While reports of AI coming to steal our jobs have been around for decades, it hasn't seemed to happen yet. But we are finally starting to see tools, especially in post-production, that make our life easier and faster while still enabling a creative artist to be in charge.

The most impressive of these so far, Colourlab Ai, released out of beta last year, has just upgraded to 1.1 with a whole host of new features that should make life easier for colorists and filmmakers of all stripes.

One of the best new features is "frames of interest," which lets you tell the machine learning algorithm what the key frames you want to work on are. This is a big improvement since, as every filmmaker knows, your shots often change over the duration of the edit.

A character might walk from inside to outside, or a light gets turned off, or a character walks into a shadowy hallway. These are motion pictures, after all. If you aren't working on a sitcom, the shots aren't meant to stay the same. Frames of interest let you identify which are the "important" frames in a shot you are intent on matching.

Nofilmschool_colourlab_pickup_matchShots with two seperate cameras, shot months apart, that need to "match"

This is going to be especially vital for helping Colourlab overcome the one hurdle it faced in our original testing, which is changing light scenes. We were frankly shocked by how well everything worked in the Colourlab Ai test we ran, since most machine learning and auto color tools we try are disappointing.

This is a professional-quality toolset that will save even top-end colorists time, and thus money.

However, we did have to be critical as harder scenes—shots starting before dawn and ending in full daylight—caused it to struggle a bit. Of course, this is also a scene working colorists would need more time to tackle. The ability to pick which shot is the "key" frame for each image will go a long way toward making the process of grading a scene like that faster.

Screen_shot_2021-03-07_at_4Credit: Colourlab Ai

This latest update adds full native support for the new Apple Silicon M1 chip. While this isn't a surprise, as founder Dado Valentic has talked extensively about how deep integration with Apple hardware was essential to launching the first public version of Colourlab last spring, it is appreciated.

While the only current versions of the M1 are the 13" Macbook Pro and the Mac Mini, users are already finding them surprisingly powerful color grading machines considering their pricepoint and limited specs. With rumors of a more robust M1 MacBook Pro coming and the inevitable Apple Silicon Mac Pro will release in 2022, native support for Colourlab is a useful addition.

Screen_shot_2021-03-07_at_4Credit: Colourlab Ai

What's great about the original Colourlab release is that it has a solid film stock emulation tool, grain tool, and a look designer-built on traditional subtractive color processes of film (rather than the additive process of video), that can all be rolled together into a single license.

While the subtractive CMY system might at first feel a little bit obscure, it's actually a pretty fascinating bit of technology that allows you to think about color differently. It can allow for the creation of some looks that just aren't possible, or not as quickly, with the traditional RGB model. Since this is also how color film was graded for 70 years, it's a method that has a long history in motion pictures.

Colourlab Ai offers a 30-day free trial, then a variety of subscription options that let you pay either by the month or the year. That means if you are either a business, working colorist, or just a freelancer with a project to grade every year or so, it's worth taking a look.

You can find out more over on the Colourlab website