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AI finally masters the art of automating expensive movie colour grading



The way movies are made is changing significantly, and more of the movie making process is being automated by AI and synthetic content.


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In recent years advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean that it’s been getting better and better creating all types of content, from art, games, and music, to writing books and scripts, video, and making movies. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise therefore when I say that in time, as we see AI creating more of its own synthetic content, it will also start helping automate more of the movie making workflow. And after AI recently managed to automate the very expensive art of sound mastering the latest part of the workflow to get the AI treatment, thanks to a startup called Colourlab Ai, is colour grading – a task that’s normally expensive, laborious, and thankless.


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And if you wonder why colour grading is important, well, just watch any piece of video content and you’ll see why. After all, get the colouring wrong and all of a sudden that piece of gorgeous video you’re watching has an altogether different feel and impact.


See it in action


Colourlab Ai has been developed by Hollywood-based Colour Intelligence, headed up by colour scientist Dado Valentic and industry movie veterans Mark Pederson and Steve Bayes. To give you an idea of the company’s pedigree it has been working for clients including Warner Brothers, HBO, Netflix, NBC Universal, and CBS, for decades now, providing them with specialist grading plugins and supervising with advanced HDR colour pipelines.


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Colourlab Ai is new though, and with three years of development behind it, the company is about to publicly unveil the software and make it available to the first 500 applicants, providing early adopter access to the software. This will allow these users to test the software while it is still in development and to feedback on performance, feature requests etc before its first public release later this year.

In short the new software takes the pain out of grading hundreds of different shots in a production. Imagine, for example, you have a TV show, and you want a consistent graded look across the entire thing. Colourlab Ai can take either your own grade or a reference shot, examine the footage, and then apply that look consistently across the entire edit, or the shots that you choose on a scene by scene basis. The software knows what type of composition you have used, whether there are people in the shot, and much more.


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Effectively what it is doing is taking away the laborious manual part of grading and giving you back the time saved so that you can use it for creative processes instead. But unlike software of the past that might have tried to make similar claims, as you can see for yourselves this works and works well. And it does so because it uses a very different thinking behind how it achieves it.

Steve Bayes, who is a former Avid designer and Apple Pro Video Product manager responsible for software hits including Avid Symphony, Final Cut Pro, and FCP X provided angel investment for the development of Colourlab Ai had this to say:

“This software has the potential to save filmmakers hours or even days of work, with a Metal accelerated single step to process and color match 24 hours of dailies in less than 15 minutes, and we can deliver consistent, high-quality results across all shots. No preset is ever going to be able to do that – and that is the genius of Colourlab Ai.”


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So, even though you might have never thought about the people responsible for colour grading your movies or the content you watch you might want to spare them a thought or two as AI, yet again, proves itself capable of automating away yet another human job.

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