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Old January 27th, 2008, 04:45 PM   #1
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Correcting spotty skin in FCP???

I'm not sure if this is a camera issue or a lighting issue. However, since I have already taken the footage, it is now an editing issue. (Although any thoughts on how to avoid this problem in future taping ventures are welcome too).

I notice that some of my interview subjects (particularly those I taped using natural lighting) appear excessively spotty and freckly on tape. Moles, age spots, skin discoloring, etc. show up more prominently than they appear in life. It gives my interview subjects the appearance of being sickly! That's not the look I was going for, as you may imagine.

Perhaps it is not the lighting but my Canon GL-1?

Anyway, now that I'm editing in FCP, are there any suggestions on how to lessen the appearance of these unsightly spots?

Thanks!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 05:07 PM   #2
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Don't blame the camera. It records what's in front of it.

There's multiple ways this is handled in high-end productions, I'll list a few:

1-Makeup. Even low-end work should not underestimate how important it can be. My view is either you're documenting reality, in which case you should accept some of your subjects are going to look less-than-great, or you're ok with augmenting reality, in which case good makeup is a basic tool in your arsenal.

2-Color Correction. The trick in color correction circles would be to bend everything in vaguely skintone range (using a secondary) more towards a homogenous skin tone color. This has the effect of evening out the range of colors caused by skin imperfections, while leaving the luma component alone. Wonder why cosmetic commercials look so good? The colorists transferring the film to video do this, among other things to the skintones. This can be taken too far and lend your subject a fake tan look.

3-Blemish correction. This is almost the same idea as #2. The parts of the frame that are skintoned colored are isolated (by making a color-key matte), and slightly blurred. This is very effective, but also removes pores and can be taken too far very easily, lending a very unnatural look. In camera "skin detail" settings do something similar by turning off the detail circuit in the camera for areas of the frame that are a certain range of colors.

I've left lighting and a few other factors out of my answer, as it's a subject that can go pretty deep. I'm sure others will chime in as well.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:42 AM   #3
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Carolyn,

"Skin issues" have been the bane any talent ever since the cameras started doing close-ups, the best method - and the least work required in post - is a combination of professional makeup and proper lighting. You could literally spend hours making corrections in post just for skin issues, but unless you're getting compensated for the extra time and effort you're best off trying to make things as "perfect" as possible during production.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 01:23 AM   #4
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Hi Carolyn

Depending on how much control you are able to exert at the acquisition stage and how often you are faced with these issues, you might be interested in trying out Patrick Sheffield's remarkable Electronic Makeup Artist plugin.

Not cheap, but considering its capabilities its reasonably priced. In these days of increasing HD work, where more detail is not necessarily a Good Thing™, its an excellent addition to your toolkit.

http://straylight.tv/pluginz/index.h...7d8266522a37cb

Hope it helps
Andy
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Old January 28th, 2008, 08:05 PM   #5
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Hi all.

Thanks for the replies.

Let me clarify my situation a bit...
I don't do video work by profession--my background is in art and photography. But I'm now involved in working on my 2nd low-budget documentary, i.e. self-produced with a crew of one (me)...and this is how I find myself in the above stated situation.

I recently bought a very nice lighting kit, but it is often very cumbersome and/or impractical when I'm the only one working lights, camera, mikes, and conducting an interview. I notice my subjects look much better when I use the light kit, but again, it's not always possible to use.

As for the makeup suggestions, I don't think that putting makeup on my interview subjects would really work that well for the type of work I'm doing (documentary).

And, let me emphasize again, that the image the camera picks up is not what I'm seeing, i.e. "reality"...the camera image "pulls out" spots and marks on people's skin that I can't even detect with my own eyes when I'm sitting in front of them.

So, back to the problem at hand. Editing this. I'm not sure I quite understand the above suggestion with regards to editing. Could it be put a bit simpler for a novice?

Thanks again for all the help and feedback.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 09:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolyn McGrath View Post
I recently bought a very nice lighting kit, but it is often very cumbersome and/or impractical when I'm the only one working lights, camera, mikes, and conducting an interview. I notice my subjects look much better when I use the light kit, but again, it's not always possible to use.
I know it can be painful to set up lights, mics, etc etc etc all by your lonesome, but it is WORTH IT. If you want to be taken seriously on any level as a videographer, you've kinda got to do what the situation calls for. And unless these interviews are outside in daylight, chances are it calls for lighting.

I know it can be a pain. But it is worth it. Don't regret not taking the 30 minutes to set up lights and have it cost you 3 days in post. That is far more cumbersome than setting up the lights will ever be!

Quote:
As for the makeup suggestions, I don't think that putting makeup on my interview subjects would really work that well for the type of work I'm doing (documentary).
I do it all the time. Make sure that they understand a few simple facts -

1) It makes a MAJOR difference
2) Everyone on TV wears makeup
3) They do so for a very good reason. :)

C

PS - I've always been rather shy about asking people to put on makeup, especially guys, and even more so paying customers. I've learned to bite the bullet, joke about it, and get them to let me cake on that inch thick TV makeup. :)
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Last edited by Carl Middleton; January 28th, 2008 at 09:15 PM. Reason: added PS
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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carolyn McGrath View Post
And, let me emphasize again, that the image the camera picks up is not what I'm seeing, i.e. "reality"...the camera image "pulls out" spots and marks on people's skin that I can't even detect with my own eyes when I'm sitting in front of them.
The camera doesn't create something that isn't there, it's simply more harsh with the truth. All video cameras - even HD - have far less resolution than film and even more-so than your eyes, so video tends to be very harsh with lines, shadows and anything that creates an edge which is why these imperfections look worse in-camera than in-person. Seems counter-intuitive, but once you understand video more it will make sense.

Those imperfections that you're not noticing with your eyes are very much there, you just haven't trained your eyes to see it. I went through the same "hard" lesson myself when I got my start shooting commercial-print/fashion; I noticed that really cute girl I'd seen at the agents office had tons of imperfections around her eyes and mouth that I didn't see before - that is until the ultra-critical studio lighting and prime lenses showed every little blemish with not-so-flattering clarity. It was then I discovered the magic of a professional hair & makeup artist... what a difference an hour can make.

Now, if you're interviewing subjects in the field then taking along makeup isn't always practical and in most situations where the intent is to capture the subject "as-is", then it would be counter-productive to spruce them up. But, if presenting your subject in the best possible manner is part of the production then you're only making things harder for yourself - and less flattering for your subjects - by not using on-scene touch-up.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #8
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With still photography, you might use some noise reduction filters that improve skin. The same may work for your low light video footage. Also, perhaps a small amount of blur filter will cleanup the skin a bit.
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