August 16, 2016

MIDIGrade Brings DIY to Color Grading Hardware

MIDIGrade
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.

Julius Koivistoinen and his MIDI Controller
Filmmaker Julius Koivistoinen holding the MIDI controller he has customized for Resolve grading.Credit: MIDIGrade

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.

Specs:

  • 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)

Your Comment

14 Comments

"note that THIS IS WORKS IN MAC OS X ONLY"
Source: http://www.midigrade.com/

August 16, 2016 at 10:59AM, Edited August 16, 11:00AM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator
1469

Good catch. Would be pretty neat to have a Premiere version of this too.

August 16, 2016 at 11:27AM

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There is one, a modular controller system called Palette.

http://palettegear.com/premiere_pro

August 16, 2016 at 11:38AM

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Pat Heine
Producer.
171

Have you tried Palette with Resolve before? Would be interested to know if it works well.

August 16, 2016 at 3:56PM

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Steve Yager
Filmmaker
305

That's right. Thanks for sharing.
Here's more info regarding compatibility with Windows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ornqtJzwLOo
I am currently developing a Windows version and I already have a working prototype but it takes a lot of testing and fine-tuning before it will become available. But the best thing is that it's coming!

August 16, 2016 at 12:43PM

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Julius Koivistoinen
Cinematographer
13

Please come out w/ the Windows version soon! Thanks!

August 16, 2016 at 10:50PM, Edited August 16, 10:50PM

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Joe Gunawan
DP/Camera Op/1st&2ndAC/Commercial Photographer
462

I wonder if this would work with the BEHRINGER B-CONTROL ROTARY BCR2000.

August 16, 2016 at 7:31PM

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I have used controlermate to map the BCR2000, it did work, but its a huge B**** to set up, but if you have the time , go ahead I have never finished it sadly!
(I now have a Elements Panel at work).

August 16, 2016 at 8:14PM

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the dj tools one has customizable multi colored led lights that are very helpful

August 17, 2016 at 9:06AM

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Gregory Greenhaw
DPO/Colorist
97

The amount of people that are going to buy this thinking its the hardware ....

August 16, 2016 at 9:31PM

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What is wrong with ripple options in the menu?

August 16, 2016 at 11:22PM

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Nikola Stefanovic
Colorist
8

I use the DJ Technologies Midi Fighter Twister with Adobe Lightroom (OSX) and a free plugin called Knobroom. The combination works very well for colour correcting still photos. I'm going to have to give this a try since I already have the hardware.

http://djtechtools.com/2015/08/17/knobroom-adobe-lightroom-midi-control-fast-photo-editing/

August 17, 2016 at 12:42PM

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Craig Cerhit
Photographer / Filmmaker
81

Alternative/complimentary input devices is where its at. Right now in addition to keyboard and mouse I have a track ball, foot pedals and a PS2 style controller. Not only does it improve my workflow in a variety of applications, but it also keeps my body from falling apart during long computer sessions. A MIDI controller or shuttle knob is next on my list.

August 17, 2016 at 7:59PM

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Nathan Taylor
Jack of all trades, master of none
281

Nice! Looking forward to more tactile interfaces coming out. The Palette looks promising as well.

I currently use a second hand SpacePilot PRO 3D Mouse to do a lot of my cutting and basic editing. Once you've memorized the functions, it's very quick and intuitive to us alongside a Kengsington TrackBall. Currently have 22 shortcuts assigned to it. It's nice to be able to switch it up from the standard keyboard after a few hours of editing. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=712775&gclid=Cjw...

August 18, 2016 at 10:15AM, Edited August 18, 10:15AM

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Tom Hirschmann
Aerial Specialist
8