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Copyright © R. Neil Haugen 2016 All Rights Reserved

 

Using the Tangent Ripple for Neutralization in Adobe Premiere Pro CC

 

What are the essential colorist/grading steps? First, neutralizing all clips, getting as close as one can quickly to a neutral white-balance and natural appearing tonal range. Second, blending them by doing "shotmatching", so they look continuous ... as if seen by one set of eyes. Third, scene-matching, so that as the video is viewed, advancing to the next scene is natural and within the feel of the previous project and normal visual expectations for things like mid-day, evening outside, in a living room with 'normal' light bulbs, or in a dark cave.Then, if time and budget allow, the fourth stage is to create and apply a "Look", sometimes by scene or even an entire project.

 

There's never enough time for everything we could do for every clip. So to get to as much as possible, speed of operation through the process is essential. And the Ripple is a huge boost for speed and accuracy of colorist/grading work!

 

"Neutralization" means getting the clips clean: no color tint in the neutral tones (whites, grays, blacks), all data from blacks to white within say 5-95 on a 0-100 scale, and a good tonality for contrast & saturation that helps the viewer see the scene easily. It looks "natural". Technically accurately. It's a totally boring job that can take way too long. But properly neutralized clips make for far less work ... and far faster work ... in all later steps. Using a well-conceived & tested workflow, centered on the Ripple, is the fastest way of getting the job done within Premiere Pro CC2017. (Unless you've got a Tangent Elements panel, of course ... )

 

In Lumetri, the workflow is designed with the intent that the Basic tab is used for neutralization. They took the UI concept of the Lightroom Develop module, but with tools designed for video. Before I got my Ripple, I personally found the Basic tab a total waste of my time. Using those controls one at a time with a mouse or even Wacom pen-tab took for flipping EVER to get anything done. It seemed so deadly slow.

 

When I got the Ripple, I thought I'd test out some mappings for the Basic tab. It was well worth the time. Wow!

 

After playing with various mappings of Basic tab tools to the Ripple, it's clear that it works beautifully for neutralization, and is fast and intuitive to work with. As you can see from the image below of my Basic Tab control mapping, I've got the dials set for fast work at neutralization with every tool of that tab mapped. And ... I'm normally moving at least two if not three controls at a time. Yea, this puppy is fast! It's in the combination of speed & control that the Ripple earns it's spot on your desk. Or in your traveling bag to go out with your laptop.


Let's roll!

Here's a clip from the start of a recent vacation, taking the Amtrak Empire Builder through the Rockies & Glacier Park in late winter, plenty of daylight ... and beautiful snowy mountains to come. This clip is the start of our trip, at Union Station in Portland, Oregon, in the early evening on a cold late-winter day.

Right out of the camera, this clip is clearly ... warmer ... than it should be ... but how much, of what? And it's maybe ok but not optimal for tonal "distribution", so it will need a bit of adjusting to the relative brightness around the image. In video post, everything is relative, so always remember when you move something one way, it visually moves something else the other way.

 

A typical colorist approach assumes it's best to modify the luma ... the brightness values, white, black, and shadow/mids/highs tonal relationships ... first, perhaps with lowered or completely zeroed saturation, and then start on color corrections. But I've found that the initial color neutralization step changes the end points of the three channels (R-G-B) enough that I re-worked my process to start neutralization with the following fast and knowingly imperfect WB/Tint correction.

 

And importantly: I'm only looking at the Vectorscope when doing this step, I don't even look at the program monitor! It's fast, it's "close enough" for this part of the process, and as the whole process is iterative, this actually saves an iteration or two down the line.

 

Temp/Tint adjustments can take forever. And ... what's neutral, when looking at the image itself? This can be a hard decision. But I've got a couple hundred clips in this project ... no time to blow on evaluating, on thinking.

