Color correction of your footage
Color correcting your footage is pretty much unavoidable, these days every movie or music video clip you watch has been post processed and color corrected.
This is an art in itself and that is why it requires skills, training and a dedicated professional.
Fact is that on smaller productions, budgets are quite tight, and you end up doing it yourself… much like it happens for other traditionally separated roles, such as a director of photography, a camera operator or an editor. In the end, it’s all good. First you have to learn it all to understand and then truly appreciate the work of others you might team up with.
Color processing is part of the post processing work that needs to be done on the footage you shot, which may include other tasks like re-lighting or re-framing a particular shot, or VFX work.
There are some tools of the trade that come into rescue and one of the most well-known is Red Giant’s Magic Bullet. Mostly, it works with presets, and it’s a one-stop process. Super easy to use and with visually catching results.
Thing is that the footage, the GH2 and some others DSLRs are outputting is baked-in, different business for the cameras equipped with flat profiles too (s-log on Sony F, marvel on 5D mkII/mkIII) or indeed, a great time saver if you’ re in a hurry.
Time and ease of use aside, I like to learn color correcting the hard way, and that would for sure involve the use of Color Finesse in Adobe After Effects. Stand alone software like Blackmagic DaVinci is pretty much an industry standard right now and run along with their hardware platform it’s certainly a hit .
Learning it the hard way gives you deeper inside on your shots and a fuller understanding on proper exposure, lightning, dynamic and luma ranges. Below you can see some example of how color correction affects your shots
One way to understand this in greater detail is to get some in-depth tutorials from Shian Storm’s website http://colorghear.com and secure yourself a legit copy of his ColorGHear plug-in. The way the plug-in works is totally modular, it will allow you to intervene with different levels of corrections and gain full control over every single instance. Albeit it suits all DSLR shooters and cameras it has dedicated tools for the GH2 that as we know suffers from a greenish color cast. For $50 you get the After Effect plug-in and plenty of bonus tutorials.. if you ask me it’s a true bargain, and I will wholeheartedly recommend it to you as a great buy.
The entire ColorGHear website is constantly evolving , so over time new tutorials will come on board but what’ s in there so far will indeed improve your skills and boost your final product. The tutorials which show you how to use the system, but the techniques easily translate to other programs, so even if you are stuck grading on another system, much of the theory involved in our tutorials will serve you regardless of which system you are working on.
As far as I aware the tutorials will soon cover some other aspects that film-makers are very concerned about, as how to light and what kits we should buy.
Vital information about this is scattered all over the web; it looks like it’s true precious stuff, and if you want to have a greater understanding of it. You have to pay much like you would do for a course or a master class. So it would be very welcome to come along and be heard!
Having further understood the power behind proper color correction, I though to myself to what extent that could influence the choice in glass -and I shot with lots of different glass. I decided that Shian could give me a better answer on this.
In fact, he made pretty clear to me that there is no substitute for excellent glass. He really loved his Nikons, but having spent a lot of time recently shooting on Cooke and Zeiss Cinema glass, he became disappointed in his Nikons. “It’s not about sharpness. Digital is actually TOO sharp – and I mean all digital, even the RED and Arri cams. It’s more about how the image is rendered through quality glass. More contrast equals more sharpness and with digital, you actually want to take a little of that edge off ” he wrote to me.
Color correcting it’ s not just about aesthetics but it’ s a need to get your audience to better connect with the scene. To further dig into emotions. Visually, to follow the director’ s point of view. Film-makers beware.
Well, it’s pretty much clear that this not a purist approach. I got to know some directors that liked to get the scene right in camera, spending lot of time on set and less in post. They though that this would better define their cinematography, if not cinematography in general.
Nothing wrong about that, it depends on who you are and what work-flow suits you. I like to have the luxury to make choices in post after having seen the whole thing packed together and cut it the best. I like to change my mind and have options, so I tend to shoot as neutral as I can…. that is me though!!