis here is on creative techniques, workflow insights and gaining the professional knowledge that only an experienced colorist can teach you.
Ideally you’d purchase both courses as part of the bundle, not only is it better value that way, but it will also afford you the option of returning to previous lessons if you discover there are gaps in your knowledge that Patrick exposes or you want to check out things that he refers to in these lessons that hark back to the first course. Given that the price difference between the two is only $20, you’d be crazy not to!
Another thing that isn’t covered in much detail in the Deep Insights course is editing in Resolve. Again, this is covered in the foundational course in some depth (ingesting, trimming, audio, titles etc.) whilst the Deep Insight’s focus with regards to editing is to up-skill colorists on the tasks involved in getting their project correctly media managed, relinked, prepped and in-order so that they can get on with the actual grading.
If you want more editing specific training in DaVinci Resolve you can always check out Alexis Van Hurkman’s new Ripple Training courses here.
So what do you get?
7 hours of training delivered in 90 separate videos with an average lesson length of 6.30min. 4GB+ of Pro Res 422 HQ exercise files, which you can alternatively download as 2GB in Pro Res LT.
Aside from the bonus Powergrades created by the Mixing Light team, you also get 45 days of free access to the entire Mixing Light site, itself worth $36, and 44 days longer than the free 24 hour test drive available to everyone else.
In a really nice display of excellent customer service, you can start the 45 days at any point and there’s not ‘gotcha credit card details recurring fee’ to remember to cancel. Once it’s over, that’s it. Check out this previous review of the Mixing Light subscription offering to see what it’s all about.
As you’d hope, all of the lessons are iPad ready and tagged with iTunes metadata for easy organisation. The best additional asset to help you get started with the course, especially if you spring for the full bundle, are the ‘flight paths’ XMLs.
These are shorter curated playlists to download and use with iTunes, VLC or the media player of your choice, to help you take a specific journey through the plethora of course content. When you’re watching them in iTunes video playlists play continuously without any stopping or pauses, providing a great way to binge on the content!
The Deep Insights course comes with three flightpaths, one is simply the entire course end-to-end, the second cherry picks it’s way through the updated features in Resolve 12 (55 min) and the third called ‘Working Like a Colorist‘ (2 hrs 15) takes you through the final two chapters of course, in which you get to sit over colorist and trainer Patrick Inhofer’s shoulder and watch him grade a series of shots from a documentary as he explains his preferred colour grading workflow.
There is also a helpful and comprehensive ‘getting started page‘ which (once you purchase and login) guides you through downloading the files, getting set up with the exercise files and how to make use of the bonus material.
What’s it like taking the course?
First of even though a 21 hour, or even a 7 hour course, can sound intimidating Deep Insights is actually very accessible and the shorter length of the tutorials makes it easy to work your way through the material, or jump to the specific section you need.
Patrick’s presentation style is really easy to engage with and it’s nice to see him deliver the content down the lens too. He also hits the right tempo in doing so, which makes the content digestible without dragging. Having the picture-in-picture top down shot of the Tangent Element and the UI screen really helps to illustrate why working with a colour grading surface is so important.
If you’re a budget conscious colorist who can’t quite justify the $3,000 for a full Tangent Element control surface, then check out the $350 Tangent Ripple instead. This previous post rounds up the best reviews and tutorials for the Tangent Ripple.
That said, Patrick often purposefully switched to the mouse so that you can see how to perform the same operations without a control surface, which helps to make the training more inclusive.
Patrick also mentions (several times) why it’s crucial to be working with a correctly calibrated reference monitor you can trust, and here Patrick’s working with a Flander’s Scientific CM250.
All in all the teaching is delivered with a sincerity and clarity that makes it very welcoming and more like an apprenticeship rather than a lecture. This ability to engage and communicate ideas clearly is obviously a vital quality in an instructor if you’re going to be learning from them for so many hours!
It’s also helpful that the keyboard shortcuts Patrick uses are displayed on screen, and as with any creative software, it’s easy to see just how much they improve your speed. Although these days for a training title not to have these on-screen would be surprising.
One nice-to-have feature that Ripple Training’s tutorials do really well, are Quicktime chapter markers in some of the longer lessons (<– see this image), which helps to subdivide the content even further and pin point exactly what you’re looking for. That slight detail aside, the course outline PDF, sensible file names and the flight paths all make it very easy to use.
How good is the teaching?
The training is delivered in a couple of different styles.