So first ... I've got a little helper I've made, that really speeds things along. I created and exported a .cube LUT from the Lumetri HSL panel (HSL settings shown on the left here) that invokes a mask allowing only the very-low saturated parts of the image to "show" through the mask, mostly in the upper-midtones. I have that saved in the Adobe/Premiere Pro 2017/Lumetri/LUTs/Technical folder, named " 1A Low SatMask uMids". This way, it's one of the first couple LUTs that appear in the Input LUT drop-down box. My first step is to apply that sat masking LUT.

 

Production tip: while you can do this for each clip, I prefer to do MANY clips sequentially, so I'll place an adjustment layer over a whole sequence, select it, apply this LUT in the Lumetri Basic Tab Input LUT drop-down on the adjustment layer, and then go back to the video track to do my corrections jumping clip to clip. One finger on the middle ball for temp/tint adjustment, another on the down-arrow to jump to the next clip. Bam ... bam ... bam ... wow, this is fast! Then I just delete the adjustment layer when I'm done.

Here, it's applied to a clip and ready to use in the Basic tab. The areas with color ... or some color ... showing, are the areas that the mask will allow PrPro ... and most importantly, the Vectorscope YUV to "see". The gray part will be ignored by the scopes. So while watching the scopes, I move the middle ball of the Ripple. That ball is is set for Temp (left/right) and Tint (up-down) as you can see in the mapping above.

 

Now, to the right, let's look at the Vectorscope of this image with the low-sat mask applied ... notice that the main overall clump of data is not quite centered? It's just a bit up and to the left ... that's what we'll deal with first. And while that really bright spot is the totally unsaturated spot, rather than placing that dead-center of the two crossing graticule lines, I've found it more visually accurate to center the entire mass. Not "fussily",  but just quickly centered mostly ...

 

To neutralize it, I'll use the middle ball of the Ripple to move that 'ball' of data to the center of the two crossing graticules in the Vectorscope YUV. Takes just a few seconds and here's the result shown in the Vectorscope on the right side.

 

 

And now showing the controls and the clip itself below. Not startlingly difficult, but the warm tints to the pavement, the sides and snow-blade of the locomotive, and the blues of Miriam's clothing are now gone. Very neutral, in fact ... and I didn't make a visual color adjustment at all. Just a few seconds to do, without any need to scrutinize for subtle hues in the image.

BasicTab Neut Clip 1200pix.png

For as long as this took to explain, in operation, it's only a few seconds per clip. And I LOVE using the middle ball of the Ripple for the combined Temp/Tint control. Using that mask explained above on an adjustment layer, and one hand moving the middle ball for Temp/Tint settings, the other on the down-arrow to jump to the next clip, it's just bam ... bam ... bam right down the sequence neutralizing tint.

 

 

Next post, I'll show ... tonal changes!

 

R. Neil Haugen

The Ripple or Elements Panels in Adobe Premiere Pro CC2017:

How to Decide

As I said in my last post, I highly recommend both panels. And I do mean that.

 

For some really quick small projects, the Ripple is all I need and is fast to use, and even with the Elements sitting there, I'll just grab the Ripple & work. Also, the Ripple is very portable and easy to use on any system you find yourself sitting at … on the go, at home, wherever. The Elements … fantastic support of Premiere Pro, even into a number of editing features making me hope they include even more "mappable" editing functions in the future. And in SpeedGrade … oh my, that's a sweet panel!

 

But for now, let's talk the smaller one.

 

The Ripple, at around USD $350, is a lot easier on the budget, and is quite a capable tool. Left to right, you've got three sets of controls and in between the outer sets and the middle ones, a couple "extra" buttons. You'll want to download the mapping control software from Tangent, and take the few minutes that's required to master modifying this tool to extend your work in Lumetri ... by a long ways. You will want to adjust the "granularity" control as at factory settings it's way too fine, and takes for-EVER to see anything changed. And it's very easy to adjust settings in the Tangent Hub mapping control software, using the sections to set the controls for each control panel tool in each Lumetri tab.

 

The dials are always the "Z" control, the balls either as a "just a ball", or by using the ability to set left-right (Tracker-ball X axis) and up-down (Tracker-ball Y axis) actions to separate controls, each ball can control two different Lumetri tools. It's very easy and fast to create new mappings, to save named versions, and to switch from one to another.

