Apple Color 1.5: A Requiem

From Merriam-Webster:

re·qui·em

noun ˈre-kwē-əm also ˈrā- or ˈrē-

1: a mass for the dead

2a : a solemn chant (as a dirge) for the repose of the dead

Color 1.5 Is Dead

Last Call: Apple Color

Lost among the clamor over the past week of FCPx is that Final Cut Studio’s stand-alone color correction software, Color 1.5 – is now End-Of-Life.

There will be no more updates, no features added, and should some future Mac OS update break Color – Apple will not come to its rescue. In other words, the final, official stable release of Color is: Color v1.5.3 running on Mac OS X 10.6.7.

Is there a Color X?

Based on conversations I’ve had, reputable blog posts I’ve seen, and this ornery little tag line from the FCP X website:

“[FCPx is] Editing, sound and color. Together in one app.”

I’ve got to conclude that Apple is done with this market segment.

And my conclusion about Color X is based ENTIRELY on inference. There is no confirmation from Apple one way or another.

Here’s RED’s Jim Jannard’s statement, commenting generically, about the FCPx platform and product rollout:

Apple can fix this situation very easily… all they have to do is communicate what they are going to do with this app. If they don’t, many will jump ship. Once they do, it will be hard to get them back. I am the ultimate Apple fan. But this app signals a big change in philosophy. It doesn’t have to be that way… but somebody better say something pretty quickly.

Here’s what Graeme Nattress (the only plug-in developer for Apple Color) has posted on his homepage regarding support for his fantastic “Advanced Plug-Ins for Color”:

Apple have finally released their total re-write of FCP called FCPX. No Nattress plugin currently works with FCPX. When we know more, we’ll tell you. It also appears that Apple have abandoned their “Color” app – consequently, our Color Plugins are end of line.

UPDATE: I emailed Larry Jordan, who has had direct contact with Apple’s Pro Apps division (and people, he is absolutely, positively NOT an Apple employee). Here’s what he said:

I have not been explicitly told by Apple that Color is dead; I have no “smoking email.”  However, I have been implicitly led to believe that Color, as we know it, is not part of the future. Whether there is a “New Color” in Apple’s labs is something I don’t know.  What I said at the [London] SuperMeet was that Color was dead.  This is bit less nuanced, but gets to the same conclusion.

Why Color Mattered

Why should we care that Color is gone?

Normally, I’d mention how Apple Color (and before it, Final Touch) completely rejuvenated my career and my passion for working in this industry. But let’s disregard my emotional attachement to Apple Color.

Let’s also disregard how Apple Color is a FANTASTIC stepping stone for those who want to move their careers forward into tools like Resolve or Baselight (or even to deepen a person’s understanding of how to approach color grading in an NLE using filters and plug-ins).

Here is why Apple Color really truly mattered to those of us who make our livings color grading:

Apple Color, being bundled with Final Cut Pro, revealed to 2 million professional and prosumer content creators that color correction isn’t just a plug-in… color correction is a craft with its own unique toolset. And there exist artisans who practice it.

Or to put it in the lexicon of Apple, Inc.:

You mean there’s an app for that?

Yes people… there’s an app for color grading.

Final Cut Studio probably did more to raise the awareness of the craft of color grading than all the trade magazines and all the advertising campaigns by color correction vendors… combined.

That’s now gone. We are all going to have to carry that burden going forward if we want craftsman who can build and maintain a color grading career outside the handful of world-wide Hollywood-supported post-production conglomerates (not to say I wouldn’t mind working for one of them!).

Where Do Color Users Go From Here?

We move on.

This release of FCPx, as advanced as it is, clearly marks the main audience Apple is targeting. And they’re most emphatically NOT Apple Color users.

And I think it’s career suicide to optimistically hope that Apple will eventually ship Apple Color X.

