Koji Advanced—“Koji on Steroids”—Released for Fast, Easy Print Film Emulation in Popular NLEs

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

Koji, the joint venture between Final Cut Pro X plug-in maker CrumplePop and veteran Hollywood color grader Dale Grahn, has released the Koji Advanced color grading plug-in for FCPX, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Koji Advanced is the next evolution of the LUTs Koji Color launched last year, effectively becoming Koji on steroids. The plug-in makes it faster, easier and way more satisfying when applying colorist Grahn’s top quality 35mm feature film looks to footage shot in a wide range of popular digital movie cameras.

Final Cut Pro X is becoming an editing and color grading powerhouse just as Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects are gaining improved grading capabilities too. Add Koji Advanced to all three and their grading functionality takes a leap into DaVinci Resolve territory.

As an aside, I find all this incredibly exciting. The looks and feels familiar to us all from years of watching beautifully color-timed feature films is now available via affordable desktop computers. It’s almost as if one of those legendary color-timers, Dale Grahn, is sitting inside our favorite NLE.

These are wonderful times. For me at least digital moviemaking is getting closer and closer to the richness and quality of digital stills, especially now we have formally entered the age of 4K and beyond. My lovely little Panasonic GH4, in synergy with Final Cut Pro X and grading tools including Koji Advanced, now feels like a giant, red-hot powerhouse of richly-detailed emotion.

Koji Advanced LUT. More intensive color grading and choosing the right LUTs for emotion and to direct the eye is, in my humble opinion, even more crucial when shooting in the cold, dark days of winter. In these examples, shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 using Matt Masher’s M-Log picture style< I have applied Koji Advanced LUTs with extra manipulations and vignetting.

More intensive color grading and choosing the right LUTs for emotion and to direct the eye is, in my humble opinion, even more crucial when shooting in the cold, dark days of winter. In these examples, shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 using Matt Mosher’s M-Log picture style. I have applied Koji Advanced LUTs with extra manipulations and vignetting. I set red-magenta skin tones to underscore the frenetic pace these people were setting as they strode about during a break in the rain.

Koji Advanced LUT. Koji Advanced’s monochrome LUT reminds me so much of when I shot, processed and printed black-and-white analog film for magazines, newspapers and gallery shows. Color did nothing for this image shot through the windows of the Sydney Apple Store but the Koji 2302 print emulation LUT plus some minor enhancements made the scene and the textures in it seem more real than real.

Koji Advanced’s monochrome LUT reminds me so much of when I shot, processed and printed black-and-white analog film for magazines, newspapers and gallery shows. Color did nothing for this image shot through the windows of the Sydney Apple Store but the Koji 2302 print emulation LUT plus some minor enhancements made the scene and the textures in it seem more real than real. I am so impressed with the results that I am now looking for some monochrome projects.

Koji Advanced LUT. Sometimes grading needs to be less about a full color range and more about pushing the look towards monochrome even just a little. The salmon-pink cellphone case gave me a clue where to go in this scene, choosing a Koji LUT that was a little desaturated, a little cool. Further enhancements helped darken the face of the woman at right, who is a secondary character, and raise the skin tone of the woman at left.

Sometimes grading needs to be less about a full color range and more about pushing the look towards monochrome even just a little. The salmon-pink cellphone case gave me a clue where to go in this scene, choosing a Koji LUT that was a little desaturated, a little cool. Further enhancements helped darken the face of the woman at right, who is a secondary character, and raise the skin tone of the woman at left.

All those thousands of hours spent shooting, processing and printing color negative, color transparency and monochrome film, of pushing photochemicals and photographic emulsions to the very limits, no longer feel wasted. Digital is now able to give me so much more than analog ever could, without wrecking my health and livelihood as analog did. But digital is helping me apply those years of accumulated knowledge in new and exciting ways.

These screen grabs are proof enough. In just a few minutes, Koji Advanced gave me a look for each clip that I would have struggled to get out of traditional movie film with ten times the labor. Even better, had I chosen I could have spent a few more minutes fine-tuning the settings in the Koji Advanced plugin’s interface to add more depth, more detail and more emotion again.