 

The three sets of controls ... a dial with two little buttons on either side and a wheel or ball ... can be set for all sorts of things, depending on the Lumetri panel currently active. If you leave it on the 'factory' settings, where it's set to run the Color Wheels section of the Lumetri panel "Edit" mode, it's a fast way to adjust luma/chroma for your clips any time without even being in the Color workspace. Left dial is Shadow Luma (lightness) control, left ball is Shadow Chroma (color) ... and to the right, you go to Mids and then Highlights pairings in the same manner. Ball movement totally matches the movement of the color shown in the Vectorscope making it incredibly intuitive to adjust color. In the Color Wheels tab of the Lumetri panel, you can watch the adjustments make the exact same corrections in the Wheels.

 

The two little buttons on either side of each dial reset one of that set's controls ... the left button resets all things done by the ball, the right one resets the controls set by the dial.

 

The button in between the middle and right set of controls cycles you into the next Tab down on the Lumetri panel while activating that panel in the interface on-screen. And you also can easily and quickly use the button between the left and middle control sets (shown as "Select Alternative" in the mapping controller) while held down, as either a jog control (standard mapping) or with a re-mapping, to "bypass" the Lumetri panel to do a quick check comparing the clip at present versus before corrections. The mapping software is fast, easy to learn, and does a good job.

 

For instance, I've never found the Basic tab worth using while working with a mouse or pen-tablet. But with the Ripple, I've turned that entire tab into a fast and furious (besides intuitive!) place for basic "neutralization" of clips, the first step in grading. Here's an image of the way I've mapped the Ripple controls for the Basic tab ... you see there are three lines of text below each control set.

 

The top line is what the dial above the red ball is set to control (that Z axis), the middle line is what the horizontal ("X axis") motion of the red ball is set to control, and the bottom line what the vertical ("Y" axis) motion of the red ball will control. This is very easy to set ... just click on a control, and step through the available options.

 

From left to right in the Ripple settings for the Lumetri Basic tab, I've got left dial set for Blacks, center dial for Exposure (a mush-up of "brightness/gamma" and exposure/contrast), and the right dial for Whites. This allows me to quickly set black point, white point, and basic "brightness" of a clip. I'll be working two or three controls at the same time watching the Lumetri scopes while working.

The left ball is my "Contrast" control tool … mapped so that the Contrast slider is left-right motion, and the Saturation slider is up-down motion. I realize most people don't think of "Saturation" as a contrast control, but it most definitely is! You have two forms of contrast: Luma (brightness) and Chroma. Both are set with one hand … easily, and quickly, intuitively.

 

The right ball I have set for shadow/highlight control, and it's useful … mostly … though to my taste, the Shadow & Highlight sliders in the Lumetri panel both affect way too much of the image "scale". Moving either affects the other only a little less than the section you expect to be adjusting, so you really do need to use these against each other.

 

I have the middle ball set so that left-right motion sets color Temperature and up/down motion sets Tint. The motion here isn't quite as "intuitive" as using the controls in "Color Wheel" mode, where movement of the balls precisely matches the direction of color change shown in the Vectorscope. However, I have mastered the use of this as it does become second-nature fairly soon.

 

With this mapping, I can blast through the first job with any clip ... neutralizing it ... in a very few seconds, often under 20 seconds! With the Wacom pen-tab & mouse, well ... it's a lot longer per clip to do the fine level I want.

 

One of the other big time-savers? With mouse or pen-tab you need to switch sections within Lumetri by hand, of course. Click after click. With the Ripple, see that button labeled "Next Mode" ? You just push that button and cycle to the next tab down.

 

As you get used to using it ... you want to use it for everything you can! If you do your own color at all ... it's a total no-brainer to get. It will save you TIME. A lot of time! And give you better end results too.

