Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Correct Color on-set every time

To take a video (non RAW) image and manipulate it, is in fact tearing the image. This is the test we did back in the day. Open a fresh unaltered 8 bit jpeg image in PS, look at he histogram. The histogram has continuous information, now tweak it, crush the blacks, lift the highlights, alter the color, and finally check the histogram again, now you see a histogram, but with a less than perfect flow of color (missing data) information, the comb effect. Here is an example of a badly exposed 8 bit image and it's histogram, and attempt to correct it, with the resulting histogram, notice the difference in the two. This effect happens as a result of image manipulation with an 8 bit non RAW image. If a color meter was used to dial in the temp, the results would have been much better, that said the girl is still very cute.
Now if you shoot underexposed, if you shoot without proper (correct) white balance settings on non-RAW cameras (Canon C300, Sony F3, Arri Alexa Log C), and have to adjust later in post, your image will be damaged to some degree. The ability to dial in your exposure as close as possible, and to dial in your white balance will insure less damage to your image, resulting in better image quality. I notice this when I DIT non-RAW cameras. So how do you make your files better? First, expose correctly, try to avoid under exposing (for the look), this will not give you the best image quality. Did you know most all you color fidelity information is in the top third of of the exposure range. By under exposing, you throw that info away (you can't get it back in post). Second, use a color meter, like the Sekonic C-500. It will give you accurate color temperature measurement, and now you don't have to stretch the file to pieces to correct the color in post. I also suggest you shoot an 18% reflective gray card as a reference. Today I used the Sekonic C-500 ProDigi Color Meter on set. This is a job shooting car accessories for Nissan Motors. Typically the color balance is guessed, but not today, it was dialed in because I had an accurate color measurement device. Once this was applied to the Canon C300, the results were predictable, perfect neutral image color. Now I can quickly grade, not try to find the normal color, but by being creative, and applying a beautiful grade quickly. Von