Two Great Strides in the Democratisation of Colour Grading


Regular readers of this blog know, that I have been dreaming about a low-cost grading control surface for years. At some point I even considered attempting to build one myself, but this project never got more serious than an extensive set of notes. There were a few remotely interesting ideas around, including the Oxygen TecPro panel, the use of Kingston trackball or some midi hacks with various controllers, but these were either makeshift or still too expensive, not suited for the ultimate goal that was to make every editor have it in their suite. Today the announcement of Tangent Ripple and support for it in the upcoming update of Adobe Premiere Pro and Color Finale for FCPX hopefully closes this chapter.
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BlackMagic Design denies rumors – or do they?

Peter Chamberlain from BlackMagic Design did deny any rumors (guess which ones?) that they are working on the cheaper control surface, believing that the segment is well saturated by other manufacturers. This is of course based on an assumption that the lowest segment is the price range that AVID, Tangent and JL Cooper are targetting, ie. around $1500-$2000. I must admit, that the release of Tangent Element, with the basic control surface at the cost of about $1200 is interesting, however it is still far above what I would consider the real democratization barrier – around $500-$700.

I understand all the limitations of such pricing, including the fact that this kind of surface would be looked by all proffessionals as a toy, which it would indeed be out of necessity of using cheap materials. I still believe it can be done, if R&D costs can be covered, and that it would introduce more people to color grading, than all the plugins combined.

It might of course be my wish to have at my disposal something that I’m currently not able to afford. But I also can’t help but to notice certain wording in Peter’s message. Namely:

…we have no plans for a cheaper panel at NAB. (emphasis added)

So… will anyone pick up the challenge? Or is my premise inherently flawed, and the future of color grading lies somewhere else?