Among other personalizations I've done ... the standard HSL tab mapping for the Ripple involves only the  Color wheel controls of that tab, things you do after you've set the key. But setting the key is the more time-consuming part ... so I re-mapped so that when I tap the button into the HSL tab on the Ripple, each of the three control sets is for a particular section of the KEY! As shown here, left to right, left dial is Hue center, horizontal axis sets the Hue range, the vertical axis sets Hue fall-off. Middle set (dial/wheel) controls the Saturation key, and right set controls the Luminance part of the key.

 

But I didn't lose the ability to control what happens to the keyed media ... see the button labeled "Select Alternative Function"? Yep, I mapped the Color wheels controls of the HSL tab to be active with the Alternate mapping setting as shown in the image with the little box highlighted, showing those things controlled with the Alternate button. I have most of the controls I routinely use in the HSL tab on the Ripple, so I don't even touch the keyboard or mouse! Slick & fast!

 

And another thing ... that little black box of text highlighted in the Alternate mapping image? That can be set to pop up any time you use the Ripple, at three different sizes, anywhere on the screen you want to see it ... and it's your "HUD" ... heads-up display. It tells you what each control of the Ripple will do in the tab currently active ... and it only pops up when you touch a control, and goes away within a few seconds ... unless, of course, you wanted it to stay visible ... which you can. Or, when you're really running with it, you can set it not to show.

 

There's so much you can do with just the Ripple. However ... the Elements panel ... if you're a one-man shop like me ... will encourage you to get faster at editing so you can spend more time grading. Not because it's slow, as it's blindingly fast to use!  It's just ... way, way too much pleasure to work with. At around USD $3500, it takes a bit more justification. However ... using it for just a couple weeks, this thing was so fast, so easy to learn, and enables such intuitive work with luma/chroma ... it drastically changed my concept of how valuable this is for me as a budgeted cost item compared to not having one, and spending a lot more time.

 

And then ... I realized how many editing functions can be mapped to the controls ... and I am having to completely re-think my working process. And loving it!

 

 

ElementsPanel.jpgAs you see here, the Elements panel has four sections (if you get them all, and I recommend that!) I'm left-handed, so this is reversed from what you will probably see on other workstations.

 

The left section has buttons for selecting the working space in PrPro, out of the box set for Lumetri: Basic/Creative/Curves/Wheels/HSL/Vignette/Edit/; then Master Clip, and a couple workspaces, the Color and Edit spaces, plus moving the 'highlight' or selection focus within PrPro to the Lumetri and Scopes panels.

 

All of those can of course be mapped however you want them.

And that's just the "A" settings ... the lower left button of that section is the "A" or standard mapping, the lower right button is the "B" or Alternate mapping ... so you've got double the controls available. So far, I've concentrated on using this for color work, but ... and this is a HUGE "but" ... there are many, many of the functions of standard editing that can be mapped across the controls of this panel.

 

Anyone taking a few minutes to start working with the editing sections, to set up the mapping for the way they work, will get a massive boost to their editing speed & confidence. But what about having to learn what everything is set for? That's not a problem ... see the little tabs that stick up from each section? Those backlit panels show what every control of that section will do in this mode at this time.

 

I'm only beginning to explore the potential uses for me within this panel ... and totally boggled at the options. Wowza ... this is an amazing editing tool! Compared to using keyboard shorts, which you have to work to memorize or print yourself a listing, this shows you where all your fav controls are. Learning the muscle memory is fast and better yet ... when you decide to alter things, it's also easy then to re-train your muscle memories.

 

The track balls and rings are very positive to the touch, and easy to set the speeds at which they react to movement. Currently I've got the right two panels with the spinning knobs on the outside, but as those are the controls I spin for most of the sliders within Lumetri, I'm thinking I'll swap those two panels. Have the tap-buttons to the outside, and the spinning knobs right next to the three wheels. And yes, each of those sections has their own A/B buttons for packing in the control options, and all of those show up on the backlit heads-up tabs.

 

The Elements panel of course does so much within SpeedGrade if you still ever use that app, besides working very nicely with BlackMagic's Resolve color editing program. So ... besides being an editors playground and speed-tool, it's totally useful across a range of colorist/grading apps.

