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Using waveforms

From: Pro Video Tips

Video: Using waveforms

A waveform monitor is a scope that shows Now, this shifting mass of what looks like ecto-plasm here as We're going to bring in a blue bunny.

Using waveforms

A waveform monitor is a scope that shows you the brightness or luminance of your image. It's essentially a graph that goes from zero to 100, with zero at the bottom being pure black and 100 at the top being pure white. So, from top to bottom, this graph measures all the tones of brightness in your image, from the darkest, all the way to the brightest. Anything above this 100 IRE line, on this graph, is over exposed. Blown out.

It's beyond 100% of the brightness level that the camera can handle, so those over exposed details are lost forever, and there ain't much you can do to reclaim them. This is a rare case in film making where it's actually a bad thing to be above the line. Now, this shifting mass of what looks like ecto-plasm here as I adjust the monitor right here, is actually the wave form. That tells us what the luminance is. Now, notice that on my camera it's actually green and over here it's white.

It doesn't matter, green or white. On some cameras, it's one color or the other, but it works the exact same. So, what this represents is a luminance value of each pixel in your image, as represented on this graph from zero IRE to 100 IRE. IRE is just the name of the units used to measure luminance and IRE stands for the Institute of Radio Engineers. So, you notice that the bunny is in the middle, we've got a lot of black or gray in this case off to either side. And, that luminance is represented right here on the gray and the actual bunny in the middle is represented by this white mass right there.

So, if I open up my aperture all the way right here to blow out the image, notice what happens to the wave forms. So, I'm going to go ahead and open up, when I go up wave form goes right off the top of this scale that's telling me right away. Even if my naked eyes aren't telling me, what the waveform is telling me is that hey, your are definitely blowing out. So, I'm going to go ahead and dial this back down, and this is the way you should really use the waveform monitor is go ahead and blow out the image and then go ahead and bring it back down. And then, you'll know exactly what the maximum brightness is that you're able to get with that particular image.

Now, if you're shooting with a camera that has both, don't confuse a wave form with a histogram. They look slightly similar, but they're two different things. Histograms actually read from left to right, dark to bright but wave forms just to be clear. Read from dark to bright. Darkest being down at the bottom, and the brightest being up top. So, let's go ahead and take a look at what happens on the other extreme. If we flip the script, and I want to just cover up the lens entirely. Notice that the wave form is going to go completely flatline.

So, a flatline all the way down at the bottom. Why? Because it's telling me that hey, every single pixel that I'm capturing right now in this image is totally black and that's exactly what that black line is indicating. Now, most of your work calls for you to actually see an image. So, we're going to go ahead and take my hand away, and let's take look at what happens when we bring in some other tonal images. So, right now we're just dealing with white just to do a simple example that I wanted to show you here. But, let's go ahead and bring some other objects in. I'm going to just widen out my shot here on my little piece of duvetyne there. We're going to bring in a blue bunny.

Identical. That's his little cousin. And, right here, we got an apple, so the bunnies will have something to eat, and then we got a doll so they'll have something to play with. So, we'll stick them all in there together. Let me just frame this shot up here. You can see a pretty even representation of the tones in this image as we move from right to left. So, the white bunny is tapping out all the way up here at the top, at the 100 RE line, just below it. So, that's exactly where I want that. And then, notice that the blue bunny, even though this is blue and it's a darker color, it's actually reflecting more light because of the surface of this.

Remember, this is measuring our luminance value, so the luminance on this bunny is right here at about the midway line. A little bit above that. And, the red apple is a little bit lower. And then, our darkest object over here on the left, our little doll, is all the way down at the end. So, that's pretty much how you would read a wave form monitor right across the board. And remember, this is an important thing to understand about this waveform monitor that I didn't tell you guys yet so you don't get confused when you're out there. This is not a representation of top to bottom.

It only represents an image from left to right. That's a little strange to understand but let me show you what I mean. If I take this object right here and raise it up, notice that it doesn't change any in the frame as I go from the top to bottom, it's only changing a lumen in it's value. Same thing for this little bunny. Even though it's down there, look, I raised it up. The bar stays pretty much there because it's only measuring how much light is being reflected on that vertical plane. If you want to think about it that way. So, that's a pretty clean and easy explanation of how you can use a wave form monitor to help you better judge your exposure.

Remember, your eyes don't tell you everything and the monitor doesn't tell you everything. But, if you use the two together I think you can get a great exposure every time.

