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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Male 1: So the Histogram is a great tool that almost every single DSLR has built into it. But there's two problems with the Histogram. First, on most DSLR's, or DSLR's that I know of any way, it doesn't update in real time. So as you re-frame the shot, you change lights, it doesn't really work with live video. You have to take a still, and then look at that still, and analyze it. The other problem with a Histogram, is it doesn't actually show you where in the frame, different brightness values are happening. So, a lot of people rely on a waveform, and I have a waveform up here, on this little portable field monitor.
This guy, right here, and the waveform is the principle tool that I think you should use, to analyze brightness in your shots. And here's how it works. The waveform works on a scale, going from 0 up to 100, where 0 is black and 100 is white. There's actually a little bit of headroom above and below 100 and 0, so you can have what's called super black and super white. All this white stuff in the middle of the scope is called your trace, and the trace represents every single pixel that you have in the shot. So, one way the Waveform works is by mimicking the tonal range from dark to light, but the other way it works, is by going from left to right, it mimics the actual picture.
So the left part of the waveform right here, is the left portion of the shot right here. Over here on the right, well, you guessed it, it's right there. Now, let's actually do some analysis on this shot. We have this pretty bright window back here on the left hand side. We'll look right here, this part of the trace. I'm guessing that's the window, because it's elevated up on the Waveform scale, towards, sort of the top, towards 100% indicating that it's the brightest portion of the shot. Down here, we have this thick band of stuff that's kind of dark, I'm guessing that's probably the wood on the guitar, right here, and then the wood back here on the bookcases, and so on and so forth.
So the waveform is a great tool to measure brightness in your shot, and there's one more thing I want you to remember about the Waveform. Is that it allows you to see if your shot is over exposed, or under exposed obviously, but it also helps you measure overall contrast in your shot. So right now this shot has a really good contrast ratio because, contrast ratio of course is defined as the difference between the lightest and darkest portions of the image. So I've traced it down here, sort of zero and traced it up here to around 90% or so. If I had a low contrast image, my trace would be squashed together and I wouldn't have much separation in the trace.
So when you're using the Waveform you can say, hey, I got a high-contrast or heavily-contrasted shot, versus a low-contrast or a flat-looking shot. And that can help you make artistic decisions, when you're on set and out in the field.
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