And the LUTs built into Koji Advanced are just the beginning, as it were. They are uncannily accurate simulations of some of the best 35mm projection print films ever.

Printing onto print film was the last stage of traditional moviemaking. Likewise applying print simulation LUTs is the last step in finishing your digital movie project. There is a myriad of choices that can be made beforehand. For example, I could have applied neg film simulation LUTs or looks LUTs, chosen FCPX color presets or created my own custom looks from scratch via FCPX’s color board.

I could have chosen to do my initial color grading work in some of the terrific plug-ins available like Color Finale, Lawn Road’s Color Precision or many of the grading tools available via FXFactory or direct from other vendors.

It is testament, though, to the quality of Dale Grahn’s LUTs and Koji Color’s Koji Advanced plug-in that I was able to quickly come up with three very acceptable, rather expressive grades entirely within the plug-in and its options.

And I have to admit that what Koji Advanced has given me in the monochrome look above has got me seriously thinking about making movies in black-and-white, after I had dismissed that as little more than nostalgic gimmickry.

Koji Advanced – “Koji on Steroids” – released for fast, easy print film emulation in popular NLEs. Click To Tweet

Koji Advance

Koji Advance is a fast, high quality 35mm film emulation plugin for Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro X. It’s an effective way to “bake together” the elements of your comp to create a finished, unified look.

Via Koji Color:

Full-featured film emulation plugin for Adobe Premiere (Mac and Windows), Adobe After Effects (Mac and Windows), Final Cut Pro X (Mac only). Also includes LUT files in .cube format for loading into LUT-capable cameras and field monitors.

Koji Advance is designed to work with a wide variety of video formats, including DSLR, REDlogFilm, Arri Log C, BMDFilm, BMPC4KFilm, Sony SLog3, Canon C-Log, and Cineon.

As a full-featured software plugin, Koji Advance has many advantages or simple LUT files. We have built in a number of powerful color correction tools including an advance auto white balance, temp control, lift/gamma/gain, density, printer points, and advanced film grain taken from real 35mm negative stocks and applied adaptively.

Koji Advance takes care of most color space conversions for you. You can simply apply the Koji Advance plugin, refine your creative grade, and you are done. There is no need to figure out how to convert from your log format to Rec.709.

Koji Advance also includes a set of standard .cube and .3dl LUT files than can be loaded into LUT-capable cameras or field monitor. Loading the Koji LUTs in-camera helps to expose properly for the LUT you have chosen. Loading the LUTs into a field monitor allows you to preview the shot for a client in a way that looks more “finished” and impressive.

Koji Advance is designed to be a starting point for your own creative grade. Just like physical 35mm print stocks, Koji digital print stocks are a medium, not a finished “look”. Once you have applied Koji Advance, you will find that making subtle adjustments to the exposure, color, and film grain will allow you to craft your own look very quickly.

Koji Advance includes six 35mm motion picture film stocks. Each started out as physical print stock which was then carefully measured thousands of times and checked for accuracy. This information was then translated into a 3D LUT that could be applied to your digital footage.

Koji Advance Tutorials

Using Koji Advance in Adobe Premiere Pro

Using Koji Advance in Final Cut Pro X

Using Koji Advance in Adobe After Effects

(cover photo credit: snap from Koji Color)

Karin Gottschalk

Karin Gottschalk

Karin is a documentary moviemaker, journalist, photographer and teacher who conceived and cofounded an influential, globally-read, Australian magazine of contemporary art, culture and photography. While based in Europe, contributing to the magazine and working in advertising, she visualised a future telling the same sorts of stories with a movie camera and audio recorder. Now back in her home base in Sydney, Karin is pursuing her goal of becoming an independent, one-person, backpack multimedia journalist and documentary moviemaker. Mentorless and un-filmschooled, she is constantly learning and sharpening up her skill set.
Karin Gottschalk

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