Tiffen DFX 4.0 OFX in DaVinci Resolve 11
COW Library : Tiffen DFX Filters : Dennis Kutchera : Tiffen DFX 4.0 OFX in DaVinci Resolve 11
I'm not the newest kid on the block, but you can teach this old dog a lot of new tricks. I started working in post-production when tape was still king and then in 1994, I move over to Avid, followed by Media 100 and Final Cut Pro and then back to Avid. When I arrived back in Avidland, we adopted DaVinci Resolve as our colour grading platform. But the more I use Resolve, the more I find myself looking for tools it doesn't have. With the introduction of support for OFX plugins, you can now add third party tools to Resolve to enhance your workflow.
For a number of years, Tiffen has been selling a plugin called DFX. It contains 130 filters, which emulate Tiffen's camera filters, film lab processes and film stocks as well as some other really great picture enhancement and repair filters. It's already been available for After Effects and most non-linear editors. Now, with the release of Tiffen DFX 4.0, there is an OFX version available that runs in DaVinci Resolve and Assimilate Scratch. I've been using it in Resolve 11 where it adds tools I've been wishing Resolve had.
The Tiffen Universal GUI
In many of the individual filters, you will find numerous presets and looks available via Tiffen's own GUI that can be launched from with the OpenFX Panel in Resolve. This gives you literally a couple of thousand possibilities according to Tiffen. It's worth noting that while they provide a universal GUI, you don't have to use it and I rarely do unless I want to preview some of the available ready-made looks. In fact, the only times you really, really need the DFX GUI is when you want to modify the Looks or Film Stocks filters where the Tiffen GUI ads controls such as curves that are not available in the OFX controls of Resolve as well as multiple previews.
Using Tiffen DFX inside DaVinci Resolve
Using Tiffen DFX within Resolve is easy. You add an OFX filter from the color page. Simply create a node and drag a filter from the Library to the node, one OFX effect per node. To remove it, right click on the node and select "Remove OFX Plugin". There are a couple of other settings for OFX in the right click menu that I have not yet experimented with - "Add OFX Input" and "Use OFX Alpha".
Lots of Useful Filters, GPU Accelerated
I find that with a lot of multi-filter plugins, there is a small core set of useful filters clustered with a lot that I might never use. But with Tiffen, I find the majority of the filters to be quite useful, whether it is to create a quick look or fix a camera problem. I haven't explored every filter in detail, but there have been some real eureka moments with DFX.
If you already own DFX 3.0, with Tiffen DFX 4, the most important new feature for anyone considering an upgrade for other host applications such as Premiere, Vegas and Media Composer, is that DFX 4.0 is now GPU accelerated. So you don't have to render DFX filters to get real time play back.
Fast Results without having to use 9 or 10 nodes in Resolve
I recently had about half the time it would normally take to grade a nature program. The director wants a larger than life look because this particular series is set in Canada's far north, where sometimes there isn't a lot of vibrant colour. So I was looking for something that would get me there faster than with the straight Resolve options. I found the filter called 3 Strip fit the bill really well as a foundation to build on. It basically simulates the Technicolor Film Process. If you search online, you will find tutorials on how to achieve this with just the tools in Resolve, but it involves about 9 or 10 nodes and a lot of settings. With the Tiffen 3 strip. the default that I just dragged and dropped gave me what I wanted as a foundation look, fast and furious! You can adjust the filter or work with Resolve controls to further enhance the look.
Three strip before
Three Strip after
Tiffen DFX 4.0 Adds Color Temperature Controls to Resolve
Some of the filters are close in function to each other, but fine tuned to specific needs with names that make their usefulness obvious. For example, Tiffen offers the color temperature controls that Resolve never had. These are extremely useful, particularly when you can adjust it in multiple ranges. You will find it as a standalone with Brightness, Temperature and Cyan/Magenta shift controls with 4 sets of controls - Master, Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights. The same temperature controls appear as part of the Color Correction filter where they are teamed up with RGB balance, brightness, contrast and saturation, also divided into Master and then Shadows, Midtones and Highlights, where you can further fine tune the range affected. Then there is a filter called Sky that adjusts temperature and ads a tinge of pink for added warmth. Haze is similar, but with characteristics that reduces excessive blue, like a UV filter.
FL/B adjusts in a different direction to effectively eliminate the ugly green cast from fluorescent lights. It's a simple and effective single purpose, single control filter. Yes, you could achieve this with your track balls in Resolve, but using this simple filter is faster and the results are consistent rather than random.
The Tiffen DFX keyer is a superior qualifier
If you have been underwhelmed by the keyer used for the Qualifier in Resolve, you will find the keyer in Tiffen DFX refreshing.
Unfortunately, it does not use an eyedropper to sample the image, but once you figure out the best way to set it, the results are second to none. Depending on the filter, options are by luminance, saturation, hue and individual colours. It's depth varies by filter, with the Selective Color Correct filter probably having the most options on the keyer to isolate the color you wish to change. It is very good indeed and if you combine it with a Power Window, you can pull off an isolation that would be difficult with DaVinci Resolve's Qualifier.
