When it comes to affordable hardware for post-production, “affordable” is often a relative term. What may be affordable for one is not necessarily affordable for another. Sometimes there may be limited choices for a particular piece of hardware so the price point is the price point and there’s not much the purchaser can do about it. Color grading control surfaces are no different. While some applications like Apple Color and RedCine – X support both the Tangent Wave and Euphonix MC Color others, like DaVinci Resolve and The Foundry’s STORM, don’t. This article is a call for developers to support both.
Let’s take color grading controls surfaces for example. If you’re not buying a high end color grading system that includes a dedicated surface, like a Baselight Blackboard or the $30,000 DaVinci Resolve panel, then the choices are the Euphonix MC Color or the Tangent Wave. They both retail for around $1,500. The Wave comes in at $1,494.95 and the MC Color at $1,699.95 (those are B&H prices). There’s also the JL Cooper Eclipse CX but at $6,222.95 it’s at a different pricing level and not really relevant to this discussion.
While $1,500 isn’t an amount to sneeze at, $1,500 for a Wave or MC Color isn’t unreasonable for the editor or colorist who is doing serious color correction work and making money doing it.
But what is unreasonable is $3,000 + for the post-professional who just might have to buy BOTH the Wave and MC Color since many (most?) applications support either / or … But not both. As stated above this article is a call for developers to support both.
I say developers in general, and not software developers or the two hardware developers specifically, as I really don’t know who would be to blame for say, DaVinci Resolve only supporting the Tangent Wave. Blackmagic Design did the development support for the Tangent Wave on their own but who’s to blame for Resolve not seeing MC Color support? Blackmagic or Euphonix? Why is it that Smoke for Mac only supports MC Color? Is that because of Autodesk or Tangent Devices?
Frankly, I don’t think it really matters to the end user who has taken time to research both devices only to have to decide on one, spend $1,500 and not be able to use it with software where it seems like it should be supported.
As of this writing this is what it looks like for software support of these devices:
Tangent Wave support (according to the Tangent website):
- Apple – Color (v1.5 or later)
- DaVinci – Resolve
- Assimilate – SCRATCH ( v4.0 or later)
- Iridas – SpeedGrade & FrameCycler
- RED – REDcineX ( OSX version only)
- Synthetic Aperture – Color Finesse ( v3.0.2 or later)
- Digital Film Technology – Bones
- Interactive Effects – Piranha & IFX Ant film
- Cineform – Neo4K & Neo3D
- The Pixel Farm – PF Clean
- Pomfort – SilverStack
- Marquise Technologies – MIST & OCEAN
- Sondor – ALTRA
Euphonix MC Color support (according to the Euphonix website):
- Apple Color
- Autodesk Smoke for Mac
- The Foundry’s STORM
- RedCine – X
(a special note has to be made here at Avid purchased Euphonix last year so I can’t imagine that we won’t see future MC Color support in Media Composer, Symphony or D|S).
Out of those lists only Apple Color and RedCine – X supports both. Obviously the Wave has been around a lot longer than the MC Color so it has many more applications that support it but there’s a few key applications missing from each list.
I don’t write software so I have no idea how much work might be involved bringing control surface support to a given application. I also don’t know in what cases that work would fall on the software developer vs. the hardware developer. There are probably SDKs involved with both products that puts the burden on the software developers. It’s hard to imagine that Euphonix would spend too much time to support something like SilverStack (a product that has a somewhat limited market at this time) if it was too much work. But I have a hard time believing that Euphonix wouldn’t want to put the development time and effort into supporting Resolve since that’s one of the more powerful and visible grading applications on the Mac today. And to think that the cool and affordable STORM won’t eventually support the Wave (once version 1.0 is released) would probably make a few RED camera / Apple Color / Tangent Wave owners upset (maybe it will).
This goes back to the question of exactly who is responsible for that control surface support of a given application. It should be enough in this rather small world of affordable color grading tools that we should be able to choose ONE of the two affordable control surfaces that are available and be able to use that one surface with the majority of those tools. And it would seem in the best interests of the software manufacturers to support both of these affordable control surfaces since you don’t want a customer to not try your application just because they have the other surface.
Yes it will take some thought as to which buttons map where and yes it might require one company to talk to the other but this hardware support parity for both the Tangent Wave and MC Color in should be done for the good for the user. It would be a great gesture of good will and support for the customer if they could make this happen. It’s not the end of the world if both aren’t supported and the biggest current market is Apple Color which supports both but Resolve is currently only supported by one and STORM by the other. Let’s hope both of these adds support for the other in the future.