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This video is part of

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Pro Video Tips

103 video lessons · 13644 viewers

Anthony Q. Artis

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  1. 13m 46s
    1. Packing your gear for air travel NEW
      6m 8s
    2. What to do at the airport NEW
      4m 39s
    3. Getting on the plane NEW
      2m 59s
  2. 2m 8s
    1. Intro to Pro Video Tips
      2m 8s
  3. 17m 27s
    1. Controlling reflections in glass
      4m 7s
    2. Managing color with polarizers
      2m 32s
    3. Using a polarizer to adjust skin tones
      2m 0s
    4. Using polarizers when shooting landscapes
      4m 42s
    5. Ten polarizer tips
      4m 6s
  4. 14m 34s
    1. Supplies to get to hide lav mics
      2m 13s
    2. Hiding lavs in collars
      5m 16s
    3. Hiding mics in hair
      2m 17s
    4. Hiding mics in sheer tops
      2m 40s
    5. Hiding transmitter packs on talent
      2m 8s
  5. 34m 25s
    1. Canon C100 overview
      11m 33s
    2. Looking at the Atomos Ninja
      12m 20s
    3. Checking out the C100 menu options
      10m 32s
  6. 10m 28s
    1. Ten tips for set safety
      10m 28s
  7. 9m 18s
    1. Packing a truck
      9m 18s
  8. 19m 24s
    1. Putting together your lens kit
      1m 0s
    2. Normal lenses
      1m 54s
    3. Wide lenses
      3m 5s
    4. Ultra-wide and fish-eye lenses
      2m 53s
    5. Telephoto lenses
      4m 53s
    6. Super zooms
      2m 54s
    7. Macro lenses
      2m 45s
  9. 17m 22s
    1. The importance of exposure
      1m 31s
    2. Using waveforms
      5m 3s
    3. Using histograms
      6m 53s
    4. Using zebra stripes
      3m 55s
  10. 10m 20s
    1. Shutter speed overview
      3m 18s
    2. Different ways to use shutter speed
      7m 2s
  11. 10m 29s
    1. Tips for keeping your budget down
      10m 29s
  12. 10m 11s
    1. Working with batteries
      10m 11s
  13. 24m 39s
    1. External audio settings
      4m 2s
    2. Audio input menus
      9m 31s
    3. Audio output menus
      4m 6s
    4. Setting and monitoring your levels
      7m 0s
  14. 16m 33s
    1. Introduction to backlight
      1m 18s
    2. Types of backlight
      3m 51s
    3. Exposing for backlit shots
      5m 31s
    4. Backlighting translucent object
      1m 39s
    5. Avoiding lens flare and wash out
      4m 14s
  15. 13m 28s
    1. Booming techniques
      13m 28s
  16. 5m 42s
    1. Feeding your crew
      5m 42s
  17. 8m 36s
    1. Choosing between prime, servo, and manual zoom lenses
      5m 19s
    2. Running and gunning with prime lenses
      3m 17s
  18. 10m 55s
    1. Green screen lights and materials
      3m 47s
    2. Mounting the green screen
      1m 39s
    3. Lighting the green screen
      3m 8s
    4. Lighting your subject
      2m 21s
  19. 9m 28s
    1. What to look for when buying a tripod
      6m 13s
    2. Working with monopods
      3m 15s
  20. 23m 19s
    1. Choosing a camera
      3m 2s
    2. Preparation and supplies for a surf shoot
      2m 13s
    3. Dealing with lens fog
      1m 44s
    4. Mounting your POV camera
      3m 20s
    5. Tracking and shooting your surfer from the shore
      6m 56s
    6. Interview with Tony Cruz
      6m 4s
  21. 8m 37s
    1. Introduction to lens mounts
      1m 24s
    2. Canon mounts
      2m 0s
    3. PL mounts
      1m 59s
    4. Nikon mounts
      1m 24s
    5. Micro 4/3 mounts
      1m 50s
  22. 7m 30s
    1. Introduction to lighting ratios
      1m 19s
    2. Comparing ratios
      2m 52s
    3. Measuring light ratios
      3m 19s
  23. 10m 25s
    1. Ten Looks in Ten Minutes
      10m 25s
  24. 5m 36s
    1. Using camera height and POV to better tell your story
      5m 36s
  25. 9m 49s
    1. Tips for lighting an interview subject
      9m 49s
  26. 15m 5s
    1. Taking 10 pounds off your subject
      4m 1s
    2. Dealing with nose shadows
      3m 3s
    3. Lighting different skin tones
      2m 55s
    4. Putting makeup on your subject
      5m 6s
  27. 10m 4s
    1. Types of cookies
      4m 6s
    2. Making your own custom cookies
      2m 47s
    3. Controlling the look of a cookie
      3m 11s
  28. 18m 11s
    1. Introduction to shooting sports footage
      1m 15s
    2. Getting good coverage for your sport shoot
      5m 55s
    3. Camerawork for shooting sports videos
      5m 4s
    4. Gear to bring on your sports shoot
      4m 52s
    5. Wrapping up
      1m 5s
  29. 8m 34s
    1. Tips for using bounce light
      8m 34s
  30. 21m 43s
    1. Video portrait intro
      1m 51s
    2. Video portrait camera work
      13m 32s
    3. Considerations for a video portrait interview
      4m 11s
    4. Bonus: Finished video portrait
      2m 9s
  31. 9m 48s
    1. Shooting at 24p
      3m 2s
    2. Using depth of field
      1m 37s
    3. Lighting for a film look
      1m 18s
    4. Using filters
      2m 31s
    5. Getting a film look with software
      1m 20s
  32. 38m 57s
    1. Introduction to professional car rigs
      7m 41s
    2. Attaching a side mount rig
      12m 58s
    3. Mounting a speed rail rig
      10m 54s
    4. Hood suction mount
      4m 27s
    5. Car rig safety tips
      2m 57s
  33. 14m 3s
    1. Manipulating the size of people
      6m 12s
    2. Manipulating the size of buildings
      2m 59s
    3. Making crowds look more crowded
      4m 52s
  34. 12m 32s
    1. Introduction to lighting cars
      5m 13s
    2. Lighting the car from outside
      3m 10s
    3. Lighting the car from inside
      4m 9s

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