We met up with Ollie Kenchington –a dear colleague to the cinema5D family– at this year’s BSC Expo in London to talk about his freshly launched online service JustGrade.it. It works like this: Upload your film, it then will work its way through a pro color correction / grading pipeline and will be sent back to you upon completion. Simple as that.
Colour correction and grading, no easy topics to tackle even if you are an advanced filmmaker. Once you’re done shooting dull-looking log files and smash some fancy off-the-shelf LUTs onto them, you know what I’m talking about. In order to let these grayish-toned images really shine through color grading you’ll need a decent starting point: Colour correction (I’m using the British notation here, since I don’t want to get in trouble with Ollie, really). Or, as Mr. Kenchington himself puts it:
Most filmmakers just need their projects to look crisp, clean, realistic and consistent. There’s no LUT for that, but there’s Just Grade It
So, I’d like to call it “Colour Correction +” what most filmmakers are after. Fancy tinted highlights, Loads of film grain and shadows lifted by 150% might look cool once but most of the time you are most likely after that consistent, balanced and clean look, founder Ollie Kenchington is talking about.
JustGrade.it – Professional Colour
The newly launched service works like this: Upload your final edit (still in LOG) as one flattened file. Your film will be processed by certified DaVinci Resolve professionals who will 1) scene cut the delivered edit, 2) work through the whole piece in order to white-balance it, setting proper levels, adjust contrast and skin tones and de-noise the footage if necessary. As a final step, the whole piece will undergo a continuity pass to make sure each clip matches the next one perfectly.
No fancy effects here, black will be black, white will still be white. Once your film went through the justgrade.it pipelines, you’ll be notified to download the finished piece. What you get is a perfectly balanced look, nice skin tones, pleasing contrast, and a clean, crisp look.
If you want to, you now can add your desired color grading, which now can be built on a very solid foundation. Since color grading, in contrast to color correction, is a rather subjective process, an art if you will, justgrade.it can’t offer anything like it. The whole benefit of getting professional results fast would be eaten up by multiple rounds of revisioning the look. if you want a full end to end color treatment, you will have to choose a more traditional –and more expensive– way: Hiring a colorist.
In order to benefit from this new service you just have to follow some simple rules: No fancy effects on top of your edit! Just the plain, flattened (log) edit. Plain fades to black or cross dissolves can be handled but nothing more. If a complex transition is in place which can’t be color corrected properly, justgrade.it will provide you with two LUTs, one for the incoming clip and one for the outgoing clip. You then can add these LUTs in your NLE.
Pricing and Turnaround Time
Pricing starts at £69 ($90 / 80€) per minute of delivered film. This ad-hoc purchase supports footage up to 8192 x 4320 8K resolution and up to HDR Rec.2020 formats. Turnaround is 2-3 days. You also can test the service by sending in a 10-sec snippet in up to 2048 x 1080 2K resolution in SDR Rec.709. You’ll get a free-of-charge color corrected deliverable in about 3-5 days.
Other (monthly paid) plans are available for more advanced users. I think this service is quite unique! It somewhat fits closes the gap between ultra-expensive post houses with fancy suites on the one side of the spectrum and you’re $49.99 LUT bundle on the other end.
If you’re a skilled colorist or at least someone with the time and passion to climb the rather steep learning curve of color correction and grading, you can do it all yourself. If, however, you can’t or don’t want to spare the time and effort to get the most out of your footage fast, justgrade.it might be a decent solution for you!
What do you think of this new service? Would you give something like this a shot? Share your thoughts in the comments below!