Color is one part of the creative process that has distinct advantages to being completed in person. Typically, you’re working with the original footage, which can be quite large and hard to transfer over the internet. If you’re the client, it’s best to see exactly what the colorist is seeing. If you’re the colorist, you definitely want your client approving the color on your color calibrated monitor.
Now that we’re all working remotely, switching to remote color can be a challenge. Now, there are some higher end solutions that can give you real time collaboration, but this article assumes you need to get up and running quickly and cheaply.
1. Get it right on set. Try shooting in RAW if possible, so the colorist will be able to easily manipulate the white balance, ISO, and other metadata of any given shot. Use lights with adjustable color temperature settings, including plus or minus green/magenta (and if you can’t, then try to source gels that accomplish the same effect). Shooting with a high dynamic range camera will allow you to capture bright areas and have the confidence you can recover them in color.
Raw file from camera
Final color correction
2. Make proxies with timecode. Creating proxies of your large RAW footage is a smart move, but if you don’t do them properly, the colorist will have trouble relinking them. Proxies should have the same filename and same timecode as the footage. You can transcode these in DaVinci Resolve. We typically transcode our proxies to 1920x1080 ProRes 422 Proxy.
3. Download less. If your colorist has to download the footage from the internet, do a pre-prep of the timeline. Our preferred method for this is bringing an XML into DaVinci Resolve, relinking to the original footage, and then re-outputting trimmed shots with handles. DaVinci Resolve (both Studio and the free version) allows you to do this without re-transcoding with their Media Management tool, which is useful if you want to maintain the highest quality.
4. Get your gamma right. If you’re doing a Premiere to DaVinci Resolve roundtrip - you may notice the dreaded gamma shift when you preview your files in Quicktime. This can be an extra headache when you’re approving remotely. There’s been so much written about this issue, but Adobe finally came through with a work-around: [https://community.adobe.com/t5/premiere-pro/quot-why-does-my-footage-look-darker-in-premiere-quot-color-q-a/td-p/4788414?page=1]
The trick here is to apply a LUT on export to compensate for the gamma shift. This is crucial to maintain the color you approved in DaVinci Resolve when uploading to Youtube and Vimeo. See below for a comparison between different gamma values.
5. And finally - a different kind of tip: work with someone new. Working remotely can be a drag. But it can also be a reason to seek out new collaborators, folks who aren’t in the same locale. Use a time difference to your advantage. Work with someone across the country (or ocean) and impress your client with a first round pass in their inbox before they even wake up. As a producer - I can tell you from first hand experience - it’s a great way to start the day and puts you in a productive mood.