My advice:

  1. If you’re already using Color. Keep using it – but flash your current install and keep it safe. As new OS updates roll out – and as long as Color stays stable -flash those installs as well. One day, Color will stop working and you’ll want to regress to that last stable configuration.
  2. Recognize that Apple Color was End – of -Life’d in 2007, when Apple initially released it. Other than RED support (which I understand was almost wholly developed by RED) and support for Tangent Wave, not a single new feature was rolled out for Apple Color… EVER. Want proof? When FCP went from v.6 to v.7, Color went from v1 to v1.5. If whole new features were added, Color would have gone to 2.0. What about those other ‘New Features’ touted by Apple in 2009? They were Studio-wide features – ProRes 4444 and 4k support. Sure, over the years Apple did a great job fixing problems, making interface tweaks, and did an amazing job on shoring up XML roundtrips… but major new features? Zip.
  3. For Apple Color users – in many ways, declaring Color 1.5 as End-of-Life is merely making official what many of us had inferred from Apple’s actions.
  4. It’s time to cross-train yourself: This is going to sound self-aggrandizing since The Tao Of Color will be offering Resolve 8 training in the next few weeks (and I’ve got a coupon code for the current training at the end of this post)… but if you’re using Apple Color today – you need to prepare yourself for the future. You could be learning Resolve 8 (a free, Resolve Lite version will be coming in July 2011), or waiting for the Baselight plug-in for FCP to be released and mastering that, or learning to use Color Finesse in After Effects, or becoming a color correction expert on Avid Media Composer, Symphony, DS, and then there’s the outstanding finishing tool (that has a good color grading toolset) AutoDesk Smoke. Whatever you ultimately decide, now’s the time to start thinking about it.
  5. Don’t do anything rash. Color works today as it did yesterday. You have time to decide on a game plan and then execute on it.
  6. Apple Color is STILL a GREAT tool to learn color grading. It’s a terrific platform from which to learn advanced skills that can be transferred to almost any other grading platform on the market (including Resolve 8). Use it while you can.
  7. Hmmm… Have I missed any other sage advice for Apple Color graders? Leave a comment below.

In Memoriam: Save $20 on Tao Of Color’s Training
To commemorate the untimely passing of a tool that did so much for me and many of my colleagues, I’ve just decided – literally, while writing this – to lower the price of Tao of Color’s “In Tent’s” MasterClass by offering anyone reading this with a $20 discount code:

$20 Off: Tao Of Color’s MasterClass Training with this coupon code:

ColorRocked

This coupon expires Midnight Eastern, July 3, 2011.

The Sales and Ordering page is here: http://MasterClass.TaoOfColor.com

What did Apple Color Mean To YOUR Career?

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35 Comments

  1. AndrewK June 25, 2011 at 8:23 PM #

    Apple bundling Color w/FCS was certainly my gateway into color correction.  After the update to 1.5 I became worried that Apple was going to ‘pull another Shake’ and kill Color unceremoniously.  Thankfully Color had enough time to get a ‘desktop coloring’ revolution going and there are other affordable tools such as Resolve and the forthcoming Baselight plugin (which from what I hear will support FCPX).

    For the foreseeable future I’ll still use Color, it’s not like it suddenly stopped working, but I will certainly start training on other apps and planning my exit strategy from Color.

  2. Omar June 25, 2011 at 9:03 PM #

    Color runs on 10.6.8. How much for and how will you offer Resolve 8 training?

    • Patrick Inhofer June 25, 2011 at 9:20 PM #

      I’m still working out the details on pricing… but it’ll be offered as part of the entire MasterClass series. In addition to Color, FCP 7, and Colorista II workflows… Resolve 8 will be added. For existing students, it’ll be a $25 upgrade. I’ll probably add $50 to the current $157 price when the R8 training package is completed. After that’s done I’ll look at the updates to FCPx that Apple has done and see exactly how extensive the FCPx color grading workflow training will be.

    • Patrick Inhofer June 25, 2011 at 9:23 PM #

      RE: Color & 10.6.8 – The Apple EOL statement came out before 10.6.8 was released, which is why I called 10.6.7 the last officially support config. But yes – I’m running 10.6.8 and yesterday Color seemed to run fine.

  3. Omar June 25, 2011 at 9:36 PM #

    How do you flash the install?

    • Patrick Inhofer June 25, 2011 at 9:41 PM #

      Great question. My favorite tool is SuperDuper! Basically: Dedicate a hard drive to keeping your last known working version of Color / OS combo and use SuperDuper! to make a bootable backup (and be sure to boot into that backup each time after you back it up).

  4. Steve Hullfish June 26, 2011 at 2:44 AM #

    Hey, Steve Hullfish here. I have to say that FinalTouch definitely helped my career and the careers of anybody who learned something valuable from “The Art and Technique of Color Correction.” If it weren’t for FinalTouch, the book would have been impossible. I wanted to watch a dozen colorists around the country color correct the same footage. The only way I could capture that interaction was to carry my own color correction suite around the country with me. That’s what FinalTouch (later Color) enabled. I am deeply indebted to the FinalTouch team. Apple Color got a LOT of people very excited about color correction and helped to democratize an artform that was really isolated to a few people who piloted VERY expensive color correction suites. I’m sure not all of them think that’s such a great thing, but it is and it was. Color still works, but I think most people will be off to Resolve on Mac. It’s still cheaper than FinalTouch’s original 2K version, at $20,000!
    Nice article Patrick. I feel your pain.

