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In an ideal world, every shot you brought into the edit room would be perfect. But the reality is that sometimes shots you're editing aren't white balanced perfectly, or the look of one shot might not match another. In this segment, we talk about
primary color correction and show you how to Adjust the tonality and color of a clip.
A little color correction can go a long way and help make your video, look like film.
Dynamic range is the the ability of your camera to capture bright and dark areas in the same scene without loss of details. While this range varies from camera to camera, the goal of good color correction is to maximize the dynamic range in your footage, and to ensure that the color in your shot looks natural.
The first step to achieve this is adjusting the brightness and contrast, or tonality, of a clip. It's important to adjust the tonality of your clip first, because the hue and saturation levels in your shot will be affected by the changes that you make.
Adjusting the tonality can brighten up underexposed shots, and add punch to low-contrast shots, and give your footage a consistent brightness and contrast throughout your project.
Everyone sees brightness and color a little bit differently, and every monitor has it's own unique properties and settings. So, in order to properly color correct, it's important to use scopes to assist you. Scopes will make all your color correction efforts consistent.
Most editing programs will have options to view a variety of internal scopes to assist you. The main scope you'll use when adjusting shots for brightness and contrast is the Y/C waveform. The Y stands for luma and the C stands for chroma. The chroma function on this scope isn't essential to correcting tonality, and so if you're program has the option to view the luma only, we recommend you do so. Also, the setup 7.5 ire function is typically not necessary, as it is an old standard for analog television.
Essentially this scope shows the luminance, or brightness for the clip you're adjusting. The 100 at the top of the scope represents full brightness or white, and the highlights in your clip will usually hover in this area. Any areas in your shot that are above this line will be represented as pure whie, without any detail.
The 0 at bottom of the scope represents full shadow or black, and the shadows and darker portions of your shot will hover around this area. Any areas of your shot that are below this line will be represented as black, without any detail.
The middle portion of the scope represents the mid-tones, ranging from black, to grey to white as the numbers increase. The general goal is to get your shadows or black levels at 0, your highlights, or white levels, at 100, and also to ensure the there is a good punch of mid-tones to give your shot contrast.
In order to accomplish this, there are two main types of controls most edit programs use. Levels and Curves. For this example we'll start with the fast color corrector in premiere pro cs5. Most editing programs should have similar effects.
This particular effect uses level style controls to make adjustments. Once you have your clip highlighted, take a look and the Y/C waveform monitor. You can see that the shadows in this clip aren't quite on the 0 line, and the highlights on this clip are a little under 100. Always adjust the black level first.
To adjust, scroll down to input levels, and drag the black levels triangle to the right until your black levels rest on the 0.
To adjust the white levels, simply drag the white triangle to the left until your highlights are hitting 100.
Adjusting the mid-tones will affect the overall contrast of your shot. Drag the gray triangle to the right to brighten the mid-tones, or to the left to darken them.
Some people prefer using curves style effects to make these adjustments.
Using the same clip, we'll apply the luma curve effect in premiere pro. The line on this graph is used to adjust the highlights, shadows, and mid-tones of an image.
Moving the bottom of the line to the right will lower your black levels.
Moving it up will raise the black levels.
Moving the top of the line to the left will rasie your white level
while moving it down will lower them.
Adjusting the mid-section of the curves upward will brighten up the midtones in the shot,
and adju sting downward will darken the midtones in the shot
One nice thing about the curves style controls, is that you can isolate specific ranges of tones by adding more points on the line
However, if you ever need to change these parameters over time, the curves controls do not have keyframing capabilities.
Once you have adjusted the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows of your clips, you can move onto correcting for color. When adjusting for color, there are two different scopes that are extremely useful
The vectorscope will display the hue and saturation of the colors in your clip. The angle of the data represents the hue of the scope, and the distance from the center represents the saturation
Some programs such as premeire pro will default to a 75 percent level readout. This was useful for analog sd signals, as the saturation levels were not able to handle over 75 percent, however HD video today does not have the same limitations, so you can switch the readout to 100 percent.
Looking at color bars allows you to see how the vectorscope works. Each color is represented as as a single point because there is no variation in the hue or saturation
This line is technicalley called the i-line, but many people refer to it as the skin tone line. Though not intentional, most skin tones fall very closely to this line, which is extremely helpful when color correcting.
The second scope that is useful when adjusting color is the RGB parade. This scope shows you the intensity of Red, Green, and Blue in a clip. It's important to note that this scope is not an true representation of the luminance of the colors in your clip. We'll use this scope when correcting color with curves controls.
There are two main ways to adjust color within most editing programs. Curves, and color wheels.
Let's take a look at an example using curves to fix incorrect white balance
In premiere, we'll use the RGB curves effect.
If you look at the vectorscope and RGB parade, you'll notice a couple of things.
First, our hue doesn't seem to be pointing toward the skin tone line
, and second, the blue color intensity seems to be very high compared to the red.
Using the curves controls in the same manner as the luma curve controls, we can lower our blue intensity, and raise our red intensity so they are more even
Notice that our hue direction is now pointing toward the skin tone line as well. You can see that with very minute adjustments, our shot now looks properly white balanced.
The second way to fix this issue is by using an effect which has a color wheel interface.
The 3 way color corrector in premiere is a great example. The color wheels used in this effect mirror the vectorscope we use for quality control
This particular effect breaks out the shadows, the midtones, and the highlights for precise control, but you can also use the master color wheel to automatically adjust each subwheel with one adjustment.
Essentially, if your shot has too much blue, drage the circle the opposite way on the color wheel
Conversely if your shot has too mch red, drag away from the red
The further you drag from the center, the more of that color it will bring into your shot
Again, pay attention to your scopes to see a visual representation of the changes you are making. In this case, a simple drag away from the blue fixes the color issue nicely.
Getting your shots to be consistent and to look natural is the basis for great looking video. In our next segment, we talk about shot matching and color grading. Using these tools can create a consistent, unique feel to your footage, and make your video look like film.