[Tig] Is FinalTouch any good

Tyler A. Hawes tyler
Thu Apr 6 05:06:10 BST 2006

Thanks to oktobor for supporting the TIG
I just wanted to respond to some comments on Final Touch I don't think are
very accurate. As Jack acknowledged, his information is second-hand, so this
is in no way an attack on Jack, just sharing my different perspective. Good
men can disagree:

On 4/3/06 2:17 PM, "Jack James" <jack at surrealroad.com> wrote:

> I've no personal experience,
> but from what I gather (this was from two other
> colorists) it's very slow and not particularly intuitive.

I don't think that's a fair description of Final Touch, but those are
subjective assessments after all, so I'll just stick to the facts I observe
as one who works with the system day in/out:

Speed: With the fastest Mac and graphics card, I can do primary grading in
real-time on HD/2K. Drop a few secondaries and it'll drop a few frames per
second, but still play fast enough to make decisions for 90% of customers
(there are always sticklers who insist you must have exactly 24fps to do
anything; I'm more pragmatic than that). I still am always wishing for more
speed, but who doesn't?

Easy of use:  Its certainly not difficult to use, as we have colorists
who've never seen it before sit down and be very productive within two or
three days' use. Taking a brief survey among our troops, we all agree that
some aspects of its UI we totally love and think it is the way it "should"
be done, but there are a few areas that are still immature and can obviously
be improved. The feeling from us is generally positive, and given the very
rapid development ramp we are seeing from Silicon Color, I'm optimistic that
they'll address our gripes in short order. Plus they continue to think of
things we hadn't yet, which is even better.

> The proxies are
> mandatory if you want to mess around with vignettes etc, and "they look like
> mpeg-1" is what I was told. Your client will definitely get bored.

This is absolutely incorrect. In the past nine months we've finished about a
dozen films with FinalTouch, originating from 35mm, Super16 and digital at
HD and 2k resolutions, with multiple colorists working in tandem on the
films using our SAN, and we have never, ever used proxies at all. The many
accomplished DPs we've had work with us on it have not had any complaint
about the secondaries or vignettes, but we have had very strong positive
feedback. I don't think any of our clients are getting bored; generally they
find grading to be a fun, positive (though mentally demanding) process with
FinalTouch (not saying this is specific to FT; grading *should* be fun to
anyone devoted to 'the image').

The only "proxies" we ever use is FT does have a toggle setting called
"Proxy Color FX" that lets you interact with the picture in a draft mode. It
is not creating a separate set of files, simply being less accurate how it
previews off the GPU. You do not normally need to use this mode, but it is
helpful if you are trying to do a very demanding Color FX tree and want a
little more interactive feedback as you fine-tune an effect. Since the Color
FX tree is one of the most unique and powerful features of FT that is not
really equaled in most other DI systems, I view this as a total feature and
in no way a bad ting.

> My personal view on silicon color products is that they seem to be aimed
> squarely at students/universities/whatever rather than production-level
> work.

No software company makes money selling to students and universities.
Students don't have any money :)  Silicon Color IS making money selling to
companies like ours, though.

We are doing multimillion dollar budget independent features in Hollywood
with FinalTouch. They may not be tent pole studio movies (we are working on
some very big movies too, but not with FinalTouch yet), but I think they
certainly qualify as "production-level" given the veteran producers, actors,
and crew that are working on them and that they are getting distribution.
One is even getting a 70mm release. Our competitors are respected facilities
in LA, not students or people working out of their garage.

FinalTouch is not perfect, and there have been some struggles along the way
as they continue to mature the product. However, we've built a profitable
business with it. It's certainly appropriate for a company offering DI
services to give it serious consideration, and not fair to dismiss it

Tyler A. Hawes

T: 323.850.3550
F: 323.850.3551
C: 310.776.1349

1041 N. Formosa Avenue
Formosa Bldg., Suite 10
West Hollywood, CA 90046

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