    • John Ninjasmoke June 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM #

       Isn’t your updated version of “Art and Technique” due soon? 

    • Patrick Inhofer June 26, 2011 at 4:47 PM #

      Thanks Steve.

      And your book had a huge impact on me. For one, it validated many of the things I had been doing and explained *why* I was doing them. Another, it provided interesting workflows, ideas, and approaches that I hadn’t considered.

      Thanks for your contribution to the craft as well!

  5. John Ninjasmoke June 26, 2011 at 9:59 AM #

     I love apple color so much.  I am so disappointed that it is no longer a part of Final Cut.  I was hoping for a new Color, with perhaps some interface ideas taken from Magic Bullet looks.  Isn’t Davinci Resolve like a thousand bucks?   

    • Patrick Inhofer June 26, 2011 at 4:50 PM #

      Yes, Resolve is $995. At NAB DaVinci announced Resolve Lite which will be a free version of Resolve. It has some restrictions (HD & SD only – no 2K / 4K), limited nodes, etc… but NO WATERMARKING. You’l actually be able to use in personal and paid projects. 

      More details here: http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/davinciresolve/models/

  6. Dermot Shane June 26, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

    on the list of desktop apps that you might want to learn to master i think there’s two missing pieces.. Smack & DS… DS in particular offers node based gradeing ( and has for a decade) that Color & Resolve artists will find familiar, the color warper in while Smack is not nearly as powerful as DS’s tools (missing nodes), but it’s not chopped liver either…. both are cheaper than Symp that you did include, both are tools worth a mention

     

    • Patrick Inhofer June 26, 2011 at 4:56 PM #

      Dermot,

      Thanks for taking the time to post. I’ve updated the article to include Smoke and DS. I’ve also including links to all the software packages mentioned.

  7. Maurico de Oliveira June 27, 2011 at 2:45 PM #

    Color was my intro to the color correction world. I learned how to play with Color and then started to move to another plugins solutions that exists. But since I’ve started, Color is still my main tool for color correction and color grading. The advantage of the roundtrip workflow with FCP, as well as the RED support and its dedicated primary in tab, makes Color just perfect for me. 
    Unfortunately, Resolve won’t be the main solution right now. The Lite version with only two color correction nodes available sounds like a joke for me. Though the fact that the software itself only costs a thousand dollars, I’ll have to spend much more on a MacPro able to run the software with such high requirements.
    Today I’m able to color correct footage not only at work, but also at home with my 4-core macbook pro, and that I’m afraid won’t be possible with Resolve. I certainly will stick with Color as long as I can until I spend more money on a brand-new workstation.

  8. MarcusT June 28, 2011 at 9:08 PM #

    I am an Online Editor of some 25 years standing, who was fortunate, somewhere in the middle of that to have had a stint working in Telecine suites with film and Da Vinci and Pogle. It changed my outlook to Colour Correction forever, and instilled in me a passion and a love for the craft that has been with me since then. The advent of COLOR was truly inspiring to me, and as has been suggested, I will keep a backup setup of Color with whichever OS it needs, so that I can go back to it any time in the future. Let’s hope Apple has NOT alienated all of professional users, and that somewhere down the line, a new version oc Color will emerge, bigger and more powerful than before….

  9. Todd Gill June 29, 2011 at 4:24 AM #

    I began dipping my toes in color correction on the tail end of Final Touch. I demoed it and really liked what it could do.  So I was very happy to see apple acquire that program and make it their own. I did not hesitate to learn the ins and outs of the program and soon I was grading.  Over the years of using Color, and with the help of mentors, I have developed my skills as a colorist, while learning new things  on every job I start. I felt like I held my breathe leading up to the days of the fcpx release.  Once it was released, the wind was knocked out of me. But in the back of my mind, I knew this going to happen.  It’s Apple.  The make Pads and Pods and Computers then they focus their attention on their software. 

    I have, as pi has mentioned,  have a stable running version on  a bootable drive.  Waiting for the day Color no longer works. But in the mean time,  I do think it is a great idea to cross train.  We as a company, just could not yet justify the cost of building a R8 System.  But after we Demo R8 Lite, we might  and hopefully can see the justification.  