Selective Color Correct before
Selective Color Correct Matte
Selective Color Correct after
Tiffen Ozone Filter
One of my favorite DFX filters is called Ozone. It breaks down the values in a picture down to 11 zones based on luminance, saturation, specific colour, etc. It is very useful. In previous seasons of the nature series I am color grading, I was able to use it to control and correct layers of haze in aerial shots of mountain ranges. I'm pretty excited to have it inside Resolve now because it is a real Swiss army knife kind of tool.
Notice in my screen grab how parts of the shoreline are burning out. I you can see in the controls that I made adjustments in two zones to darken the brighter parts of the shore. As with all DFX filters, you can preview a matte of the range of the image you will be altering. This is fully adjustable. A good keyer is essential for color grading and Tiffen's is simply excellent.
One Tiffen DFX filter that became indispensable for me is DeFringe. Sometimes the lens or the sensor of a camera can cause color fringing at the border between bright and dark objects, typically magenta or green. With DeFringe, you can completely eliminate these color artifacts. Just select the offending color and adjust. You can even preview the matte to see exactly what you are affecting. The matte is adjustable, so you can isolate exactly what you are removing. However, I found that probably 90% of the time, the default is the best setting. My example below is actually a still I shot through polycarbonate eyeglasses which have horrific chromatic aberration. I returned them for normal lenses and I don't recommend them. But this image gave me a really clear example of what the Defringe filter will do. Note the heavy blue outline along the snow bank under my mask. The second image shows the matte preview of what is going to be fixed and finally the end result with no blue remaining on the edge of the snowbank.
I found another unintended use for the DeFringe filter. If you have a shot with mixed light, you can remove the blue from outdoor light in an indoor shot. I have also been able to tame the blue on a person's face caused by light from a computer screen. I could either eliminate it and restore a natural skin tone or reduce it to a more aesthetically pleasing balance.
Defringe blue computer glow before
Defringe blue computer glow gone
Defringe blue computer glow controlled
If you go to Tiffen's website (http://software.tiffen.com/filters), you will find before and after examples of the filters, much more than I could show you in this review, but here is a word or two about some of my other favorites.
Enhancing is another filter that I have been using a lot on nature shots. It lets you select a color and make it really pop with minimal effect on other colors. It's default is red. I've used this a lot in other host applications, but I found it to be a little buggy in Resolve in that it can cause what looks like bright pixels.
Day for Night was a scene saver for me on a recent docudrama mini-series where the editor inserted two images shot at high noon into a night scene. I was able to do a pretty convincing match to the night shots with a little tweaking of the settings.
The Vignette from Tiffen DFX 4 is fabulous. You can adjust luminance or blur the vignette. You can also distort the shape into something much more organic than an oval or circle.
The DFX filters combine well with Resolve's Power Windows. I love the Reflector filter for filling in dark area on a face. The few times I used it, the matte was already in the right range of the part of a face that I wanted to brighten. Using a rather loose Power Window prevents it from affecting other objects in the shot that might fall into the same range.
Flag achieves the opposite result to Ozone, darkening a selected part of the image.
Using the Gels filter with the Gradient Power Window and the Resolve qualifier has proven to be a great way to enhance the colour of the sky or water.
The Polarizer filter is shockingly effective on a lot of water shots. You won't see the coral reef, but it does reduce the surface glare and restore some of the richness to the color.
Lens Distortion is useful for reshaping the image to reduce pincushioning or barrel distortion from a lens.
If preset looks are your magic bullet, then the filters Looks and Black/White are what you want to try. They simulate a variety of color and black and white photographic/film looks, diffusion and color grad camera filters, lighting gels, film stocks and optical lab processes.
Some OFX Limitations in Resolve
What these filters don't work well with is Resolve's keyframer. Setting dynamic keyframes and changing values did not result in a smooth transition from one setting to another. It just snapped values like a static keyframe. Apparently this is a Resolve OFX issue.
The tracker in Resolve does not seem to work with OFX plugins either. There is a great little filter called Eye Light. Picture a matte that is shaped like goggles that is used to brighten the eyes under the rim of a hat. The shape is exactly what you need, with a notch for the bridge of the nose, but Resolve's tracker refuses to play with these plugins, so I can't use it.
I've only scratch the surface of what is possible with Tiffen DFX 4 inside of DaVinci Resolve. It adds a lot of functionality that Resolve either does not have or is not obvious or easily achieved. It does not replace Resolve's tools by any means, but it helps you quickly solve problems or create looks without having to start from scratch and build a node forest. Whether you are a seasoned pro or an aspiring colorist, you will find yourself reaching for Tiffen DFX 4 to create new looks as well as to fix problems in your shots. It's easy to use and covers a lot of ground. With the new GPU acceleration the debut OFX version of Tiffen DFX 4.0 for DaVInci Resolve and Assimilate Scratch allows you to work in real time or a fast render. You owe it to yourself to download a trial of Tiffen DFX 4.0
(http://software.tiffen.com/products/dfx-products) and give it a test drive.
Tiffen DFX 4.0 is a full 5 COW rated in my Colorist toolbox.
Dennis Kutchera is a Colorist and Online Editor at Arcadia Content (http://arcadiacontent.com/) in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada and a founding member of Creative COW.