Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interesting Color Correction Tutorial

Stu Maschwitz, now of Red Giant Software, has posted a nice color correction tutorial on Creative Cow. He goes through the process of emulating the look of a few of this year's summer blockbusters. Even though he uses Magic Bullet and Colorista software in After Effects, this tutorial is applicable to any software.

Even if you aren't going to do a lot of color correcting, this is quite interesting to watch because he gives you a primer on how to look at and dissect the color palette of film images. It is also fascinating to watch the process of a colorist, how they fiddle with things, etc. As a film maker, it will also help you be able to speak more intelligently with your colorist.

I think I am going to bite the bullet, pardon the pun, and buy Colorista. I already own Magic Bullet Looks (which I've used mostly for brainstorming looks) and work in Apple's Color, but I can see how useful Colorista is, particularly as a complement to Looks. The main value I see in Colorista (in Final Cut) is that it is a tool that you can use within Final Cut Pro (with vignette tracking!!). Color is amazing, but sometimes you don't want to take the time to roundtrip things in and out of FCP, especially if it's not too complicated of a correction (but more complicated than the 3 Way color corrector can handle). Roundtripping requires a bit of preparation, particularly on a long timeline with motion graphics, still photos, etc.

The other tool that he used which I found cool was the Hue/Saturation effect in After Effects. I didn't know that it was hidden in there. You can define what the color range is for each of your color channels in After Effects. Nice tool. I am starting to understand why some people like to live in After Effects.

If you go to the Red Giant site, check out the "Indie Film" looks pack created by Eric Escobar. It's a nice selection of pre-made looks for use with Magic Bullet Looks or Quick Looks. They are a nice addition to the pre-set looks that come with Magic Bullet already.

Hollywood Joke

So a guy goes to the circus. He's enjoying himself, when he notices an old, old man following the elephants around with a shovel and a garbage can, cleaning up their dung. He can't stop watching this tiny old guy struggle to drag the can around, stooped over and shaking, barely able to lift the shovel. At the end of the circus, he finds the man and says to him,"why don't you retire? " The man, stooped over turns up and looks at the man and says, "what, and give up show business?"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Back to the Future II

Someone I respect a lot made a funny comment about the RED camera, saying that it was potentially "the DeLorean of the camera world." What a funny image. It makes me imagine RED user meet-ups, 20 years from now, talking about how it was ahead of it's time and got killed by a conspiracy......too bad it's not made out of stainless steel.

It's a joke, o.k., so don't get all worked up. It's just a camera. In search of a post workflow.

Back to the Future

OK. I know I keep hearing that 3D is back for good. That it will be "just another film making tool." That it will be used even in indie films. I've even been to a cutting-edge 3D production house and learned about new advanced production techniques.

I went to see Ice Age 3D yesterday afternoon, fancy Dolby 3D glasses and everything. A really funny film, I highly recommend it. But, I (and my wife) both left the theater feeling nauseated, which lasted most of the rest of the day and evening. I have to say that I would've preferred to have seen it in 2D (and saved the 3D premium ticket price as well). If a big budget animated feature like this can't avoid inducing nausea, what will the experience of watching lower budget films be like?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Color Grading Magic--After and Before

Color Grading Magic--After and Before from Craig Mieritz on Vimeo.

I've been working on upgrading my color grading skills in Apple Color. For practice, I graded a short horror sequence this week. The corrected footage is first, followed by the original uncorrected footage. Yes, I know the original footage is shot and lit horribly. This test is unusual in that it's more about creatively salvaging footage rather than doing the more typical, subtle work that a colorist usually does.

What is happening at this point in the story is that the bad guy is following the apparition of a woman he murdered down a dark corridor....

A few notes: the compression on this is pretty good. However, it is a medium res online video from a SD source. This compressed version is less saturated and there are a few artifacts (and blocking) not present in the original. I wish I could post a higher quality version of this, the original footage looks rich and textured, particularly for DV. The full-sized version can be viewed here.

The original video footage was shot on an old-school DV camera (PD100), a few years ago. I am kind of shocked at how much I like the corrected footage, it's DV--the camera has been sitting unused in a closet but I think I may start using it again.

I enjoy working in the horror genre, there seems to be a little more room for "drawing outside the lines" as compared to expectations for other mainstream genres. Color is a powerful tool, however, it is no replacement for well-shot footage. The most important thing is to get as much information in your image as possible, but (a really big but), try to capture the contrast differences between different areas of the frame as close as possible to what you want in the end. If you don't, it adds a tremendous amount of work on the back-end and ultimately you may not be able to get what you want, particularly if there is a lot of movement in the frame.

I'll be uploading a series of graded short sequences, including variations on this one, please let me know what you think.