Friday, December 10, 2010

Color Correction Basics

All right, I’d like to come back swinging. This is my first real post since getting from Australia. I’ll have a few pictures and a video soon. But I’m talking about the difference between color correction and color grading. And I’ll try to keep it short and I’ll leave out the science. If the science is what you want let me know and I’ll do a post expanding. I’ve just had a few people say they don’t know why.

Color Correction

This has to do with light and how your camera interprets it. Light is measured in Kelvin. Your camera will have auto settings to take care of this part for you, but as you get better with your camera, or use multiple cameras, you’ll want your white balances to match.

The three most common temperatures you’ll be looking at are:

Outdoor/sunlight 5600 K. it generally has a blue tint to it.

Indoor/tungsten 3200 K. this is usually from the general unbalanced store bought bulbs found pretty much everywhere and usually in every light and home.

Fluorescent 3600 K. Found in stores/offices/casts a greenish tint and makes people look ill.

So, every digital camera should have manual white balance controls in the manual that came with it. read it. I say this because it makes sense… they’ve spent a lot of money putting the specific details for white balancing your specific in the manual. So use that. :)

Now… we’ll assume you get the basics of white balancing. However, you’re probably going to at some point work in mixed lighting environments or just had an accident and it got messed up (shoot, I think everyone does this once… or frequently.). We shot in a mixed lighting environment for a school project I did last year.

Diaries Part 2: The Escape was a part of my senior project. And what we didn't realize during the upstairs scenes was that we had three different light temperatures coming into the scene. there was very little we could do to correct this is the time we had... so we shot it and i spent a week tinkering just with that scene to make it work. The trick that actually worked in this case was to find a shot where all three light temperatures were affecting the scene. then try to white balance it as best as i could. this worked for that brief moment, but the rest of the scene looked terrible. so then i desaturated the footage, upped the contrast to compensate, and that turned out pretty good. Then I just needed the rest of the footage to match that scene, and that was easy.

Anyways, that was a tangent. And I didn't really know how to work that into the post. So, let's get back on topic... correcing your footage.

Here's a picture of Joel with some less than stellar white balancing. I promise he's not generally that red... but let's go ahead and make him look a little more healthy. Ok?

In Final Cut Pro, or whichever Editor you choose to use, there will be an effects tab/folder/storage facility where it is kept. Here you'll need to either choose a basic Color Corrector (some of them will even work automatically if you want, other's you'll need to do a little work). I prefer the 3-way color corrector as I'll usually use that to color grade later on... you'll see that below.

If you look closely under each circle, you'll find a little tear dropper. if you click on this and then click onto your footage on some place that SHOULD be white, the software will adjust the wheel and bring a more appropriate white balance to the clip.

I should also note that each wheel represents an approximate light value. dark tones, middle tones, and light tones. so each wheel will only effect the corresponding tones.

This is probably the quickest way to correct for white ballance. however it's not perfect.

With any luck... it should look something like... this:

You could do it manually… and if you’re getting paid, I’d recommending putting in the extra effort (put some time into practicing, in case you DO sometime need to do it the hard way for some reason.) you will get better results. However, if it’s just for fun, fix it quickly and move on to the fun parts. :) Next I’ll talk color grading as that’s a lot more interesting .


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