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In this movie, I want to talk about making contrast corrections here inside of Adobe SpeedGrade, and I want to talk about contrast corrections for three different scenarios; first, on an underexposed shot, next, on an overexposed shot, and then finally, on a shot that's neither under or overexposed but could benefit from having an expanded contrast range. And if you are following along with the exercise files, be sure to open up this project or Timeline called 03_02_contrastcorrections, and if you take a look at the first shot here in this Timeline, you can see that it's pretty dark and kind of well underexposed. But let's go ahead and verify that by taking a look at the Waveform and the easiest way to open up the Waveform is by pressing W on the keyboard.
You could also click on this button right here at the bottom of the monitor. Over here on the Waveform, the trace, the stuff right here for the red, green and blue channels is clumped up towards the bottom of the scale that the Waveform uses. And remember the scale that the Waveform uses goes from zero or black or dark up to 100 or white or light. And with most of the trace clumped up here towards the bottom of the scale, this verifies what our eyes are telling us, that this shot is pretty dark and kind of underexposed. Okay, so to fix this shot, what I am going to do is come down here to the Look tab at the bottom of the Adobe SpeedGrade interface and then to the Overall tab.
And you will notice I have a slider right here called Contrast and you could use this Contrast slider to fix this shot, but I have found that it doesn't give you very good results when you have severely underexposed or severely overexposed shots. So instead, what I am going to do is use these three different color wheels, these guys right here and you will notice on each color wheel, you have two sets of controls; an outside ring to affect contrast and then the inside wheel to affect overall color balance and saturation for a selected hue. So I am going to start here on the Gain color wheel and I am going to click on this little triangle right here and drag to increase the contrast at this part of the tonal range.
Just remember, you can enter into virtual Color Wheel mode for any of the color wheels by right-clicking on the color wheel and then using the middle scroll wheel on your mouse, you can increase the contrast at that particular part of the tonal range very quickly. So I am going to drag up quite a bit like that. All right, that's working pretty well. I'll right-click again to get out of virtual Color Wheel mode. Then I am going to come over to the midtones with the gamma control, this guy right here, and I won't go into virtual Color Wheel mode, I'll just click and drag the little triangle control up to the right just a little bit there. All right, and that's looking pretty good.
Just notice up here in the image in the Monitor, not only have I lightened the clip, but I have also increased the visual noise. And this is a problem with severely underexposed shots. As you lighten them up, you also lighten the visible noise in the shot, and while we do have a custom Look layer effect, here inside of Adobe SpeedGrade, called fxDegrain, I found that for really severe noise reduction, it's best to depend on third-party tools like those you can find from Neat Video as well Magic Bullet. Unfortunately those tools do not work inside of Adobe SpeedGrade; rather you will have to depend on using those tools in say Adobe Premiere Pro or even Adobe After Effects.
In your own projects, you can try the Degrain effect and the way that you access it is by coming down here to the layer stack, clicking on this plus button and then coming up here and choosing fxDegrain. And you can drag the Strength slider up quite a bit, remember, you can hold down the Shift key to increase the speed at which this slider changes, and you can maybe adjust the sensitivity a little bit as well. All right, that's looking a little bit better, but again I often depend on third-party tools and other applications to do heavy-duty noise reduction. Okay, let me click back on the Primary layer here.
Next thing I want to do is come over to my Offset or my blacks color wheel, this guy right here and I am going to drag down just a touch, something like that to increase the blacks or increase the depth in the shot just ever so slightly. All right, that's working pretty well. Now one thing you might have noticed up here in the Waveform is that the blue trace, right here, is under 0% and if you are in a broadcast workflow, this would indicate that this shot is illegal for broadcast. For right now, don't worry about that. In a later movie, I'll show you how you can legalize a clip or even an entire Timeline by using a custom Look layer.
So let me go ahead and toggle this correction on and off by using the 0 key on my keyboard number pad. So here's the original shot, and then here is the corrected shot; the original shot and the corrected shot. I think you will agree that the corrected shot, while not bright by any means, is a whole lot more usable. All right, let's go ahead and navigate down to the second shot on this Timeline. And this clip has the opposite problem of the first shot that we just corrected. It appears to be pretty overexposed and if I go ahead and take a look at the trace here on the Waveform, yup, the trace indicates that as well.
Most of the trace is bunched up here towards the top of the waveform indicating that this clip is pretty bright and well, kind of overexposed. So I want to make a similar type of contrast correction to fix this shot. Let me come back down here to the Look tab and once again we'll start out here in the highlights or Gain color wheel. And I'll click on the Contrast control right here and drag down until the top of my trace is right around 90% or so. Next, I'll come into my blacks or my Offset control and drag down as well, until just the bottom of the traces are touching 0%, something like that.
Now after I made that correction with the Offset control, you will notice that the top of the trace here, which we set previously around 90% is down here around 75%-73% and this is due to the overlapping nature of the controls here and how they affect the tonal range. It's not a mistake and it's not a bug. All you need to do is simply come back into the highlights or the Gain control and drag up just a touch to increase those levels once again. And this time I actually like a value right around 81%-82%. And then finally, I'll fix the midtones of this clip and sort of adjust the exposure overall to taste.
And I am going to drag down just a touch, something like that works pretty well. Let me go ahead and once again press 0 on the keyboard to toggle this correction on and off. Here is the original shot, pretty overexposed and bright, then here is the corrected shot; original and then corrected shot. Once again, the corrected shot is much better. Then finally, let's navigate down to the last clip in this Timeline. And this shot looks pretty good and by taking a look at the Waveform, I don't really see any problems with this shot. The trace here goes from about 10 or so percent up to about 92%-93% and this is a situation that you will encounter all the time, a clip is neither underexposed nor overexposed.
But a lot of times when clients walk into the suite, they say things to me like, Rob we'd really like that shot to pop a little bit more, and when they say that, I know what they want me to do is expand the contrast range of a shot. So that's exactly what we are going to do on this shot, that's either over or underexposed. So once again, I'll come down to the Look tab here and this time let's go ahead and start out with the Offset or blacks control, and I am going to drag down ever so slightly until the bottom of traces are just touching 0%, something like that. Next, I'll come into the Gain or Highlights control, drag up just a touch like that, and then finally, I'll come into the gamma or the midtones and I am going to drag down ever so slightly.
I am going to go ahead and toggle that grade on and off. Here is the original shot and then the corrected shot; the original and then the corrected shot. And you will notice it's almost like a patina has been removed from the shot. And this is exactly the pop or punch that clients are always asking for. Okay, so that's making some simple contrast corrections to shots here inside of Adobe SpeedGrade. And contrast corrections are always the first type of correction that you will make on a shot, even before you make color corrections and that's a really important point. It's always a good idea to first make contrast corrections before color corrections, because as you adjust contrast, you potentially change where the tonal range, colorcast will happen.
And of course, we'll talk about making color corrections in an upcoming movie in this chapter.
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