Foundation Content builds new color workflow
Issue: November 1, 2010

Foundation Content builds new color workflow

CHICAGO — Foundation Content’s Tom Rovak is an expert when it comes to color; he has used almost every type of color correction product the market has to offer. So when it came time to build an entirely new customized color workflow, he opted for an old friend — the DaVinci Resolve — with new benefits.

Rovak saw the Resolve for Mac OS X as the perfect opportunity to build an entirely new workflow. The new Resolve for Mac and the new V.7 Linux systems, which enable projects to move back and forth between the two OS’s, gave Rovak at Foundation Content ( the perfect building blocks to create his own custom workflow for color grading.

Rovak is a senior colorist at Foundation Content, a full-service production, post and creative house with offices in LA and Chicago. Specializing in film, television and commercials, Foundation has provided work for Meet the Parents and Fargo, as well as with global brands such as Kmart, BMW and Porsche.

With years of color correction experience, Rovak (pictured below) heads up one of Foundation Content’s color correction suites, providing services to a wide range of customers. While working on two feature films, the upcoming horror comedy film Inspectres and the sci-fi thriller Altered States of Plaine, as well as a number of other music video projects, Rovak began researching for ways to improve his color correction workflow. The workflow he chose was a combination of DaVinci Resolve for Mac and a 4GPU DaVinci Resolve for Linux.

“I looked at all of the competition out there and decided to go with the Resolve systems. My decision was 100 percent based on which system had the best features and Resolve—both the Mac and Linux versions—simply fit the bill,” Rovak says.

Building the Multi-Resolve Workflow
For Inspectres and Altered States of Plaine (pictured top left), Rovak was tasked with a huge amount of grades and corrections, in nearly every frame of each movie.

Both films are full of dramatic changes in both scenery and atmosphere. Rovak and his team were faced with dark places, terrible monsters and changes in location and time at the snap of a finger — all of which require extreme color fixes. In Altered States of Plaine, for example, characters are instantaneously transported between different cities and times, requiring wholesale changes to everything from shading to character skins tones. To manage this process, he needed a better way to create a faster pass between shots, as well as between entirely different projects.

Rovak built a faster workflow using the DaVinci Resolve for Mac to prep shots, which are then sent to the Linux version for completion and more intensive grading requiring more processing power. The Mac system is used to do a flat pass on each shot, with assistants preparing each frame before converting footage into DPX files to be sent to the Linux system.

“The multi-Resolve set up has allowed us a much faster way to move between scenes and grades. We can have one person doing work to flatten out the frames and get much cleaner shots prepared for the Linux system, which has the tremendous processing power needed for intensive grading. It really gives us the ability to make complicated corrections quickly and efficiently,” he says.

Once in the Linux system, Rovak uses DaVinci Resolve’s powerful set of nonlinear color correction features. The color trace tool in particular has been extremely useful with the dramatic changes in each of the feature films, coming in handy for the movement between different projects. Using ColorTrace, Rovak is able to compare newly conformed EDLs with a database of source time codes to match original grades. He is able to match and update EDLs, ensure that proper corrections are being made and get additional use out of previously completed work.

“Beyond a more efficient workflow for creatives like myself, the multi-Resolve set up is also something the clients really love. It is really great that assistants can sit down on a Mac and prepare the next project with the client seeing immediate action and increased efficiency in the entire process. Better work being done quicker,” Rovak continues.

The DaVinci Resolve for Mac added to Foundation Content’s workflow was something that Rovak was able to jump into using right away. As an experienced DaVinci Resolve for Linux user, Rovak was able to immediately begin and train his assistants to work with the Mac version due to the system being identical to the Linux version in terms of features and interface.