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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old February 14th, 2007, 12:52 AM   #1
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Blown out video!!!

Ok - so I'm just learning to use this camera and I blew it at this wedding. The room was largely windows with snow outside, so it was really light. I wasn't sure how to handle it and I was on automatic. (Yes I'm aware that is a bad thing and I won't make that mistake again - I will learn how to deal with the manual iris and manual focus for next time, and I should have dealt with that beforehand).

So not being sure what to do, and being afraid the backlighting would darken my subject, I used the backlight function. Bad idea. The windows (which fill most of hte picture) are blown out without any detail at all which is really distracting.

This was just for certain portions of the video - but impoortant ones - the toast and some dancing and some gifts being given away. In a few interviews I was able to zoom in a bit in post to minimize the effect, and the rest of the video is exposed properly.

I thought maybe I could go in tight and create different shots in post, but becuase I was also on auto focus, it looks good when the shot is from a distance, but you can tell when you go in tight that it's slightly out of focus. I've tried bringing it down in the color corrector and it helps a bit, but it still looks awful. The rest of the video was properly exposed.

it's for a friend, but she did pay me. I didn't misrepresent my experience to her and I wasn't quite ready but decided to go ahead for the experience. Still, she will be showing it to people who have been asking about it, and I'm really embarrassed about the improper exposure.

Is there anything I can do about this entire scenario to minimize the impact in post?
thanks
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Old February 14th, 2007, 01:18 AM   #2
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Okay...Questions:

1. What type of camera were you using?
2. What program are you using to edit?
3. Is it possible for you to export a snapshot of some frames so we can see what it is you're talking about?


IMHO, If it was blown out majorly, not much you can do about it - if the information isn't there, it's not there, but it depends how far out of wack it is. We'll have to see where it's at when you post some pictures. It may not let you post the pics here, so go to photobucket or something and post links.

If it's a touch out of focus in spots, you can use the unsharp mask to help some. We had an event that we did and one of our static cameras was out of focus pretty bad, and although it wasn't perfect, looked way better than it originally did. Lucky it was an extreme wide shot. Post the questions and the frames, hopefully I or someone else can help.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 02:07 AM   #3
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Ok, hope this link works...
For reasons I can't go into here, I can't post any of the faces of people at the wedding. So I've zoomed in a lot - but you can see the backdrop. The one with the blue sky is what it SHOULD look like.
Fortunately there were only a few sections of the tape where this was an issue - but they were critical pieces that can't be deleted, with one wide room shot since I only had one camera.

I'm using a pd170 and Final Cut.

http://s173.photobucket.com/albums/w61/KellSmith_2007/
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Old February 14th, 2007, 02:48 AM   #4
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Well, from your post earlier, it sounded like it would be much worse. With that much sunlight, adjusting down too far you would get a lot of dark areas. I know the photos are zoomed, but it really doesn't look too bad. I would go to your color correction and bring down the highlights some and it should dim down some of those bright spots. Then maybe bump up the saturation a bit (along with the rest of the video so it matches) and you may be okay.

As far as the softness goes, you may be ok too. I'm assuming there is some sort of unsharp mask in Final Cut (We use Vegas), maybe the sharpen tool will work, but that may be a question to post in the Final Cut Forum. What happens with the auto focus is that it doesn't always identify what your subject is correctly, so the camera may think that the window in the background or the shiney chair is what you're supposed to be shooting. You probably have found as well that the focus "re-focuses" every so often almost just for the hell of it, especially when things move.

Overall, playing with some color correction is what you're going to have to do to get everything to come out looking right. It may take some time, but form you're pictures, it looks like the project is far from ruined. Good luck.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 04:32 AM   #5
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What next?

Hi Kell,

Bummer, sorry to hear about your misfortune. If nothing else works, in no particular order, consider:

Replace most/all of the offending video with B roll, keeping the audio track; if you don't have enough B roll, use some freeze frames out of the offending footage and stretch it out with perhaps an animated pix like a photo montage Ken Burns effect. Or better yet, ask the couple for some appropriate still shots, scan them in, and do the photo montage animation overlay (keeping audio track).

Another variation would be to use use jump cuts.

Applying a filter that deliberately modifies the video (old film, etc)

Toggle to offending segment to Black and White or sepia, again going for a deliberate modication look.

Overlay some "eye candy" footage such as Digital Juice, etc.

If you have a lot of offending video, you may want to using a bit of each of the above to add interest and provide the appearance this is all part of your style.