 

But without hesitation ... if you do ANY color work in your video post-processing, or have thought of doing some color corrections within Premiere Pro, you should get one of these, or, seriously, both. Once you're used to a surface in Lumetri, being able to travel and keep the Ripple with you is a huge benefit. The changes in Premiere Pro 2015.3 (and carried into CC2017) were that big, in what they allow ... and encourage ... in workflow and in capabilities.

 

And finding out how much of editing can be mapped to the Elements panel ... and how easy it is to transport the Ripple and say, use it on a laptop ... these are both marvelous production tools.

 

R. Neil Haugen

Ripple Elements

 

Using the Tangent Elements and Ripple Color/Editing Control Surfaces in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017

 

I've had a chance to work with both the "full meal deal" of the Tangent Elements panel or "colorist's surface" and the new, smaller Ripple unit for a few months now. I love both of them ... though, you do get a lot more with the Elements panel, as befits something literally ten times the cost. Here's a pic of them sitting on my desk at the moment, so you can get a very good idea of relative size. The monitors are 24-inch models for comparison.

The Elements is just over 30 inches wide if you've got all four sections, and the Ripple is just over a foot wide. Note the way the Elements can easily sit in a narrow area in front of my monitors on the edge of the desk ... I actually find that pretty comfortable to work with. (And I only use the small Bluetooth keyboard when working with the Ripple, just for space.)

 

The Elements surface has a very nifty feature for getting used to it ... see the little tabs above each section with the white writing on them? Those are screens ... they show what each control is doing at this moment in this active section of the software you're using this with. This surface is scary at first with four balls & rings, twelve spinning knobs, and twenty four un-marked buttons (not counting the twenty-one marked buttons!) ... but those screens make it easy to learn what this does, how to move the panel between program sections with the controls of the panel, and ... to get past thinking of what the buttons & knobs do to just doing stuff them. Any time you switch sections of the Lumetri panel by pushing the buttons on my far left, all the other screens immediately change to display what's mapped out to all the other controls.

 

I'm a lefty, and I've got the four Elements sections arranged to my liking. Righty's tend to have them mostly reversed from this picture.

The smaller Ripple unit (shown next to the keyboard) doesn't have near the complexity. And during operation, when you touch any control on it, a little box pops up on your monitor showing what each control does at this moment. Which ... is darn handy when learning, especially as ... you're going to want to re-map this to suit your own needs and working preferences. You can of course set the "heads-up display" box to the size and location of your desires, or turn it off when you no longer need it.

 

I use them primarily within Adobe's Premiere Pro CC2017. The first Premiere Pro CC version they were usable with was 2015.3. They also work with SpeedGrade 2015.1, the last version of that application currently available.

 

Adobe has "removed" the Direct Link connection between this newest Premiere Pro version and SpeedGrade CC2015.1, so the ability to use the panels within that application also is rather more necessary than just "nice" at times. To grade (color correct) your media within an Adobe multiverse, you either use Premiere Pro's Color workspace and the rather nifty Lumetri panel, or do an old-style EDL export out, import that and your media clips into SpeedGrade, export the clips out of there, re-import into Premiere Pro and finish with titles & such.

 

Or, you can work in the older PrPro version 2015.2 to use the Direct Link process between Premiere Pro & SpeedGrade. (There is a third-party application that converts Premiere Pro CC2015.3/cc2017 project files into files usable within SpeedGrade CC2015.1 from NTown Productions for purchase as another option.)

 

Given the new capabilities of the Lumetri workspace, including a very nice Secondary section, and the ability to use colorist surfaces within PrPro, how does this ... work? Within especially Premiere Pro CC2017?

 

In all, very, very well ... for the most part. With a few caveats I'll cover in later posts, the "trip" from the 2015.2 version to (now) 2017 is a big upgrade, between the combination of a few new Lumetri "tricks" but mostly the ability to use colorist surface controls. And for many users, the use of the control surfaces within Lumetri will overcome the loss of the easy trip to SpeedGrade and back.

 

And for now, which surface I'd recommend? Both! I'll cover the "why" in my next post.

 

Neil