Apple Color 1.5 review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 695 . 216

  • Pros: Substantial improvements in round tripping from Final Cut Pro; support for the new ProRes and other formats at up to 4K; affordable control surface support; myriad fixes.

  • Cons: Still a few issues with Final Cut Pro round tripping; effects, transitions and filters done in FCP don’t display in Color; slow final renders; no network rendering for final output; high system requirements.

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Four years ago, control surfaces cost between £6,000 and £20,000. Now there are options starting at around £600, such as Tangent Devices Wave and the Euphonix MC Control. Those price points make much more sense for a £600 software suite, and are much more likely to be adopted.

You can now directly import and grade DPX files without requiring an EDL (Edit Decision List) exported from elsewhere -- enabling the grading of dailies for film scans. Rendering has been streamlined with an option to render only the unrendered shots, an improvement over prior versions.

You can now copy grades to all selected clips, quite handy for scenes that cut between angles. You can also copy and paste in the Color FX room, display the waveform in either NTSC or PAL standards, and pressing Shift-Z scales the entire timeline to fit into the viewer. As a final bonus, you can download 90 Apple designed looks, such as Bleach Bypass and Day for Night from Apple's Web site.

Not a Mac app

Color 1.5 still has a very non-Mac, non-Apple look and feel with a very specific goal and skill set, but its edges are now merely lumpy instead of dangerously sharp. For optimal performance, the hardware requirements are still high -- a fast Mac Pro, a high performance video card, one monitor of at least 1680-x-1050 resolution, or ideally two monitors with as high resolution as you can get.

Client-built timelines are less likely to need meticulous, microscopic analysis and testing to make sure they'll round trip correctly as compared to early versions of Color. It still doesn't process as fields instead of frames (interlaced fields in footage get mangled if blurred, scaled, or rotated). It doesn't show effects, transitions, or plug-ins applied in Final Cut, and it still has trouble with mixed frame rate projects (requiring hand tweaking back in Final Cut to get your edits to match again). But it is also the most powerful, real-time capable (for some formats) color corrector I'm aware of that integrates so nicely with one of the major editing platforms.

The power and speed with which you can isolate color ranges and manipulate the colors, and the ability to grade film-scanned DPX or Cineon files puts it in a league of its own at this price point -- or anywhere near it.

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