Lotsa luck, Michael
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Old February 14th, 2007, 07:38 AM   #6
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Kell you have some excellent advice above. Just realize that we've all been there, so just live and learn. Light is almost always your number 1 challenge in the event video business, second only to audio.

You could try going black and white everyone once in awhile in addition to the above. Sometimes, IMO, b/w doesn't look as bad blown out as color does. Just keep hacking at the video with levels, curves, saturation, etc. Try some still shots as mentioned above. You could also really tighten up the video as well, such as cutting out the portion where you're walking upto the cake or toast, leaving only the actual toast.

I hope it works out for you. Don't let it knock you down, now you'll be more ready for light next time.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 12:11 PM   #7
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Same situation here..... TWICE

Two of my weddings in a row had horrible lighting conditions. One with a snowy backdrop completely visible through huge picture windows that were 10 feet tall and covered the wall behind the couple on either side of the fireplace they stood in front of. the other involved the couple standing in front of a huge bay window. Both of these had horrible backlight problems. For the first, I stood just behind the groomsmen and shot in bewtween then to get a good shot facing away from the light.

for the second one there was nothing I could do to avoid filming in bad light. I resigned myself to having to fix this in post. The preacher had his back in the window and the couple faced him. The windows was a 200 degree sort of wrap-around bay window. I had to film on the groomsman's left shoulder to cut out 1/2 the window but even then the lighting is horrible. here is a vegas preview window screen grab with the brightness contrast correction applied to the Right side and the native footage on the left.

I hope I brought out as much detail as possible while not blowing out the picture all together. What I did was bump up the brightness to bring out the foreground, then i increased the contrast and slid the contrast center to the right a little. If you don't have Vegas then i suppose that won't make any sense.

jason
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Old February 14th, 2007, 03:16 PM   #8
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Ok - so I'm just learning to use this camera and I blew it at this wedding. The room was largely windows with snow outside, so it was really light. I wasn't sure how to handle it and I was on automatic. (Yes I'm aware that is a bad thing and I won't make that mistake again - I will learn how to deal with the manual iris and manual focus for next time, and I should have dealt with that beforehand).


((Well, to be honest, the PD and DVX auto settings are actualy quite intelligent... however u need to set the auto threshold within the menus, im not sure if the PD can do this, but i do know u can lock the auto functions on the DVX... being that the 2 are designed to compete with each other, i cna only assume that most functions on teh DVX are in the PD... reason i say this is coz ive got 2 z1's and most of the DVX features (save for image tweaks) are available n the z1))

So not being sure what to do, and being afraid the backlighting would darken my subject, I used the backlight function. Bad idea.
((It can be,but remember, that the backlight function really doesnt do much else apart from opening the iris up the whole way))

The windows (which fill most of hte picture) are blown out without any detail at all which is really distracting.
((yes, and with DV compression and resolution, edge bleeding will be prominant. I had this happen with a couple of guys who shot for me ONCE.. keyword is once.. i never hired them again as all the needed to do was change the angle in which they were shooting but werent experienced enough to do that..
You gotta understand that not only is a client investing in your skills as an editor, but theyre also relying on you to archive the day with at least decent footage which is watchable. Dont get me wrong, im not trying to be harsh, but its issues like this which can either make or break you as a shooter (for other comapnies) and as a business... yes its difficult, but this issue itself could have been handled without the post production woes))

This was just for certain portions of the video - but impoortant ones - the toast and some dancing and some gifts being given away. In a few interviews I was able to zoom in a bit in post to minimize the effect, and the rest of the video is exposed properly.
((Groovy... so long as at 75% is watchable, they really cant argue, but again, as i said issues liek this can break you, so its wise to include shooting environments within your contract to protect yourself.. as an example, i have an early morning sunrise wedding on a clifftop in afew weeks.. I leave nothign to chance so im running daylights, even though they may sem out of place and running lights during the day is considered bizarre, the fact remains that i KNOW there will be blown out backgrounds and ive discussed it with the client before they even booked..
Im not lecturing but one thing i tell all my shooters is this..
As a shooter, if ANY situataoin arises, you shoudl be able to KNOW without having to think too much as to how to handle it. With events, time is your enemy and there really no time for hit and miss efforts. U need to KNOW what do to if any given situation arises. Now this knowledge usually comes with practice experience and skill over time. ))

