Codecs and Color Correction: Two Things I Wish I Would Have Known

As I've progressed through my career in video production, I've had the benefit of some great mentors. Every technique I use is a combination of something I've seen someone else do, something I've read, or something I luckily stumbled upon. Working in a fast-paced, deadline driven environment doesn't give you much time to stop and re-evaluate your methods, and as long as the client is happy, why would you? But every once in a while I've stumbled on an article, or witnessed another video pro at work and discovered a better approach, or a newfound understanding of a previously murky topic. So, in the spirit of letting others learn from my mistakes, here are two things I wish I would've known.

We get a lot of questions about formats. For the longest time, even though I knew the terms h.264, quicktime, avi, and all the others, I found myself lost when somebody with a deep understanding of the difference between a container and a codec started trying to explain them to me. I forged forward, picking up bits of information from different colleagues who all seemed to understand the concepts a little bit differently.

Then one day I picked up an issue of Videomaker and discovered the Video Formats Explained article. If your like me, you'll read it multiple times, and wish you had been able to read it years ago to save you a ton of confusion and frustration. I've color corrected thousands of video scenes in my career. While it's not my specialty, I certainly had achieved a respectable skill set that got the job done.

I had been asked a few times by beginners how to use scopes, to which I replied, who has time to learn that? Of course, in hindsight, I realize that was a very ironic answer. Using scopes can help you stop playing what I call The Color Correction Guessing Game. I guarantee it will save you time, frustration, and you'll get more consistent results.

Greg Olson
Greg Olson
Greg is a Media Production Specialist for Chico State University.

Related Content