Color correcting footage
Video: Color correcting footageChad Perkins: In this tutorial, we are going to look a little bit at color correction. As I have mentioned several times before, I really like to shoot flat, in other words I don't want really dark shadows. I don't really want bright highlights. I want it look as washed out as possible, like this image here, and now I could show you a little bit more closely why I like that. I am going to apply the Levels effect, I am here in Adobe After Effects. Again, you don't have to be here, but this is a good way to kind of describe and show you what I'm talking about here. So I apply the Levels effect, and I have this histogram that gives me a readout of my shadows, midtones and highlights.
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Join Chad Perkins, an author and videographer, as he introduces the essential concepts and techniques necessary for shooting video with a DSLR camera. Targeted at beginning videographers and anyone interested in shooting better video, this course covers cinematography basics, DSLR pitfalls, important gear, and postproduction workflow. Along the way, discover how to choose lenses, record audio, and make shots more professional.
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- Understanding aperture, shutter speed, and ISO
- Using lenses as a tool in storytelling
- Establishing focus for video
- Achieving a shallow depth of field
- Using equipment like clapperboards and matte boxes
- Editing and color correcting footage
- Using cinematography techniques to get beautiful shots
- Avoiding rolling shutter and moiré
Color correcting footage
Chad Perkins: In this tutorial, we are going to look a little bit at color correction. As I have mentioned several times before, I really like to shoot flat, in other words I don't want really dark shadows. I don't really want bright highlights. I want it look as washed out as possible, like this image here, and now I could show you a little bit more closely why I like that. I am going to apply the Levels effect, I am here in Adobe After Effects. Again, you don't have to be here, but this is a good way to kind of describe and show you what I'm talking about here. So I apply the Levels effect, and I have this histogram that gives me a readout of my shadows, midtones and highlights.
As you can see here by the flat level, we really don't have too much shadow detail here, and we don't have much highlight detail. Everything is washed out, which again, is great. So I can drag this slider in, the Input White triangle and I could drag it until there is data here. Do the same thing with the shadows, drag the Input Black, until we reach some information there. And then I could adjust the Gamma slider, which adjusts the midtones, which I got to the right, make that a little bit darker.
And now--actually maybe this is blown out a little bit next to his hair here. But now we have a good balance of color. We could play with the midtones a little bit, but the point is, is that we have room to play with the highlights here. We could see all the detail in the sky, and we could see all the details in the shadows in his shirt, so nothing is crushed or blown out. So even though these cameras have a really limited dynamic range, because we shot so flat, we have a lot of room to move this around before it starts looking ugly.
Of course then we could apply may be a Curves effect and really get into a more detailed color correction where we maybe go to the Red channel and make this a little bit more warm, or we could maybe go to the Blue channel, make this a little bit more cool if we wanted to, or we could go back to the Red channel and suck some of the red out if we want this to be more like intense, like Hollywood action movie or something like that. But again, because we shot flat, we are going to have less problems.
There is a little bit of a highlight here, again, it's driving me nuts, and so I might want to take down the Highlight Correction a little bit just to smooth that out, but again the point is, is that we have a lot of flexibility here because we shot so flat. Now let's look at another example here where I didn't shoot quite so flat. I didn't have all of the filters that Brian was talking about where I could get rid of some of that light, and it was like a really quick situation where we didn't have much time to shoot, so we just kind of, what they call, run -and-gun, where you are just going to grab the camera and go for it.
So what's going on here is that if I reset my Histogram, we can see that the highlights here are already blown out. We already have pure white in our image and a lot of it. So we can move our shadow endpoint here, the Input Black slider in and that gives us back our shadow detail. And we could also darken the image using the Gamma slider and now it looks a lot better. So here is before and after.
But the problem is, is that his red shirt is a little bit glowy. It's bouncing off the light in a weird way and it's the most eye-catching thing in the whole shot. And I can tone that down a little bit with the Output White slider as we talked about, but it really doesn't do too much good in this case. So we're stuck with a shot that probably could be better, but again we really don't have the flexibility because when this image was captured, there was just too much in the way of highlights, and so, we have this posterization here, this like hard edge where the highlights blow out and again we have this way too bright red here in his shirt and there's just not much we could do.
So I hope that now that we have gone through some of these color tools a little bit more closely, that it's a little bit more clear why it's so important to me to shoot a flat, washed-out image.
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