Speaking with Renowned Colorist Patrick Inhofer about Color, Scopes and Trusting Your Own Eyes



Patrick Inhofer first began teaching at the New York City Final Cut Pro User’s Group, where he demo’ed how to use FCP’s 3-Way Color Correction filter for both technical and creative effect. He later joined that group’s Board of Directors to become its Treasurer and – when his mentor, the group’s fearless leader Michael Vitti, passed away at NAB – Patrick took over as President. In 2010 he stepped down from the group to focus his teaching on TaoOfColor.com – a website dedicated to mentor-style online teaching of color correction. And he’s been teaching ever since; creating tutorials, publishing a newsletter, leading workshops, launching a membership site and is currently writing a book. All about the craft of color, the science of color, and of course, the technology of color.


Patrick shared with us some of his thoughts on how the technology complements the art, and when best to rely on software to help achieve the highest image quality possible. Because as Patrick puts it, ‘when you need to look at an image objectively, you need to look at the image without looking at it because your eyes lie to you.’


Patrick continued, “Training, creating tutorials, basically sharing my knowledge about color correction is my life. It’s why I created The Tao of Color, Mixing Light, and a new series coming out this summer under The Colorist Flight School series.


In the Flight School series, I basically replicate a color correction session for my students. While I teach them the software, I also teach them how I think as a colorist – and that has a big impact on how you actually use software.


Scopes are a big part of what I’m teaching. As a colorist, they’re essential – your eyes will lie to you! And ScopeBox from Divergent Media plays a big role in my work, and in my courses. Why ScopeBox? And why software scopes at all, especially when products like Resolve have built in scopes?


For one, I can dedicate an entire screen to my scopes and have multiple versions of the same scope set up – sometimes with twelve different scopes open. I can slice and dice ScopeBox to give me different views of the same image all at the same time. No other scope can do this, and certainly not many of the hardware scopes – which by they way, are prohibitively expensive! And that’s a huge point, especially for my students who are either just starting out, or simply don’t have the budget for all this extra gear. ScopeBox is attainable! It’s affordable and runs on a computer that you either already have or can afford to buy.


It’s also extremely versatile. Hardware scopes can cost as much as 40 times more than ScopeBox, and they’re still not as flexible. Sure, there are some tools in hardware scopes created for broadcast engineers, but frankly, a colorist will never need them. So in a sense you’re paying for features you simply don’t need. But for $99, ScopeBox is an amazing tool. Even with the cost of supporting hardware like a computer, a display, ScopeBox is still a wildly more affordable solution for colorists, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro – it’s a budget you can afford.


Cool Features

One handy scope I use all the time is called HML Balance. It’s a three-way vector scope. One vectorscope isolates the colors in shadows, the second isolates the highlights, and the middle scope shows you everything in between.


Let me give you an example. For me, black is the foundation of color; I need to control the blacks in my image. This is where shot matching lives and dies. You can’t have tint or tone in a true black. ScopeBox’s HML Balance scopes are amazingly efficient in letting me know if I have color imbalances in my blacks or highlights, with a simple glance. And you simply don’t get that in most other scopes. Shot matching is difficult to teach, but when you get in there and start using HML Balance, ScopeBox makes it easy to learn how to perfect imbalances.


And what’s so beautiful about this is, Divergent Media has brought this seemingly sophisticated and complicated workflow to the masses. They’ve simplified it, and made it highly accessible (and affordable) to anyone. Why pay $2,000 for a hardware scope with limited feature sets for colorists, when you can spend $99 and get it all?


To be a great colorist, it all begins with understanding scopes. I teach all my students, if you want to get to where I am as a colorist, you need to understand your scopes. And ScopeBox makes that possible on so many levels. It’s so powerful, useful and affordable, I use it in all my training.


Resources from Patrick Inhofer

Here are some resources from Patrick’s color correction membership site, MixingLight.com. They provide incredible detail and highly useful information to help you get started. Check them out free (all links below can be accessed by signing up for a free 24-Hour Test Driver) and sign up as a member for continuing education to dive even deeper into their amazing content.


Setting Up Scopebox for Color Correction: About how Patrick configures Scopebox and the different setups he’s used over the years. Free.



Using Scopebox as a Digital Recorder: LIke the title says. Login required.



Scopelink in Scopebox: How to use the Scopelink feature for running Scopebox on the same CPU that’s running your FCPX or PrProCC system. Login required.



Scopebox and RGB Gamut Errors: This article talks about a particular pain point for colorists when delivering to networks… RGB Gamut errors. It’s almost impossible to see except for a few specialty displays, and this article shows that Scopebox has a visual solution to this crafty problem. Login Required.




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