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Old May 16th, 2011, 04:11 PM   #1
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Color Correcting flat footage

Hi guys,

As a brand new dslr (canon 60d) shooter a few months ago, I learned to shoot flat (saturation -2, contrast -4 sharpness 0) from reading about it in forums like dvinfo, etc. And the advantage is great. I was able to manipulate my images to my taste during post.

I currently use Magic Bullet and the presets alone is great enough for me to play around. However, I would really want to learn more how to manipulate a flat image and the theory behind it. I think the proper term for people who does video color corrections is "video colorist" but I couldn't find a lot of info about "video colorist". Does anyone here have any good books/postings where I could learn more in this area?

Another question: I have someone who would want me to shoot for them and they don't want to do any post to correct the footage. How should I configure my dslr? Should I configure my picture style to "Standard"?

Any help appreciated.

-Aa
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Old May 16th, 2011, 06:05 PM   #2
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

The idea behind flat footage is just to preserve detail so you don't blow the spectrum out. By forcing the image into the center of the histogram, it allows you to tailor where the darks and highlights clip, and grade your clip according to the look you want, less what the camera defaults to.

Now, that being said, CineStyle has an advantage over the old flats and its kinda gimmicky how it works (your actually supposed to under expose)... but anyway, your not asking about that, your asking about grading/color correction.

Red Giant Software: Video Tutorials - Plugins for After Effects, Premiere and more

I started to learn what to look for when color grading/correcting my footage by just watching people color grade clips, and tutorials like the ones in the link above, which is actually just red giant running through the features of colorista.

What it comes down to is... how do you want your footage to look? Once you can pick out what colors people put where, you can start mimicking looks by tooling around for a bit. I don't see it as there being a theory behind it - It's aesthetics. Getting skin tones right is a matter of identifying the tint/temp and accounting for it and shifting the look accordingly if you are talking about "correcting" footage to a more realistic look.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 08:32 PM   #3
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

I have a few books. Im learning a little about color correcting myself, right now. I always found a website, that has a program, that I am very interested in doing, I just don't have the time to dedicate to it at the moment.

The books I have are,

COLOR CORRECTION HAND BOOK Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema, by Alexis Van Hurkman,

and

COLOR CORRECTION IN FINAL CUT STUDIO (its an Apple pro training Series, more for learning how to use color correction in Apple Color, as opposed to theory)

If you search on Amazon, there are a ton of books on the subject. I find it very interesting.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 12:19 AM   #4
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

Hi guys,

Thanks for the tip. I have been doing some tests with shooting. I have been shooting with the following picture style:
neutral (0, -4, -2, 0)
standard (3, 0, 0, 0)
standard (4, 0, 0, 0)
cinestyle (0, -4, -2, 0)

and using a specific Magic Bullet Look preset on the footage. I kind of like the result from standard (3, 0, 0, 0) best. I KNOW neutral (0, -4, -2, 0) are supposed to be able to retain the most details. So, when I compare these footage, what should I be looking for?

Jeff: Have you use the tutorial? Looks like a very comprehensive way to learn about color grading. I am just wandering to see if anyone has any feedback on this tutorial.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 03:31 AM   #5
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

The tutorials will at the very least show you what the sliders and buttons effect in a scene. I found them really useful. After that I just spent some time trying to match grades of features and TV shows that I liked.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 06:35 AM   #6
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Leung View Post
Jeff: Have you use the tutorial? Looks like a very comprehensive way to learn about color grading. I am just wandering to see if anyone has any feedback on this tutorial.
I have not taken that tutorial yet, simply because I don't have the time to squeeze it in to my schedule. As soon as I get some free time, I plan on taking it though.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 09:49 PM   #7
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

Shooting flat is doing you no favors. in fact its reducing the already limited recording by 25-50%. its possible to actually record what amounts to a 7bit image - your tonal range is barely 50IRE.

I've done the tests, scopes, ect. check it out here

Does Shooting Flat Gain You More Dynamic Range ?

cinestyle is the worst of the bunch. at the very least, don't set your sat to -2, -1 if you must, 0 really.

all you need to do is apply a S curve correction to get things back. Prem Pro's CUDA powered RGB curves will do wonders as a base correction.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 11:15 PM   #8
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

It all depends on the content. When you control the scene, or when there is unlikely to be a lot of contrast, shoot Neutral. When you have no control and there will be high contrast, go with Cinestyle.

I've done some tests and, yes, you will lose bits in the middle skin tones when shooting with Cinestyle. It steals bits from the middle and allocates them to the extremes. And more to that point, I saw some footage of some Africans with very dark skin wearing white robes in daylight, and the Cinestyle footage was breathtaking. There was detail everywhere without noticeable clipping.

Cinestyle isn't good or bad. It's definitely the wrong tool in the fog, but it could be the perfect tool in the noon sun.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 11:30 PM   #9
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

the blacks in cinestyle never even hit 0, they hang at about 7-10 IRE. thats giving up more bits. even in modest contrast, what you get is just too flat, and you are reducing your gradation of tonal range. When you stretch that back out you'll see empty zones on the waveform, a lot of them. whats more, because it boosts the dark end so much, its also making more noise in the image because its basically gaining that part of the image up while reducing the mids and crushing the whites a bit.

even with the stock camera settings, with contrast at 0 - its possible to flatten the image to near 50 IRE.

for example : http://steveoakley.net/UserFiles/image/2.jpg

I shot several picture styles, on charts, with scopes. for me cinestyle has been sent to the junk bin.... its basically a setting where you can't screw up loosing detail in the blacks, so if you don't burn the highlights you'll get an image with less then 8bits of info. dslr material is tough enough to work with, w/o creating more problems for yourself by recording less information.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 12:40 AM   #10
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

My understanding is that h.264 deals with the bottom levels poorly, so Cinestyle purposefully avoids those levels. It's a bummer though, as I just recently updated my Marshal monitor's firmware, so the false colors work perfectly - but they are "broken" again when I run Cinestyle. :(

I use it, but only when I really need the extremes. It would be ideal for wedding shooters where the bride's dress is in the sun and the groom's dark tux is in the shadows.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 10:47 AM   #11
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Re: Color Correcting flat footage

I'm with Steve, in that with my test, I couldn't repair the mid tones on skin tones with cinestyle. The way I go about it, standard is the gold standard. Neutral provides benifits with event footage. Cinestyle, IMO is for indi movies where you can plan where and when you need it. -4 on contrast with neutral is a little too much for my taste. I use -2 and underexpose when there are highlights. I add denoise to the shadows. So for me, the way I learn is to shoot a scene with the standard preset and the neutral style. In post, add the plugins that will bring the footage back to the standard look. Its very subtle.
I'm still learning, but have watched enough movies to know what the pro's do. The link below is worth the 30 minute to watch. I'm a big fan of where Michael Y Wong has grown with his processing. Basically, you inject a tiny bit of teal in the blacks and orange into the face. What you are doing is adding complementary colors into your image, making it more ideal. He also adds some kind of softening that I can't figure out. It makes his footage look very silky. I don't know if its the zeiss glass or some neublu effects pluging like he says he uses. The point is, you just need to keep experimenting until you create a workflow that becomes your style.


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