Learn to use a waveform monitor to correctly interpret the luma values in your footage.
Simply put, a waveform monitor gives you a consistent way to judge the luma levels of your footage. The measurement will change depending on whether you’re working with an ntsc or a pal project, but as you’re about to see, there’s really not much difference between the two. An ntsc project uses an IRE scale, 0 represents pure black, 100 represents pure white for most digital video systems. A pal project works exactly the same way, except black in represented by .3 volts, and white is represented by 1 volt. Once you understand this correlation, everything else works the same. Greg is going to show you the waveform in action to give you a better idea of what these technical definitions actually mean. Let’s start with a waveform monitor. It’s easy to see how it works by using a greyscale ramp. The monitor measures the luma of each pixel and displays the result from left to right. The 0 IRE 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 underexposed areas of your shot that are crushed against or below this line will be represented as black, without any detail. The 100 at the top of the scope represents full brightness or white. Highlights in your clip will hover in this area, and any overexposed areas will typically become a flat line at the top. Any areas in your shot beyond 100 will be represented as pure white, without any detail. The middle portion of the scope represents the mid-tones, ranging from black, to grey to white as the percentage increases. Let’s take a look at an example shot using the waveform monitor as our guide