    I am excited for the future of color grading.  I am still somewhat holding my breath for Color 2.  Could it be revived?

    • Patrick Inhofer June 29, 2011 at 12:47 PM #

      Todd,

      Yes, Final Touch was a revelation to me. And then a total disappointment as I realized half of the features listed on the box didn’t work. Then I was psyched that Apple bought it, knowing they’d fix all the bugs. Which they did. Too bad that’s also where they stopped.

      Just think where that app would be today if we had four years of active, continuous development. It would probably feel a lot like Resolve!

      Don’t hold your breath for Color 2. Based on off-the-record conversations I’ve had – it’s not coming back. Ever. (unless, I suppose, someone buys it). The advice in this article stands more true than when I first wrote it… use Color until you can’t anymore – and prepare for a future without it.

  10. Marco Solorio June 29, 2011 at 5:03 AM #

    Kills me that Color is dead (for more reasons than one). As an alternative, I do like what Resolve offers, except that I use Kona 3 hardware, which is currently Kryptonite for Resolve. Anyone use both a BMD card and Kona card in one box? Sounds scary, not to mention the needless patchbay switching I’d need to do. Sigh.

    • Patrick Inhofer June 29, 2011 at 12:41 PM #

      Marco,

      I don’t think both cards in the same machine will work. But I have to admit I haven’t tried – I’m not sure I’m willing to take the chance that something really bad might happen. I really do wish BMD and AJA could see past their history. But we were both there in ’03 & ’04. It was a nasty split and probably accounts for why neither company is jumping to support the other. In the end – it’s the users whose options get reduced.

      I’ve been wondering the past day or so which of Avid or Premiere are supported by the Decklink. That might well determine which one I adopt as my primary NLE (though I’ll support both).

  11. Kimkrause June 30, 2011 at 7:19 PM #

    i built my whole career on apple color…it was easy for me to convince clients that they only had to hand me a hard drive with their project on it and i would send them back a beautifully graded new sequence for their online……now it looks like i’ll have to grab a copy of resolve, hope it works on my aging mac and somehow convince clients that i can still provide the wonderful expert service i have been giving them for the last 5 years…of course i wont be able to just drop into their offices anymore to make the few tweaks they might ask for….unless they also have resolve sitting on their mac……so very sad that a wonderful way of doing post has been abandoned…..

    • Patrick Inhofer June 30, 2011 at 7:36 PM #

      Kim,

      I’m running a 2008 MacPro. It’s getting long in the tooth and will need to be replaced – but Resolve 8 is running just dandy. The biggest expense is putting together the right mix of Graphics Cards and Output Card. CUDA is essential for the new noise reduction feature. If you can find a GTX 285 for Mac card… that’s the least expensive option.

  12. Anthony Harden July 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM #

    Apple Color 1.5 was my introduction to the world of Color Grading as well. I fell in love with the possibilities and complexity, and at times sublime simplicity, of the process. The things you could do with such a powerful tool that just, well, made sense to me. Without Apple Color I don’t know that I’d be where I am today. Apple Color never got in the way of my artistry.

    It certainly saddens me that it is most likely going away. Not willing to give up hope quite yet. But as with all things in the industry if I can’t adopt or, at the very least, adapt to new ways of thinking then I have no business being here or calling myself a colorist. Change is the only constant as they say.

    On that note I’m sincerely looking forward to the release of Davinci Resolve Lite soon. While not a perfect solution it’s within my price range for now. I will forever mourn the loss of the greatness that is Apple Color 1.5, and I will continue to use it until it becomes impossible to do so; but to not forge on, and expand into new opportunities, seems to me to be madness.

    So, in summary, Apple Color helped me discover a true passion. That will never die. No matter where I head next in grading.

    Apple Color was the gateway drug to a land of amazing creativity and opportunity. And I think that’s how I’ll always remember it. Fondly.

    • Patrick Inhofer July 2, 2011 at 3:45 AM #

      Anthony,

      Nicely said. ‘Gateway Drug’ indeed.

      Resolve is going to be an exciting new challenge. I know I’ve worked small tweaks into my workflow I would never have bothered to try with Color. I’m really excited and see Color as the perfect place to cut our teeth – so we can move on to Resolve.

      • John Richard July 5, 2011 at 2:07 PM #

        Never understand the Apply business strategy of buying wonderful software; investing in developing and marketing it; watch it become successful and gain a loyal following (in the case of FCP – the #1 market share NLE) and then totally KILLING it.

