MIDIGrade Brings DIY to Color Grading Hardware
Finnish Filmmaker Julius Koivistoinen uses a DJ MIDI Controller and some smart programming to build a sub-$300 solution for controlling DaVinci Resolve.
Color correction systems have come with dedicated hardware interfaces pretty much as long as they’ve been around, going back to the basic controls on a Hazeltine, through the telecine-based systems of the '80s and '90s, and on to the software-based systems of today. Manipulating the color of your image requires a lot of different inputs, often entered simultaneously or nearly so, and a keyboard and mouse just doesn’t quite cut it if you want to move quickly and keep your eyes on your image rather than the interface.
However, even the cheapest current option for this (the Tangent Ripple) costs $350, and it only controls lift/gamma/gain and color balance with no controls for power windows or secondary selector refinement. Those controls will run you up to $1500 for wave panels or multiple element panels. This is a fair price if you are building a client-facing color suite, but likely too expensive for the directors, editors, and cinematographers who often handle grading themselves on fast turnaround projects.
MIDIGrade is a tool for using a MIDI board designed for DJs to control Resolve.
Because the world is an amazing place, Finnish filmmaker Julius Koivistoinen has found a cost effective work around to avoid the pricier boards. He has built MIDIGrade, a tool for using a MIDI board designed for DJs to control Resolve, by combining a readily available devices (Midi Fighter Twister), with some mass-market controller software customized for Resolve. What MIDIGrade is selling is the custom mapping for the board to work with Resolve. You could do this yourself, but of course it would take a lot of time that could be spent grading or shooting instead. By purchasing MIDIgrade, you get a consumer-friendly price point (around $50) for a professional toolset and someone else having gone through the hassle.
The most exciting feature for me is the quick control over your power windows. This is a struggle with all of the boards that I’ve used, to the point where I generally switch to the mouse. The “speed up by pushing in the knob” feature of MidiGrade should be really helpful for quickly adjusting your vignettes and other shape-based corrections. Also exciting is the care that goes into programming: with the new version of the software, some knobs have been slowed down to give even finer-grained control over delicate settings. This is the kind of detail you see when the designer is both a regular user of the product, and actively listens to the end users.
MIDIGrade can be combined with the Ripple for a total of $650. This will leave you very well set up, but it still leaves me missing the last big tool that you really only have access to with the $30K full panels: ripple control. If you’ve ever had a client say, “Oh, you know, I like that last tweak, can you apply that to everything?” you’ll know how useful ripple control can be. It's certainly not MIDIGrade's fault that Resolve doesn’t have a shortcut for ripple yet (got to drive $30K panel purchases somehow); I bet if it was possible, Koivistoinen would make it happen.
Other than that one minor frustration MIDIGrade provides a very powerful toolset for a less than $300 investment.
- Controls Power Window, ssl controller, and color adjustments
- USB Connection
- 16 high resolution Chroma Cap Encoders (MFT)
- Push switches on every knob (MFT)
- LED Feedback that syncs with the software (MFT)
- Works with Resolve, Studio, and App Store Studio
- REQUIRES: ControllerMate, Resolve 12.5, Midi Fighter Twister (MFT)