Color Management in indeed an important aspect, but from your description, it seems that you should be concerned with "color correction" first.
Color Management is about getting reliable and predictable color rendition. It's not really about defining the "look" of your project. If your shots are not properly exposed, for example, Color Management will only make it more reliable to assure they're not properly exposed. Color correction is all about fixing those problems, or stylizing the overall look. If two takes don't intercut well, for example, then you have to correct color balance, exposure, so one matches the other.
After Effects includes a ton of effects which can be used for color correction, including Levels, Curves, Hue/Satuarion, etc. And it also includes a streamlined color correction plug-in called Color Finesse. I think the Color Finesse documentation is a good starting point, regardless of what you end up using. If you go to the folder in which After Effects is installed, and look into the "Effects" folder, you should see a folder called Synthetic Aperture. The Color Finesse manual should be inside that folder.
Also, After Effects Help has a section on Color correction and adjustments. It includes a number of links to other resources.
Mark Christiansen's book After Effects CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques is very recommended.
As for the Color Management workflow, there's a specific white paper on the Adobe web site on this very subject, but I am not sure that's a good starting point. Instead, I think the AE help page on Color Management is better to get your feet wet, and then go through the white paper. Again, there are several links to other resources in the AE Help page about Color Management.
Thanks, yes, color correction is the right word. And the help file describes exactly what I need - to make fooages shot under different conditions look like they are taken the same moment. What I need the most is a way to watch how my pictures are, I do not trust my eyes. Watching a Finesse video tutor I found on their web site, it looks like they have what I need. However, when firing up Finesse, I get an error message telling me that I need Quicktime 7.0.2 or newer, but I have Quicktime 7.6.4 (?).
So - what is Finesse really complaining about?
This is from the video, and it looks VERY interesting. Is this part of Finesse?
The misleading error message is because QT 7.6.4 is broken. It doesn't know how to load it's own DLLs without some additional help.
Reverting to an earlier version of QT will fix this, or if you email us directly (support "at" synthetic-ap "dot" com) we can provide a beta of version 2.1.11 of Color Finesse which works around the bug. The non-beta version will be available next week.
And, yes, that screenshot is of Color Finesse.
You mentioned Color Finesse for After Effects.
I have been trying to find a way to get a reliable match between Video preview inside the Color FInesse Plugin and that inside the After Effects. Do you know if the Color Finesse plug-in in any way aware of color management inside of AE cs5? am I missing something obvious?
Sent that last message a bit too quickly.
What I meant to say is that the Full UI mode of Color Finesse is not color managed. When working with the Simplified Interface (and thus viewing the results directly in AE) then you see color managed results.
Oh no. That's too bad.
Firstly - I love the UI,firewire second monitor output, and design - but, sadly, the lack of color management kills it for me.
Each time you go into the Fineses UI, the colour shifts back to the unmanaged state. And on wide gamut monitors like mine, the over saturation makes it unusable. I'm using colour management to ensure that my working space accurately refects the intended destination.
Is this something you plan to address? - it seems quite a critical feature - given the nature of the product, and it's integration into CS5.
I see this thread hasn't been updated in a while. I to really like the Color Finesse plugin - the full interface that is. I wish it was made clear though - if you are using color management in AE then the full interface Color Finesse plugin is useless - as it's not color managed. The simplified interface just doesn't work for me either.
I don't beleive there will be a Color Managed version of CF in the short term.
On another, similar note. For those of use using both Premier Pro and AE, the former uses YcrCb and the later RGB color spaces which means there could be some clipping when importing clips into AE. I know there is the proc amp plugin in Premier Pro to pull in highlights etc so they don't get clipped - but I am surprised there is nothing in AE to do the same - as far as I can see - it just clips to bring values into the RGB range. I hope I'm wrong about this and someone out there is going to say - yes- there is a AE plugin (or better yet, native tool) that doesn't clip during the conversion - and as a bonus if a fully fledged color grading application as well (I wonder how Coloristra does in this space).
The clipping of super-whites won't occur if you're in a 32-bit project.
AE is an RGB app, and in 8- and 16-bit projects it scales black to white across the full range of RGB values, 0-255 or 0-32768 as the case may be. Only in 32-bit floating point projects can AE represent super-whites, which it does using values greater than 1.0.
AE (CS4/CS5 anyway) will "do the right thing" when importing most commonly used YUV codecs into a 32-bit project; that is, super-white values will be preserved as values > 1.0. You can then use any 32-bit compatible plug-in, such as Color Finesse or the built-in Exposure, to adjust the reduce the white levels without clipping. Color Finesse 3 added a "Highlight Recovery" feature (in the Levels tab) specifically to help preserve the details found in super-whites.
(And what you "believe" may turn out not to be true...)