        Nuts!

        If the Apple investment doesn’t meet the profit targets – why not SELL it to get back your investment?
        Could they really fear that the new Apple Model X will never live up to the old model?
        Are they that bad at knowing their customers to think they will fill Model X will work for them?

        Patrick, do you think that there is any chance that someone would buy Color from Apple?
        Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Apple gave a damn about the pro customers and sold Color to Adobe for round-tripping? Oops – left my rose-colored glasses on.

        • Patrick Inhofer July 5, 2011 at 2:19 PM #

          John,

          In a blog post earlier this year I said that Apple is always speaking to us… through their actions.

          If you look at prior Apple investments which were then EOL’ed – not a single one of them was ever sold off. None have returned in another form and regained their former glory.

          So no – I don’t think Apple will sell Color. Whatever assets Apple saw by buying Color (and it might just have been for the engineering talent or specific bits of code / technology), they’ve reaped those rewards and won’t want to pass those along. I hold zero hope out for a Color revival.

          • John Richard July 6, 2011 at 1:57 PM #

            Thanks for the response Patrick. VERY depressing.
            I, for one, will usually no longer make the choice of investing my most valuable asset – my time – into learning to use apps owned by Apple after this debacle.

            To many, Apple has once again proven to be unreliable for professional use. If the tables were turned on them, I wonder how Apple would react when suddenly one day the manufacture of the tools they used to make a living were suddenly just obsoleted, entirely changed, and the new offerings were missing many key components?

            We have are switching to the Adobe Studio which has a stable history with AE and Photoshop and now Premiere. They have a history that seems more reliable for the professional it appears. I will be testing out using XML to go between Color (still 32bit : >{  ) and Premiere to do grading.

  13. Mc_grimm July 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM #

    To paraphrase the NRA bumper sticker, ” I’ll give up my FCS when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”
    Less than five years to retirement, maybe I can keep it running that long.

  14. Brad Bell July 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM #

    What amazed me about Color was how much you could push and pull the image without the manipulations ever seeming apparent. I’ve never had that sense with any other software. Images seemed infinitely adjustable, where other apps went clunk, clunk, clunk. With Color, it felt like you could discover inert light in the image and make it shine. I assumed it was in some kind of super color space that couldn’t be accessed by mortal apps like Photoshop or iPhoto or Aperture or Final Cut. 

    I sensed from FCPX/Motion that Apple was going to continue democratising and solve the obvious legacy workflow problems by integrating apps, ie. Color and Motion could be used to create looks, effects, and graphics that could be rigged and used by people with FCPX – no need to get deeply into Motion and Color if you didn’t want to. You could see a market developing for FX, looks, title designs, etc. You could build an app store into it. It would continue the general tend to democratise the tools and provide workflows that worked with the gal on the other side of the world, instead of the clunky workflows we have now to collaborate with the guy down the hall. 

    Killing Color suggests Apple have just left the building. Now everything goes back to the way it was. Un-democratise. Resolve looks great – I saw an exciting live demo – but I don’t imagine buying it. There’s no obvious workflow and I hesitate to go back to spending £750 per app. That’s not the kind of ‘pro’ I am. 

    And now FCPX seems less and less sure too. My first simple project was exciting. My second one is killing my Mac. Apparently it’s too complex. Productivity has dropped to 5%. Crash. Beachball. Wait. RAM is on order. I tried to embrace it, but now I think I may abandon it as performance on my Mac is so poor I can’t actually function. (Moreover, I already abandoned Adobe: the transition to OS X meant repeatedly paying for buggy software that couldn’t focus a window, for example. My bridges are on fire.) 

    FCP7 & Color is the future for the moment. (If only I can finish my current project somehow.)

  15. David August 30, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

    Am working with FC7 studio and i really donot see my self robbed off anything. I have alot more control on my grading on apple color that ofcos can do 4k- now just a few of us actually shoot 4k- HD is still a standard and wont get away any sooner.
    Apple brought in fcx for those of us that want to save alot on time and i think that is a brilliant idea. 
    It would be nice if apple made an update for some of us in FCP7 that gives us never to render stuff and ofcos realtime playback.

    FCP studio still makes alot of sense and i dont feel cheated like how people are talking – by the way i had a go on pro x – i think latter versions will be better so i will wait and wont loose a thing.

    pro 7 is still an awesome software and no one should even fret. 

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