Neutral grade plate for CGI | VFX Fundamentals

Neutral grading plates for CGI don’t have to be that hard, however, I have to admit color science can be hard and very complex when you deal with specific LUTs and cameras. In this very basic example, I take my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k raw footage and “neutral” grade it into sRGB colorspace as I want to use the same colorspace when rendering inside Autodesk Maya. The plate I intended to use was for a tutorial using the new material system in Mari and I needed a plate to put the object into. When Rendering images all light operations should be in a Linear colorspace but our monitors all have some kind of gamma built-in and most common is sRGB or Rec709 calibrated monitors.


Xrite color checker video passport

 Davinci resolve has a tool to match different types of color charts to get colors and exposure in the ballpark and I always have the small and foldable color checker video passport in my gear bag. It’s an easy win to throw-in at the end of each light setup or scene. I shot the backplates using Blackmagic raw as it gives me the best freedom in postproduction to grade it. The initial plate pass was using the color checker to set the initial color match and a few extra adjustments to set my black and white levels to something similar to the scene I captured in the camera. The new Davinci resolve update has the new adjustment layer that in my case helped to blanket grade using a VFX lut that takes my sRGB colorspace to Linear. 


 In Maya I set the linear colorspace to be sRGB/Rec709 with an sRGB viewer transform and the imported backplate should match what I graded in Davinci Resolve

 Let’s take a look.