There is the traditional how to use the software content in which Patrick guides you through how to do certain things, for example Media Management, but along with that you get his real world wisdom from working in Resolve as a professional colorist and the ways in which things might not go exactly to plan, i.e. media management hiccups in Resolve 12.
If I’m going to do a copy operation, the option I like to enable is the ‘Relink to New Files’ [under ‘more options’], because where ever I put them its probably because I want to relink to them. And DaVinci Resolve will do that automatically at the end of a media management operation.
Not only that, I’ve found that it’s the only way to reliably get to these clips and relink my timeline to these clips. Because if I’m doing a trim, no longer do these new media files really resemble the original ones… so Resolve can have a really tough time knowing what it should relink to if you don’t set ‘Relink to New Files’ [in the Media Management window] immediately upon copy.
The second is the ‘in-action’ training that makes up the final two chapters of the course (over 2 hours) and in many ways is where all of the previous learning really comes alive. Essentially you get to sit over Patrick’s shoulder and watch him grade, aided by his commentary on what he’s doing practically but also his thought process and decision making along the way.
This was my favourite part of the course and it’s packed with valuable information, both in what Patrick teaches, but also in what comes across via the process of learning by osmosis. Here are a few observations that I noted down as I watched this part of the course, which covers topics such as setting the base grade, shot matching, problem solving, shot shaping and so much more.
UPDATE – Check out the video above to see just what I’m talking about, in this recently released tutorial taken from the course.
Speed comes from experience.
It’s interesting to see just how quickly Patrick works, even whilst teaching, and that a professional colorist expects to spend only a handful of seconds (in the first passes) on a shot to correct it, balance it out and move on.
You also get to see Patrick working at full speed without slowing down the pace to teach too much, just so you can see how he would work with a client in the room. As you’d expect a lot of that speed comes from working with the control surface to perform multiple operations at once.
Inside Image Evaluation.
It’s really, really helpful to hear what a colorist sees when they look at an image, either directly or via the scopes. Knowing where to look and what to look for is the first step towards really knowing what to do and how to do it.
As part of this Patrick wasn’t afraid to try things, that sometimes ended up not working, and undo them, or to push a shot to a certain ‘imperfect’ place in the first pass, because he knows he can return and improve it in the next pass.
In many ways you learn more from the choices he makes and why he does or doesn’t stick with them, as you would from just being told ‘this is how you do it.’
It’s also interesting to see which decisions must be made based on the scopes and which decisions you have to trust your eyes with, and knowing the difference.
Problems are better.
Although the idea of working with documentary footage might not seem as sexy as grading a commercial, music video or feature film, you’re going to encounter (and have to solve) many, many more common problems than you’re likely to encounter in pristine footage. For example, how to best work with clipped highlights or deal with purple anti-alias fringing or under exposed camera phone footage etc.
Patrick also highlights a few of the technical and emotional problems that younger colorists often face, such as the mistake of diving into grading a shot on a still frame without playing the shot through first to see how it progresses. Or the ‘tyranny of the first move’ (what should I do first and how?) and how to overcome it with a systematic and repeatable workflow.
Real World Ready.
Part of the goal of the course is to improve your ability to handle real world scenarios and real world clients. Patrick’s methods are based on decades of experience which helps him to guide you away from processes that might leave you with a perfect first minute and a terrible rest of the show (and angry clients) to workflows that will ensure every shot has been touched and corrected, even if it’s not been perfected.
Is it worth the time and money?
So in conclusion is this course worth your time and money?
At $149/£115 the two course bundle is incredibly good value for money, especially when you consider everything that’s included from the 21 hours of expert training, practice footage and additional bonuses. The 45 day access to hundreds of Mixing Light tutorials will be a further treasure trove of technical and creative learning.
If you just purchase the Deep Insights course at $70/£50, you’re getting to learn from a professional colorist for only $10 an hour! Plus all the bonuses!
The only caveat to all this is that you actually have to have the discipline to set aside the time to watch the tutorials, apply the techniques and come back to learn more on your second or third viewings, and it would take that many to really absorb all there is to learn here. DaVinci Resolve is a powerful, yet accessible program that allows you to get started in minutes but takes years to master.
This is an ideal career development course for a junior or budding colorist, as well as editors who want to confidently add “serious colour grading chops” to their CV.
Advanced your career on MixingLight.com and snap up the Resolve 12 Insights and Deep Insights training course. You won’t regret it.