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In Avid Media Composer 5 Getting Started, author Steve Holyhead explores the tools and techniques in Media Composer for producing great looking video, as well as the basics of high definition media formats. This course walks through the video production workflow from input to editing to output, covers key information such as trim concepts and frame rates, and introduces techniques such as color correction, footage stabilization, and real-time audio effects. Exercise files accompany the course.
The finishing stage of your project is when you have largely done with editing clips in your sequence, and you've moved on to refining the look and sound of the entire piece. Audio and video receive attention from specialized tools during the finishing process. Here, we will be concentrating on basic color correction. Before we start though, it's important to note that your perception of brightness and color is greatly affected by your surroundings as well as the device which you use to look at the images on.
So make sure that your monitor is doing a good job of showing colors and brightness accurately. Make sure also that the changing light in your room during the day doesn't alter your perception of what you were doing as you work. Looking through this sequence, it doesn't look like we have I think too drastic to deal with. All we need to do is balance up our brightness levels, sometimes referred to as luminance, and add color, sometimes referred to as chrominance. To do that, I'm going to enter Color Correction mode.
I've got my track active, and I could enter Color Correction mode from the Timeline palette here. Another way to do it though, is to go to the Toolset menu and select Color Correction. I am just going to reposition this window slightly. Okay, there has been a big change in the interface. Let's examine what's going on here. First off, the center window displays the image that we are currently looking on with the Color Correction tool, which is this palette down here.
After that, we have the next clip in the sequence for reference, but because we parked on the first clip, the box for the previous clip is currently unoccupied. Indeed, I can even go in here and select from other choices, too. Let's have a look at the Y Waveform, which is a description, a graphical description, of the Luminance channel. This is the black down here, and these are the whites, and this is the midrange levels here. You will see this update as I make corrections on the image in this window.
Now here is the Color Correction tool itself. There is a lot of options in this tool. So what we are going to do is confine ourselves to looking at the HSL tab and the Hue Offsets subtab. We are going to further confine ourselves to using three buttons here, Auto Balance for removing a color cast, Auto Black for making sure our black levels are nice and rich, and Auto Contrast for making sure that the contrast between black and white is as good as it can be.
So let's do that right now. Currently parked on the cobweb clip, displayed here, let's go ahead and use Auto Black first. You saw a slight decrease in brightness, and you should have seen that reflected in the Y Waveform there. Next, Auto Contrast. There wasn't really much needed there, so let's go to Auto Balance. A very slight change to remove a color cast across the image. A Color Correction icon has now been added to my clip in the Timeline.
If we want to move on to the next clip, we just use this next uncorrected button here, and now we are parked on the first frame of the next clip. We could go through the same procedure again: Auto Black, Auto Contrast, Auto Balance. I have a Dual Split window, which allows me to see the difference between my original version and the new version. As you can imagine, it would be quite laborious to go through the entire sequence, applying this basic set of auto corrections to each clip in turn.
I am going to show you a shortcut to make this work a lot faster. In the Color Correction tool, we have Correction Mode Settings. If I click this, you get a dialog box. Now I want you to make sure that you are not on Features, but on AutoCorrect. What we can do here is set up a rule to do exactly what we just did. First, we'd like to do an HSL Auto Black, then we'd like to do an HSL Auto Contrast, and finally we'd like to do an HSL Auto Balance.
Now if I click OK here, the way that I apply that is actually going to be through the Effects palette. So let me return back to Source Record Editing mode and show you what I mean. In the Effects palette, under the Image category, there is a Color Correction effect. This Color Correction effect, when dropped onto a clip, will apply those rules that we just set inside of the Color Correction tool. So with Left/Overwrite enabled, I am going to go through my sequence and multi-select the clips that remain.
Now all I need to do is double-click on my Color Correction effect, and the Auto Correction that we set up has now been applied to all of the clips in my sequence, like so. Incidentally, if I need to remove a Color Correction effect, I use the same commands that I would use to remove any other effect. Let's put that back. One final thing I'd like to show you is that we've been adding Color Correction effects on a per-clip basis. What if we would like to add a look across the entire Timeline when we're done? All I need to do is right- click, add a New Video Track.
Let's make sure that only video track 2 is active and that we're monitoring from the video track 2. Now I am going to reenter Color Correction mode, like so. So if I'd like to create a look now across the entire Timeline, let's say I want to make it dramatic. So I will l take the Setup, and I will start to pull that down, like so, making it very dark. Now I might take the Gain, start to pump that up, make it very extreme.
Here is my before and after, to show me what I am doing. Maybe I could also grab the Gamma now and start to really play around with how this is looking. Okay, that's quite extreme, really, but it gives us an idea that if we now exit back, Toolset > Source Record Editing, we've now created a Color Correction effect across the entire Timeline, which is combined with the other color corrections that we made to now create the look that we've achieved.
Color Correction can be used to make things seem more realistic, take us into the past, or transport us to some fantastical, otherworldly landscape. Broadcast TV, DVD, and web all have different tolerances and limits for Color and Luminance values. The finishing stage is about paying close attention to both aesthetics and technical considerations.
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