I thought maybe I could go in tight and create different shots in post, but becuase I was also on auto focus, it looks good when the shot is from a distance, but you can tell when you go in tight that it's slightly out of focus. I've tried bringing it down in the color corrector and it helps a bit, but it still looks awful. The rest of the video was properly exposed.
((ok, well what id recomend is to layer your video and run a border or cookie cutter filter.. Ill explain..
duplicate your track
on the top track have your master layer run a cookie or border with transparent soft edges (to see the lower identacal track..
Now on yoru top layer with the bad backlight, close the border until you get the composition you want, now boost your levels (not brightess contrast, but actual Curve levels. now it migh look slightly off, but if you add a small blur to the lower blown out level, it wont be as noticable.
What your doing is creting a composite using identical footage, BUT by using the border/cookie, your isolating the foreground subject to the blown out background
Also, as your shooting interlaced, i would STRONGLY recomend you run a broadcast safe filter, as this will bring your highliht to safe levels and stop the incessant interlace flicker...
If im not making sense, its coz ive had 3 hrs sleep, but if u want more details, i can bore the crap out of you... ))

it's for a friend, but she did pay me. I didn't misrepresent my experience to her and I wasn't quite ready but decided to go ahead for the experience.

((Good, never say no when it comes to getting your hands dirty.. :) ))

Still, she will be showing it to people who have been asking about it, and I'm really embarrassed about the improper exposure.

((COnsider that EVERY video you make will be shown to people asking for it... ))


Is there anything I can do about this entire scenario to minimize the impact in post?

((Yes, but with FCP, to be honest, i dont think it has the tools to do what you want.. i certainly know Vegas and PPRo2 cna fix this without much effort, but FCP... and as the source is 8bit you really dont have much latitude to play with...

do you have a couple of stills? if u do, send them and we'll see what we can do..

thanks
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Old February 14th, 2007, 03:24 PM   #9
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looking at your pics, its not as bad as it seems... ive seen worse..

one thing to note with video, is that sometims yo HAVE TO blwo out a background... if in doubt, blow it out i say.. and with clever filter work, ui can make it look good..

in your case, as these shots youre showing are of not much importance, i cant really offer a solution.
If u can show some faces, or some important elements which bear weight upon the presentation itself then i will be able to help. I dont know how an empty chair or a window will help in establishing proper exposure
Im sorry but I wont waste time on footage which wont be used.. or not worth looking at

we can help you, but we need something with more substance to be able to explain in detail how to sort this issue out
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Old February 14th, 2007, 03:49 PM   #10
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I would be glad to hack away at an avi if you want to post a 5 sec clip or something.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 04:05 PM   #11
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This might sound like an odd suggestion, but it hasn't been mentioned yet: Have you thought about adding a "warm filter" feel to it? I know you've mentioned FCP, but do you have AE as well? If so, there's a lot you can do in there to save this (it's really not THAT bad).
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Old February 14th, 2007, 04:40 PM   #12
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Those photos don't look as bad as you described it. Since you're using FCP I'd start with broadcast safe filter. Then using the 3 way color correction filter, bring the mids down until it starts to look better. You can fine tune it with the highs, blacks and saturation. Once you get it looking good you might want to apply other filters to get a certain "look".

Do not tell the bride and groom that you screwed up! What you did was to showcase your artistic talents. Don't charge them extra for the artsy effects - it's your gift to them. ;)

Joe
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Old February 14th, 2007, 05:48 PM   #13
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FCP's color correction tools are excellent if you learn how to use them properly. If you're new to FCP, I'd recommend buying the http://www.digitalmediatraining.com/...phd/index.html DVD training program. It'll be worth your money. There are other, more detailed training packages out there but I got this one and it got me going very fast. You can actually go in and grab the window part of the frame and take it down without affecting the rest of the frame too much. Once you learn it, FCPs color correction tools are as good as Avid's. It's time consuming but you can probably come up with a useable video. The main thing they want to see are the smiling happy faces. If the backgrounds are a little blown out, it's not nearly as bad as the people being too dark or blown out.

Once you get out of this problem, it'll be time to learn the camera's controls. You can't shoot on auto iris, auto shutter, auto gain, auto white balance and expect professional results. There are times when you can use some auto functions, but they are rare.
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Old February 14th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #14
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hey, i just saw episode 7 of Lost and half the shots are blown out.. i wouldnt stress too much BUT dont be afraid to hack away at unnecessary footage..

as for filter chaining, irrespecitve of the program.. ALWAYS put broadcast safe filters LAST... this ensures that everything u do in between is finally chcked off by this filter and kept safe
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Old February 15th, 2007, 11:12 AM   #15
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Newbie question for you guys.....What is a broadcast safe filter?
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